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Tech Q&A: Keeping passwords safe, best road trip apps and more

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(REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski)

Best way to keep your passwords safe

Q. I'm currently using an SD card to store my passwords. When I want access to a program, I plug it in and copy and paste my passwords accordingly. Is this safe?

A.  The short answer is no, there's more you can do to protect your passwords. If you keep your passwords on an SD card, anyone can walk away with them. So you want to make sure they're encrypted.

A password manager like KeePass is a good way to do this. You have to put in a master password every time you want to use it, so it keeps hackers out. Of course, with a program like that you can put it on your computer and just use the SD card as a backup in case your computer is damaged. 

It's also likely that your browser is saving your passwords and anyone can find them. So make sure any features like that are turned off - find out where these settings are. There's also the possibility that your computer gets infected with malware or a virus that could easily figure out your password. Be sure you have strong security software installed and you keep your browser updated.

Free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

Q. I do volunteer work and from time to time and I need to make flyers that I can print and post online. Do you know of any graphic arts programs that are easy to use, can do what I need them to do and are free or inexpensive?

A. If you want to go big, GIMP is a good free alternative program to Adobe Photoshop. You can make just about anything you want. However, it can sometimes be tricky to use, so you might need to invest time in the tutorials that you can find on the GIMP site.

Inkscape is another good program to try. It's a free, open-source vector graphics program like Adobe Illustrator. It allows you to create graphics that can be resized for any use without losing quality. It has virtually the same tools as the big boys, plus some interesting add-ons that make creating cool images a snap. It even includes support for graphic tablets.

Finally, there's Scribus, which is a free layout and publishing program similar to Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign. It's going to take the most time to learn, but once you get it you can make posters, flyers, brochures, magazines and books.

Remove yourself from Google search results

Q. I've been working on cleaning up my online reputation and I've removed some embarrassing photos, but I've noticed that they are still showing up in Google searches. How can I get rid of these embarrassing photos once and for all?

A. Even if you remove a photo from the Internet, it's still in Google's search cache. It might be there for a while, but you can speed up the removal process with Google's URL Removal Tool. Just submit the address of the photos and Google will review the situation. If the case meets Google's guidelines, Google will manually remove the page from its search database.

That's fine if you have control of the site where the photo or text is posted, but what about when it's someone else's site? Here's full details on how to remove your past from Google search.

Apps for a great road trip

Q. We are getting ready for summer vacation and I'm worried about the kids being bored in the back seat for our 14-hour road trip. Are there any apps we can use to make the car ride more exciting for them?

A.  If you’ve got an inquisitive kid along for a car ride, Field Trip might keep them occupied. It's also great for adults who love knowing every detail about places along the road. It uses GPS data to provide you with a live feed of any nearby historical locations or locations of interest. Where it really shines, though, is the information you get. You can get a full history of interesting bridges, buildings, restaurants, businesses, landmarks and much more. It's like a guidebook that's never out of date.

Another great way to entertain your entire family is with Mad Libs. It's simple, creative and funny, and now it's on your smartphone. Just be sure to bring along an in-car charger for your phone or tablet, or a backup battery.

Stop phone use at dinner

Q. The other night I took my family out to dinner and I noticed one thing: We all are guilty of being on our phones too much. What can I do to get my family to put down the phones every once in a while and actually interact with the people around them?

A. I've seen that happening more and more at restaurants: families who are texting instead of talking. One of my favorite ways to keep people off their phones at dinner is to play a game. Here's how it works: First, have everyone put their phones face down in the middle of the table. The first person to pick up their phone for any reason has to pay the check or do dishes. It isn't rocket science, but it really works. The only drawback is that sometimes you might be the one paying or doing dishes. Texting during dinner isn't the only thing you should avoid. Here are my 10 Commandments for Mobile Manners - share them with everyone who has a gadget and let's make the world a better place.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, watch the show or find the station nearest you, visit: http://www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free email newsletters, sign-up at: http://www.komando.com/newsletters.