вот is not really "here" in terms of place.. It's more of a slang and you need to know how to use it and when. "Vot ya eto vizu" - "here/there i see it" "Vot vam" - "there ya go" "Vot tam"- " there" "Vot zdes" - "right here" I think it points to something rather than some place. I'm not sure how to explain it better..
10 months late, but why not. It's a soft sign; it alters the letter before it.
This makes the с at the end of the word palatalized. Kind of like it's hanging out with a "y" in english terms. Think "syuh" rather than "suh".
Pronunciation: [c] vs [s] (IPA symbols; check wikipedia.)