Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 03, 2011

Auto-localization done wrong: Google

For the last 1,5 year, I've ended up spending my life between Stockholm (Sweden), Thessaloniki (Greece) and Eindhoven (Netherlands). And this has made me notice something about Google.

Their auto-localization is horrible.

Here's how it works: typing google.com into your browser takes you to the Google homepage of the country you're in. I'm currently in Greece, so typing google.com takes me to www.google.gr. When I'm in Sweden, it takes me to www.google.se. Right? Right.

As expected, the interface is localized. Greek menus for google.gr, swedish for google.se, etc etc. For the sake of consistency (and my sanity), I prefer all of my online services in English. So, I log into my Google account, hit Settings and make the appropriate changes. Ready to go.

Alas, Google has decided that this is not how things should work. Language settings are cookie-based, not account-based. Yes, using a different browser means that you have to do this AGAIN. Have a second computer? AGAIN.

The way cookies work means that each cookie is associated with one domain. So, yeah, travelling from Sweden to Greece means that every single setting I have done while in Sweden is useless, because Google is now redirecting me to google.gr. Different domain, different cookies, different settings. AGAIN.

So... the number of times you'll have to adjust your Google settings is something along the lines of:

(total number of browsers installed) x (number of visited countries)

Ah, countries visited. As some of you may know, there is no direct flight from Stockholm to Thessaloniki. My itineraries have a lay-over, usually in Prague (Czech Republic) or Budapest (Hungary). Both have beautiful airports and free Wi-Fi. You guessed correctly: Google redirects me to google.cz or google.hu respectively. Yes, no matter how many times you change your language settings, you still end up on an undecipherable Google homepage.

(btw, 'Settings' is 'Ρυθμίσεις' in Greek and 'Inställnigar' in Swedish)

Google offers a quick and dirty fix: at the bottom of its homepage there's the 'Google.com in English' link, which points to google.com/ncr, the un-localized English version of Google.com. IMHO, a very annoying and undignified solution.

Anyway, I eventually manage to adjust every single browser in my possession. Then a new headache arises. Typing a search term into Chrome's address bar brings out results from google.se. But... but... but I'm in Greece right now! I know I've set this up!

I haven't found an explanation for this yet, but it does seem to be caused by the fact that I was in Sweden when I downloaded this (probably swedish) version of Chrome, ALTHOUGH all menus in Chrome are in english.

So, I found this beautiful solution that seems to work for the time being: I switched my default search engine to Yahoo!.

4 σχόλια:

atmosx είπε...

Hmm, this post solves some issues I had in the past but never bothered that much.

You configured every browser in your possession? Even your iphone's browser(s)?

Konstantinos είπε...

google.com/ncr is always in my list of bookmarks for that same reason.

I sympathize with the general sentiment of the post, and agree that language settings should be account-based.

Regarding your last comment w/r/t Chrome's Omnibar, have you had a look at "Preferences" (Cmd + ,), "Search", "Manage"? You can add an entry for google.com (or better yet, encrypted.google.com) from there.

dtsomp είπε...

@atmosx No, I eventually gave up.

@Konstantinos Hmm, now that you mentioned the Search preferences, I noticed that 'Google' is set to google.se, which explains the problem. Still, not amused.

ka8y είπε...

egw sto exw pei, ayta ta pragmata einai tou satana. ou 666.