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Google Panda refresh – Google data request rise – Meet the 86-year-old gaming grandma

Google rolls out Panda update

Google introduced a new Panda update on Tuesday, the 24th incarnation of the algorithm change.

The refresh will affect 1.2 per cent of English language search queries, and marks the first time Google has officially altered Panda since December 21. That update hit 1.3 per cent of English queries.

However, unlike several past versions of these updates, there has been little reaction from site owners. This may be down to the fact that some reported a big ranking shift on January 17, with many asking Google directly if there had been a Panda update. The search engine replied that this was not the case, but they now appear to have introduced some changes.

It also marks the first time Google has updated Panda this year. In 2012, there were a total of 15 updates, with May and October thought to be the only months without some sort of refresh. The first version of Panda was released on February 24, 2011.

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Google data requests rise

Government agencies and the courts requested more user account data from Google in the latter half of 2012 than ever before.

There were 21,389 applications made to the search engine over the last six months, a 17 per cent rise on the same period in 2011, and a 71 per cent increase when compared with the second half of 2009.

These figures include questions asked about YouTube accounts, and continue the six-monthly trend of rising requests which has remained consistent since Google began collecting this data three years ago.

Google also released details of its responses to these requests, saying that it had complied partly or in full with 66 per cent of cases. Most of these came from the US, which made 8,438 approaches to Google, 88 per cent of which resulted in some or all of the required data being handed over.

While this was the highest percentage of any country, it marks the lowest cooperation rate since Google's records began. Elsewhere, Turkey (149) and Hungary (95) saw all of their approaches rejected outright.

Google received 1,458 data requests from the UK, 70 per cent of which met with at least partial cooperation from the search engine.

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86-year-old UK grandmother reveals passion for gaming

A British grandmother has revealed how playing games on her Playstation 3 has helped to keep her "mentally active".

Eighty-six-year-old Hilda Knott told the BBC of how she had been enjoying gaming for the last 40 years. She also revealed how she had invited her 94-year-old aunt over to play Grand Theft Auto IV, adding that they had had "a hilarious time".

When asked why she enjoyed playing the games so much, Hilda replied: "[I like] finding something new in the game, getting onto the next stage, or the next event, or whatever. And then I have the achievement of finishing it."

She went on to talk about how, whilst she enjoyed the adventure and fighting aspects of many games, it was the puzzle element that she felt was the biggest benefit gained from her habit.

In other news from the gaming world this week, Sony has been fined £250,000 for failing to prevent a hack of its Playstation Network system in April 2011, which saw user data such as passwords, names, dates of birth and payment card information compromised. The gaming giant has said it plans to appeal.

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Written by James Riches

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