I'm not aware of any major changes in the technology. The Ask algo has traditionally been even more sensitive to link patterns than Google is. Notice that they don't support the link: operator at all. They're not giving anyone even a peak at their data.
So the big deal with Ask is still what it has been: if you want to rank well, then you need to be well linked from other authorities in the topical area, or the "community" as they call it.
One other difference is that Ask's data does not seem to be refreshed nearly so often as Google's, which may well be a budget limitation more than an algo issue - it takes bucks to crawl.
I have noticed what you are saying about Ask refreshing their data. They have title tags that were changed in October but even now they are not showing the changes. They are going with data that is over a month old.
I think they should refresh more often because it can help some sites in the rankings.