The Burger Bug at the Chrome Diner

by Peter_vdL Motorola 07-18-2012 09:44 AM - edited 07-19-2012 06:56 AM

Mention “Russia” at any cocktail party, and someone will quickly inform you of Churchill’s epic description that Russia “is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”  But they always forget Churchill added the remark that there is a key to that enigma-contained, mystery-wrapped riddle ride.  Churchill was speaking about the difficulty of predicting Russia’s actions in response to the outbreak of World War II (which happened for the British in 1939 - two years earlier than the American history books have it).  The key that Churchill had in mind was “the self-interest of the Russian people”, but there are other keys to understanding the behavior of people who live in Russia.

We’ll get back to Russia in a minute.  For now, consider a recent bug report against the Chrome browser.   The Chrome browser is important to mobile developers for several reasons, foremost among them that Chrome recently surpassed Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to become the world’s most popular browser. In addition, Google has clarified its long-term plan: Chrome will become the standard browser on Android 4.0 and above.

The current status is that Chrome for Android Beta can be installed from Android Market. It does not yet replace your Android browser, and you can have both on your Android Ice Cream Sandwich or later device. Google’s focus is on getting feedback on Chrome for Android Beta, and improving the software until it is able to replace the current browser.  Bug reports are the way to do both those things.  You can search or file bug reports against Chrome at and against Android at .

Most smartphones are single user devices, but the desktop version of Chrome has a setting (reached by entering the url chrome://chrome/settings/) that lets you keep track of multiple users. That way, everyone can have their own bookmarks and other configuration data.  Users can choose their avatar icon.   One of the standard icons is a cheeseburger, shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: the cheeseburger icon in the Chrome browser

The Chrome bug report that I’m describing here is filed in May 2012.   It reports that the cheese in this cheeseburger icon is in the wrong place in the bun!   Figure 2 shows a larger version of the icon, as well as the graphic that the bug submitter provided to demonstrate the issue.  You have to admit, the bug submitter appears to be right.  The bug submitter uses the word "cutlet" instead of "patty" because he lives in Russia, and is not a native English speaker.  (See?  We did get back to Russia eventually).


Figure 2: blown up burger icon, plus annotated image from the bug report

Why would anyone submit such a bug? Whimsy has a long tradition in software development. The default contact picture in Microsoft Outlook 2010 is a silhouette of Bill Gates's mugshot picture from his 1977 traffic arrest, for example.   The Chrome engineers played along with the fun, adding comments to the bug report like “Keep in mind that it would be harder to see both the cheese and the meat clearly if the cheese were between the meat and the lettuce, where it belongs. Sometimes we have to make these difficult sacrifices to improve usability.”  Someone dug up a picture from McDonalds of a burger with similar low altitude cheese positioning.  Many subsequent comments in the report are hilarious.  People started submitting designs for a new burger icon, and a guy in Australia claims that they put beetroot on their burgers (horrifying, if true).

I wanted to get a comment from the burger bug submitter himself for this blog post, so I emailed him.  The burger bug submitter is a student and a web designer whom I’ll call “Eugene” (because that’s his name).  He lives in a small town in Russia, about 600 miles east of Moscow.  It’s wonderful how the internet brings practical jokers together from across the world.  Eugene emailed back to say he did not want to be interviewed, probably in the mistaken belief that I deprecated his work rather than admiring it. The last line of his email (perhaps) holds the key to Eugene’s motivation in filing the burger bug report.  It read simply, in Russian,

Отправлено с iPhone

which translates as

sent from my iPhone

And there you have it.  A riddle inside a mystery, wrapped in a cheeseburger, solved.

Peter van der Linden
Android Technology Evangelist

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