VaultPress Customer Stories: The Brooks Review

Ben Brooks

In his incredibly prolific technology blog, The Brooks Review, Ben Brooks shares his ideas and thoughts on software, hardware, and gadgets, pulling no punches in detailed posts from the avid user’s perspective. Ben credits his father and grandfather for helping him form his approach and shape his opinions.

“I have my father and grandfather to thank,” says Ben. “From a young age my dad always taught me to pay attention to the details—from a finish on a wall, to a nick on a car. Both of them really dig into items before they buy them—they want to know what they’re getting is the very best. That has always sat with me and because of it, I am really bothered when I know that what I have isn’t the best and I really notice little things—things that I just don’t think other people care to notice.”

The germ for the The Brooks Review popped into Ben’s mind on a flight to his honeymoon.

“I’ve had various tech blogs going back to about 2002, but the habit of regularly writing never really stuck for me until I started The Brooks Review,” says Ben. “I actually had the idea for it on a flight to Hawaii for my honeymoon—my wife was transitioning jobs and I was trying to help her come up with something she should do from home. Turns out that while brainstorming for her, I started to really like the idea of writing a site about technology that really tells it how it is. I hated that sites would always skip over small details of software or devices—details that I thought made or break the product. A prime example of this: typing on the slew of touchscreen phones that were coming out at the time—not to mention the just release iPad.”

For Ben, The Brooks Review is his creative release—a way for him to connect with others on his interests.

“The Brooks Review is my outlet,” says Ben. “I don’t have a group of techy friends that I can converse with regularly. I don’t have a buddy I can go to a bar with that I can assume not only knows the current tech news, but that also cares about it. And trust me, my wife gets bored of hearing about it. So I write and through writing I get to speak my mind—and that is a great outlet for me.”

The Brooks Review isn’t the only place on the internet where you’ll find Ben. He also co-hosts The B&B Podcast with Shawn Blanc.

Ben started out on WordPress.com back in 2006. From there he migrated to a self-hosted install of WordPress.org and never looked back.

“WordPress has been my go-to platform every time I go to start up a new website,” says Ben. “A few months back I went and tested just about every other CMS I could—only to realize that I just really like, and am comfortable with, WordPress.”

We cannot be more delighted that Ben Brooks chose VaultPress to protect The Brooks Review. You can learn more about how VaultPress can protect your content, theme, plugin, and site settings and customizations. Contact us with questions, or you could put us over the moon, and sign up to protect your site.

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VaultPress Customer Stories: Graph Paper Press

Thad Allender

Photography was Thad Allender’s first love. A wish to precisely control how his photographs were displayed on the web and in print inspired him to learn the art and science behind design. He made his first WordPress theme in 2005, and with that, Graph Paper Press, a design firm dedicated to minimalist themes and building plugins for creative people, was born.

“In college, I made zines that focused on bike culture, music, and photography,” says Thad. “Making zines, coupled with classes in art and design, made me fall in love with the interplay between photography and design. After graduating from college, I worked as a photographer at a publication and I wanted total creative control over how my images were displayed, both in print and online. I picked up a couple books, learned html, css, and started dabbling in php, largely out of frustration with how my images were displayed on the web. In 2007, I released my first WordPress theme on my photo portfolio website. I had a massive traffic spike. Soon thereafter, I launched GraphPaperPress.com, which to this day still focuses on building solutions for photographers, artists, and other creative people using WordPress.”

Thad started using WordPress back in 2005 and has never looked back.

“In 2005, I moved to New York City where I worked as a freelance photographer,” says Thad. While in NYC, I also landed my first web design client, a small architecture firm. I built the site using MoveableType and hated it. Soon thereafter, a friend introduced me to WordPress and I started building themes. I haven’t looked back since!”

As a photographer and designer, Thad understands the needs and wishes of creative folks. Graph Paper Press’ work focuses on making sure content takes centre stage.

“I have always worked in the creative industry, first as a photographer and later as a multimedia producer for USA Today,” says Thad. “I’d like to think that I know the needs and frustrations of creative folks pretty well. For most creatives, the perfect design is invisible. Content is king. Our themes cater to this.”

Todd Owyoung is a rock and roll photographer based in New York City.

Andrew Tolson, a photography director at a Toronto magazine.

Plugins are also a big part of Graph Paper Press’ work.

“Like our themes, our plugins attempt to solve common problems that creatives face when publishing work on the web. We’re actually getting ready to release a new plugin that turns attachments uploaded into WordPress into products that buyers can license and download. There are hosted solutions that provide this service, but many could simply exist inside WordPress. A web presence that is splintered around the internet with no cohesive branding or design sensibility can get expensive, confusing, and becomes a major time suck to maintain. We think there is a lot of room for growth in this area. For us, WordPress is becoming more of an application for solving design, ecommerce and archiving issues facing creatives.”

Thad learned of VaultPress during a talk Matt Mullenweg gave in Washington, D.C.

“I remember hearing about VaultPress from your very own Matt Mullenweg, who spoke at the WordPress DC meetup group we used to sponsor in Washington, D.C.,” says Thad. “VaultPress has saved our butts a few times. It’s worth every penny.”

We’re proud as punch to have graphpaperpress.com in the vault. You can learn more about how VaultPress can protect your content, theme, plugin, and site settings and customizations. Contact us with questions, or you could make our day, and sign up to protect your site.

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Recommended: Locking Down WordPress

Today, Code Poet released a free book we think is worth your time. Locking Down WordPress features WordPress pros Rachel Baker, Brad Williams, and VaultPress graduate John Ford on WordPress security, what to look for in a host, tips on hardening your WordPress install against the bad guys, and a lot more.

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John Chow: How VaultPress Saved My Blog

It may not be quite as classic as man vs. man or man vs. nature, though man vs. blog may yet become a conflict staple in future literary works. John Chow starred in his own man vs. blog story while trying to upgrade Thesis, his site’s theme on July 3rd. In this tale, John credits VaultPress for the happy ending.

Two days ago, I did an upgrade on the blog’s Thesis theme, and something went terribly wrong. The blog got completely messed up. I thought I was screwed because I didn’t make a backup of the old theme before updating, and my system admin was out for the night. It looked like my blog would be down until the next morning. This was, of course, completely unacceptable. When you own a money-making blog, you cannot have it go down on you. Luckily, my blog is protected by VaultPress.

When my blog went down, I just logged into my VaultPress control panel, and chose a time before I did the upgrade that messed the blog up.

Restoring the blog was as easy as pushing the restore button and then confirming that I actually want to restore. VaultPress did the rest and my blog was fully restored in less than an hour.

I’ve been paying for VaultPress since the service started (pricing starts at $15 per month), but this was the first time I have ever had to use it. I’m happy to report that it worked like a charm. I highly recommend VaultPress as a cheap insurance policy against possible disaster.

We’re delighted that John Chow chose VaultPress to protect johnchow.com. You can learn more about how VaultPress can protect your content, theme, plugin, and site settings and customizations. Contact us with questions, or you could make our day, and sign up to protect your site.

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VaultPress Customer Stories: K12reader.com

Jerry Charles runs K12reader.com

Meet Jerry Charles, a father of five, who combined his passion for website design and reading to create K12reader.com, a fantastic set of free resources that parents and teachers can use to help children learn to read and improve their reading comprehension.

“Our family has always enjoyed reading and back in 2008 I was also very interested in learning about web design,” says Jerry. “K12reader.com just seemed like a natural first project to start on. I started slow with really no expectations except to develop skills, do something fun that might benefit others, and possibly earn a little extra income. As I’ve learned about the kinds of financial pressures that schools and families are under, I’ve grown more enthusiastic about creating free, standards-based resources. That has helped continue to drive my passion for the site. The financial benefits alone could never hold my interest over time.”

K12reader.com features grammar worksheets on adjectives, adverbs, appositives, nouns, pronouns, punctuation, verbs, and more. There are lists of sight words and lists of award-winning books for children of all ages. The site’s articles, written by teachers, aim to reinforce the importance of reading and arm parents and educators with ideas and strategies to get kids reading and keep them interested in books. Jerry says that the comprehension worksheets, which ask kids to read a short passage and answer questions about what they read, are sought after.

“Overall the reading comprehension content is by far the most popular. We’re also in the process of classifying all content according to common core standards and expect this to be very popular with teachers and home school parents,” says Jerry.

When Jerry isn’t working on K12reader.com, he likes to read and enjoys listening to music.

“On the fiction side I enjoy Ted Dekker, James Rollins, and various mystery authors. I wish I could say I love the classics but I’m (ironically) pretty shallow when it comes to literature. I’ve learned more professionally from Seth Godin than any current business authors and find his books and daily emails very helpful. I’ve also tried to guide my web business philosophies based partially on principles I learned by reading Eric Ries’ material on lean startups. A couple other books that have influenced me include E-Myth by Michael Gerber and The Goal, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. To me, process is probably more important than the idea. I also love a cross-section of music including Peter Gabriel, Rush, AC/DC, Avenged Sevenfold, Imogene Heap, Neil Young, and The Who. Oh, and I eventually hope to buy a custom Gibson Les Paul.”

K12reader.com, which has been running for four years, was born on WordPress.

“Since I’ve always worked on K12reader.com outside of my full-time jobs I’ve had to focus on creating a very streamlined process,” says Jerry. I discovered WordPress back in 2008 and found that it was a great solution that provided an easy way to build and maintain the site, allowing me to focus on content. I also use the Genesis theme framework and wpengine.com as managed host—both great decisions in my opinion if you want to scale your business reliably without hassle.

After investing upwards of a thousand hours working on content for K12reader.com, Jerry wanted to protect his investment. We’re thrilled he chose VaultPress to protect the site.

“As the site grew significantly in traffic, it became more and more important to avoid potential site problems. I also wanted to spend more time on content and less on maintenance. So, I looked for the most reliable solution for for back-ups. VaultPress seemed like the best solution from the ones I evaluated and since it was run by Automattic I knew that I could count on solid compatibility with WordPress upgrades, etc. It’s proven to be a great service.”

You can learn more about how VaultPress can protect your content, theme, plugin, and site settings and customizations. Contact us with questions, or you could make our day, and sign up to protect your site.

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