…about vsatips

Introduction to vsatips

“vsatips is dedicated to providing technology tips for everyday users”

Me in 2018My aim is to translate technology and technical information into non-technical guides which are easy for everyone to understand and follow.

While vsatips is primarily geared towards helping users with mobile devices, I do occasionally write about non-mobile technology too. These include things like computers, printers and scanners, 3D printing and general online topics. I also very occasionally provide buying advice…especially when some product stands out so far above all others and I really believe in it.

One of my main areas of focus has and will always remain topics about security. These include teaching others to secure devices, entire networks and their own personal data. In fact…that’s originally why I began vsatips. There was one event…when a Botnet invaded and took over our home network (many years ago, when the Internet was still young) that led, in a very roundabout way to why it was so important for me to teach others how to protect themselves from similar types of attacks.

It’s hard for me to describe how awful that situation was and for years I did my best to not think about it. But slowly, overtime I realized that the uniqueness of that situation created an opportunity if not a mandate for me to help other people defend against such attacks. You can read more about what happened then and the personal toll it took upon me here.

How vsatips is Organized

WordPress websites use a combination of blog and website features. I’ve struggled with how to organize this site based upon that.  Also, because typical blogs don’t generally offer great navigational features. I want my content to be very easily found. That is somewhat atypical for a blog infused site. Sadly, overtime, my attempts at organization have in fact led to what I now believe appears to be a very cluttered website.

Currently I’m evaluating how to restructure the menus to make things highly accessible yet less cluttered. In general my content is organized into the following topic groups:

  • Information about vsatips and me

This section really won’t be of interest to most since it includes a lot of older things which are essentially my journal on learning to build a website and learning how a blog functions. I’m also relocating my ‘Learning this Blog‘ content here which is mainly WordPress based tips.

  • Information about computers and tablets

Most of the information on computers here is pretty old since I gravitated away from computers shortly after creating vsatips. In fact one big reason I chose WordPress was it seemed the most ‘mobile friendly.’ My plan was always to manage my sites and YouTube Channel using only iPads. My choice to use  WordPress means that I’ve been able to do this pretty effortlessly.

I do occasionally try to update what’s in this section…since computers appear to be a necessary evil that we can’t seem to live without entirely yet. That fact has led me to occasionally write new content here too. But truthfully…I’m all about mobile technology.

It seemed to me when I began vsatips that the cellphone market was already fully saturated with sites offering user and productivity tips. Therefore, I chose to focus on tablet technology instead. That decision was a little self-serving too because of my preference for using iPads. But Tablets have suffered from a real lack of competition in recent years. It appears iPads dominate this market now and manufacturers just aren’t willing or able to compete against Apple’s iPad.

Other than Samsung’s and Amazon’s tablets…there seem to be virtually no new exciting tablets either launching soon or just freshly launched. While I keep a Samsung tablet and recently acquired an Amazon one so that I can write about how they work with some of the topics I may be covering, I don’t use them enough to really be able to write killer ‘how to’ pieces yet.

  • Security

This topic is an absolute passion of mine! I’ve written quite a lot about password managers…which I firmly believe everyone should use. I’ve also begun an extensive series on hardware firewalls. I’m attempting to educate the American public on the utility of hardware firewall appliances. I’m also attempting to translate the functionality of Enterprise appliances into a new class of devices that are just entering the market now…I’ll call them home firewall appliances since there’s no real name for this market yet. I’m especially proud of the first 2 parts in my Firewall series:

Part 1 | What Hacker’s Dont Want You to Know About Firewalls

Part 2 | Beginner’s Guide to Home Firewalls and Small Networks | Network Design 

Sadly, Part 3 which will help users identify the correct firewall for their home network has yet to be written because that new class of devices I mentioned just can’t seem to make it in the real world yet.

There are plenty of really inspired attempts, including Fing, Cujo, BitDefender Box 2, Norton Core, Anonabox Pro, Ubiquiti Unifi Security Gateway, F- Secure SENSE, Dojo, Keezel, RATtrap and a few high-end routers from Netgear and TP Link…each product takes a highly unique approach and none has proven to be really great yet. Most in fact tend to cause users many headaches and some even have a tendency to take down entire networks. So it seems despite my long wait, I still need to wait some more.

  • Evernote

When I was first introduced to Evernote, it was sort a of a game changer for me. I embraced it completely and became one of Evernote’s most enthusiastic evangelists! In this section I write a lot about ways to better use my 2 favorite Notes applications…primarily Evernote and Apple Notes. Since I use Notes apps a lot…I tend to write a lot here!

  • How To’s

Currently there’s a main section on ‘how to’ topics…but I’m eliminating it since virtually everything I write is a ‘how to’ piece!

  • Apple ios

I used Apple ios to indicate that it’s Apple mobile technology that’s included not OSX…or Mac computers.  I do have a MAC but I also have a Windows computer. In both cases help topics about them seem to be more than amply served by other writers.

The vast majority of my writing falls into this category. That’s because that’s what I use. I’m a workaholic which of course means I’m constantly working. That means that I both use Apple mobile technology a lot and I run into a lot of problems!

It’s the problems which have ended being the ‘bread and butter’ of vsatips…although I do write about new technology or cool ways of doing things too. Sometimes I just write about obscure but cool technology that I run across.

  • Things I Love

This began as a catch-all place where I  put something when it didn’t fit anywhere else. Since almost everything I write about I do so because it’s something that I deem to be ‘super amazing’…I came up with the category title of ‘Things I Love.

With time I ended up creating vsatrends where much of my newer content resides for things I love that really aren’t all that techie, and therefore shouldn’t appear here.

  • Cutting-the-Cord

This is another topic which I’ve written more than average about and I still have a lot to say! We ‘cut-the-cord’ about a year and a half ago…and it was one of the best things we ever did! We’ve saved a ton of money!  It never ceases to amaze me how much really great content is out there. Yet…many, if not most of our baby boom counterparts are afraid to take the plunge.

This is something I want to change!!!

Because there’s no reason to spend the kind of money we were shelling out to get good TV!

There was one challenging aspect about our actually Cutting-the-Cord. That was deciding upon and then installing an antenna on our roof. I learned so much about it generally…but still don’t understand antenna technology all that much. Basically I’m just a huge fan of who we used and what we got…but I don’t know enough about the rest of the marketplace to know if ours is anything exceptional or not.

I don’t want to come off as hawking a product that may not even be amazing…although I think that it is! But, that’s what’s prevented me from writing a post on the one topic that I know challenges most people.

Yet, I need to figure out a way. Because what I did learn about antennae’s is pretty amazing. We have much better TV reception with one than we ever did with cable TV! For the first time in our lives we truly get to experience 4K content!.

My other problem with this whole topic is that I don’t have a good place to put it on my site…in fact I almost forgot it while writing this! So that’s a major reason why I need to restructure!

Contact Me

If you like to contact me you can do so by emailing me at contact + @ + vsatips.com. Or if you visit any of my blog posts…which are pretty much most of the things on this website…you can scroll down to the very bottom of any page and leave a comment in the comment box.

More About ME and My Previous Career

I’ve yet to tell you my name, which is vsajewel. I’m the creator and author of vsatips, and its sister site vsatrends. Some people find it strange that I’m known online only by my username vsajewel,  rather than my real name. Our Botnet invasion accounts for most of the reasons why I never felt comfortable using my real name online. When our network wasn’t under my control…which ended up being for roughly a year and a half……our identities as well as our credit cards were also repeatedly hacked. I was thankful that I’d not allowed any kind of online banking in our home at that time…and still don’t and won’t utilize that until hardware authentication becomes commonplace. The topic of using my real name along with the associated risks that can bring remains a very sensitive subject for me.

Rest assured however, that in almost all aspects, I’m just a pretty average midwestern Mom who grew up in a small (and often very cold) midwestern city.

Hopefully, that helps to explain why the Botnet invasion had such an exceptionally profound impact upon my family and especially on me. In addition to making me exceptionally wary, it also caused me to get up to speed with current technology really quickly. I’d not had much interaction with computers during my work leave because I’d been a stay-at-home mom for the 18 years leading up to that attack. Yes we had home computers and even a home network during that time…but getting those installed and subsequent work utilizing them required very little technical expertise.

The only reason I think that I was even able to get up to speed quickly was because long before I was a mom I’d been a Systems Consultant for hospitals and large outpatient center clients, focusing on outpatient billing and all aspects of practice administration. That included things like Appointment Scheduling and Insurance Processing. In that role I was often times the main interface between tech gurus and clinic administration.

What I decidedly wasn’t, was a hardware engineer. Nor was I a coder…although I did dabble a bit personally in both. During that time I also operated my own consulting practice for a few years before giving up work completely when our first child arrived.

My solo consulting experience really boosted my knowledge and confidence far beyond what I could have expected. Maybe that was  because I was one of the earliest users of a Window’s personal desktop. I also utilized HP Laser and inkjet printers. More importantly, I had no tech support available to me. So I  had to figure out everything on my own. It was this early introduction to home computing I think that cemented my love of technology…especially technology that’s geared for regular home users rather than businesses.

In contrast, my professional consulting career always focused on business systems which ranged in size from mainframe systems (mainly IBM) on down to what later became known as very early desktop types of PC’s. The small systems I worked with were made by a now defunct company called Alpha Micro. It still boggles my mind that we sold hardware that was infinitely less powerful and could store just a tiny fraction of the data that desktop systems today are capable of…for a price tag of roughly $20,000-30.000!