Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chrome: joke of the day - not properly recognizing Google's own web site

I wanted to check my Google AdSense account for the first time since I starting experimenting with the new Google Chrome Web browser. Certainly AdSense was in my old IE browser history, but I was not sure what Chrome would recognize. I typed "google.com/ads" but Chrome was still not able to suggest a URL. I finished typing "adsense" and hit Enter. Chrome showed "https://google.com/adsense" as the URL in the address box, but with the "https" crossed out with a red slash (I did not type "https") and the following message in the page display area:

This is probably not the site you are looking for!

You attempted to reach google.com, but instead you actually reached a server identifying itself as www.google.com. This may be caused by a misconfiguration on the server or by something more serious. An attacker on your network could be trying to get you to visit a fake (and potentially harmful) version of google.com. You should not proceed.

What a hoot! Google not being able to recognize its own web site!

Actually, the problem relates to a mismatch in the security certificate, google.com vs. www.google.com. If I try the same experiment in IE, I get a more useful message:

There is a problem with this website's security certificate.

The security certificate presented by this website was issued for a different website's address.

Security certificate problems may indicate an attempt to fool you or intercept any data you send to the server.

This is really a goof on Google's part. They should have http://google.com/adsense be a non-secure page that then redirects to https://www.google.com/adsense.

Still, Chrome was less than helpful and even less helpful than IE, although the message is correct when it suggested that the problem might be "caused by a misconfiguration on the server."

Just to rub it in, I would note that "misconfiguration" is not even a real word! Ask Google to define it by searching for "define" followed by the word and Google does not offer a dictionary definition. My suggestion is that the phrase be re-worded as "caused by an improper configuration of the server."

To be fair, misconfigured is in fairly common use, especially for networking, so it probably should be added to dictionaries, at least to the online dictionary of computing and other IT glossaries. And of course it should be added to Microsoft's dictionaries for Word, Outlook, and Outlook Express.

-- Jack Krupansky

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