Business Columns & Blogs

Driven to distraction? There’s an app for that

Q: How do those apps that block phone texting while driving know when to turn on? Do you need special hardware?

A: Smartphone apps that temporarily disable incoming text messages and other driving distractions can be turned on manually before the driver starts the car or can kick in automatically when the phone’s motion sensor detects an appropriate amount of acceleration. Some distracted-driving solutions, like the subscription-based Cellcontrol, use a combination of hardware and software to block smartphone activity as soon as the car begins to move, but many apps rely on information from the phone’s own hardware.

If you are looking for a solution to stifle attention-grabbing activity coming from the phone, visit your app store and search for “distracted driving” apps. Programs like DriveSafe Mode, LifeSaver and TrueMotion Family (all for Android and iOS) are geared for teenagers — and their parents who wish to monitor their activity. Other apps, like Drivemode for Android, use voice commands and a simplified interface to make driving alone with an active smartphone easier.

AT&T has its own free DriveMode app for Android and iOS devices, and you do not need to be an AT&T subscriber to use the software. Once installed, the app automatically kicks in to shut down notifications when the car reaches 15 mph. For text messages, the app can also send an automatic reply that tells the sender you are driving at the moment and will make contact later. For parents installing the app on their children’s phones, the program automatically sends a message if the teenager disables the software.

Depending on your phone, you may not need an additional app to thwart distractions. For example, Apple’s new iOS 11 software includes an extension of its Do Not Disturb feature for driving that automatically blocks calls, messages and app notifications when the iPhone makes a Bluetooth connection to the car’s dashboard.

Changing the Default Typeface in Word

Q: How do I change the basic typeface in my new documents in Microsoft Word for Mac 2016 so that the program always uses it?

A: One way to change the default typeface that Microsoft Word uses for each new document is to adjust the font settings box. On the Mac 2016 version of the program, create a document and then go to the Format menu in the toolbar. Select Font, and then choose the Font tab in the box.

When you have the Font box open, use the menus within to choose the font and type size you want to use for the future files you create. When you are set, click the Default button in the lower left corner of the box. A box appears asking if you want to change the default font and warns that the change affects all documents based on the Normal template. Click Yes to make the change.

Microsoft Word 2016 stores all of its default styles for font, line spacing, margins and other aspects of a newly created document in the Normal.dotm template file. You can make multiple changes to your default document settings by opening the Normal.dotm template within Word and editing it directly on your Mac or Windows system, but the file is typically buried in a few layers of folders.

For those wishing to change the default font in the Windows version of Word 2016, click the Home tab in the toolbar and go to the Font section of the ribbon. Click the small arrow icon at the bottom of the Font area to open the Font dialogue box. Next, click Font and choose the typeface and size you want to use. In the lower left corner of the box, click the Set as Default button and confirm that you wish to change the Normal template.