Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here Be Dragons - Using Stuff in Less Popular Country

Not much space left for label
I live in one of those small countries that nobody heard about until they appear in TV show. OK, there is more that that, but we are slightly off the grid. Nevertheless,  we are up-to-date with technology. Although vendors provide Croatian on almost anything (Windows, mobiles, TVs), I personally prefer English because labels are pretty standard. If you take any vendor's mobile phone, options are named similarly. For Croatian, everybody has its own naming convention, so it takes some time to get used to it.

Recently I upgraded Android on my mobile and, feeling adventurous, switched it to Croatian. It was both funny and annoying. In "Settings", translators decided that "On" and "Off" shouldn't be abbreviated, but rather they used full Croatian words "Uključeno" and "Isključeno". Check the picture above how much space is left for label text ("Wi-Fi" and "Bluetooth").

Currents messed up
Address book was even funnier. I couldn't figure out why are home phone numbers called "Starting" until I translated label form Croatian back to English: in English, "home" means both "starting", as in "home screen", and place where you live. In Croatian, domain of the word is narrower and couldn't be used in both places.

Google's version of the Flipboard, Currents, is particularly nasty: if phone is set to Croatian, layout is messed up although I read articles in English.

Wanna type? Can do, but without spelling checker. Luckily most of the 3rd party keyboards supports it. I would recommend Swype, SwiftKey or MultiLing Keyboard.

As you already guessed, my phone is set to English again.

I'm picking on Android only because it is the latest incarnation of the problem. To be fair to Google, they introduced Croatian to Translate quite early. I would say shockingly early.

Some time ago, I started to register on different sites on the Internet with my name written with Croatian characters. I figured that these days everyone is using Unicode anyway so it shouldn't be problem for neither applications nor databases. I was wrong. Email confirmations for registrations will arrive with my name seriously distorted. I thought that applications didn't caught up, but problem was deeper: PHP, number one language for scripting web sites still doesn't support Unicode. 21 years after its introduction and 17 years after Java brought Unicode as the only way to store strings, PHP still doesn't support it and it will not support it for some time, until one day delayed version 6 is released.

There is much more to rant about, but I'll give just short overview:
  • Google Navigation - one of the reasons to buy Android, but doesn't work in most countries
  • Siri - one of the reasons to buy iPhone 4s, but doesn't even work for non-US English
  • Music, movie and some application markets (like Amazon) - don't even try
Equality of the nations is measured by equality of their markets.