Team equinux, Author at equinux blog

Cracking the code behind Apple’s App Store promo card design

By | Company, Mail Designer | No Comments

Apple is known for doing things with more attention to detail than most companies. So it should come as no surprise that even App Store gift cards with their promo codes have a few secret details that help make the experience more Apple-like.

So what powers the simple App Store promo codes? Secret fonts, special dimensions, and many more.

Today, we uncover these secrets.

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SHA-1 collision and what it means for your VPN security

By | Company, VPN Tracker | No Comments

Recently, a team of researchers at Google announced that they had successfully created a SHA1-collision. Our VPN experts are going to outline what that means and what security implications it has for VPN users.

What SHA1 is used for

SHA1 is a cryptographic hash function that is used to verify signatures and other security-related files. Basically, it lets you quickly check that the file or digital signature you’re being shown is actually the real deal.

What’s all the fuss about?

In the last few years, researchers theorized that it might be able to create a fake file that matches a genuine file’s SHA1 signature. It was all just a matter of computing power and given the way technology works, that it would be possible in the next few years.
At that’s exactly what has happened: the Google team used a clever technique and Google’s vast server infrastructure to create a fake PDF file with the same SHA1 hash as their reference file.

What does SHA1 have to do with VPN?

When using a VPN, the server and VPN app go through several steps that let each side verify they’re talking to the right person. There’s Phase 1, during which both sides set up a secure channel to talk over. Then they use that during Phase 2 to establish the actual VPN tunnel used to transmit encrypted data.
SHA1 can be used in both of these setup phases to verify the authenticity of the data being exchanged and is configured by default for many VPN vendors.

So is a VPN that uses SHA1 at risk?

For single files like their PDF example or website certificates, Google’s research definitely shows that switching to SHA-2 is an important and necessary step.
However for VPNs, the attack is not feasible due to the short key lifetimes used:

In Google’s research, they needed the equivalent of 6500 single CPU-years to create their fake file.

In your VPN tunnel, a SHA1 hash is only used for 1 hour on average, before it is swapped for a new key. And the hash algorithm is used to verify a packet that has already been encrypted. So an attacker could only use this attack to sneak a fake packet into your data – and they’d have to compute in within 1 hour. To actually read your data would still be impossible, as the encryption algorithm means there are effectively two layers of security an attacker would need to break.

Security setup within VPN Tracker 365

 

Extra protection: use SHA-2 with your VPN

The latest VPN gateways also support SHA-2 hashes (e.g. SHA-256, SHA-384 or SHA-512). These are more modern, highly secure SHA variants that can’t be broken. SHA-2 has been supported in VPN Tracker since 2015 and is in our default configuration for many popular VPN vendors, including SonicWALL.

Secure: SonicWall TZ600 Gateway (uses AES-128, AES-192 and AES-256 with SHA-256)

The future

We always recommend using the strongest encryption available to you. So switching to SHA-2 algorithms if your VPN gateway supports it is a good idea. However SHA1 is still secure, provided you use a relatively short key lifetime and, more importantly, always pair it with a strong encryption algorithm (such as AES-128, AES-192 or AES-256).

Is Apple changing the way Top Grossing Charts work?

By | Company | No Comments

Update 21. February: It looks like this experiment is over and the charts are back to the way they were. Was it a sneak preview of things to come? We’ll keep this post updated. 


The App Store Top Charts are one of the most popular ways to find the latest trends on the store. In fact, Apple has received some criticism in the past for an over-reliance on Top Charts for new app discovery.

But with subscriptions becoming increasingly popular, the Top Grossing charts run the danger of becoming stagnant: monthly recurring subscriptions all but guarantee certain apps a spot in the Top Grossing charts, making it almost impossible for new apps to break into the Top Grossing charts.

Now it looks like Apple may be testing out a new algorithm to fix that.

Remix the Charts

As Till noticed, it looks like recurring revenue no longer counts towards your chart position.

We’re very familiar with the charts and where the top apps in that category usually rank. This past weekend, a lot of apps in the Entertainment category suddenly dropped way down in the charts. What the heck?

A quick investigation revealed all the biggest losers offer subscriptions. And left at the top of the charts are big-name brands (such as Netflix who probably have enough new users coming in to keep them in the top spots) and paid apps.

Recurring revenue no longer counts towards your position in the Top Grossing Charts.

So far we were able to confirm this the German iOS App Store, as well as on the Mac App Store.

A boost for paid apps

This change is great for paid apps: They can compete on equal terms with subscription-based apps, now that the subscription app ranks aren’t being inflated by their recurring revenue. A glance at the charts shows a lot more indie paid apps in the top 25 spots.

It’s good to see Apple trying new things out on the App Store and given the emphasis placed on recurring subscriptions last year, this change makes total sense. Lets see what it does to the charts over the next few weeks!

P.S. If you like this and you’re a developer, we’ve got two great tips for you:

How to build email newsletters that look great in all versions of Outlook – with Mail Designer Pro 3.3

By | Mail Designer | No Comments

It’s a big day: today we’re rolling out Mail Designer Pro 3.3 – a big update that includes something we’ve been working on for a while… all-new Outlook support.

Just saying the word “Outlook” to a newsletter designer will send shivers down their spine: it has notoriously poor support for HTML standards and a lot of quirks that make it extremely tricky to design for. If that wasn’t bad enough, all versions since Outlook 2007 use Word’s engine to render HTML, so things have actually gotten worse over the years.

In the past we addressed these issues by adding workarounds to our existing HTML code. Extra style commands and table wrappers were added to the code that we write for all other email clients. However, this could occasionally still cause layout issues (e.g. extra spaces, slight misalignments…) and we were never entirely satisfied with the final result.

A New Hope for Email HTML
Last year we got together our email jedis and looked at different solutions. We decided to adopt an entirely new approach and make a bigger change. We decided to re-write our code to use dedicated code sections for Outlook.

How does it work?

Basically all existing code is hidden from Outlook entirely, so we can write nice clean code for all the other email clients, without extra Outlook hacks.

Then we take the content you’ve added and use it to write a second layout section, that is hidden from all email clients except Outlook. This section is tailored to all of Outlook’s quirks.

We do all of this automatically when you send or export your design – so all your content is included in both the Outlook and non-Outlook sections automatically.

So – does it work? In all our tests, the results were great: Designs are much more accurate, check out a Litmus preview:
https://litmus.com/checklist/public/f584679

With the earlier compatibility code, you’d see slight misalignments or extra padding. All of those issues can be avoided with the new code. This new technique also makes it easier for us to improve the code going forward, in case we run into any other compatibility issues.

Existing Designs are automatically improved
So what do you need to do? Nothing!

Whenever you open a newsletter design in Mail Designer Pro 3.3 or later, it’ll automatically be upgraded to use the new Outlook code with all compatibility improvements.

Detailed Outlook improvements:

  • 3-column layout blocks are always displayed with correct alignment
  • Line-height is correctly adjusted in all Outlook versions
  • A problem that could cause layouts to become misaligned has been fixed
  • An issue that could cause extra padding to surround an element has been fixed

Other Improvements

  • New Plain text export: When you export as a HTML file, the plain text version is now also included as a separate file
  • New If you’re sharing documents with colleagues, Mail Designer Pro now lets you know if a font was used that you don’t have on your Mac
  • When copy & pasting from Microsoft Office documents, we now prevent HTML elements being added inadvertently
  • We’ve fixed an iPad preview issue under macOS Sierra
  • You can now use multiple mailto links with advanced options in your newsletter
  • An issue that could very large newsletters to not upload to MailChimp correctly has been fixed
  • An issue with image quality has been fixed
  • A few minor issues with mobile background editing have been fixed

Want to experience hassle-free email design? Try Mail Designer Pro 3 free today. Mail Designer Pro is available for just $49,99. Owners of previous versions can take advantage of our discounted upgrade offer.

How to connect to Cisco Meraki VPN from your Mac

By | VPN Tracker | No Comments

Cisco Meraki network solutions are becoming increasingly popular and we’ve heard from a lot of macOS Sierra users about adding support for it in our Mac VPN client, VPN Tracker 365. Meraki devices are sleek, offer great performance and have great cloud management capabilities. On the VPN side of things, their Auto VPN technology makes them a breeze to set up securely, provided both sides support it.

We’ve updated VPN Tracker 365 with comprehensive Cisco Meraki support. We’ve updated the Auto-Config VPN technology in VPN Tracker to work with Cisco Meraki, so it’ll only take you a few minutes to get set up. The new Cisco Meraki Connection Profile supports the popular Meraki MX series.

 

Connected in minutes: Connect your Mac running macOS Sierra to a Cisco Meraki VPN Gateway

  • Open VPN Tracker 365
  • Create a new connection and choose our Cisco Meraki profile
  • Enter your Cisco Meraki gateway address

Then just follow the steps in our detailed Configuration Guide to configure VPN on your Meraki. VPN Tracker 365 automatically figures out the right configuration settings for your Meraki setup and connects you using the best settings.

Tip: We’ve added a quick link to the Meraki configuration website, so you can instantly access your config and change settings, if necessary.

We were really impressed how easy it is to set up a VPN on the Meraki MX-Series and with Auto-Config VPN, you’ll have VPN Tracker connected in minutes.

How to get started: VPN Tracker 365 with Auto-Config VPN for Cisco Meraki is now available to all VPN Tracker 365 customers ( download latest version). New customers can purchase VPN Tracker 365 starting at just 79.99 annually and benefit from all of VPN Tracker’s business and security features. VPN Tracker 365 is optimized for macOS Sierra  and supports more than 300 IPsec VPN gateways.

Using TP-Link SafeStream VPN with your Mac – now built-in to VPN Tracker 365

By | Company, VPN Tracker | No Comments

FrontView-Macbook

VPN Tracker 365 Company Connect now supports TP-Link SafeStream VPN routers.

As the leading VPN client for Mac, we’re always improving VPN Tracker 365 and adding new protocols, device profiles and configuration options, so customers always have the choice of leading VPN products and vendors. Today VPN Tracker 365 includes support for over 300 VPN gateways: from enterprise-level VPN solutions from SonicWALL and Cisco, to cost-effective VPN products for small-businesses, start-ups and home-offices (see all compatible VPN devices).

Simple, secure and high-performance

Getting your TP-Link VPN router configured with VPN Tracker is a piece of cake: The step-by-step VPN Tracker Configuration Guide walks you through all the settings you need to make in the TP-Link web interface and in VPN Tracker, you just pick TP-Link and enter your gateway address – secure remote access to your office will be up and running in minutes.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 12.09.15

TP-LINK VPN devices support a variety of VPN protocols and encryption algorithms, including very strong AES-256 encryption. Our connection profile is designed to be extremely secure while also offering fast VPN performance.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 12.09.49

Other improvements in the latest VPN Tracker 365 update:

• We’ve redesigned the new Connection window, so it’s easier to find your device manufacturer
• Improved import of system L2TP and PPTP connections
• An issue with accessing login credentials stored in your Keychain has been fixed
• SecureDrop downloads now work more reliably

 

Pricing and availability: VPN Tracker 365 with  TP-Link support is now available for VPN Tracker 365 customers, a free update included as part of your VPN Tracker 365 plan.

New customers can purchase VPN Tracker 365 via the equinux online store, plans start from just 79.99$ annually.

 

Advanced mailto-links, poster images and more in Mail Designer Pro 3.2.2

By | Mail Designer | No Comments

mdpro_3-2-3

Mail Designer Pro 3.2.3 adds some great new options to your creative email marketing toolkit:

Poster layout blocks – stylish header images for magazine-like layouts

We’ve added new layout blocks for one large poster image plus two or four smaller detail images. These are great for magazine-style layouts, or when you want to split a larger image up into multiple areas. Super flexible and looks stunning.

mdp_layoutblock

Faster footer layouts with social media links

We’ve also added layout blocks that combine a text area with four image areas. These are designed to make it easy to build a footer with contact details alongside your social media links.

Advanced email links for instant feedback

You can now build advanced email links that will pre-fill the subject line and message text when they’re clicked. Add a “RSVP now” link for example and pre-fill a message with fields for the information you’d like people to reply with. Super handy if you’re planning an event, or asking readers for feedback.

feedback_email_mail_designerpro

Other improvements

  • We’ve improved handling of transparent images under macOS Sierra 10.12.2
  • Image optimization is smarter about images with transparency and using JPGs
  • When you use the “Replace Image” feature, you can now dive into sub-folders as well
  • We’ve improved compatibility with email providers that use MD 5 Challenge / Response security

Download Mail Designer Pro 3.2.3 now.

Have fun with the new version and have a great creative start to 2017!
Your Mail Designer Team

Mail Designer Pro 3 brings the power of Touch to email design

By | Mail Designer | No Comments

macbook

Mail Designer Pro 3 is the only email newsletter design app for macOS that lets anyone create mobile-responsive email newsletters. And with the brand-new version 3.2.1, we’re bringing Touch Bar and iPhone 7 support to Mail Designer Pro.

leiste

Mail Designer Pro: Touch Bar Details

We looked at the features email designers most often need while using the keyboard and designed Touch Bar support around those actions:

  • Access text formatting and style options – all without leaving the keyboard
  • Adjust background color and tint, or zoom background images
  • Switch between desktop & mobile layouts, pull up a smartphone preview & toggle guides
  • Customize the Touch Bar with preferred shortcuts and controls

touchbarmdp3

Also new in this release
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Device Previews: Check out a real-time preview of your design on the latest iPhones.
macOS Sierra tab-support: Working on two newsletters? Group them into one window and switch between them in a flash.

We’re excited to be bringing mobile-optimized emails to everyone. Mail Designer Pro 3 is available from the equinux Store and Mac App Store.
For a limited time only, we’re offering Mail Designer Pro for just $49.99.

Big savings on apps and gadgets with the equinux Super Friday Sale!

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Our biggest sale ever! Get big discounts on equinux apps and tizi gadgets in our huge Super Friday SALE 2016. But hurry, all deals are only valid through Cyber Monday – November 28th 2016.

 

Save on tizi gadgets for your iPhone and iPad

We’ve got great deals on tizi car chargers, cables and more – check out all tizi Super Friday Deals>

superfriday-mood-tizi

Mail Designer for just $9.99

Get 66% off Mail Designer 2, perfect for designing your very own holiday mails. And for your responsive newsletter needs, Mail Designer Pro is just $29.99 – our lowest ever price!

Check out all Mail Designer & productivity app deals >
superfriday-mood-mail-designer

Ho-ho-ho! The ultimate Holiday Greeting Cards pack for Apple Mail – now just $9.99image-12

Think of your loved ones this holiday season with a beautiful Holiday Greeting card – sent directly from your own email address with Apple Mail.

This year we’ve bundled our entire set of Holiday Greeting Cards into one mega set with more than 180 card designs for just $9.99.

We’ve also got savings on Season’s Greetings 7 and 8. Check out all Apple Mail Greeting Cards Deals >

Security 2017 – GO! VPN Tracker 365 Savings

If you’re just getting started with VPN Tracker, or want to add additional seats, or upgrade from an older version? Now’s your chance, with our amazing Super Friday VPN Tracker discounts. Save up to $30 discount code on your VPN Tracker 365 plan>.