Acer to unveil new Chromebooks, next step in Google’s business pitch

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Acer Inc will unveil its first line of high-end laptops running Google’s Chrome OS on Wednesday, an executive told Reuters, as the computer maker looks to help Google in its effort to win over business users after taking the U.S. education market by storm.

Tips and Tricks for the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

With the 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple introduced an all-new design that incorporates a Touch Bar, a small touch-sensitive OLED display that offers up contextual controls depending on what you’re doing on your Mac.

Though the Touch Bar has been available, in our experience, many Mac owners don’t take advantage of it, so in our latest YouTube video, we thought we’d share a few tips and tricks that might make the Touch Bar more appealing.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Customize Your Control Bar

Most MacBook Pro owners are probably aware that this feature exists, but may not have delved into the customization options. Customizing the control strip is the best way to get the most out of the Touch Bar because you can choose the features you use most.

To get to the Control Strip settings, open up System Preferences, choose “Keyboard” and then select the “Customize Control Strip” option at the bottom of the window.



You can choose options like quick access to taking a screenshot, Night Shift, Do not Disturb, Screen Lock, Sleep, AirPlay, Spotlight, Mission Control, and more.

Set the Function Keys as Your Default

Want your function keys back as the default option? There’s a setting for that. Like the Control Strip settings, it is located under Keyboard in System Preferences.

You can choose to have the Touch Bar display App Controls with Control Strip, which will change the available Touch Bar options with each app you use, or you can set it to display the function keys, an Expanded Control Strip, or just App Controls.



If you go to the “Shortcuts” section of the Keyboard settings and select Function Keys, you can also choose to have the function keys display on a per-app basis.

You can also customize the shortcut the Fn key brings up — if you set the Touch Bar to function keys, the Fn key on the keyboard can be set to expand the Control Strip or show app controls. With the Control Strip set as the default, you can always bring up your function keys with the Fn key.

Take a Screenshot of Your Touch Bar

Though it’s not obvious, there’s a way to take a screenshot of the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. Just hold down Shift + Command + 6 all at the same time, and the screenshot will be saved to your desktop.


Accessibility Options

There are several Accessibility-related options that can be enabled for the Touch Bar for those who need them, including VoiceOver, Zoom, and Switch Control to display the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro’s screen.

To check out and enable Touch Bar Accessibility options, open up System Preferences and choose the “Accessibility” icon. VoiceOver controls for Touch Bar are enabled automatically when VoiceOver is turned on, while the other options are under “Zoom” and “Switch Control.”

For more information, make sure to check out Apple’s Accessibility support document for the Touch Bar.

Improve Touch Bar with Third-Party Apps

There are a few ways to make the Touch Bar more useful through third-party apps.

With Better Touch Tool, you can create your own shortcuts for the Touch Bar. The possibilities are extensive, ranging from tools to empty the trash on your Mac to accessing apps to seeing the time, date, and your battery level. Check out Reddit for some suggestions on how to use this tool.

Similarly, the TouchSwitcher app for the Touch Bar is designed to let you launch and switch between apps by adding a list of your most recently used apps to the Touch Bar.

Do you use the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro? What are your favorite use cases for the feature? Let us know in the comments.

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Watchdogs ask Googlers to stop it favoring its own search results

A new coalition of activist groups led by Yelp and TripAdvisor are renewing the fight to get Google to give a fair opportunity to all sites instead of putting its Knowledge Cards atop the results for subjective search queries. The alliance that includes Fight For The Future and Consumer Watchdog.org has assembled tens of thousands of dollars to run targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter “calling for Google employees to introspect and examine how Google’s One Boxes or Answer Boxes are harming the open internet,” says the project’s leader Luther Lowe, Yelp’s VP of public policy.

The initiative is certainly self-serving, as Yelp and TripAdvisor have the most to lose from Google’s own local results getting to sidestep the PageRank algorithm and be shown atop search results pages before their own sites. But it’s a fair question to ask why Google’s dominance in search should let it deviate from a fair process of choosing the best result to give its content a boost.

Here’s the campaign’s promotional video:

Yelp initially launched its “FocusOnTheUser.eu” campaign targeting Google+ in 2014 as the European Union was determining whether Google abused its power to preference its shopping results. That eventually led to a €2.4 billion anti-trust fine. Yelp has now filed a complaint with the EU that extends those concerns to how it treats local business results, which Lowe said is now the biggest category of search. The campaign was timed to come alongside this week’s 60 Minutes report examining whether Google is a monopoly.

The new Focus On The User that launched today concentrates on swaying Google’s employees rather than regulators, and includes new partners like DemandProgress and American Family Voices.

The coalition’s two stated goals are to get Google to:

1. Match users with the best possible information at the top of results. For local search (the most common category of search), this means creating an interoperable box and ranking Google’s content alongside other business listing pages across the web. An organic, merit-based process should pin the most relevant businesses from the web to the map. That box should provide a clear path to the source content, not a small link designed to generate a low CTR.

2. For other forms of answers (Wikipedia-powered information, recipes, etc.) rather than offering small links designed to generate low CTR, answer boxes should encourage users to leave Google.com and visit the source content for themselves. The box itself should be a clear path to the web-based information powering the box.

The coalition’s hope is that if Google has to deal with internal complaints or risks losing talent over the issue, it might redesign search results to be a more even playing field.

While it makes perfect sense for Google to simply spit back answers instead of results for immutable facts, like math equations or sports scores, it’s reasonable to expect subjective content to have to compete in the algorithm. If TripAdvisor has far more reviews for a restaurant and therefore a likely more accurate answer to whether you should eat there, it doesn’t make sense for a Google business profile based on far fewer reviews to appear first in the results.

Google has seen a sudden surge in backlash after downplaying the “don’t be evil” line in its mission statement and its Duplex demo worried people about how the company could use its new human-voiced artificial intelligence technology. This campaign could stoke that discontent. But because it comes from Google’s direct competitors like Yelp and TripAdvisor, employees may be able to write off the initiative as purely opportunistic. Unless the U.S. government gets serious about anti-trust regulation or Google’s employees cry out en masse, it may just ride out the campaign doing business as usual.

We’ve contacted Google requesting a statement in response to the campaign and will update if we hear back.

Saddam’s superyacht ends up as sailors’ hotel

This was once the presidential yacht for Saddam Hussein. this superyacht, dubbed “Basrah Breeze” was built for him in 1981, but the Iraqi dictator never boarded the 270-foot boat.

Tesla hires Snap exec as engineering VP

(Reuters) – Electric carmaker Tesla Inc said on Tuesday it had hired Snapchat maker Snap Inc’s vice president of monetization engineering, Stuart Bowers, as VP of engineering, to work on its Autopilot software and other projects.