David Rubin of Quintessential Interiors pointed out a strange bug in the Google Directions widget where it will only calculate distances in kilometers even on US based sites and domains. He noted:
I have come across another Google problem that seems to be right up your alley. While testing the Google Directions Gadget that I installed on a site I noticed that all results give distances in kilometers instead of miles. Also, the gadget results tend to be somewhat slow and unreliable, resulting in a scripting error on some pages. The only support available is in the help forums, which indicate that the distance units are determined by the country origin of the domain, and cannot be manipulated by the webmaster. Interestingly, every site in the Google Gadget examples, including Harvard University, Dartmouth University, Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport and others all display in kilometers. I’m pretty sure these domains are US based.
I’m guessing that what is going on is that the gadget is directing to a Google server somewhere overseas. This would explain the slowness of the results and the wrong distance units. If I’m right it means that the gadget is looking at the Google server location and not the requesting site’s location. Just a guess, because, as we all know, Google provides no support.
It seems like Google continuously rolls out some great stuff, but it’s buggy and unsupported. Then they move on to more great stuff without really getting the last great thing right. I may be overstating things, but it seems like a path to becoming one big heap of mediocrity. Thanks again.
I created a new widget for a site I was working on and confirmed the weird behavior. But I think there may be a more likely theory: Google has joined an international cabal to help push the US market into the metric world. 🙂 Here is the widget for you to try:Google Directions Widget Goes Wacky by Mike Blumenthal