Your Google stories: and some other ways we help people find things

This is part of a series of stories from people who have shared how Google has helped them in their lives. If you missed the rest of the stories this week, check them out—and if you have a Google story, tell us about it. -Ed.

Of all the great stories people send us, some simply make us laugh and appreciate even more why we’re in the search business. For our final post in our series of your Google stories, we’re sharing three tales that we found particularly funny and unique. We hope they make for good Friday summer reading. Enjoy!

Just last month, Trichelle wrote about how Google helped with the rediscovery of a lost wallet:

Received: 7/18/2010
From: Trichelle
This isn't really a question but a great story I thought Google would be interested in hearing. Today I called my daughter in St. Louis and found out her friends that were suppose to be coming to see her in St. Louis were stuck in Chicago because the driver's keys and wallet were lost. They searched everywhere cancelled credit cards and tried to have a new car key made....but without ID could not. The group was getting angry at Brandon the one who lost the keys and wallet, and my daughter in St. Louis was highly disappointed because her friends she hadn't seen in a long time were not going to be able to come see her. Well I'm in Perry Georgia and decided to google "Brandon [Brandon’s last name] wallet". And low and behold the first thing that comes up is a Chicago Craigslist entry telling Brandon his wallet had been found and where he could pick it up. I then called Brandon and he and his wallet were reunited and now the group is on the way to my daughter in St. Louis For the record, after the fact I tried Yahoo and Bing and no wallet. Google rocks!

On to the next:

From: Usman
You ever hear a song that you wish you knew the name of? Usually you can just Google a few key lyrics to find the answer, but when the song has no lyrics, one has to get creative. This was the case a few years ago when I was tasked with finding out the name of that famous circus/carnival music, you know, with the calliope, like, the clown music people usually hum in situations when someone's just done something silly.. you know, it kind of goes like "doot doot doodle-oodle oot doot do do?" Sorta? Of course it's more likely that you'd recognize the tune if I could whistle it to you. Except everyone I'd whistled to, despite recognizing the tune, had no clue what the name of the song was. So, on a whim, I googled it. That is, I went to Google Search, typed in "doot doot doodle-oodle oot doot do do" (without quotes, even!), clicked "I'm Feeling Lucky"—and guess what? It's called "Entrance of the Gladiators"—also known as "Thunder and Blazes" -- by Czech composer Julius Fučík. Good ear, Google, good ear.

And finally ...

From: Michelle
I'm a librarian and I use Google all day every day. Today I helped a senior citizen find the telephone number of the company that made her frying pan. Her frying pan handle had broke and she wanted it replaced. She had actually brought the frying pan into the library where I work, because it had been many years since she had purchased it and didn't know who the manufacturer was. I searched the words on the underside of the pan and not only found the manufacturer, but found that the pan had a 50 year guarantee! One satisfied Library patron, thanks to Google.

We hope you enjoyed these stories as much as we did. We’ll work hard on making Google even more helpful, so that you’ll keep ‘em coming!

Your Google stories: reunited and it feels so good

This is part of a series of stories from people who have shared how Google has helped them in their lives. Check back tomorrow for the last post, and if you have a Google story, tell us about it. -Ed.

Like most search quality engineers at Google, the projects I work on revolve around helping people find information. The vast amount of content on the web makes this a daunting task—sometimes it feels like searching for a needle in a field full of haystacks. I've always thought one of the amazing abilities of search is how it can sift through that content to help make a connection that otherwise would never be made.

Because of this, some of my favorite search stories come from people who have used Google to reunite with loved ones and family members. It's inspiring to know that search has played a role in creating some of the most important moments in people's lives. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Willie met Elizabeth long before Google existed, but used search to find her 24 years later:

Received: 1/20/2010
From: Willie
I would like to thank you for helping to bring me together with my girlfriend. We hope you will enjoy hearing how your company played a part in our wonderful romance. Here's how it happened:

Elizabeth and I originally met in a club in 1986. We hit it off very well in that brief encounter but did not start a relationship at that time. Twenty-four years later, because she had made such a powerful impression, I still remembered Elizabeth well. I decided to try to contact her. I Googled her, using her name and hometown and was delighted to find her in the top spot. I emailed her, and we began an email and texting campaign. We were reunited several weeks later, fell in love soon after, and have been inseparable ever since. Thank you Google for enabling me to find my sweetheart all these years later!

Jennifer also used Google search to reunite with an old flame after 18 years:

Received: 1/8/2010
From: Jennifer
Twenty-one years ago I was an art student living in London. One day a friend talked me into having a beer after our painting class...little did I know that one decision would change my life forever. That afternoon we walked into a pub in Nottinghill and I saw a really cute guy having tea with a friend—he and I couldn't stop looking at each other! As I got up to leave, I told him he was “cute” so he asked me out. Because of my busy schedule at school we only had one date but I was absolutely smitten with him. (He used to slip love notes through my front door in the morning.) A few weeks later, I had to return to the US and I phoned him from Heathrow to say good-bye and that I was sorry I didn't get to spend more time with him. I had been busy with my final exams, but he just assumed I had been brushing him off which was not true! I was only 20 years old and I knew I had to go back home to the US, how could it possibly work?

Fast forward 18 years and I'm sitting in my apartment in NYC and thinking about my long lost Hans. I Googled his name and found him still living in London. I sent him an email and asked him if he remembered me. He wrote back and said “Yes” and that he would be traveling to NYC in two weeks and could we have dinner? Our first official date was Waldorf salad at the Waldorf Astoria. We discovered after all those years that the initial spark was still there. We dated back and forth between NYC and London for two years. Last year he moved back to the Netherlands and he asked me to join him a few months later. We got married on August 21, 2009.

And Adrian from the Netherlands was able to locate his biological mother using Google:

Received: 11/9/2009
From: Adrian
For many years I have been using Google as a search tool looking for my biological mother in Australia. In May 2009 a Google search led me to my mother's name on an Internet site. From there I was able to research and confirm that the name on the Google page was in fact my real mother. I made contact in June 2009 and we have been enjoying a wonderful reunion via email and telephone ever since. My mother is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on December 12 2009 and after 43 years we get to meet each other in person for the fist time. My new-found mother will now be able to share Christmas with her new found family.

It isn't often that a mild-mannered software engineer gets to help two people find one another decades later or on different sides of an ocean. I appreciate both the opportunity to help make these connections and the people behind these stories for sharing them. Thanks, and keep on searching!

Your Google stories: finding the right words

This is part of a series of stories from people who have shared how Google has helped them in their lives. Check back the rest of this week for more, and if you have a Google story, tell us about it. -Ed.

I work on projects to help people communicate between languages—whether to read in foreign languages, write in different scripts or chat with people in other countries. Helping people understand information and each other, regardless of language, is an incredibly rewarding experience. This is why it’s always exciting to hear real testimonials from people who have used our language tools—especially in unexpected ways.

Ryan, from Ottawa, shared this moving story of how he used Google Transliteration to learn his future fiancée’s native language:

Received: 1/14/2010
From: Ryan
In October 2009, I proposed to my wonderful girlfriend, Irina, and am happy to report we are getting married this Summer. Although we met and fell in love in North America, I am from the United States, while she is originally from Bangladesh.

As our relationship developed, I naturally felt compelled to learn my fiancee's native language, to better understand her life and to learn to communicate to her non-English-speaking family members.
Recalling my junior high Spanish courses, I put together a list of English words I figured I should learn in Bangla and passed the list to Irina. After she had translated them for me, I clumsily began constructing awkward sentences and surprising her with them.
To help push my education along further, I transferred my word list into a Google spreadsheet via Google Documents. Whenever Irina would use a Bangla word I hadn't heard before, I would ask her what it meant, and then immediately put the word into my Google Document, which I titled “Bangla Dictionary.”; My dictionary grew and grew. Today it contains over 350 words and phrases.

As much as I enjoyed this process, in less than a year I had reached a “peak” and learned as much Bangla as I would ever learn using this method. I realized that if I were ever to learn how to speak Bangla, I would need to become LITERATE in Bangla.
That was when I discovered Google Transliteration. Irina had already shown me how to express Bangla words in English characters. By using your Transliteration feature I could spell a word the only way I knew how, and see immediately what it looked like in Bangla! With the help of a few online Bengali alphabet sites, I could now start learning the characters in the contexts of words and sentences I understood.

I am happy to report that I am finally learning to read and write in Bangla.
Thanks to your applications, I have learned a second language, become closer to my fiancee, and have opened the door toward building strong ties in my new Bangladeshi family.

We’re always happy to hear how people are using our tools to achieve their goals and, in this case, build relationships with future in-laws across the globe. We wish all the best to Ryan and Irina and here’s to many more years of communicating in Bangla!

Your Google stories: finding health information when you need it

This is part of a series of stories from people who have shared how Google has helped them in their lives. Check back the rest of this week for more, and if you have a Google story, tell us about it. -Ed.

I work on several projects at Google with the goal of helping people improve their health and that of their loved ones. It’s humbling to read the feedback we receive from people who have used Google to find health information. These stories make us proud of what we do and encourage us to work harder to make our products even better.

Joe from Northern Ireland sent this story about how information he found with Google helped him welcome a new member to his family—firsthand:

Received: 12/23/2009
From: Joe
All I can say is thanks to google search engine. Why? My daughter went into labour in the early hours of Wednesday morning ... my wife phoned [emergency services] and my daughter got on her laptop and googled how to deliver a baby in an emergency ... I delivered my grandson just in time for the ambulance to arrive. The ambulance staff were gobsmacked to say the least. It hasn't quite sunk in yet but thanks to google and the emergency services I have a beautiful grandson. So there you have it first there was Google Earth now we have Google Birth. Many thanks.

Michael found resources to help him and his mother cope with the challenges of cancer treatment:

Received: 2/6/2010
From: Michael
I am ... a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. I just wanted to say thank you for your search [engine] and the work it does to make information readily available to the world. I recently found out my mother has cancer in the esophagus. She has been undergoing chemo treatment ... and the last few days I've been on Google reading stories about other cancer survivors, side effects they've had from the treatments and even articles on foods she can eat to help heal her cancer. I get emotional writing this but I think has been a blessing from God in facilitating people like myself to get connected to resources that are helpful, especially in difficult circumstances. Google has saved me countless hours of research that I could be spending in and out of libraries [to] find the information we need to help us get through this ... Thank you and God bless you.

Bettie used Google to find a surgeon who helped save her husband’s kidney:

Received: 11/6/2009
From: Bettie
My husband and I have an amazing story to share about a surgeon I found easily through Google. Everyone that hears our story tells us we should write a book. Not sure we'll ever get around to that, but we do want to thank Google for directing us to the best possible surgeon to save my husband's one remaining kidney. He had been to many local, well-respected doctors and nationally recognized hospitals for months. None seemed to have the expertise needed to perform the challenging surgery on four malignant kidney tumors. Not only did Google direct us quickly to an expert in the field, but the site had a place to "Talk to the Doctor". On a Sunday afternoon, the doctor himself responded by email in four minutes ... Thank you for saving my husband's only kidney and possibly his life!

Thanks to Joe, Michael, Bettie and the many others who share their deeply personal stories with us. It’s the people behind every search—and our ability to help them—that make my team feel so committed to providing the best services we can.

Your Google stories: the right answer in the nick of time

This is the first in a series of stories from people who have shared how Google has helped them in their lives. Check back the rest of this week for more. -Ed.

We talk a lot about the products we build and the things we’re doing, but we don't often talk about the ways in which search touches people’s lives every day. Yet our ability to help people is why I—and most of the people around me—love working on search.

Some of the best feedback we receive are the real-world stories of how people have used Google to make an impact in their lives or the lives of others. We’re constantly amazed at what people can do and have done with our technology—from making a life-saving diagnosis to reuniting with a long lost love.

This first story struck a chord with me because, oddly enough, a chimney plays a significant role in my family lore. The night I was born, our chimney collapsed into the house—in fact it was the chimney collapsing that triggered my mom’s labor. Google helped Christine’s family avoid harm in a similar situation.

Submitted: 11/12/09 2:24 PM
From: Christine
While we usually Google things like hotel prices, product reviews and autism materials, today Google returned the right site at the top of the page in just the nick of time!
About an hour after warming up our fireplace, my husband and I were startled by the rumbling sound of what we thought was a low flying helicopter. My husband darted outside to look for one, but there was nothing of any aircraft in sight. He did tell me about the thick billowing smoke coming from our chimney.

Nervous, I quickly Googled “chimney fires” and within a second the first link caught my attention. At this site I learned that the rumbling sound is what many people hear when their chimney have caught fire! I then called 911 and they advised us to get out of the house right away!

Within 5 minutes our chimney was fully engulfed with flames! I have been praising Google all day today!

So thank you Google for working so hard to make researching and information gathering fast, easy and accessible. Without your commitment to a better product, we very well may have lost our house or our lives today!

This is just the first of many stories like it that we plan to share with you over the course of this week. They’re a huge source of inspiration for us and we’ll hope they’ll be for you, too—check ‘em out. And if you have a Google story, tell us about it.