Now, it seems I can't do a straight search, even quoted text returns results that don't contain the string I'm looking for it's highly frustrating.
It must be working for others but when I need to use Google for anything serious now (rather than a general query) it is a lot harder to get it to return good results at the top of the SERPs.
The worst are the 1st-result-has-none-of-your-keywords type queries. Aagh! At least they used to placate you with "pages pointing to this result use that keyword".
Google really needs to give a secret power user page, where there are no word substitutions or dropping.
But, like I say, that's not most people. For most people the fact that Google can search for C++ or can tell the difference between some words or can include useful alternates for search terms is fantastic.