Old Xbox One Boots Up in… čeština?

As a longtime Xbox fan, I would have an Xbox Series X by now if it weren’t for the global semiconductor supply chain in disarray. In the meantime, I continue to play on my Xbox One X which was 4K UHD capable variation that launched in 2017. It replaced my first-generation Xbox One, which has been collecting dust on a shelf. (Along with its bundled Kinect V2.) But unlike my Xbox 360, that old Xbox One is still part of the current Xbox ecosystem. I should still be able play my Xbox One game library, though I’d be limited to digital titles because its optical drive is broken. (One of the reasons I retired it.)

I thought I would test that hypothesis by plugging it in and downloading updates, I’m sure there have been many major updates over the past five years. But there was a problem. When I powered it up, it showed me this screen in a language I can’t read.

Typing this text into Google Translate website, language auto-detection told me this is in Czech and it is a menu to start an update. Interesting… why Czech? It can’t be a geographical setting in the hardware, because it is a US-spec Xbox purchased in the state of Washington. It can’t be a geolocation based on IP address, either, as I’m connected online via a US-based ISP. And if there was some sort of system reset problem, I would have expected the default to be either English or at least something at the start of an alphabetical list like Albanian or Arabic or something along those lines. Why Czech?

Navigating the next few menus (which involved lots of typing into Google Translate) I finally completed required update process and reached the system menu where I could switch language to English. Here I saw the language was set to “čeština” which was at the top of this list. Aha! My Xbox had some sort of problem and reset everything. Including language setting to the top of the list of languages it had installed. I don’t know what the root problem was, but at least that explains how I ended up with Czech.

After I went through all of this typing, I learned I was an idiot. I should have used the Google Translate app on my Android phone instead of the website. I thought using the website on my computer was faster because I had a full-sized keyboard for typing where my phone did not. But the phone has a camera, and the app can translate visually with no typing at all. Here I’m running it on the screen capture I made of the initial bootup screen shown above.

Nice! It looks like the app runs optical character recognition on the original text, determine the language was Czech, perform the translation, and superimposes translated English text on top of original text. The more I thought about what is required to make this work, the more impressed I am. Such as the fact display coordinate transforms had to be tracked between language representations so the translated text can be superimposed at the correct location. I don’t know how much of this work is running on my phone and how much is running on a Google server. Regardless of workload split, it’s pretty amazing this option was just sitting in my pocket.

What was I doing? Oh, right: my old Xbox One. It is up and running with latest system update, capable of downloading and running my digitally purchased titles. In US-English, even. But by then I no longer cared about Xbox games, the translation app is much more interesting to play with.

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