Monday, December 9, 2013

Whiskers mentioned again

Just noticed on MSN Tech that Whiskers has been mentioned again.

Phone security: best apps for protecting your mobile

I'm really happy to see it mentioned again. Whiskers doesn't have a very large user base and it's frankly hard to find in the Windows Phone Store. This is both a blessing and a curse...

You see, I gave this little app a name that is purposely misleading in a sense. When you think of 'security' and a password locker/keeper/vault, you don't immediately think of 'whiskers' or a cat for that matter. So that's why I called this app Whiskers. If you happen to lose your phone and someone found it and started routing through it, chances are they would pass over an app called 'Whiskers' not knowing it is an app related to securely safe-keeping information. Whiskers btw is my cat, Toby, who has a bum eye, thus the patch which is a shield. Don't know if i've mentioned that before.

Windows Phone Store Password Manager Whiskers
Where is Whiskers in the Windows Phone Store?

While the name 'Whiskers' may thwart those with ill intentions it also seems to make it difficult for people to find the app in the Windows Phone Store. Thus its name is both a blessing and a curse for me.  Search for 'password manager' in the Windows Phone Store and as you can see to the right, you won't find Whiskers.

Admittedly, I have to tweak the keywords I use in the Windows Phone Store. Search for 'password keeper' or 'password locker' and you will find Whiskers. Search for 'password' though and you won't find it. I'll make some changes here the next time I submit a new version of Whiskers and maybe I'll see some better results.

Speaking of which, I do have a new version of Whiskers that's going through the certification process right now. I'll talk about the changes in another post. Until then, thanks MSN for mentioning Whiskers!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Whiskers Development Update

I'm currently looking into how to make the Backup feature in Whiskers better. Right now it's pretty rudimentary but gets the job done with one major short-coming; if your backup is too big you can't back it up. To solve this I'm considering using the new DataTransferManager available to Windows Phone 8...

The major hurdle with the DataTransferManager is that it's only available to native applications. Whiskers was developed with C#. Thankfully I won't have to port from C# to C++. I can develop and run with mixed code if I develop a Windows Phone Runtime Component that interfaces the native code stuff with the managed (i.e. C#) stuff.

The other issue is that this will mean forking versions of Whiskers. One for WP 7.x with the current Backup and another new version for WP8-only with the new Backup. I'm not thrilled with forking and maintaining two versions but you get what you get and MSFT has provided the sandbox we must live and play in.

I found a good article and starting point on this stuff here. I'll be working on this during what free-time I have and hopefully (yes I know, hope is not a plan!) I will have something to share and update Whiskers users with a new and much-improved Backup feature.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Whiskers v1.3

I fixed a few bugs and added a few new features thanks to one great user's suggestions and help.

Bug fixes:
  • The first Other item you add to an account could not be deleted. This is fixed.
  • When editing an account and adding either a URL or a Note, after you saved the changes and returned to the Details page of the account, the URL and Note text would be missing, although it was actually saved. This is fixed.
  • Sorting on the All items list was not consistent. Items would be grouped alphabetically but within the group they would not be sorted alphabetically. This is fixed.

New Features
  • URLs are now hyperlinks. If you tap on the URL it will attempt to open the link in your browser.
  • Copy to Clipboard feature.
    • On the Details page, tap on an item and it is copied to your clipboard. Copy your password to the clipboard by tapping on it, then tap on the URL to go to a site and then paste in your password from the clipboard.

Disclaimer on the Copy to Clipboard feature...

Whiskers does NOT clear the clipboard, so whatever data you copy to the clipboard, it remains there until you change it or clear it yourself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whiskers v1.2 Submitted to Store

I have submitted version 1.2 of Whiskers to the Windows Phone Store today. It contains the new features and changes I described in an earlier post.

Here's the list of changes:
  • Camera capture support and ability to save the captured photo to an item in Whiskers
  • Lockout timer
  • Landscape orientation support
  • Unlock PIN-pad now contains the period (.) character
  • Updated splash screen
  • Save, Delete, Cancel App Bar buttons re-ordered

new edit photo page
The camera capture support is the big one for this release. When you add or edit an item in Whiskers, you have the option to capture a photo using the camera on your phone and save it with the item.

For this feature I had to use the Camera APIs directly instead of the simple CameraCaptureTask. Thankfully, there's a great sample from MSDN that shows you how to easily use the Camera APIs and get a very functional UI.

The Camera APIs allow you to focus, adjust the flash, and set the resolution. Most phones have additional camera settings, such as Scene settings and special effects, neither of which is available to you when you use the Camera API for Windows Phone 7.x. With Windows Phone 8 you do have some advanced abilities through another API but that isn't an option for me right now since I have one application for both Windows 7 and 8 and I wanted to keep things simple.

image flipped on Nokia 920
I encountered one irksome issue when testing on my Nokia Lumia 920. Photos captured in Portrait orientation are flipped vertically...

Searching the forums, this appears to be a known issue, with a fix, but it may take a long time before this fix becomes public. So to correct this (because it needs some correction ;) was to provide a vertical flip App Bar button to flip the image if its not oriented properly. Thanks to Tim Heurer and his post on "Handling picture orientation in CameraCaptureTask in Windows Phone 7" for some help and some code.

Once you capture an image and save it to your item, a small thumbnail shows up on the item's detail page. Tap on the thumbnail and you will then see it full-screen. Double-tap and it will zoom in to 100% and you can pan left, right, up or down to view the image at 100%.

photo thumbnail
100% zoom

lockout settings
The new lockout timer feature is an additional to make Whiskers more convenient to use when you are switching back and forth between Whiskers and another application, like your browser. Until now, each time you open or return to Whiskers (if it was in the background), you would need to enter your PIN to unlock Whiskers. With this new feature now you can control how long Whiskers may stay unlocked until it automatically locks again and requires you to enter your PIN when you open or return to Whiskers.

 There are several options for configuring the lockout time. You can keep it at Always, which is the default and how Whiskers has operated until now. With Always, Whiskers will always lock when you leave Whiskers and either open it again or return to it.

lockout options

The remaining options are 30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, and 30 minutes. Let's say you choose 30 seconds. Now, when you leave or close Whiskers, Whiskers will remain unlocked for another 30 seconds. If you open or return to Whiskers within that 30 seconds, Whisker will open without requiring you to enter your PIN to unlock it. Wait until after 30 seconds and Whiskers will lock and require you to enter your PIN when you open it again or return to it. It's that simple!

I didn't include a Never option with this feature because I felt it would make Whiskers far less secure and would essentially do away with the need for a PIN.

Hopefully this new version will go live within the next week or so, depending on the approval process.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Visual Studio 2012 No Haz Text Macros :(

It seems that MSFT remove the record/playback text macro feature in Visual Studio 2012...

Even if you didn't know about this feature, I'm sure it would have been useful for you. Let me give you an example of why I like this little feature. Let's say you're doing your thing, writing some code, and need a little assistance from the community. Let's say some kind fellow coder has just the solution and code snippet you need. You cut & paste this new found code and put it into your project. Alas! The cut & pasted code contains dreaded line numbers and now you have to manually remove them. Argh!

Code with Line Numbers

There are many great community members who do this and it would really be a great gesture if they stopped doing this. I won't point out anyone specific, you know who you are ;)

There's a heated discussion about this missing feature here:

Someone has come up with a simple Visual Studio Extension workaround. I've tried it and it works, thank goodness! You can find it here:

Finally, you can vote for this feature back using the link here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kaspersky's Best Windows Phone Security Apps

I came across this post today on the Kaspersky lab blog where Whiskers has been recognized as one of the best Windows Phone Security Apps. Hooray!

The post lists twenty different security apps and Whiskers made #18 on the list...

It was really kewl to come across this today. I don't have huge download numbers for this app but the feedback I get from people is always great.

When I created Whiskers, I figured it would probably not get very many hits because of the name. You see, the name doesn't have "password", or "locker", or "security", or "encryption" in the name and the Windows Phone Store search mechanism has always been less than desirable when it comes to finding apps using plain old search in the Store. Many people looking for a secure password locker for their WP usually don't come across Whiskers.

There is a reason for the odd name...if your phone is lost or stolen and someone gets access to it, my hope is that Whiskers is not the first app they open to see all of your secrets, passwords, etc. With a name that has "password" in it, I'm sure that acts like a big shiny red button for the curious and down-right evil. With name like "Whiskers", who's gonna look at that? :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Whiskers Enhancement List

I wanted to jot down a few of the enhancements that I'll be working on in the near future for another minor update to Whiskers.

  • Ability to capture an image using device camera and add it as another entry property.
  • Fix bug on PIN unlock screen which does not allow period (.) character, which is allowed on the PIN create screen.
  • Lock timer option. Controls when the unlock screen shows. always, 30 sec., 1 min, 3 min, 5 min, 15 min, 30 min, and never options. Default is 1 min.
  • Support for Landscape orientation.

Not a huge list of items but a few enhancements I will put in to improve Whiskers just a little more.