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How I Feel About the New YNAB

This was originally posted on the YNAB forum

A while back, I wrote about my move to a finance app called YNAB and how much I loved it. I’ve been using it for nearly two years now and there’s an update.

Unfortunately it’s not good.

I recently updated my iPhone YNAB app and discover the app icon now have an unattractive banner with the word “classic” over it.
This was how I found out about the new YNAB.

I can summarise, in one word, the feeling I felt after finding out about the new subscription model: disappointed. And here’s why.

Firstly, let me say that I’ve created an account for the new YNAB to have a look at the new features and I am impressed by some of them. Just not all of them, and definitely not the new pricing model.
Let me explain.

Dividing the Features

For me (emphasis on the “me”, I know not everyone will agree), the new features in the new YNAB can be divided into two groups:

Group 1:
– new credit card handling
– ability to set goals
– new Age of Money
– ability to fund future months
– move money in the mobile app
– updated design
– full screen
– font size
– emojis (really?)

Some are less useful than others but still belong to group one.

Group 2:
– syncing through YNAB’s own server
– browser access/web-app
– direct/automatic transaction import from your bank account

The two groups reflect two things, and they’re related; whether I want the feature, and whether they are worth paying subscription for.

Are They Worth It?

Group 1 are features that I find very appealing; after using YNAB for a couple of years now I don’t mind having some new functionality to play with and an updated design to look at. (Perhaps I shouldn’t say “play with”, some of the features, like setting goals, are very useful).

However, this is also the group of features that I feel are only worth a “one off” payment. I don’t mind paying $60 for a new piece of software, as long as I get the keep the software.

Group 2 are features that I find less than useful. I do not want to give YNAB my bank’s login details, I do not want a web-app experience (where at any time features and functionality can change on me without me having any say – more on that later) and syncing through YNAB’s server means that if YNAB server crashes for any reason, or if I have no internet, I can’t access my budget.

And these, coincidentally, are also the type of features I can see a company asking subscription for; maintaining a server, providing a service. But again, not something I actually want.

Let me stress that I am not completely against subscription models; I pay for Apple Music, I pay for Adobe Creative Suite, but subscribing to a budgeting app seems oxymoronic. Especially when I don’t want the “service”, I want the software.

You can argue that Adobe Creative Suite is a piece of software, and that may be true, but they also offer constant updates. I don’t remember YNAB being updated often, nor the updates that useful in the past.
You may say that YNAB would be updated more constantly with the funds from the subscription, but I would say this, “how many updates or feature upgrades can there be for a budgeting app?” Enough to be worth $45 a year? Currently YNAB4 – a $60 app – has lasted me two years (more if I keep using it). Is YNAB going to be releasing a new update to the level of the YNAB4-to-YNAB5 jump every year?

The Problem with Web-Apps

This actually leads me to one of the fundamental problem I have with web-apps, constant uncontrollable upgrades. It seems a direct contradiction to my previous point, but one of the problems I see with web-apps over a free-standing piece of software is that a user has no power over their experience of the software.

If YNAB decides it no longer loves the blue and green theme but decides to change to a neon pink and yellow, we’d find the garish colour scheme forced down our throats when we login.

If YNAB wanted to change the fundamental way of tracking transactions, or adding transactions, it would be there when we login.

An individual, free-standing piece of software asks us if we want to upgrade, with a full list of all the changes that are to be made. If we don’t like what we see, we can reject the update, send in some feedback, and hope that there would be a fix in the following update.

With a web-app, we can send feedback, but we’d also have to deal with the vomit-enducing colour theme while we’re waiting for the fix.

Keep Using YNAB4

I have seen some people saying that I can stick with YNAB4, that it would still be supported for years to come, and that’s true. But I’m also an iPhone user and I rely on the iOS app to keep my transactions up to date.
If official support for the iOS app goes away after this year, it’s essentially useless to me after iOS 10. And truthfully, how many people want to use an out-dated piece of software with no new features on the horizon?

So What’s the Solution?

One possible solution is for the new YNAB to be separated into a one-off payment package for a free-standing app (Group 1 features) with a subscription add-on pack (Group 2 features), then people who would like to pay for the privilege of on-going support can do so, and those who are happy with just the software can do without.

Is That Likely?

I would hope so. Which is the point of this post; I feel that feedback is always useful and I think people really need to let YNAB know how they feel about the new direction the company is moving in. Some people love it, and they have said as much and I don’t judge that. But I don’t love it, and so I’m explaining why and what I hope would happen instead.

Notes on the Apple Watch

I thought I would do a running commentary on what I think of my new Apple Watch.

This would only be very casually formatted/edited, and I’ll just be adding to this entry as I go, so check back for more updates as I get used to my latest gadget.

Okay, so for some very quick background:

I ordered a white 42mm Apple Watch Sport with the white elastopolymer band and received it on launch day (24th April).

I’ve also swapped phones with my boyfriend (he has the iPhone 6 Plus) to see whether I can handle the bigger sized phone now that I have the watch.

Sun 26th April

  • The watch comes in very handy for me with the bigger phone. I find the phone very unwieldy and I no longer have it in a pocket but have it in my bag. As such, notifications on my watch are great, I no longer have to dig out the phone to read messages.

  • It’ll be better once there’s Native Line and Whatsapp applications. But for now I can send stickers using the Line watch interface.

  • Sending iMessages is really easy using Siri – but then I haven’t tried it in a crowd, just in the car.

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  • I’ve also used the map function on the watch whilst driving which is really cool.
    When I used the maps/directions features on my phone in the car in the past, I’d turn off voice navigation because it had a tendency of talking right over the podcast or audiobook I’m usually listening to. This usually means I would sometimes miss a turn if I wasn’t concentrating.
    Now the watch taps my wrist when I’m coming up to a turn which is very convenient.

  • When at home (with wifi network) the connection between the phone and watch is extended past the Bluetooth range.
    This means if I leave my watch upstairs, I can still receive messages and phone calls if I’m downstairs or something.

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  • If you can’t find your phone, there’s a button on the watch to make the phone ping (much easier and quicker than logging into iCloud on the computer). This is extremely useful as I’m constantly misplacing my phone.

Sun 3rd May

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  • Every morning I wake up and look at my calendar and the weather.
    It’s so much easier to do that on the watch (especially if you choose one of the more information intensive watch faces, or use the glances), than doing it on the phone.

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  • The watch is not meant to be life-changing, I don’t expect it to be; it just makes a few everyday things more convenient.
    (And if only people I know gets it, the communications gimmicks would be pretty cool too)
  • I’m a person who would wear a smart watch, and being a Apple fangirl, it just makes more sense to stay in the eco-system.
  • For some, perhaps the Watch would only be useful when native apps gets added later on in the year.

First Typecast

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This is my first typecast, so I’ll keep everything left-aligned to make it easier for me.

So already there is a typo, and the anal part of me is itching to retype the whole thing to fix it up, but that’s not the point of this exercise, is it?
I find, when typing on a typewriter – san first draft – that I have trouble thinking of something to write. More accurately, I am wary of typing anything until I have it semi-formulated in my head.
This, of course, makes sense, as you cannot delete off a typewritten page.
But at the same time I find that my mind is not used to fully forming sentences before committing them to paper; my mind is used to being allowed to see the formless ideas spewed onto the screen before going back to edit them before clicking “send” or “submit”.

I think this exercise might help my writing in some ways. Although in some ways it would force me to write slower, it may force me to think and formulate my ideas more quickly.

Reading the above entry, I could already see some sentence structure that needs improving.
And some spelling.

From my only typewriter,[1]It seems a lot of typecasts sign off with the model of the typewriter they used to type with, but I only have one the Imperial Good Companion 1943

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. It seems a lot of typecasts sign off with the model of the typewriter they used to type with, but I only have one

The Imperial Good Companion Typewriter

For a very long time, I’ve thought about getting a typewriter. Not the electric one, nor the plastic ones from the 60’s or 70’s, but the honest-to-god-all-made-of-metal-could-kill-someone-if-you-threw-it typewriters.

A recent correspondence between my latest IGGPPC-assigned pen-friend and I got me scouring eBay and Googling for any possible candidates in my area.

My criteria were as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Portable [1]it’s all relative, of course not desktop version
  2. Either has local pick-up or real cheap shipping
  3. Is not plastic
  4. Looks pretty (not too banged up)
  5. Not going to burn a hole in my pocket
  6. IN WORKING ORDER (I don’t know enough about typewriters to be able to fix one up)

Of course some of my criteria conflicted with each other:

  1. Pretty ones were not cheap
  2. Cheap ones that look pretty may not work – and getting them fixed was probably going to cost a pretty penny
  3. Pretty and cheap ones were all overseas – and the shipping would make them UN-cheap
  4. My definition of pretty is pretty subjective, and expensive. Apparently I really like the look of the Underwoods – especially their Noiseless 77, but again, not cheap

After a week of eBay deep-diving – which included a lot of frustration-born hair-pulling – as all the pretty machines were selling at ridiculous prices overseas, whereas all the Australia-based sellers were posting falling apart machines for 10x the price – I managed to snap this little beauty for $80AUD.

Imperial Good CompanionIt’s an Imperial The Good Companion typewriter and accordingly to the internet, it’s a 1943 model. I’ve still to find where the serial number is on this thing, so if any of you out there know where I should look, please leave a comment.
Imperial Good Companion - Close upI am hoping to type my future correspondences with my pen-friend on this typewriter. And may, I would even try a hand at typecasting!

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. it’s all relative, of course

How to integrate iCloud Photo Stream with Adobe Lightroom by using Hazel

I think it was in the latest MPU Live that Katie Floyd and David Sparks mentioned the issue with managing photos across devices.

This is how I do it with Hazel.

Note: This is based off Adam Portilla’s Automator method.

1. Create an “incoming” folder in Photos

In /Library/Photos/ create a folder called incoming.

2. Turn on iCloud Photo Stream on both your iPhone and your Mac

If you don’t know how to do this, I suggest reading this article.

This would make sure that any photos you take on your iPhone (and/or iPad) is being collected by your Mac.

3. Create a Hazel rule to scan the Photo Stream folder

Open Hazel and in the “folders” window add the following folder:
{USERNAME}/Library/Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub

The Library folder is usually hidden, so you may need to unhide it in Finder’s view options.

Now create the following two Hazel rules:
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With these two rules, Hazel would take all the images found in the iCloud Photo Stream and copy them into the incoming folder.[1]In my Hazel rule I actually move the picture files into the incoming folder as opposed to copying, but copying would keep your iPhotos library intact…

But don’t turn on Hazel just yet…

4. Point Lightroom at the incoming folder

Lightroom has an auto-import feature where it would monitor a specified folder for new picture files, and then import them into the Lightroom catalog for further processing.

In the Lightroom menu go to: File –> Auto Import –> Auto Import Settings…

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Set the Watched Folder to incoming folder.[2]The incoming folder must be empty when you first point Lightroom at it; that is why I said you shouldn’t turn on the Hazel rules just yet [3]Auto Import does not monitor subfolders, which is why you can’t just point Lightroom at the iCloud Photo Stream folder; all the photos are saved in layers of folders

Specify the Destination folder to where you actually want the pictures to reside. I put my pictures into another temporary folder so I can sort through them later in Lightroom.[4]I might do another article on my full photo management workflow, if people are interested

You can also change the name of all your photos as they’re being imported into your Lightroom catalog in the File Naming section, or apply metadata or keywords in Information.

Tick Enable Auto Import.

Click Ok.

Now you can turn on the Hazel rules.

That took a little setting up, but now you don’t have to think about it any more. Hazel will run in the background, extracting pictures from iCloud and putting them into a temporary folder (ie. incoming folder) and every time you open Lightroom, it would suck out all the photos from the temporary folder into the catalog.

One thing to note though, this method only works for images, iCloud does not sync video into Photo Stream. I have a work-around, but I’ll leave that for another article as that involves my whole photo management workflow…

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. In my Hazel rule I actually move the picture files into the incoming folder as opposed to copying, but copying would keep your iPhotos library intact…
2. The incoming folder must be empty when you first point Lightroom at it; that is why I said you shouldn’t turn on the Hazel rules just yet
3. Auto Import does not monitor subfolders, which is why you can’t just point Lightroom at the iCloud Photo Stream folder; all the photos are saved in layers of folders
4. I might do another article on my full photo management workflow, if people are interested

Practicing my handwriting with French ruled (Séyès) paper

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After watching Brian Goulet’s video on séyès (French-ruled) paper, I got really excited to try it out.

From far away it does look like my script is neater than before; it’s certainly straighter!

I’ll need to practice more though; the lines make me write much larger than I’m used to.

If you want to give the French-ruled style a go you can download your own séyès paper and print as many as you need.

layout: gramophone @ shiroi koibito

This is a much more structured scrapbook layout that I was inspired from a recent BigPictures class I was doing.

Journaling

Their collection of gramophones are impressive to me if for nothing more than I appreciate the amount of effort taken to care for the machines to keep them in working condition.

They even have a “concert” every hour where you can choose an album from their collection and play it on their machine.