Also, I know from considerable experience that the plus operator had a distinct meaning from the quotes operator so this change definitely implies that Google queries will be less fine-grained no matter what quotes means now.
Yes, Google is worse and worse for anything technical.
If you want something more fine-grained, blekko claims to filter results by category. e.g. "select /programming" https://blekko.com/ws/select+/programming will return results for "select" in the "programming" category.
My complaint about Bing for technical querying is that when I tell them I want an exact phrase by wrapping it with quotes, it doesn't always believe me that I really do want that phrase to appear in the result page.
Some of those other operators look promising, though. I'll have to try them out.
Exactly - the results for most things are fine, but when it comes to searching for some technical topics, I have to look 5 pages further to find something useful (and I'm not even talking about the age of a lot of first page results - that can fortunately be filtered).