Something Else I Thought Was Worth Sharing

I just wanted to take a moment of your time to share something that I think is pretty special. I know this looks like a long email but I promise if you take the 5 or so minutes to read through it you will not be disappointed.

I have done my best over the past few years to promote the internet in general. More specifically I have shared with friends, family, business contacts etc all the great things the internet has to offer and furthermore some of the awesome tools that one company in particular has been putting out there. Google. As someone who has been involved with the technology and the internet for my ENTIRE life (I started building websites at 12 yrs old) I appreciate how powerful it is to now have (as the Google founders have always said) the worlds information at my fingertips.

But while much of the worlds info IS at our fingertips it is often very hard to sift through and find what you need. There are different services and tools out there that try to offer us the best ‘sifting’ device to find what we want as quickly as possible.

To me it HAS been and continues to be the tools offered by Google. To be transparent, my company (UBE) is contracted by Google to put on seminars. As many of you know (because you have attended) these free, informational seminars, are opportunities for people to get some education about what Google can do for their business. My business relationship has IN NO WAY effected my feelings in what I am sharing today other then as follows. Because I promote the Google brand and different tools it only makes sense for me to understand them more than the normal user. Because of this understanding I have a true appreciation of the extent of the tools capabilities. Anyone with a bit of time and some dedication can achieve what I have with my research and find their own stories.

Now… the short story:

I was invited to Spain by some people I had met (while in Mexico, early December 2011). My paternal grandfather was shot down (Dec. 31, 1943) over southwest France while on a bombing mission during WWII. The story I was told growing up was pretty short as we never really knew any details. He never spoke much about it and died in 1970 (almost 15 years before I was born). He survived the crash and was saved, in large part, by underground resistance groups in the area he landed. They saved his life, plain and simple. They risked their own life to save that of a stranger. It was truly amazing. So when I decided to visit Spain I begin looking at where he may have been shot down, perhaps to take a little journey to France.

I had no idea that I would find so much. Within my first day, I found a man whose father was the leader of one of these resistance groups (he would serve as our tour guide and translator and an all around awesome guy for our entire week long trip). By the end of the 2day, I was able to locate my grandfathers government debriefing from the day (almost 6 months after being shot down) he arrived in Gibraltar (some 1800 miles from his crash location). As if that was not enough, by the end of the 3 day I found Patrick who was about 8 months old when my grandfather spent a night at his home. Patrick’s mother hosted my grandfather and clothed and feed him and gave him fake ID papers.

About 2 weeks after my search started I was standing in France. In the same bedroom that my grandfather slept in, some 68 YEARS AGO! The next day, through some looking around, I was able to locate a man who was really the highlight of our whole trip. Pierre was about 27 when he spent several weeks with my grandfather. Helping to transport him town to town and, according to Pierre, spending time in the swamps and woods in the “Maquis” (resistance hideouts) with him.

This trip was truly incredible and after convincing my father to meet me in France, it became a once in a lifetime experience.

Here’s a site I’ve dedicated to the search effort and an article in today’s, Long Island Newsday

So why do I tell you this great story?

I want to highlight a few excellent tools that made this all possible…

Google Search: We all know that Google is the search leader. However, there are some pretty simple “search operators” that make your simple search more powerful.

Including a PLUS (+) or MINUS (-) sign allows you to make sure that your search either INCLUDES or EXCLUDES a certain term. This was useful because there are a few Meyerowitzs out there that are well known. So to make sure my search excludes people like Joanne or Joel Meyerowitz (no relation to each other, or my family) I simple could type “Arthur Meyerowitz –Joel –Joanne” (no quotes). Another helpful operator is the SITE SEARCH operator which allows you to search ONLY the site you want. So, for example, when I searched a website devoted to the crashes that are documented in France like this “ meyerowitz “ (with no quotes and a space between the end of the URL) the first result was just what I needed. There are many other operators to consider that will make your search more effective.

Google Translate: Many of the articles and websites I was looking at/for were in French. Using Google Chrome (Google’s Web Browser) or going to allowed me to translate entire web pages to English. Additionally, after almost 70 years, my family was able to translate the letters that my grandfather received when he returned from the war. Many of these letters were vital to the discovery process. I got the most out of this tool though when I used it to have a conversation with someone as we sat together in front of my iPad. I would type what I wanted to say, Google would translate. He would type, Google would translate. It was incredible.

Google Maps: Grabbing addresses off the letters we had made it possible to literally create a “roadmap” of my grandfathers journey including the ability to use “Street View” to zoom down and actually SEE the houses of these amazing resistance members. Once I arrived to France I could use Google Maps to get directions as well. I had an entire plan of action before I ever arrived and I could only imagine that my grandfathers trip would have been considerably easier with Google Maps (and a cell phone to use it on lol).

Google Voice: For those of you that make international calls and do not use Google Voice, I highly recommend it. Making $0.02/minute calls to the developing contacts in France made planning this trip (in about 10 days time) possible. It is extremely easy to use and saved me a considerable amount of money.

Google Book Search: The last tool I wanted to mention is one that may have made this whole thing possible. I mentioned a man who wrote a book about his father. Well he had ONE page from that book online and because it was in Google Book search I was able to find it. On that single page I was able to find 6 out of 10 names on a translated letter from that old box. This was my first connection and speaking with this gentlemen (Bernard Boyer) made the rest of my search much easier.

So now I propose a CHALLENGE TO YOU!!! If there is something, someone, somewhere that you have been looking for then go ahead and give it another try. Share with me your own stories of discovery and how you use these tools, and any others that you know of, to find your piece of the worlds information that matters most.

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