Monday, July 5, 2021

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Tips To Developing A Managed Services Provider Business

cloud service provider,service provider,cloud,cloud hosting,support services,

Are you sure you want this IT support nightmare?

If you're a fledgling in managed support and/or managed services, congratulations on your choice to work 24/7 and spend approximately half of that time banging your head on your keyboard.

You think I'm joking, but that's what some workweeks have looked like for me.

So I'm assuming you could use a quick and dirty cheat sheet to backend services from an old *Nix system administrator. ;)
 

VPS or Cloud?

I started on the cloud as a beta tester for AWS, so I probably have some bias when I recommend cloud hosting over VPS hosting. It's so much more than that, though. Ultimately, cloud hosting is way more flexible, easier to manage, and lighter (as well as lightning) on system resources. Its pricing model is cheaper than VPS as well, and some providers offer single monthly priced plans, which are ideal for providing support services to clients.

That being said, if you prefer the convenience of VPS, by all means, use VPS. But I guarantee it will wind up being a giant waste of time at some point in the future. :)
 

What Cloud Service Provider Should I Choose?

AWS

AWS is definitely worth looking into if you are a developer or otherwise engaged in dev-ops. Amazon has built the most robust and terminal-ready platform of them all in Web Services. There is a free tier available for playing around. The paid tiers are vastly affordable, billed by operating hours and level of hardware, along with other fees depending on what you implement.

Google Cloud

If you're looking for something a little more pared down and simple, there's Google Cloud. It costs slightly more than AWS and doesn't come with a free tier, but it has vastly simplified the complicated world of cloud computing in that neat, clean whitespace kind of way only Google can really pull off.

Digital Ocean

Finally, Digital Ocean is another cloud service provider worth considering instead of shared hosting plans and VPS. Their $5 droplets are the perfect size for spinning off small websites and web apps, and their selection of curated images makes software installation dead simple. Furthermore, they host a vast knowledge base that provides solutions to almost any support question you could possibly have.


What Are Best Practices To Use In IT Support Services?

Redundancy. Redundancy. Redundancy. 

Be lazy. Make a script for everything that is the least bit redundant. String them all together into one superscript if you want. The hours you will save make doing so priceless. 

Strategize. Organize. Get systematic. 

Develop the best possible procedures and systems for doing things. Streamline them, then practice them until they become second nature. Keep your data thorough and organized, too - you will need it far more often than you may initially anticipate you will. 

Security should be the #1 priority - not an afterthought.

The biggest mistake seen today with managed service providers is that they will often put cybersecurity at the bottom of their priorities. Don't be one of these people! It doesn't pay off: clients will get hacked and immediately point the finger at you for blame. 

YOU NEED AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY BACKGROUND.

It isn't optional. You need a strong background in IT support to even have any hope of becoming a successful MSP. While Communications and Marketing degrees help communicate with clients and spread the word, IT is the bread and butter of what you'll be doing. While there are many tools out there now to make IT more accessible to laymen, you still need to know what to do when things don't work the way they're supposed to: that's the literal reason you were hired by the client. 

Homemade from scratch will always perform better than automated third-party tools. 

If you build the server from scratch, you'll know everything about it and be able to configure it with the minimal software and settings needed for it to perform its duties. This is why servers baked from scratch will consistently outperform ready-made images, and it's really true for just about any software, as well: if you can build it yourself, it will do better... and cost the client a LOT less money. 

Communication is the key to retaining clients. 

Sometimes MSPs get so focused on doing it all for the client that they forget the client still needs regular updates and questions asked to ensure the job is getting done right. Furthermore, a lack of communication skills can ruin the project from the start of the managed service provider fails to gather all the details needed from the client to complete the project successfully. Finally, failure to maintain communication with clients after the initial project is finished can easily lead to clients forgetting about the significance of your work and moving on to a different managed service provider once they need another project done.

Fortunately, you don't need a communications degree or certificate to improve in this area. There are a lot of resources online that will teach you to foster better communication skills with clients. Here are a few to get you started:

Monday, June 28, 2021

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Unrealistic Expectations For Web Designers

hosting or content management platform,content management platform,managed service provider,web design,web designer,web designers,


It's often hard to tell what could be an unrealistic expectation to set forth on a web designer, especially since different web designers may have different skill sets. For example, while one web designer may be able to do backend work but put forth a poor frontend design, another may be more talented with aesthetic frontend work. While corporations often employ teams of designers for their websites, this may be unrealistic for the budget and needs of a small or medium business. 

One Web Developer To Rule Them All

One web designer (or two) should be enough for these situations. First, however, the company needs to know what to expect on such a project. Here is a comprehensive list of realistic and unrealistic expectations for the average freelance web designer. Please note that this can vary between web designers. So every business that needs these things done should ask the web designer if they can do these tasks. If not, the company may need to consider adding additional members to the team.  

DIY Website Migrations

DIY web design sites like Squarespace are excellent for users with no web design experience. However, these websites can be a real headache for web designers if asked to migrate a pre-existing website to the DIY platform. That is because many DIY web design platforms don't include the essential tools and functions that a web designer needs to use to quickly and successfully migrate a website. That forces the web designer to redesign the site from scratch on the DIY platform. If you don't want your newly hired web designer to hate their job, steer clear of asking them to do this unless they advertise it as part of their regular work. 

Backend Modifications

Most freelance web designers who serve small to medium businesses know little to nothing of backends web design languages such as PHP or Ruby. So asking one to redesign some aspect of the hosting or content management platform is usually out of the question. Unless they specifically mention backend skills, the chances are high that they only do frontend work. You will need to hire a backend designer if you want modifications made to the platform software. 

Sophisticated Graphic Design

While most web designers can do some basic graphic design required to make a good-looking website, many of them cannot do sophisticated graphic design such as designing business logos or manipulating photos. Your best bet will be hiring a graphic designer separately from the web designer if you need these services. 

Administrative Support

Web designers usually cannot fill any support roles outside of helping customers learn to log in and post to the website. And while they can design a website on a hosting or content management platform, they more than likely know little to nothing about server configurations or cybersecurity. These issues need addressing with a system administrator. 

Technical Support

Again, web designers do not fulfill any support roles. Instead, technical support comes from a system administrator or managed service provider. 

Object-Oriented Design

That goes hand in hand with backend design, and web designers are poorly equipped. Since frontend design only requires scripting knowledge, it's difficult to cross over into object-oriented languages like seen in backend design. As a result, any web apps you need will require an object-oriented programmer to create them. 

Communications

Freelance web designers cannot facilitate communication between their clients and other creative or technical team members. Besides lacking the training, web designers speak a different language from other innovative tech professionals. If you need better collaboration and project management for your web design team, try contacting a managed service provider. 

Managing A Larger Team

If you need more than one web designer can provide, don't panic! While it may seem like a lot to hire more than one professional to take on your business project, rest assured that this is not necessary at all. Managed service providers are the missing link between you and a technical team - they can discern what professionals need to be on the project, vet applicants to find the perfect professionals for your specific business needs, as well as manage the team and facilitate communications so that everyone understands precisely what the other side wants and needs of them. In addition, some managed service providers can help redundancy plan and take over some of the work themselves if anything goes awry. 

Jonquil McDaniel is a new managed service provider that started the industry in tech support, worked her way up from frontend web design to dev-ops system administration, polished up her skills freelancing for various types of projects, then went back to school for Communications as the finishing touch to starting a career in managed IT support services. She can manage and communicate with all levels of professionals. Jonquil also can do much of the work herself as well should any team members fail to meet their commitments. Tenacity, brains, willpower, and originality drive everything she does. Check out her services for your business now at SocialOnlineByDesign.com

Follow Up Reading

How Crucial Website Design Is To The Brand

Website Design Trends For 2021

Best Practices For Web Design


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

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About

 


DigitalMediaSocial is the news & media blog for SocialOnlinebyDesign

a tech-savvy managed service provider headquartered on the beautiful Gulf Coast. 

 

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The primary focus of this blog is to inform and entertain a B2B audience 

with news, tips, and stories relevant to e-commerce 

and other ways of doing business on the web. 

 

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With a focus on improving B2B and B2C communications, 

DigitalMediaSocial strives to improve the business and creative strategies of every reader 

that comes across one of its articles.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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Kim Komando Is Making Women In Tech Look Bad

Kim Komando: The Worst Tech Advice Website Ever

I have never called out any writers or bloggers before writing content that’s slightly off-color or off-key. In general, I respect other writer’s autonomy and freedom to their perspective. However, Kim Komando has become a case I feel I have an ethical duty to my career field to call into question. It markets itself as a tech advice website for internet newbies. I’ve read several of their articles now, which pop up in my Google Newsfeed. Each subsequent item seems to be even more wrong than the last; each piece of advice is subsequently worst than the last bit of advice given.

Is the editor of this site fact-checking this advice? It appears that they are not. Thus, this mess is now in the hands of any IT support professional that stumbles across it in their news feeds. But it especially calls women in IT up to bat in a field where we get discouraged too often already: technical writing.

Web Content Creation Problems | Managed IT Support Answers

This relates to a bigger, significant problem on the internet. It’s not just a Kim Komando problem. Many websites will hire article spinners or “mad libs writers,” as I call them. These pseudo-writers will write articles that may check out well with their SEO and appear legit to search engines like Google but are entirely devoid of any useful information. They often contain piles of blatantly false information as well. Of course, people rely on search engines to show them the most factually correct content – especially when it comes to helping articles and how-to guides. Fake guru tech advice websites like Kim Komando cheapen content on the internet by diluting the content pool with trash word salads.

There are indeed some shady content writers out there who will con a client into purchasing one of these word salads as a legit unique & authoritative article. It must also be argued that some responsibility lies in the client’s hands to double-check that writer’s work to make sure it is grammatically correct, comprehensive, and factually accurate. If the client does not know how to do this, they should seek out managed IT support to act as their project manager and liaison.

A knowledgeable and experienced managed IT support consultant will ensure anyone who works on your project produces legitimate, unique work. The best-managed IT support comes from professionals who have worked in the fields they now manage. After all, how can you direct a boat if you don’t know how to steer it yourself?

Correcting Some Kim Komando “Facts”

“Facebook security warning: Thousands of passwords stolen”

In this article, Kim Komando makes these claims:

  • It’s a good idea to reset your password frequently.
  • If you set up 2FA/MFA in Facebook, it will automatically notify you if someone tries to hack your account.
  • Never using your Facebook login outside of Facebook will keep you safe.
  • If the URL is missing the term “facebook.com” then it is probably a phishing site.
  • Never follow any emails that take you to a Facebook login page. These are phishing sites.

Wow. This tech advice article (like many of the articles I’ve read so far) reveals a writer who has a feeble grasp of how these technologies work. This leads to giving dangerous and misleading advice. Some of it is sure to get you phished simply because this article does not clearly explain the red flags of phishing attempts.

It’s a good idea to frequently reset your password.

IT support professionals recommended this back when the most prominent concern was that hackers would brute-force user passwords. Brute-forcing is a means of “guessing” someone’s password using a computer program to run through potential combinations of characters, trying each as a login to the target user’s account. The more secure your password was, the less likely it was that someone would be able to brute-force it before you changed it again. This sounds like legit advice. So why has it changed?

The technologies that hackers use have changed, for starters. And second, technology itself has changed so that a password is no longer likely to be a safeguard against a significant brute-force attempt. Modern computers have far surpassed the power needed to crack even the most complex passwords quickly. Hackers rarely attempt to brute force accounts anymore, either, since 2FA/MFA have become popular additions to password logins. But most importantly, changing your password frequently can give you a false sense of security, causing you to slack off in other areas that need your attention more. Additionally, it makes little sense to change a secure password to another password that could potentially be not anywhere near as safe.

Now that this has been said, it does not hurt to change your password every once in a while. However, it should not be a significant feature of anyone’s cybersecurity plan.

If you set up 2FA/MFA in Facebook, it will automatically notify you if someone tries to hack your account.

This is one of the most dangerous statements I saw in this article. If you are using a cellphone as your 2FA device, your number is easily spoofed – and you won’t be notified. Microsoft sounded an alarm about the dangers of using phone-based multi-factor authentication recently. Additionally, saving your MFA key, so you don’t have to use it again opens you up to spoofing your session. You also will not be warned about this. It’s usually a bad idea to rely on any notification to warn you about hacking attempts. If you do get warned by a message, it usually just means you got lucky.

Never using your Facebook login outside of Facebook will keep you safe.

So we should never use Single Sign-On (SSO)? You know, where you log in to one site and use that same token to log in to other sites? Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all have it. And then we will be safe from phishing, right?

As you may have guessed, no, that is not right at all.

I am hoping that this was just poorly worded. I think what they intended to say was that you shouldn’t use your Facebook credentials on any websites that are not coming from Facebook. This means Single Sign-On is safe because it involves a redirect to Facebook.

Of course, this factor alone will not keep you safe.

If the URL is missing the term “facebook.com” then it is probably a phishing site.

Considering almost every phishing site I see nowadays uses some component of the spoofed site’s domain, this is extremely poor – and downright dangerous – advice. Here is a quick primer on the parts of a website address:

HTTP://SUBDOMAIN.DOMAIN.COM/DIRECTORY/WEBPAGE.HTML

HTTP:// – Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. The secure, encrypted version of this is HTTPS://. You should NEVER enter confidential information (such as login or credit card) into a form that isn’t on a secured webpage.

SUBDOMAIN – This is a secondary domain name you can use in addition to the actual domain name. Phishers love to use subdomains to trick you into thinking you are visiting the legit website when you look at the address bar. This is why it’s essential to know the different parts of a website address. Even if a phisher tries to use the legit domain name in other parts of the website URL, they won’t be able to fool you. For emphasis: you will never find the legit website domain in the subdomain section of a website address.

DOMAIN – This is the real domain name of a website. Here you will find the domain name followed by a period and an abbreviation for the top-level domain it’s using, such as .com, .net, .gov, .edu, and so forth. Phishers will sometimes use visually similar domain names to trick you into thinking you are going to the correct website. Watch the letters in the domain name carefully, and also pay attention to the top-level domain all your legitimate websites use.

.COM – This is the top-level domain or TLD. It’s important to know which one your favorite websites use, so you will be able to tell the difference if a phisher registers a domain like facebook.co.

DIRECTORY – This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the folder directory you want to go to on the domain’s server. Sometimes phishers will use this to spoof the real domain in the URL or even use this…

WEBPAGE.HTML – This is the actual webpage you want to visit within that directory on the domain’s server. Phishers like to take advantage of this part of the domain, as well.

Never follow any emails that take you to a Facebook login page. These are phishing sites.

This is another one of those instances where I hope that the writer just used an inadequate description of the concept they were thinking of. You will get emails from Facebook all the time. We all do. They will take you to Facebook and prompt you to log in (if you aren’t logged in already). These are not phishing sites.

We can apply much of what we learned about domains to email addresses as well. If an email comes from no-reply@facebook.com, then you can rest assured that the email actually came from no-reply@facebook.com. However, watch out for email addresses that look like this:

234504y757.facebook.com@facebook.rs

See how they tried to squeeze facebook.com in that email address? It’s in the wrong part of the email address, though. It should be at the end. See how the email address’ domain also tries to mimic facebook.com, but throws out a random top-level domain instead of using .com?

The Real Website Security Warning

The real website security warning has very little to do with any of Facebook’s past fumbles with security. It instead relies on your knowledge and skills. If you take the time to know how the internet works, the internet will work for you. Think critically about the enrichment content you consume. If it is vague or doesn’t make sense, it is likely to be more SEO garbage.

I sincerely hope that many IT professionals will raise their voices about this website online. Hopefully, the website owner reconsiders the situation, leading to this website giving such terrible lessons, tips, and tricks. In the meantime, here is a list of beginner-friendly tech sites that all offer sound, factual information and advice.

all in one notebook and tabletandroidapps for small businessavoiding bad pr onlinebusinessbusiness datachipoltechipolte hackedcustomer serviceemployeeemployee teamfacebookfree softwaregood business ethicsguidehinges that will not breakhow-tohow many restaurants were affectedhow tolong battery lifelte connectivitymalwaremicrosoft surface prominimal amount of system resourcesmultiple clocksmultiple timezonesnextcloudopen sourceprivate cloudpublic relations nightmaresrainmetersecurity featuressecurity suitesmall businesstaskbartaskbar clockteamteam buildingteam building strategiestutorialweb hostingweb hosting providerwindows 10wordpresswordpress mistake

Thursday, September 10, 2020

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Handy How-To: Manage Gmail Labels In Bulk Like A Pro

How Do I Delete Thousands Of Gmail Labels?

If you’ve had a Gmail account for a while, the chances are high that you’ve accumulated a series of hundreds and even thousands of rogue labels. These labels usually were created by email clients on Android and iOS. When software developers were still learning how to work with Gmail’s unique email system, they couldn’t pull any data on pre-existing labels. So they created new ones. Here’s a sample of what mine look like:

labels manager for gmail, gmail labels, labels in bulk, gmail labels in bulk, manager for gmail
I’ve literally got over 2,000 of these rogue labels in my Gmail inbox. They have ruined my Gmail experience by taking away my control over my email, and I no longer use it because of them.

Chances are also high that you’ve tried using a search engine to discover the secret to bulk-deleting these labels. Of course, there is none. Unlike Outlook’s trick with nesting unwanted folders inside one folder, then deleting it, there’s no way to nest your Gmail labels. You have to delete them one by one.

Or do you?

Let me introduce you to the Labels Manager For Gmail.

What Is The Labels Manager For Gmail?

The Labels Manager for Gmail is a script that you can run in Google Sheets to manage Gmail labels in bulk. This script can delete Gmail labels in bulk, create labels in bulk, export labels in bulk, replace labels in bulk, and export Gmail labels to a spreadsheet. It’s incredibly easy and straightforward to use, despite being a script plugin for Google Sheets. Best of all, it’s free to use. The developer of this app, Goldy Arora, says that he originally made it for himself, but then realized the public needed it as well. So he paid it forward by sharing it with everyone!

How Can I Delete My Gmail Labels In Bulk?

Thankfully, Goldy created a series of tutorials on how to use Labels Manager For Gmail that teaches you everything you need to know to master his script. I didn’t even need to watch all of them to understand how the script worked; it’s really that easy to figure out. Mr. Arora has done an amazing job of creating a cohesive script that anyone can use.

If you just can’t wait to watch them all before you bulk delete Gmail labels, these are the videos that you need to watch to do that specifically:

  1. Install Labels Manager For Gmail
  2. Export Gmail Labels Into A Google Sheet
  3. Bulk Delete Gmail Labels

Monday, August 17, 2020

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Vaporesso Gen S Kit Review: Does This Mid-Range 220W Box Mod Slay?

Can Vaporesso Offer Pro Value in The Gen S Budget Mod?

While manufacturers sponsor many of my professional product reviews, sometimes I buy a personal product that gets me excited enough to review it as a hobby. That has happened with several products lately. The most notable I think is this one, though: the Vaporesso Gen S kit with a Vaporesso Gen and an SKRR-S tank.

Full Disclosure: I am a Sigelei Fan

This review just wouldn’t be fair if you didn’t know where I stand when it comes to electronic vaporizer mods. I have been most loyal to Sigelei for the past eight years. If they’re not all sold out, I will almost always choose a Sigelei electronic mod for my main vaporizing device upgrade. I love Sigelei because they build ultra-heavy-duty mods that never break down on me and still provide a superior vapor experience. Unfortunately, this was one of those times that all the Sigelei models were gone.

The Low-Down: Why I Bought The Vaporesso Gen S Kit

I owned a Vaporesso Revenger a few years ago, and while I didn’t have any major complaints about it, the mod didn’t impress me, and it also did not last long until it broke. I’m easy-going with my mods, so it’s not normal for a mod to die on me before its time. If one does, it usually indicates poor build quality. In this case, e-liquid got down into the display. I did not overthink it at the time because e-liquid getting in displays was a pretty common occurrence. Now, most manufacturers have improved the designs to be more leak resistant.

So, I can’t say I wasn’t curious about the Vaporesso Gen S kit when I saw it. What convinced me to buy it was the description of the body design (it sounded like it was heavy-duty and made to last) and the Axon chip features. For those who are yet uninitiated in the features of the Vaporesso Gen S, it includes a ton of innovative “auto” adjustments for temperature control, battery saving, wattage, and more. It also consists of a “Super Player” mode, which provides all the standard features like manual temperature control. Newer features are included in Super Player mode, too: the device can mimic a mechanical mod, and you can also modify the wattage curve to create a truly customized drag.

Along with the .03ohm minimum resistance and 220w range, the Vaporesso Gen sounded like the perfect mod to replace my Sigelei Top 1. It certainly was valued at the same price as my Top 1. Only it came with a tank, too; my Top 1 came standalone. So, this seemed like a pretty sweet deal!

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Tank capacity 8ml/2ml
  • Battery 2×18650 (Not Included)
  • Output power 5-220W
  • Charging current 2.5A
  • Display 0.91′ OLED screen
  • Resistance range 0.03~5Ω
  • Coil GT4 Meshed coil (0.15Ω, 50-75W), GT Meshed coil (0.18Ω, 50-85W)

The Whole Package: But Does It Gift Well?

I do not know about you, but I always love to get a well-packaged kit even if I’m not giving it as a gift—a beautiful box just kind of adds to the feeling of being pampered by getting myself something special. Thankfully, Vaporesso didn’t go dirt cheap on the packaging for the Gen S mod kit. It comes gift wrapped in a cute purple box with a catchy marketing slogan on the front. Inside, you’ll find a registration card for the warranty, an instruction booklet, two coils (one quad .15ohm and one dual .2ohm), extra glass and parts for the tank, a USB cable for charging and updating, and a scratch label so you can make sure it’s a genuine product. Overall, it feels like opening the box on a brand-new cell phone: it’s the same size as a cell phone box, with similar décor concepts.

She’s A Brick House: Will the Vaporesso Gen S Kit Survive Your Carelessness?

The Vaporesso Gen mostly lived up to my expectations for its build quality and exceeded them in some areas. The biggest disappointment of all for me is that it is plastic. I tend to prefer steel or even aluminum mods, as plastic mods tend to be more prone to cracking and splitting at seams if there are no screws (or the screws breaking off the plastic).

However, this mod seems to be an exception to that rule, possibly. I’m not sure what kind of plastic Vaporesso used. It looks like PVC, perhaps. It is exceptionally light, but also HARD. There’s a solid feel to it that I’m not used to seeing in plastic mods. I find myself strangely optimistic that this model might defy the usual conventions.

Vaporesso did not play around with the paint job on this mod at all. The description says it uses four coats of a soft-touch coat, and you can tell it. It almost feels like rubber. It has texture but still feels smooth. It’s an exciting feeling for sure when paired with the lightweight feel.

Using The Vaporesso Gen Mod

It should be noted first of all that the Vaporesso Gen S kit does come with a new version of the Vaporesso Gen. It comes with the Gen, period. The S in the title might arise from the SKRR-S tank that comes with the Gen S mod kit. There seems to be much confusion about this online: many reviewers are saying the Gen S mod is identical to the Gen. There is no such thing as a Vaporesso Gen S mod, however.

Using the Vaporesso Gen mod is much like using any other box mod. You have two buttons for up and down, along with a function/power button in the middle. Then there’s the firing button towards the top. You can lock all the buttons except the firing button by pressing the firing button three times. Press it three times again to unlock. Pressing it five times will turn the device off while pressing it five times again will turn it on. Pressing the middle function button three times will open up the menu.

Vaporesso Gen Menu & Features

The main menu lets you choose between economy mode (battery saver), variable-wattage pulse mode, DIY mode (manual modes), and smart temperature control modes. DIY is where all the “pro” functions are like variable-wattage pulse modulation, manual temperature control, super player mode, and bypass mode. The pulse modulation setting lets you customize the electrical output on each puff. The super player mode supports a broader range of coil resistances for RDAs. Bypass mode mimics a mechanical mod by removing the wattage and temperature controls to feed power to the coil directly from the battery.

Customizing the pulse modulation of each puff is way more challenging to do with the Vaporesso Gen than it was when this feature was on the Joyetech Evic mod. I never could find a custom setting that suited me better than the defaults. However, if you can master this function, you will be able to take complex e-liquid flavors and customize each puff to cover a broad range of the flavors used, just by modifying the electrical throughput to rise and fall.

Thankfully, the manual modes all work like the modes on Sigelei’s latest chips. It’s also impressive the Vaporesso Gen also has smart controls. I didn’t expect myself to like the intelligent controls, but I prefer them to manual modes. As soon as you attach a tank, the device calculates whether to use temperature control or variable wattage. It also figures out what temperature or wattage to start out using, and you can adjust it from there. When the battery gets low, it can automatically kick into an economy mode to make the battery last longer.

Vaporesso Gen Power Consumption

The Gen is genuinely a device you can just slap a tank and batteries in, load up some juice, and go. No fiddling with controls is necessary. However, that is not what I find most impressive about this mod. What impresses me about the Vaporesso Gen is the battery life. I had some 18650 batteries that didn’t last long enough in my Top 1 to be worth using any more. I was about to toss them out but wondered how they would do in the Gen. They lasted all day—literally 4 hours.

That is at least due in part to Vaporesso using an old-fashioned OLED display and controls on the Gen. While the obvious benefit of using such a display is considerably lower production costs, there’s also a less obvious benefit. A handful of LEDs uses 20x less power than a small full-color screen does.

The Battery Chassis: Nightmare or Dream Come True?

I have noticed hardly any reviews ever discuss the battery chassis. I’m not sure if it just doesn’t occur to them that others would like to know about that part of the device, too, or what. I think the battery chassis is essential. After seven years of vaping, I’ve seen a lot of lousy battery chassis designs destroy my joy over getting a new device or (worse) break the device before I’ve even owned it for six months. Not cool.

I was a bit worried about the Vaporesso Gen because it uses a magnetized door. My Vaporesso Revenger was one of the mods with this kind of design that taught me to watch out for it. These magnetized battery doors tend to be flimsy and fall off (along with the batteries) any time the device gets dropped. They also are prone to allowing dirt and debris into the battery chamber, which creates a potentially hazardous situation.

Thankfully, Vaporesso seems to have improved upon these points with their Gen mod. The magnets are strong enough to hold the door in place, where it fits neatly into a tight groove going around the device. It holds so well that it’s a little challenging to get the battery door off even though Vaporesso thoughtfully included a notch for your fingernail to slip in there.

There’s also a black ribbon inside to help with battery removal. I’ve only seen Vaporesso do this with their battery chassis, but I wish other vaping manufacturers would do this as well.  It makes battery removal so much easier. It can be a little tricky to fit fresh batteries into their chambers, in any case. Vaporesso made it a tight squeeze!

Using The SKRR-S Tank

Overall, I’ve been highly satisfied with the quality of my vape with this mod, no matter what e-liquid or setting I’m using. The vape quality is comparable to what I was able to obtain with the Sigelei Top 1. Smooth, stable, thick, with little to no spit-back on any tank I use with it. So far, I’ve used it with a Horizon Falcon, Advken Manta, Freemax Fireluke, and a Sigelei Moonshot. The performance has been fantastic across the board.

The air intake turns quickly but doesn’t feel so loose that it could be prone to changing positions without anyone deliberately changing it. It does have that annoying habit of collecting humidity from the vaper’s activities and then leaking it out of the air intake valves. I don’t think any manufacturers have been able to fix that problem yet with any air intakes.

The replacement coil screws into the tank from the bottom, and the juice goes in the top after you screw off the cap. The e-liquid intake will not leak thanks to Vaporesso improving the threaded top design.

Let’s Talk About the Whole Package

Vaporesso gen s kit, vape mod kit, vaporesso
50 watts w/ .2 ohm dual-coil Fireluke mesh atty

To summarize, the Vaporesso Gen S kit appears to be quite an attractive deal – because it Is one. While the higher price tag of $80 seems steep to me for a mod kit that is mostly plastic (even if it is durable plastic), somewhere around $60-70 is where I would think it’s the best value. If you find this for any less than $60 and don’t plan on buying it, please drop me a line to let me know where I can stock up!

I would recommend this kit as a gift to either a new vaper or an intermediate vaper (someone that vapes a lot but does not do competitions). I think an actual competition vaper may find this a bit too fancy for their needs. But hey, if you know someone that also loves to play with cutting edge gadgetry, they may get a kick out of getting this or the Vaporesso Gen by itself as a present, too.

If you’re a heavy casual vaper that just wants the best drag for your buck; you will not be disappointed with this kit. Especially if you are someone that enjoys a premium vape but feels like you should go to vaper rehab if you start dropping more than $80 on a vape mod device. That is as good as it gets before you start breaking through past $100 in kit prices.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

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The WFH Security Checklist: Work From Home Safely

Cybersecurity Tips for Creating A Strong WFH Security Policy

More businesses and individuals are now working from home (WFH) remotely through a home business network. There has never been more incentive as now for cybercriminals to start attacking home users. Remember how challenging it was to get online in the 90s without running into something nasty? Home users are notorious for using lax or nonexistent security policy on their home networks. Now many businesses are moving their data from a professionally secured office network to the WFH network of one or more employees. That spells trouble!

Even more problematic for WFH security policy is that many businesses and employees do not know how to secure a home business network. A home business also cannot afford to provide work devices or a system administrator. Thankfully, this is fixed easily with a home business security checklist!

WFH Cybersecurity Checklist: Software Solutions

o   Password Manager

A password manager takes the grunt work out of using and managing secure passwords on a secure WFH network. A good password manager creates secure passwords for the user and stores them for later use. Check out the following free password manager apps:

  • LastPass – LastPass has been one of the leading password management platforms for many years now. The desktop version is free. The use of the mobile version is limited to paid subscribers. Still, $24 annually is hardly anything to complain about when you are getting the peace of mind that comes with using a secure password management platform. Lastpass is available on Windows, Mac, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.
  • Enpass – Enpass is a free, open-source password manager that is unique in that it syncs encrypted passwords to Dropbox or OwnCloud instead of its server. While the iOS and OS X licenses come at a cost ($24 annual or $55.99 one-time), the Windows, Linux, and Android permits are free. Enpass also has extensions that work with the desktop client for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera.
  • Bitwarden – Bitwarden is another open-source password manager that is like LastPass but carries more advanced multifactor login controls. It is free for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Advanced security features come with a license fee of $9.99 annually.

o   Secure Browser

The best secure browser avoids tracking and session cookies. It also warns users about insecure websites and blocks ads. While Google Chrome is a popular browser, there also is no way to avoid Google spying on a WFH user’s activities. The best choices right now are Firefox and Opera. Both been making fantastic progress in securing their browsers more from modern threats. Vivaldi is another excellent secure browser choice that uses the same page rendering engine and extensions as Chrome. Thus it is more likely to work on websites that require Chrome to work.

o   Antivirus

That really should go without saying, but there it is! An antivirus removes any viruses that may infect your computer, but an antivirus suite also does much more. Many antivirus suites now sport malware detection as well as system device (webcam) and identity monitoring to prevent snooping. While the best options are going to cost money (Kaspersky, Avira, Norton, etc.), there are a few free internet security suites that you can’t dismiss. Both Avira and Avast offer free antivirus software suites that are dangerously close to being as full-featured as paid apps are.

o   VPN

I honestly would not recommend anyone go without a VPN nowadays. It is so essential in the modern age to encrypt data transmissions that Opera has included one by default in their browser. Man-in-the-middle attacks steal data while being sent to other websites, and are extremely popular nowadays. Two-factor authentications have made cracking passwords a lousy business. So now, if a cybersecurity criminal wants access to a user account, they steal the session cookie from the user’s browser instead of trying to figure out their password. A VPN cuts that nonsense out by creating a fake IP address for the user to obscure their identity. It also encrypts all the WFH business user’s data going back and forth from the internet.

o   Two Factor Authentication

All accounts that have a two-factor authentication option should have it enabled. Even secure passwords can be hacked in a short time nowadays. So, the only real answer to keeping accounts secure in the age of supercomputers is to use more than one form of identity verification. With two factor authentications, you also must supply a numerical code with your password, which changes every 30 seconds. You can retrieve the code from SMS, an automated phone call, a USB 2FA security key, or 2FA software such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator. Since the 2FA code changes continuously, there is no chance for a hacker to guess it.

o   Secure Home Wi-Fi Access Point(s)

Any remote WFH security policy should include a vital requirement that the employee owns their home business network. They should also require the user to be behind a router with a secure Wi-Fi password and a built-in firewall. Most ISPs (internet service providers) will supply a wireless router as part of their service. That is okay, but be aware these routers get targeted a lot because every ISP customer is likely to be using the same router. Treat them with just as much caution as a public access point. In other words: use that VPN if you want a genuinely private & secure network!

o   Encrypted Storage

Working from home, you tend to acquire an extensive collection of documents and work-related data. This data may be a bit too sensitive to trust, laying out in the open on your hard drive. Encrypted storage solutions create a simple way to secure work data without having to go out of your way in terms of time or expense. There are free encryption programs for encrypting individual files, directories, or even entire drives.

o   Encrypted Email

Fortunately, most of the popular email providers are providing encrypted email functions nowadays. Microsoft and Google, of course, are leading the pack. Paid solutions such as ProtonMail offer more advanced security features. Make sure that you are using these features when communicating confidential data that could prove useful in the wrong hands.

o   Secure Domain Name Servers

Using secure DNS is an excellent way to reinforce the protection of your antivirus, firewall, and VPN software. Reliable DNS servers take extra precautions to protect you through blocking domains and IP addresses that are known to be problematic. Using a secure DNS can drastically reduce the amount of spam, phishing, spyware, and malware the users on your home business network are exposed to while working.

WFH Security Is About More Than Secure Software

While we have reached the end of this list of software solutions for WFH security, we haven’t finished with the overall WFH checklist. We still need to review critical online behaviors that can make or break the efficacy of your efforts to secure your home business network. For now, though, pat yourself on the back for having created the foundation you need to start working from home securely! In the next article, we will review a checklist for dos and don’ts, which help safeguard you and your employees against social engineering attacks.

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