Sounding off on Echo

Q: I got Amazon Echo for Christmas. It tells me the weather and plays music. What else can it do? It seems like a waste of money to me.

A: At its core, Amazon’s Echo is a Bluetooth speaker that responds to voice commands. Its abilities won’t impress everyone, and calling it a “virtual assistant” may sound a little lofty. But I would encourage you to play with this device a little more before taking advantage of your gift receipt. If your house has smart appliances, for example, you may be able to control them remotely. If you lose your smartphone, Alexa may be able to find it for you. Alexa can even tell you jokes. Amazon’s Echo isn’t exactly an android butler, but it has a number of tricks up its virtual sleeve. Click here to learn about Alexa’s five unexpected skills.

Breaking up with LinkedIn

Q: I am tired of all the notifications I receive from LinkedIn. How can I delete my LinkedIn Account?

A: Before you delete your account, remember that you have complete control over those notifications. You can reduce the number of emails sent, or you can terminate them altogether, but you don’t have to recuse yourself from LinkedIn entirely. Many LinkedIn users’ profiles lie dormant for months, but you never know when some curious CEO will discover your astonishing talents and send you an inmail. That said, you have every right to rid yourself of LinkedIn, and doing so is pretty easy. If you panic and change your mind, you also have a short period to revive your account without doing much damage, although some things will be lost. Click here to learn exactly how to permanently end your relationship with LinkedIn.

Amazon vs. Netflix

Q: I really like Amazon's original programming. Is it worth getting Netflix too?

A: Amazon and Netflix are battling tooth and nail to become the dominant streaming video service, but the real winner is you. Both of these services are excellent. They offer rich archives of mainstream movies and television series, and they are producing top-notch original programs at a breakneck pace. No matter what your taste, you can probably find a series to binge-watch on either platform. They both have drawbacks, of course: Amazon doesn’t play on Apple TV, for example, and Netflix has been slow to offer recent movies. If you’re planning to stay in this winter, there’s no harm in subscribing to both. Click here to learn about five exciting new Netflix series in 2017.

The many uses of a tablet

Q: I use my tablet for email, Facebook, games and watching shows. What else is it good for?

A: After a while, a tablet can feel like a stripped-down laptop. Many people curl up in an easy chair and use their tablet the same way as a regular computer, minus the keyboard. At most, the modest screen doubles as a very small TV. But most tablets are more than meets the eye: They can do all kinds of things, like operate appliances, wirelessly transfer data and even control your actual television. The vast majority of tablet owners have no idea how powerful their devices are, but even professional musicians can benefit from these versatile platforms. Click here to read about five things you didn’t know your tablet can do.

Cheap alternative to Microsoft Office

Q: I am on a budget starting my own business and cannot afford Microsoft Office. Are there any other options for me?

A: For many customers, the feeling is terrible: You buy your brand new PC, you excitedly lug it home, you set it up on your desk — and then, to your horror, you discover that Microsoft Office isn’t already installed. You just spent $600 on a laptop, and now you have to shell out even more money for a word processor and spreadsheet. The good news is, there are lots of cheap or free programs that imitate these staples. (For example, try Google Docs or Apple's Pages program.) The bad news is, they might not be fully compatible when you finally do have the money to invest in Office. So what can you do? Try some open-sourced software. Click here to learn about a free Microsoft Office alternative.

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.

Copyright 2016, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.