In Helvetica now

I have many things I would like to write about, but I figured I would take a few seconds to express my annoyance that because my hostname now ends in ».ch«, Google automatically assumes that I want my interface and searches to be in German by default.  Which I  probably also really annoys the third of the country where German is not the primary language.


  1. Alan Schmitt said,

    November 29, 2007 @ 5:49 am

    Stop playing with my mind: after reading the title, I had thought you had switched fonts on your blog 😉

    So how do you like Switzerland? “Fondue forks for everybody”?

  2. brian said,

    November 29, 2007 @ 7:39 am

    Yeah, I had a similar problem with Google when I was in Italy. At least they provide a way to set your language preference.

  3. Karl said,

    November 29, 2007 @ 9:34 am

    Whereas I had a similar problem with getting the correct association for Helvetica. Especially since it’s you.

  4. washburn said,

    November 30, 2007 @ 5:48 am

    @ Alan and Karl

    The pun was too good to pass up.

    @ Brian

    Doesn’t that require logging in, or at least keeping a cookie around?

  5. brian said,

    November 30, 2007 @ 5:55 am

    @ washburn

    Yes, but I already use Google Reader on a daily basis.

  6. Joshua Dunfield said,

    November 30, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

    It uses the hostname? That’s silly. I assumed it used the language (locale?) list in the HTTP request header, because when I had OS X set to French, Google used to come up in French.

  7. washburn said,

    December 2, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

    @ Joshua

    It is possible that it will use both sorts of information. It is probable that for .ca Google will return English by default, but because you had set OS X to French, the “accept-language” header indicated that you would accept French and therefore it defaulted to that.

    I could imagine that by default most web browsers in Switzerland are not sending the correct “accept-language” headers, so that Google just went with German as a good guess. At least my freshly configured Ubuntu workstation sends “en-us, en” for “accept-language”. No matter how I set the locale on the command line, Firefox still reports “en-us, en”, so there may be some Firefox stupidity involved here too.

  8. Tobias said,

    December 3, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

    I assume you mean Helvetia (no c). With c it’s an adjective; or a font.

  9. washburn said,

    December 3, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

    @ Tobias

    I think it comes from a combination of simply dropping the “Confoederatio” prefix and not knowing Latin.

  10. Tobias said,

    December 3, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

    Don’t worry, the original proposal for a US marketable name was indeed Helvetia, but the swiss designers declined, because they’d rather not call typeface like a country, so they went with the “typeface of Switzerland”, hence Helvetica. (That’s info from the doku.)

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