This morning I sent this email to vpsBible subscribers. I hope it assures the community here at vpsBible that this site, while very dusty, is far from abandoned. Thank you.
I’m writing to vpsBible.com subscribers to explain why I’ve been neglecting the site, and can only hope that you can accept that this email is truly well-intentioned.
As well as explaining my absence, this mail:-
Basically, I’m trying to make amends.
A lot of folks have thought the vpsBible project was dead. That is not the case.
Here’s what happened.
Fairly shortly after launching vpsBible (which some may recall was a fork from my old blog Guvnr.com), I was approached to write a book about WordPress security. And I did, “WordPress 3 Ultimate Security”. It took a long time and, because I’d not developed vpsBible in the way I’d intended, you may recall, I gave all former subscribers to vpsB a year’s free subscription. That was in the hope of not losing my community due to my apparent lack of interest.
Unfortunately, though, partnering the publisher, Packt Publishing, proved to be a huge error and a great drain on my time.
As the publisher, himself, admitted to me,
“We have managed to make mistakes at every imaginable turn.”
Yet with Packt merely paying lip service while shouldering not one iota of responsibility, this ”catalogue of errors” (their words) has affected each and every aspect of my life and the vpsBible project has taken the online brunt of the knock-on effect.
You may wish to scroll down, now, below what some may consider a rant. Then again, I feel it is fair and right to explain myself, so here goes.
While a publisher’s editorial ineptitude is one thing, for instance introducing the best part of 1000 errors into my drafts, withholding affiliate payments with no explanation at all and therefore killing any trust of their proper accounting for royalties, and with serious shortfalls in other areas, the biggest problem I’ve faced with this company is that, contrary to their stated intentions, they barely marketed the book, and their publicity was, by far, the main reason I agreed to sign over 84% of the revenues.
Having ignored a dozen or so emails from me, it was only when I resorted to threatening legal action that Packt managed to send out the launch press release, yet only six months after the book’s actual launch, and on one of the most useless business days of the year, the 27th of December. Anyone who knows anything about product development and roll-out knows that this is grossly negligent, largely rendering the book’s potential null and void.
It also made zero sense, Packt having lauded the work their ‘Book of the Month’ and, on the day of launch, their technical editor having emailed me to say,
“You have been one of the best authors with whom I have had the pleasure of working. You have truly put in a stupendous amount of effort into this book.”
Yet evidently, for Packt, by and large, professionalism is a one-way street. I could go on, and on, and on, about Packt’s shortfalls, but that’s boring for you and a bad memory for me.
The bottom line is that, having invested so much time, energy and talent into the book, I felt it necessary to make something useful from that content and, not least of all, because I knew, and know, that the content is good.
Fortunately for me, however, and over mere technicalities, Packt managed to breach our contract and I took the opportunity to send them a legal letter, reverting my copyright. Immediately, for once, Packt responded, asking for a dialogue. Stupidly perhaps, but in good faith, I agreed with them to let bygones be bygones on the sole condition that they would not in any way
interfere with my remastering of the work into a website, the revenue from that being mine and on the mutually-beneficial condition that I market the book, alongside, on the site. Packt was actually pleased about this, or so they said, seeing my proposed model as a potential test case for them to roll out similarly recycled, cross-media projects.
Having spent yet more months developing the new site, wpCop, which you will see is pretty advanced and which cost quite a lot of my money to produce, as well as time, I had hoped to launch the thing last December.
Only then did Packt turn around to say they wanted 50% of the site’s revenue, yet another example of how this company moves the goalposts to suit what in my experience is a cynical, even parasitic business model.
I could go on about stress, depression and whatever, but the bottom line is that I took some time out. Mostly, I had to earn some money and, as you’ll have seen from the vpsBible forums, I kind of fell off the sitemap.
Well, I’m back.
vpsBible’s sister site has launched today. Fittingly I think, you vpsBible people are the very first to know:-
* risk.wpcop.com – understand the risk to your website and both to its direct and indirect network
* hack.wpcop.com – learn how to hack, ethically, so that you can test your site, server and other assets
* pc.wpcop.com – safeguard the web development PC
* web.wpcop.com – secure your use of the internet
* server.wpcop.com – ring-fence the server
* wordpress.wpcop.com – defend the platform
* forums.wpcop.com – support. And yes, I am there to help. Also, finally, I am back here too.
Meanwhile, also today, on my blog Guvnr.com which is now the news vehicle for both vpsBible and wpCop, I am publishing an Open Letter to Packt Publishing, the point of which is to communicate with this company, from now on, only ever in public forum as, privately, they have proven manipulative and deceitful. Quite frankly my hope is that, as a self-professed supporter of the open source community, Packt will, finally, do the right thing: to accept their lack of any meaningful partnership and to walk away, and without legal duress. Then again, even now I am offering Packt the opportunity to honour what we had agreed in what appeared to be good faith on both sides, though only because I do not cherish the prospect of a legal battle with a relative Goliath.
I have absolutely nothing to hide in my dealings with this company and have carefully filed each and every dialogue, even down to recorded telephone conversations with the publisher.
You can read my Open Letter, if you like. Comments are open there and anything Packt says, whether by email and whether directly or from any third party, will be published there, unedited, absolutely not censored, in full, and I shall respond in turn:-
vpsBible is tired. At the time that Packt approached me I was re-building it from the ground up, both in terms of functionality and of its content. With wpCop launched, my primary focus is to finish that regeneration. You will see changes there very shortly now, starting with an edit of the existing tutorials. You will doubtless agree that wpCop is of a higher, fuller quality than vpsBible. I am using that template to bring vpsBible up to the same standard, fast, before then working on each equally.
I see the relationship between vpsB and the Cop as something of a Venn diagram:-
* vpsBible shows how to set up a quality web server
* wpCop shows how best to protect that server, its networked assets, and the WordPress application
So there are common interests.
vpsBible 2.0, so to say, will look very like wpCop, and will share the same forum, so that I can most easily manage these sisters, side-by-side, and so that community members, from either, can to-and-fro between both as seamlessly as possible.
Otherwise, I had been and will resume building a bespoke stackscript generator, for those of you that want to be able to create all manner of scripts, on the fly. This, in itself, will be a major feature although I’ll have to charge a premium fee for its use.
And Guvnr? I’ve neglected that too, but have rebuilt and relaunched it. As I’ve mentioned, it is now the news vehicle for both its forks, vpsB and the Cop. It also has a life all its own, is the place I let my hair down and you may or may not decide to put up with my dubious humour and political views there. Sorry in advance but, hey, please feel free to ‘put me right’! I hope you do.
Whether or not you vpsBible folks have been patient with me – and in your shoes I would not have been – I hope truly that you can see that I have made an error of judgement but am actively correcting that, yet that this negative episode has a silver lining.
To try to regain your confidence in what I do, and in the erstwhile hope of re-building my shattered vpsBible community, I want to offer you a token of goodwill, a year’s subscription to wpCop, for free. You do not need currently to be a vpsBible subscriber. If ever you have subscribed there, then I am grateful, and that is sufficient. Or, if you did not, but nonetheless are somehow receiving this newsletter or reading it on vpsBible, you can subscribe to vpsBible now and, again, you’re welcome to the free pass at wpCop.
There is one caveat: due to time constraints, this offer will end on 30th September 2013.
If you want to take me up on this, email me with some kind of vpsBible subscription verification, such as your username, email address or your Paypal receipt number. If you can’t remember, email me anyway and I’ll try to help.
Did I say thank you?