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Mon, Jan 13, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Student builds fast browser program

AFP , DUBLIN

A computer browser that is said to least quadruple surfing speeds on the Internet has won the top prize at an Irish exhibition for young scientists, it was announced on Saturday.

Adnan Osmani, 16, a student at Saint Finian's College in Mullingar, central Ireland spent 18 months writing 780,000 lines of computer code to develop the browser.

Known as "XWEBS," the system works with an ordinary Internet connection using a 56K modem on a normal telephone line.

The software was tested by scientists at University College, Dublin last week and they found it boosted surfing speeds by between 100 percent and 500 percent depending on the basic dial-up connection rate.

Adnan says a six-fold increase is about the maximum practical boost.

"At seven times it actually crashes so I have limited it to six."

Other special aspects of his browser are the fact that access to 120 Internet search engines other features such as music and video players are built in.

"It has got every single media player built in. It is the first Internet browser in the world to actually incorporate a DVD sidebar. So you can watch a DVD movie in whatever screen size you want and browse the Internet at the same time."

To make the software more user friendly, it features a talking animated figure called Phoebe.

"The character interacts the entire way through the software. It can also read out web pages and e-mail and I thought it would be really useful for the blind and young children because they can't really experience the Internet.

"Someone like parents or guardians can load up some Web pages and it can read out the pages to them," the young programmer said.

A number of communications and computer companies have visited Adnan's stand at the Young Scientists exhibition in Dublin. He only patented his invention to protect it last Thursday.

"Five or six companies have approached me about it. I am keeping a lid on it for the time being. I am just waiting until after the exhibition and then I will try to get it all organized."

He said he was still in a state of shock as he had not expected to win and had only told three of his teachers last week about his competition entry.

"I thought I might get a good place."

He wants to study computer engineering in Harvard University and eventually set up his own Internet or computer company.

"Winning is a nice boost to my university application," he said with a smile.

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