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Tech Q&A: Why you can't play streaming video while driving

Steve Alexander, Star Tribune on

Published in Business News

Q: My Samsung Galaxy phone won't play the sound on YouTube videos when it's connected by Bluetooth to my car, a 2016 Fiat 500. I can get sound for other things, such as map directions or phone calls. I think the problem is in the car's Bluetooth connection, but the Fiat dealer has been of no help. How can I fix this?

—Jean Mitchell, Edina, Minn.

A: It's not safe or legal to play streaming video while driving, so the Google software in your car prevents it from working.

Minnesota put the brakes on streaming video when it passed the hands-free cellphone law in 2019. That law prohibits the driver from streaming video, whether or not the phone is in the driver's hand (see tinyurl.com/jlnfkq24). Several other states also prohibit playing video within view of the driver (see tinyurl.com/3nfv7wzx).

For its part, Google has put technical restrictions on Android Auto, the software in your Fiat that allows the car to connect to your phone via Bluetooth. Android Auto will allow you to hear sounds from phone calls, read-aloud text messages, map directions and audio-only music, but not from streaming video. (CarPlay, Apple's car-to-phone software, has similar restrictions.)

I know there are arguments against these limitations. One is that the driver should be able to listen to the video music without watching the video.

Another is that all passengers in the car should be able to watch video, not just those in the back seats.

But the truth is, public safety is more important than streaming video. Of course, there's always somebody who doesn't want to play by the rules. As a result, there are hacks that allow you to bypass the Android Auto restrictions and play YouTube or Netflix videos while driving.

 

But it's a bad idea. Even those who promote the bypass software admit that it's dangerous to use. In addition, the bypass software only works through the use of programming tricks that open up the phone's operating system, exposing it to serious damage if mistakes are made.

Q: My OpenOffice program freezes whenever I try to change the format of a file, even if the change is only switching from portrait (vertical) to landscape (horizontal) view. I've reinstalled and updated the program several times, but it didn't help. My Windows 10 PC has 8 gigabytes of RAM memory, and also runs Visio 2000 and the ESET security program. What's wrong?

—Greg Pfeiffer, Bloomington, Minn.

A: Apache OpenOffice, a free competitor of Microsoft Office, may have a conflict with another program on your PC. If so, I suspect it's your aging Visio flowchart software, which Microsoft stopped supporting in 2004.

To find out if a software conflict is causing your problem, start Windows 10 in Safe Mode, in which a minimal amount of software is activated (tinyurl.com/okjfw2x4). Then start OpenOffice to see if it runs properly. If it does, start up your PC in the normal way and uninstall Visio to see if the OpenOffice problem disappears.

If Visio isn't the problem, see if your ESET security program is blocking OpenOffice. Disconnect your PC from the internet, turn off ESET and see if OpenOffice works correctly. If it does, create an "exception" for OpenOffice in the ESET firewall (see tinyurl.com/hwn3e5r5).

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