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They’re just trying to be helpful

The Computer Corner

All you want to know about computers by Charles Miller

They’re just trying to help; they’re just trying to help. That is what I keep repeating silently to myself as I sit here gritting my teeth while trying to surf the Internet. To clarify my statement, “they” are various web site designers at Google who created the search page I’m using, and “here” is this charming little hotel in Wadi Mousa, Jordan, near Petra, where I happen to be sitting as I type this. What has provoked all the gnashing of teeth is that my computer went crazy while I was trying to check out some advice I was given about a 12th century Crusader’s castle located near here.

A natural place to start researching something like that is to visit the web site, where it is possible to find almost anything, or in this case, anywhere. I pulled up that site in my web browser to search for “Shobak Castle” and that is where the problems began. Google assumed that since I was in Jordan where the local language is Arabic and I searched for a local address that I must be an Arab. Right?

Wrong! I was glad to find where Shobak Castle is located, and I realize Google was trying to be helpful, but my Google maps page is now all in Arabic script, and it is flipped so that it now reads right to left. Lucky for me, as a computer tech, I know what is going on here, but I am writing this for the benefit of readers who might otherwise completely freak out under these circumstances. If I spoke Arabic, all I would have to do is click on the menu icon then click on Search Settings and change to English, but that is difficult for me because my keyboard does not have any of those letters. Google really should have thought of this before making changes to my browser with no obvious way to undo them.

If this ever happens to you there is no reason to panic. Take a deep breath and you will see that some familiar controls on your screen are unchanged. I refer to the “start” button, pull-down menus, etc. You may use these controls to delete the offending cookies and cached web content to put your web browser back to normal. Also, when this happens it is likely to affect only one web site. In my case it was Google Maps. My search page and others were still in English.

If you already know how to delete cookies from your web browser, this is probably all you need to do to fix the unwanted changes made by Google. For more information on how to do this you may search the web for “delete browser cookies” to find articles titled “How to Delete Cookies in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE & Edge” and “11 Ways to Clear Your Browser’s Cookies,” describing exactly how to clear your browser of the cookies that changed your language preferences from English to Spanish or Swahili. This would be a good skill for you to learn now.

So, as I wrote in the beginning of this column: They’re just trying to be helpful.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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