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Kim's column

Text read notifications, eBay alternatives, free Office Suites, and more

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 most difficult part of my job.

This week, I received questions on how to confirm a text was read, eBay alternatives, Microsoft Office substitutes and more. Do you have a question you’d like to ask me? Click here to email me directly.

Confirm a text was read

Q: Is there a way to know if someone has actually read your text messages? I send them, and people don’t always reply. So, maybe they are just not getting my texts.

A: If you use Facebook Messenger (and similar services), you have probably grown accustomed to knowing when your message has been read and when people are actively writing you back. But many people don’t like their friends and colleagues to know when their texts have been read because it feels like an invasion of privacy. There are workarounds. Click here to find out how to tell when someone sees your text messages.

eBay alternatives

Q: I like eBay, but it seems as if there has been a shortage of government surplus sales at the site. Are there better sites now to find the deals?

A: eBay was a giant of the early internet, earning billions of dollars for itself and its users. Today, eBay remains the go-to auction site for collectors, vendors of used goods, and people with too much stuff in their garage. As the internet has become bigger and more diverse, so have its auctioning options. Most of these websites behave just like eBay; what makes them different is where they source their products. Click here for sites that auction government surplus items, as well as waterproof cameras, rare coins, and even cars.

Refine your ad’s geography

Q: I own a car detailing service and want to organize my clientele. How do I only advertise my website to people in a certain ZIP code or range of ZIP codes?

A: This is a very shrewd question to ask because a lot of marketers new to online advertising don’t realize that physical geography still matters when trying to target their audience. If you are advertising a family farm in Oklahoma, you probably won’t benefit from clicks in Maine. Digital marketing is an art, but these days most novices can still figure out basic “geo-fencing.” Click here to find out how to geo-fence your target audience.

Quiet phone for sleep

Q: My phone keeps going off all times in the night. Annoying! Can I silence it and only let the important calls and texts come through?

A: Sleep is precious. So is a little peace and quiet once in a while. It’s hard to enjoy those moments if your phone is sounding off with text messages, calendar notifications, and other alerts. Your phone doesn’t have to be the boss of you. Whether you are using an iPhone or Android, take control. Click here to learn how to use Do Not Disturb on your phone.

Microsoft Office substitutes

Q: My daughter is back at college, and now she needs expensive Microsoft software. Are there any options or do I need to bite the bullet for Word and such?

A: Setting up a new computer isn’t cheap. Once you have purchased a laptop, a printer, and some decent antivirus software, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on a word processor. But your daughter will almost certainly need to type out documents, and she will likely require spreadsheets and other Microsoft Office applications as well. You will be relieved to know that there are similar and compatible programs that you can download for free. Click here for five free downloads every student needs.

What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

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