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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WikiSlice


Webaroo 2 is a program that allows PCs to download websites to their hard drive. It's perfect for me -perpetually in transit. Now I can browse Wikipedia offline. Well, not all of Wikipeida but a selection called a WikiSlice. This is a neat service set up by Webaroo. It allows users to download sections of using Wikipedia's categories (or sub-categories). Example: search for philosophy and it tries to grab all of the relevant links (in this case that's 25,152 web pages). Unfortunately, a WikiSlice has to be under 2, 000 pages. So you can refine your search and download the "Philosophical Arguments" which is a more reasonable 271 pages. Damn it's frustrating when your selection is a couple hundred pages over the limit. Additionally, Webaroo let's you download any url and choose your own link depth -though it caps the capture at 999MB.

Bad news:
The new version also has a tonne of media crap and a relentless RSS feed that could sweep the coveted trifecta at the Malware Awards: "Meaningless" "Relentlessly Invasive" and "Tricky to Remove". The other catch is that Webaroo is constantly trying to update your downloads -even if they just finished -basically it's like a sad junkie, unaware that it's high and desperately seeking to score.

My current WebSlices (downloaded sections of Wikipedia because they are less than 2, 000 pages)
* Ancient Greeks
* Classical Greek philosophy
* First French Empire
* French Revolution
* Great Depression
* Philosophers by era
* Philosophical arguments
* Renaissance
* Roman era philosophy
* Roman Republic
* Socratic dialogues
* The Enlightenment
* Timelines of military conflicts

1 comment:

Prajakt Deolasee said...

Hi,

Thanks for using Wikislices and Webaroo 2 and it was heartening to read your comments and criticism. Let me try to address your concerns.

We had deliberately decided to limit the pages in Wikislice because lot of novice users unknowing commit to downloading a big slice and when it takes long time to download they get frustrated. So we just made a smart decision on behalf of user and we expect that most slices fits in this limit.

BTW, we are soon coming with whole Wikipedia download. It is approximately 4.5GB (just good enough to fit on a DVD) with more than 1M pages. We will also have a version which will run off the DVD. Its blistering fast and most convenient way of accessing/using Wikipedia. Please drop me a mail at prajakt@webaroo.com and we provide you to early beta build.

Now regarding your criticism on Webaroo 2. We had observed that lot of users struggle in discovering RSS url, downloading videos embedded in webpages and discovering photos so we provided them a small browser popup to help them discover this content. Its placed in a corner which we feel is not intrusive but delivers a meaningful feature. At the same time we have also provided all the handles to control these suggestions and alerts. In future version we will provide much finer controls to tune these suggestions and alerts. BTW, try visiting a Wikipedia page and the wikislice suggestion that you get will be really helpful. Also, I noticed on your blog that you have youtube channel, try to subscribe that in Webaroo 2.

- Prajakt
Director of Engineering, Webaroo Inc.
prajakt at webaroo.com
Webaroo 2
Wikislice