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Kim's column

Publish a book, stop annoying videos, Google tracking and more: Tech Q&A

Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products and all things digital.

Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job.

This week, I received questions about Alexa smart home control, auto-play videos, publishing an eBook and more. 

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?

Tap or click here to email me directly.

Tell Alexa to do more than play music

Q: I got an Echo for Christmas. How do I use it with smart lights so I can say, “Alexa, turn on the lights?”

A: The perks of owning an Echo are downright futuristic, and yes, once Echo discovers your smart bulbs, you’ll be amazed how “illuminating” this command can be.

To set up this system, you will have to buy the smart bulbs, download the corresponding app, and link the two together.

But this is just the start of your journey; the best part of owning an Echo is experimenting with the thousands of commands it already understands, plus the thousands of more “skills” you can accumulate.

You could spend months sorting through the skills to find the ones that are most applicable; to help, I’ve offered a crib sheet.

Tap or click here for 13 Alexa skills you’ll use time and again.

Stop videos from playing automatically

Q: I hate it when videos start playing on a site. If you can make them stop, I will listen to every single one of your shows, read every article you post and buy everything I can from your shop!

A: I’ll take you up on that promise! While it’s a first-world problem, videos that play automatically are frustrating on several levels; even if you wanted it to play right away, many videos require a few seconds to buffer.

So if this feature drives you bonkers, there’s actually a setting that will prevent it. Now, get ready to go Komando!

Tap or click here to stop videos from playing automatically.

Learn what Google knows about you

Q: Google knows a lot about me. I get that. But can I see it all?

A: I’m glad you’ve made peace with this: Yes, Google does know a lot about us, because that is the company’s mode and trademark. Google has long hoped to contain all the world’s information, and it collects data about individual users every time we log into our accounts.

But you still have a right to know what information Google collects, and luckily for the public, the tech giant has been pretty forthcoming.

Google created its service, Google Takeout, which can help you learn exactly how much data its servers have collected and what it consists of.

Takeout easily itemizes this data and analyzes your total footprint.

Tap or click here to see the data that Google has amassed about you.

Moving to Mac made easier

Q: I just switched from Windows to Mac. Are there any free lessons?

A: As you will soon discover, Apple is its own universe. There are many crossovers with Windows, and Mac has relationships with innumerable third-party developers, but the company carefully curates its systems and software.

Because Macs are so streamlined, this enables the company to create helpful tutorials, which explain exactly how to use its flagship apps and programs.

Whether you’re puzzling your way through iTunes or trying to cut together a vacation video on iMovie, Apple offers a comprehensive eBook that you can download for free.

After all, Apple wants you to use its features and understand their full capacity.

Tap or click here for free books on photography, music, video production and drawing from Apple.

Publish an eBook

Q: This year, I want to write an eBook. Do I need a special software program to get my book for sale on Amazon?

A: That is an inspiring decision, and I wish you the best. Writing a book takes time, focus and a lot of energy. But unlike those old-fashioned manuscripts, which someone would compose on a typewriter and then hope someone would publish, eBooks make publishing simple, autonomous, and best of all, profitable.

No matter where you’re based, you can publish an eBook and start accumulating royalties from the comfort of your sofa. Global distribution enables you to reach readers in almost any country in the world.

This process doesn’t require any special software, but you’ll benefit from knowing how eBooks work.

Tap or click here to publish your own book and make money.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call her national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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