Saturday, December 20, 2014

Searching in Swedish / Söka på Svenska

Not to get too technical here, but I've come across something interesting that may be of use to my multi-national readers. I mentioned recently that my friend Anette sent me a great link to a Swedish distributor of party lights.

I had been searching quite extensively (or so I thought), but the website she forwarded was new to me. Why might that be? One advantage was that Anette was searching in Swedish, and although I try to use Swedish words, she, as a native, is obviously a lot better at it. Another trick is to use instead of as a starting point. Starting a search from a .se domain, and using Swedish words in the search, is the best way to find Swedish results. Makes sense, doesn't it?

One other way to improve the results of web searching is to use a VPN, or virtual private network. VPNs can be used to make you appear as if it you're in a different country.

When accessing a website, one's location is identified to a degree. If I'm in Chicago and type "Bears" into google, I'm going to first get results for the NFL football team, and not information about the kinds of bears that live in the woods. If I'm in the US, and searching for party lights, I'm going to see local providers, not ones in Europe.

A VPN can get around that location information and allow the user to 'pretend' they are in a different country. Such an ability can be useful for many reasons. Turkey, for example, has banned Twitter for political reasons, and a Turkish citizen can't access twitter from their country. If, however, that citizen used a VPN to pretend they were in a different country, they can get around their government's restrictions and tweet away.

More prosaically, some entertainment is restricted to the country of origin for rights purposes. I can watch "Saturday Night Live" on Hulu here in Texas, but I can't when I am in Sweden. A VPN would allow me to appear to the Hulu folks like I'm in the USA, so I can watch shows just as if I'm on my couch at home, even though I am very far away.

A VPN helps a lot if I am looking for Swedish content when I'm not in Sweden. I just set my VPN to make me look like I'm in Stockholm, and voila! I have the best of both worlds.

There are dozens of VPNs available, most are free, or very low cost. I use one called Tunnelbear, as it works simply on all my my Apple devices. It's worth giving it a try to see what the internet looks like from a different country!

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