VPN Monitor Blog

VPN Monitor Blog

Version 1.7 in review

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Sat, August 27, 2016 14:47:31
It has been a while, but the a new version is currently under review!

One of the most interesting new features is the Safe Network option for mobile users, VPN Monitor will switch to standby mode on trusted networks. When you open your notebook at home or in the office, your VPN connection will remain in standby mode (no VPN) - as soon as you open your notebook in the local coffee shop or airport it will start a VPN connection. This means mobile users no longer have to remember to connect to a VPN and can enjoy full speed internet on trusted networks.

A small note is required ... it would be easy to spoof your trusted network and make your notebook "think" it is on a trusted network while in fact all your traffic is being monitored. So if you need 100% safety all the time - do not use this option.


Other new features are:

- Disconnect and auto-reconnect after a fixed time interval

- Display the status panel on all desktops or a single desktop

- Various small improvements and bug fixes

Enjoy!



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Version 1.6 in review

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, March 01, 2016 06:46:48
Version 1.6 has just been released to the Appstore and is currently under review.

This version adds the following new functionality and bug fixes:

- Temporary disconnect option for safe networks

This will allow users to disconnect the VPN - the moment the network changes or the computer wakes from sleep the VPN connection will be reestablished.

- Quicker response and reconnect under El Capitan

- Easier "one-click" connect to another VPN Service

It is now possible to connect to another service immediately without the need to disconnect from the active service first.

- Animated icon to indicate connection progress

A blinking eye indicates a connection is being established

- Fixed an App Nap bug

VPN Monitor will now prevent App sleep when the VPN is connected - only with the option energy saving enabled it will go to sleep and reconnect at wakeup

- Updated help section


Clearer instructions on how to configure a VPN that automatically reconnects with VPN Monitor.

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First version ready!

VPN Monitor ScripterPosted by VPN Monitor Sat, August 29, 2015 23:31:44
VPN Monitor Scripter was released today smiley

Download your free copy here (version 1.0).

You probably need to assign the correct "rights" to the App after you unzip it, in order to be able to start the App. Open terminal and use the following command:

chmod +x /Applications/VPN Monitor Scripter.app/Contents/MacOS/VPN Monitor Scripter

VPN Monitor Scripter

What is it?

VPN Monitor Scripter executes an user editable AppleScript when VPN Monitor detects a change in it's VPN connection. This could be when a VPN connection drops, or when a new VPN connection is established.

Why is this interesting?

When your VPN connection is down for an extended period (the VPN server might be unreachable) some users would like to take specific actions. These actions could be to block internet access for certain Apps, send an email, stop torrent transfers, etc.

Why is this not included with VPN Monitor?

Apps in the Appstore are restricted in functionality (for security reasons), one of these restrictions is that the use of AppleScript is not possible.

How do I use it?

Download and start the App and select the menu option "Edit AppleScript":


This will open the AppleScript named "Scripter.applescript" from inside the App's bundle.


Edit this script to your liking and don't forget to compile it and place the compiled script in the same location in the bundle. Select the VPN Monitor Scripter App and "right click" to open the menu, select the option "Show Package Contents":


This will show you the files inside the App. Open the directory "Resources" and copy your compiled AppleScript here, replacing the original script.


What does the supplied AppleScript do?

The standard script will show a system notification when the App starts, providing details of the current status of the VPN connection.

When the connection is lost the option "Stop All Transfers" from the App "BitTorrent" is selected through the Apps menu system. If you do not have BitTorrent installed, a window will open asking you where the App is. Just ignore it, this is an example after all.

When the connection is available again the option "Start All Transfers" from the App "BitTorrent" is selected. BTW: You actually know which VPN Service is connected, so your AppleScript could take specific actions depending on the VPN Service.

This example shows how easy and how powerful AppleScript is (and the reason AppleScript Apps are not allowed in the AppStore).

What are the drawbacks?

The main drawback is that you have another icon sitting in your status bar. However it does provide you with the reassurance that VPN Monitor Scripter is operational (it blinks every time it checks the status of VPN Monitor).

VPN Monitor Scripter is "polling" the status of VPN Monitor at a regular interval. Therefore it is not real-time like VPN Monitor.

Running VPN Monitor Scripter at a very fast interval is not recommended due to the polling nature, it might use too much of your system resources. In any case the speed of a VPN reconnect is usually so quick that running an AppleScript for a disconnect and connect status change is not worth the effort. It's main purpose is to act during a prolonged downtime of your VPN.

The original AppleScript example code to start and stop BitTorrent transfers:

# Example for VPN Monitor Scripter v. 1.2

#

# vpn_status : is called upon connection change

# scripter_start : is called once upon startup of app

# connection_status : "Connected" or Disconnected"

# connected_service : the name of the VPN Service

on vpn_status(connection_status, connected_service)

set t to (time string of (current date))

if connection_status is equal to "Connected" then

display notification "VPN is connected to " & connected_service & ". Resuming Torrent transfers. Time: " & t with title "VPN Monitor Scripter"

try

# BitTorrent

if application "BitTorrent" is running then

tell application "System Events" to tell process "BitTorrent"

tell menu bar item "BitTorrent" of menu bar 1

click

click menu item "Start All Transfers" of menu 1

end tell

end tell

end if

end try

else

display notification "VPN not connected. Stopping Torrent transfers. Time: " & t with title "VPN Monitor Scripter"

try

# BitTorrent

if application "BitTorrent" is running then

tell application "System Events" to tell process "BitTorrent"

tell menu bar item "BitTorrent" of menu bar 1

click

click menu item "Stop All Transfers" of menu 1

end tell

end tell

end if

end try

end if

end vpn_status

# Called once during App start

on scripter_start(connection_status, connected_service)

set t to (time string of (current date))

display notification "App started! " & connection_status & ". VPN: " & connected_service & ". Time: " & t with title "VPN Monitor Scripter"

end scripter_start






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VPN Monitor Scripter

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Sat, August 29, 2015 20:11:23
First version is ready. Created a dedicated category for the App in this blog.

See VPN Monitor Scripter for more details.

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VPN Monitor Version 1.5 now available

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, August 25, 2015 09:36:50
The new version has just been approved for sale, updates are already being downloaded! First feedback is positive.

Currently working on a "companion" app for VPN Monitor which will allow users to interact with VPN Monitor by writing their own AppleScripts. The app "VPN Monitor Scripter" will execute an AppleScript whenever the connection status changes (connect or disconnect).

This will allow users to take custom actions, as for example (upon popular demand), halt all bittorrent transfers while the VPN connection is down and resume transfers when the connection is back up.

More to follow in the coming days/weeks ....






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VPN Monitor Version 1.5

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, August 18, 2015 16:56:12
A new version was just released this week to the Apple Appstore for approval (which usually takes some time). Version 1.5 will feature improvements and new features which will aide users with first time use of VPN Monitor.

A major rewrite on the built-in help, including a quick start section and a troubleshooting section which should help users to correctly configure their VPN Service.

A new feature is the "heartbeat" option which will provide a regular double check to see if the VPN connection is still alive. Now the VPN connection can be checked both ways - through feedback from the MAC OS notification system and proactively by VPN Monitor itself.



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VPN Monitor Version 1.4

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, August 18, 2015 14:09:45
Version 1.4 of VPN Monitor released in May 2015 is another maintenance release which addresses a more reliable recovery from system sleep and a fix to ensure the preferences pane of VPN Monitor always opens on top of other windows.





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VPN Monitor Version 1.3

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, August 18, 2015 14:06:21
This version of VPN Monitor, a "maintenance release" from March 2015, features some minor improvements and small bug fixes.

The icon in the status bar is now compatible with Yosemite's dark theme and the connection speed shows "Unavailable" in case it is not possible to determine the speed of the connection. In addition when the VPN connection is down, the download timer gets updated regardless if the HUD status panel is closed or opened.




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VPN Monitor Version 1.2

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, August 18, 2015 12:32:00
Version 1.2 was released in the Apple Appstore in January 2015, only two months after the release of version 1.1 in order to address two bugs. One bug prevented the App to start on some systems and another bug prevented a reconnect after a long system sleep.

Although VPN Monitor only requires one or two settings to work correctly it seemed some users were unable to configure these or overlooked it in the help documentation:

1. ensure the VPN Service is the preferred network service (drag to top of the
network services list)
2. (optional) route all traffic through the VPN connection (always recommendable)

The workflow to configure a VPN Service was covered in the built-in help section, but apparently not always read. To address these problems a FAQ section was added to version 1.2 to make it more understandable.

This was also required in order to help prevent bad reviews on the Appstore due to misconfiguration of the VPN Service. Unfortunately it is impossible to contact the users who write bad reviews in order to help fix the problems they have. Therefore it is always recommendable to use the support link in the Appstore before leaving a bad review or rating.

Another new feature which made it's appearance in version 1.2 was a display of the connection speed on the HUD status panel. It shows the received (Rx) and send (Tx) speed of the VPN connection.





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VPN Monitor Version 1.1

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, August 18, 2015 11:40:07
One interesting feature of the Appstore is the very large audience you can reach. After it's initial release in August 2014 VPN Monitor was downloaded from all corners in the world and feedback started to flow back.

One of the missing features from version 1.0 was the ability to work with network locations. Under MAC OS you are able to configure multiple "locations" such as "office", "home", "cafe", etc. which would have different network services enabled such as your "work VPN", "home VPN", "Cafe VPN", etc.

In version 1.0 VPN Monitor was only able to detect VPN Services configured under the "Automatic" network location. With VPN Monitor version 1.1; which was released in November 2014; this was solved by adding support for network locations.

Another feature in this new version was the adjustable timeout setting. In version 1.0 the maximum amount of time required to switch to an alternative VPN was fixed at 10 seconds. If it took longer than 10 seconds to connect, and multiple VPN Services were configured, VPN Monitor would decide that the server is unreachable and switch to the next VPN Service and try to connect. It proved however that this interval was too short to cover VPN connection setup around the world. Hence the request for a user adjustable time-out:



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VPN Monitor Version 1.0

DevelopmentPosted by VPN Monitor Tue, August 18, 2015 11:17:33
VPN Monitor was released for the very first time on August the 3rd 2014 on the Apple Appstore. Itr was initially created out of the personal need for a reliable and quick reconnect solution for a dropped VPN connection.

Other solutions were available, mostly through AppleScript, but these require continuous 'polling' of the VPN connection status. Something which would bog down the OS unnecessary and introduce a significant delay in responding as polling would take place every 10 seconds or so.

The better approach is to use the MAC OS notification system and get notified in real-time when the VPN connection is down. This is not possible with AppleScript and requires a "real" App in Objective-C. Other benefits are easy integration into the status bar, a nice GUI, keeping track of user preferences, integrated help, etc.

Once VPN Monitor App version 1.0 was working satisfactory, it was pushed to the Appstore in July and approved for sale on the 3rd of August.


(the original 1.0 version)

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