A Good Sign

2009-06-01 20:00:00 -0400

Every time we re-work the user interface for Tempo (we’re now upon our third major overhaul), the same thing happens and it doesn’t take long: I can’t stand to use the old/current interface any longer. The new design by nGen Works is no exception, it totally blows away the last iteration, and I think we’ve very nearly nailed down all the nuts and bolts.

I’m really excited to start the beta and get some of our customers’ feedback. A big thanks to those of you who wrote in asking to participate! We just have some administrative details to take care of and we should be rolling soon. If you’d like to participate in the beta and this is the first you’re hearing of it, just send us an e-mail.

A couple things of note:

  • You will be able to use either the beta interface or the old interface.
  • You will be working against your live, production data

Tempo - tagging bug fixed, call for beta testers

2009-05-28 20:00:00 -0400

Bug fix

We recently received reports of duplicate tags in Tempo. Turns out that it was possible to submit a tag with leading or trailing white-space from the batch-tagging interface, and this could cause the creation of a new, unwanted tag. This has been repaired and shouldn’t be a problem in the future. We ripped through the database and repaired incidences of this, but if you need us to make any other corrections to your account data, don’t hesitate to ask.

Redesign Beta

We’ve been working really hard on a redesigned interface for Tempo. Our friends over at nGen Works put together a fantastic new design, and we’ve been working it in and testing it over the last few weeks. We have a few more bugs and quirks to iron out, but we’re about ready to start the beta testing. If you want to participate in the beta, please send us an e-mail and we’ll let you know when you can have at it!

STRIP is dead! Long live Strip!

2009-05-27 20:00:00 -0400

loginWe did it! The initial version of Strip has made it into the iTunes App Store, along side Strip Lite, a free version with a 10-record limit.

Strip is a password manager and data vault for the iPhone. It relies on SQLCipher for data storage – it’s our own build of SQLite that provides military-grade encryption of the entire database using the OpenSSL library. If you want to dig deeper, we have more information on the product site, and the SQLCipher page.

To check it out, download Strip Lite or take the tour.


  • Strip’s entire database is encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption
    (Compare to the weaker 128-bit encryption used by most other applications)
  • Extensible data fields, customizable labels and behaviors
  • Organize entries by category or view based on recent activity
  • Full text search across all database fields
  • Shake-to-create random password generator
  • Assign icons to entries for easy visual identification
  • 2-tap quick entry of common fields (e.g. usernames and email addresses)
  • Launch websites, dial phone numbers and address emails
  • Text or Quick-entry numeric access password input
  • Auto-lock when your device goes to sleep
  • Familiar interface similar in behavior to Contacts

Take a tour of the app if you’re still not convinced it rocks.

Ancient History

STRIP stands for “Secure Tool for Recalling Important Passwords.” STRIP first appeared for PalmOS mobile devices in 1997 and grew to be one of the highest rated, award winning security applications for the platform for over 12 years. This is a ground-up rewrite for the iPhone platform featuring improved usability and enhanced security. Thus, we’ve changed the name to “Strip”.

We discontinued STRIP’s development a couple of years ago due to the decline in the Palm OS platform. We’ve since added the source to Github for anyone who wants to take up the cause themselves. As we previously mentioned here, we will be providing a migration path to the iPhone version for Palm users ASAP, as well as updating strip-dump to support users moving to other platforms and software.


We’d like to extend our thanks to the many beta testers who helped us put together an excellent product. Extra special thanks goes out to nGen Works for designing Strip’s new identity, logo, and badge. Last but not least, the various articles and tips on Mobile Orchard, including a post on how to avoid app rejection, have been enormously helpful.

Mobile Orchard iPhone Workshop for Rubyists

2009-05-25 20:00:00 -0400

Future RubyOur man Dan Grigsby is kicking a new course this Summer, in coordination with the aforementioned Future Ruby:

I’m teaching a discounted, adapted for Rubyists version of our Beginning iPhone Programming Workshop in Toronto on July 9-10 — the Thursday and Friday immediately preceding the FutureRuby conference…. Details about the class, including a FutureRuby discount, here.

The course is specifically aimed at would-be iPhone developers, particularly those coming from a Ruby background, who have no previous experience with the iPhone SDK. No need to know Objective-C! It’s also being offered at a big discount.

Dan’s a really sharp guy and gave one of the best presentations at Ruby Fringe last year. His class is already getting some great accolades from Ruby hackers, and his baby Mobile Orchard is turning out to be one of the most competent and in-depth resources on iPhone development. Well worth your ducats, especially if you want to start developing iPhone applications and need a way to bootstrap your knowledge.

Memorial Holiday Update

2009-05-21 20:00:00 -0400

It’s been a little while since we’ve given any updates on the goings-on here at Zetetic, so a wrap-up is in order.


First, some fun: there’s a brand of clothing apparel in Taiwan that shares a name with us. Accordingly, we need to print some rad t-shirts of our own. I could use a thuggin’ trucker hat for FutureRuby:

Zetetic Technical


We don’t attend that many conferences, but we’re looking to change that. And last year’s RubyFringe was just fantastic. It’s hard to describe, but they’re not kidding: it’s a conference for Rubyists, not a Ruby conference. FutureRuby looks just as promising, and Stephen and I will be there. If you will be, too, make sure to say hello! This is what we look like.


“You gotta tame the beast before you let it out of its cage.” ~ Derrick Zoolander

We’ve undertaken a massive design and interface overhaul for our time-tracker, Tempo. Designed by nGen Works, it’s supra-suhweet, and near complete. We’re hammering out final issues with styles and cross-browser compatibility, and hope to offer a beta test to our users very soon. Hopefully we’ll have this live and out of beta by mid-June.

Strip for iPhone

Our encrypted data vault and password manager, Strip, and the accompanying Strip Lite, have been submitted to the iPhone App Store for review! We’ll let you know when it’s out there, and we plan on offering vouchers to our beta testers for being such a great help. It will be launching with a ton of great features, and it’s been heavily tweaked to make common operations quick and easy. Assuming we get through the approval process without refusal or pocket rejection. Fingers crossed.

We still have to work out a solution for users who want to bring over their Palm Strip databases. One of the reasons we haven’t provided a quick hack just yet is because this requires a secure solution. In fact, it probably requires a desktop-based solution. We’ve got a lot of people asking for a desktop version of Strip that syncs with the iPhone version over a local network connection. That goes hand-in-hand with our development road-map; we intended to provide some back-up/sync capability in the next major revision of the app. So I think it’s time to get cracking. Hopefully if you’ve been waiting for an exporter, you won’t mind waiting just a bit longer. In the meantime we’ll see if we can update Dave Dribin’s strip-dump to support Palm Strip v2 databases (currently it only supports up to v1.1).


SQLCipher is our fork of SQLite that provides page-level database encryption. A lot of people are asking us how to compile SQLCipher in an Xcode project in order to use it in iPhone apps like we’re doing with Strip and Codebook. We’re putting together an article that we’ll publish soon documenting the process step-by-step. In addition, Apple first required that we go through a munitions export approval process with the Department of Commerce and the NSA to get our app reviewed at all. That in and of itself is a really complex process, but we’ve got documentation on that, too, describing how to crank it out. We’ve even got some Google docs we can re-use for filling out the paper work quickly. So there’s lots coming in this area, stay tuned!

Open Source Development

Steve Kradel recently posted Zetetic.Chain to Github, a .NET implementation for the Chain of Responsibility design pattern.