Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Google Gnome – Google Store (store.google.com)
164 points by stevewilhelm on Mar 31, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 95 comments

Almost certainly inspired by this story[1]:

'Around 2002, a team was testing a subset of search limited to products, called Froogle. But one problem was so glaring that the team wasn't comfortable releasing Froogle: when the query "running shoes" was typed in, the top result was a garden gnome sculpture that happened to be wearing sneakers. Every day engineers would try to tweak the algorithm so that it would be able to distinguish between lawn art and footwear, but the gnome kept its top position. One day, seemingly miraculously, the gnome disappeared from the results. At a meeting, no one on the team claimed credit. Then an engineer arrived late, holding an elf with running shoes. He had bought the one-of-a kind product from the vendor, and since it was no longer for sale, it was no longer in the index. "The algorithm was now returning the right results," says a Google engineer. "We didn't cheat, we didn't change anything, and we launched."'

[1] From "In the Plex" by Steven Levy https://books.google.com/books?id=V1u1f8sv3k8C&pg=PA60

Dear Google,

My browser (and by my browser I mean YOUR browser) is sending the header 'accept-language: en-US,en;q=0.8' on every request, because it is configured to prefer pages in English.

Therefore, THIS is not what I want to see when I load a page: http://imgur.com/AcugEjZ

Please stop detecting language based on IP when there's a perfectly good setting for it. People travel, you know? You do it on Blogger too - shame on you. :/

I wish Google catered to user preferences in this.

I am from Spain, but often strongly prefer to search for stuff in English (for example for news, as I want to avoid the hyperpartisan Spanish media). No matter what I do: even if I have the browser configured in English, Google configured to use English, and I go to google.co.uk instead of google.es, I type e.g. "Trump" in the search box and most of the results are in Spanish. I do get some English results, but on page 2.

The world is multilingual, actually there are estimates that over 50% of the world population is at least bilingual (even if this is not the case in the US, where the proportion is about 25%). You have an awesome search engine, is it that hard to add an option to choose the language or languages in which to search (possibly changing between searches, as we actually use different languages for different stuff, e.g. I teach in Spanish but do research in English) and then showing results in those languages unbiased by language?

PS: funnily enough, I see this particular page about the gnome in English.

I get the feeling that to a lot of americans, the concept of speaking more than one language is something wierd and unusual. If it happens, it's mostly because auf migration from one country to another. And if someone learns another language to a fluent level without moving to a different country it's an impressive achievement.

It isn't weird, almost all Americans study a second language in high school (or earlier). But it is unusual to achieve any facility with a second language, outside of Spanish in LA or Miami.

No, it is different, and it applies to most of the anglosphere outside of dual-language countries like Canada. In most of the non-english-speaking western world, almost everybody studies English as a second language and a lot of people study a third language in high school.

Yep I had this feeling too that we've got american standards on software. I switched to Safari when Chrome wanted to translate every page I read in English.

It's something Chrome does by default when you browse a site in a language that is different from your system's.

My OS is set to French and Chrome ask me to translate English webpages in French.

You should be able to disable this behavior in settings by searching for translate


and deselecting `Offer to translate pages that aren't in a language you read`. Or maybe you tried it and it didn't work as expected?

They do. 2 to 4 years back they finally after many years managed to follow user settings. You need to change your language in 3 different places (account, security and Google plus iirc) but it works for me to show everything in English even though I usually love in Germany

Also ridiculous: if I search "weather Copenhagen" the information is displayed in Fahrenheit and mph, which is completely useless to me. I've found no way to change this.

I'm in Denmark, the browser sends en-IE.

There is a setting under settings tab in DuckDuckGo called units of measurement. Everyone can change it.

Fahrenheit and MPH too, from Sweden.

Here in the UK it shows as Celsius and m/s

MPH would actually make sense here but they don't even use that. Really strange.

[EDIT]: I just tried it in a private tab and sure enough get Fahrenheit and MPH. It can't be that hard for them to localise this.

If I search for "weather" on http://www.google.com, I get the weather in Portuguese (Portugal). However, if I perform the same query on http://encrypted.google.com, I get the weather in Portuguese (Brazil).

I'm on a VPN out of Tampa Florida and I see the same page but in Spanish. Shakin' my head.

Google is really bad with this. This is especially annoying as an expat who doesn't speak the local language. I'm really glad I switched away from Google a long time ago (using startpage.com for search).

When I was an expat, I used to use google.com/ncr ("no country redirect") to avoid being redirected to a results page I couldn't understand.

Duckduckgo has this solved, with a regions option at the top of the search results and cookies that save your choice.

Not useful for the Google April fools joke though.

I wonder how many people there are with browsers sending en-US but who want non-English results.

The current behavior might make more people happy, at least in the short term.

I don't think there are many. Typically the browser gets the locale from the OS, and the OS is sold with the locale of the place where it's bought. I don't think I know anyone who has the browser in en-US without their knowledge.

Almost everybody with pirated Windows.

Well, it's their browser. If it's doing that (requesting en-US rather than OS locale) when it shouldn't, they ought to fix it.

While that would be ideal, from Google's point of view the number of travelers is so small that it might be more sensible to cater to the native users. Also, on average they are less likely to know how to change these settings or that such settings even exist.

Native users who have their locale set to English often also prefer websites to serve them English, at least until they ask otherwise.

And such people most certainly know how to change the setting, or that the setting in question exists. After all, they did change the locale in their OS (or installed an English version of it, instead of the one localized for their market).

If I search in English, why the hell would they display local results? Makes no sense.

Used to be you could use Google.com, and later Google.ca or co.uk (because .com started auto-redirecting to your local tld), but not anymore.

Is that not controlled by the OS locale settings? Or are non-English-speaking people just using their computers entirely in English?

Anyone else tired of the April 1st stuff? Lots of stuff has been showing up since the 31st too. I used to enjoy the holiday because it had some built-in restraint (no pranks after midday) and I'll admit for the first little while internet companies getting in on it was fun. But they've ruined it by over saturating it. How many pranks does one company need to put out?

Edit: In fact it might inject more fun again if Google and everyone else only showed the pranks up until midday based on your location and if you were interested you had to find them before then or you wouldn't get to see them live.

It's kind of cringeworthy that Google is still doing this. They're not the small, "cool" startup anymore. It's like the popular kid from high school who kept hanging out in the parking lot years after graduating

I don't know about that. IMO they are the coolest of the big companies - Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Amazon all feel more corporate-y.

Or it's just silly and the people working there like to have a little fun like everyone else?

It's not though, they clearly put a lot of effort into these things. It's just a marketing exercise.

yeah, that's the thing, they're putting in so much effort on these - it's like a PR thing.

But it's not funny.

It is to someone.

I'm not tired of it. If google wants to spend money on this, then it's their prerogative.

Also, locking pranks by timezone won't work on the internet. At most it would just frustrate people in (for example) PST who want to play with or see the pranks that people in EST get access to.

I don't think they're spending money on this. Maybe some Googlers worked this out on their 20% time. Which is designated to not be of much commercial use anyway.

You don't think they're spending money on this?! I would venture a guess they're spending at LEAST $1m on April Fools jokes alone. That includes time (beyond the 20% project) and hiring production companies to make spots like this.

I mean, just imagine the sheer number of personhours needed to create the Google Maps Pac Man game.

That being said, this money is a drop in the ocean for them, and the fact that it gets coverage on plenty of places, it's probably a pretty solid marketing move.

20% time doesn't exist anymore.

Yes it does. If the project is related to your job you can easily get your manager to let you spend 20% of your time on the side project and 80% on your current job.

However If the project has nothing to do with your current job your manager might have you work at 120%. And you are still responsible for your job and on top of that you can do the side project. However unlike other companies google will fund the project.

(Disclaimer I work at google and have been granted to take a week off work for a 20% project. And done the whole 120% time for a project)

So.. 20% doesn't exist anymore. What you've describe is nothing like the original 20% time.

"if the project is related to your job" -- the whole point of 20% time was that _you_ choose what you work on, not the manager that defines the boundaries of your job.

"120%"? Isn't that the same as "not paid to work on this, but company owns it"?

I think you've drunk the koolaid.

120% in yes you are doing more then 40 hours a week. But google pays for all expenses of project and you can use said project to get a promotion.

A good example of this is people using Google servers to analyze all the code on GitHub to patch sec vulnerabilities. Or adding Easter eggs to Google search. There's also one team building a full fledged flight simulator from scratch and google is paying for the space, workshop, computers, and some raw supplies.

I don't see what's changed from a 20% project of past.

Your manager is doing it wrong. A 20% project does not have to be related to your current job, and you shouldn't have to get manager approval - just let them know. They can request you bank your time for a while, but that's it.

The timezone point was that everyone gets access up until midday in their own timezone. So in EST they have it until 12pm EST and in PST they have it until 12pm PST.

No one wants to see this tired marketing chum. The "creatives" are probably more useful starting next year's Super Bowl ad, or putting on monkey suits and dancing in the lobby, or busking in front of the building.

Or maybe the "jokes" could only be served over http, not https, and would gradually fade into the background.

I think it's early this year because people don't want to release stuff on the weekend.

I can't wait for next year, then.

I'm tired of people saying that they are tired of it. It's one freaking day of the year on the internet. You know, you could just work today and not visit too many websites and you'd never know if there were a "lot" of April 1st stuff. I don't care for these april pranks at all, but to complain about it is just next level.

I'm saving my money for google XFCE.

No need to save much, it will certainly be cheaper! ;)

I loled. This was much funnier than the actual video.

I get "Not available in your region."

I love geolocked April fools even better than the regular ones.

I, unfortunately, didn't get geoblocked. I could tolerate geoblocking if if meant april fools jokes were limited to a single day instead of encroaching onto May 31 as well.

I don't think they're encroaching quite that far...

Can I see a screenshot?

There's a brilliant Dead Kennedys song called "Halloween," about how you plan all year for that one night you'll cut loose and dress crazy... but that night you're still self-conscious and hiding in a mask, and nothing's changed. The next day and the next year, you'll just brag about that one night, but there was nothing there and nothing in between.

That captures best my feelings about these tech gags. You wanna be silly and funny? Awesome, do something silly and funny. But don't wait for the Corporate-Approved Silly Day, and then just run the formula ("take product X and dress it up like endearing or ridiculous product Y"), and then expect me to be delighted by the joke, which I didn't participate in, and I could have predicted at this point since 2008.



That's such a good reference, and a great explanation of why today is so irritating. It was always a dumb holiday, but thank the internet for turning it into corporate Halloween.

I suppose it's a bit stingy, but the fact that this is basically a semi-stealth ad for the Home, and the giant ad for the Home on the page, is a turn off on this. Cramming ads even into "jokes" kills what little fun there is left in April Fools.

OK, Gnome is better than saying OK, Google. I still can't believe Google decided NOT to give its personal assistant a name and personality.

That was actually smart of them. To "google" has something has become a new verb in English. You'd never hear someone say to "siri", "bing" (sorry, MS), or "cortana" for something.

Instead, you can go and "ask" google directly to do something for you.

The one you left out (Alexa) is very common.

I do remember a time when Google was making real product announcements too good to be true on April, 1st. I guess this time is done.

I was a little taken aback by the giant ad for google home at the bottom as well...

Gmail was released around the same time as Google nose tho.

The internet has ruined April Fools day.

It's April 1st somewhere.

At least it's on a Saturday this year.

I guess it depends on the calendar being used. :)

Actually, for those using other calendar systems, is April fools day today or some other day?

My exact thought.

Why would I use this? Knowing Google they will probably cut support for it in a couple of years, leaving me with a gnome-shaped brick.

Or following the recent trend, they could launch 3 different alternatives doing the same thing: Google leprechaun, Google elf, and Google troll.

They'd close support for it in a couple years, but they'd keep the voice recordings around forever!

Joke's on you; they already don't support it. They've gone from a couple of years to none at all!

It's an April Fool's Joke..

For a brief second after reading the title, I thought I might be getting a Google Drive client on Linux... jokes on me!

Was hoping this would be GNOME-related.

Achievement Unlocked: Mocking a competitor's product (Amazon's​ Alexa) on April's Fool

I kind of want this to be real, if only so that someone will hack in the Gnome insults from Fable 3:


This is good, but my personal favorite was Google TiSP. :-)


Damn, after reading the description I wish it wasn't April Fool's. I'd totally get one with the dino floatie and little lawn chair.

April Fools day is the worst. Thanks Internet.

When I first saw the gnome I thought it would eventually tie into HL3, but alas, these dreams are still only dreams.

"Google Gnomes are real, but only in our hearts — for now. Happy April Fools’!"

The YouTube video triggered the Google search on the tablet I was watching the video on.

Ads are getting smarter.

I'm geoblocked. Can someone explain what this is?

It is an April Fools joke. Like Google Home, but gnome-shaped and for 'automating your yard'.

Thank you.

Haha. I enjoyed this and I like the April Fools jokes.

It's April 1st already.

Time to log off the internet, thankfully it's on Saturday.

April 1st, got it.

shut up and take my money

It's actually a real product, my roommate has been working on it for the past months. I think it was initially supposed to be launched last summer, but there was a bunch of technical issues + scope creep and it's only happening now. Seems like a misstep to announce this so close to April Fool's Day, but apparently the higher ups couldn't tolerate any more delays. I understand the confusion, but if you look at the site you can see it's actually available for sale.

Wouldn't it be really cool if this post is true and they launch the product next week?

I mean, I know it is a joke.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact