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Making my money management app

I’ve been fiddling around with making a money management app for some time now. I wrote an eBucks calculator in Python to make sure that FNB wasn’t screwing me out of my rewards because I got tired of guesstimating the amount I should get. This was juuust before they released their own nifty calculator on the website.

Nevertheless, the exercise was good (my algorithm was spot on), as it serves as a backup check for me in case I get suspicious (which is all the time). Of course, two weeks ago I threw all my code out and started over because I’m sure I can implement the algorithm in a different way.

The reason I decided to create my own app is because, for years, I would track my spending in a spreadsheet on an ad hoc basis. I never spent enough for it to be a major issue. Last year, in preparation for all the big changes, my spending/saving habits changed/increased, and I had to include another person’s money habits as well.

I started using 22seven to track my (and now our) spending habits, and it has helped substantially. We went into financial lockdown last year to save as much as we could. Case in point: we spent the same amount on Eating Out and Takeouts in the first quarter of 2016 as we did for the whole of 2015.

This happened because not only did we virtually stop going out last year, but my husband moved into the house on his own, there was no time to cook because he was doing shifts as part of his training for the new job, and when I saw him on the weekend we didn’t want to hang around at my parents’ house.

The point is, I felt like I had to make my own app because though 22seven could track my transactions, I felt like the budget/spending plan side of it was not working for me. Also, it’s fun.

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Mouse without Borders has solved all my problems

Earlier this year, shortly before I got Astro, I went on a rant about Miracast and adding wireless displays.

What it boiled down to was I wanted a way to connect two different computers with the same keyboard and mouse. For a while at work, I was running my old box under my desk and my laptop at the same time. It was a pain to switch mice/keyboards when needed.

Yes, I know that there are hardware solutions to this problem, but I didn’t want to have to spend money to fix this. Eventually my box got taken away so I forgot about this problem.

After I got Astro, the problem reared its head again. While the tiny keyboard is fine for mobility, it’s a pain to work on at my desk. I also refuse to use the touchscreen when it’s mounted in its stand, because then I would have to stop typing/clicking on the adjacent laptop keyboard/mouse.

Out of frustration, I decided to google it again, and came across an app I had discovered last year while googling this problem: Mouse without Borders. Seeing as it’s a Microsoft Garage project, I wasn’t sure how useful it would be, but I decided to give it a go.

My goodness.

How did I live without it so long? I installed the app on my laptop and Astro, entered the security key, arranged the device layout to mimic the physical setup, and I was done.

Now I can type posts like this on my tablet while using my laptop keyboard. Now I can use the accompanying Windows Phone app to control the laptop. Now I am no longer tethered by the physical limitations of my devices, but instead I am allowed to roam free between devices as I please, using a single keyboard and mouse.

Windows Central mentioned it in their intriguing apps post at the beginning of the month as well, so it’s definitely making an impact. Yes, it sometimes does lose the plot, particularly on my tablet, where it can’t resolve the IP of my laptop and then stops working. However, that’s a minor issue, and a quick restart for Astro fixes it.

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Another Pushbullet update: another reason to smile

I was minding my own business at work today when out of the corner of my eye, I see that Pushbullet wants to update. Wow.

I’ve been with Pushbullet almost since the beginning. I’ve sung its praises often, and even wrote an app that uses it (which I will eventually put up on the web, when I get around to it.)

I’m particularly intrigued at the new chat aspect. What with Room support ending (tomorrow???), I still haven’t found a replacement. Maybe Skype, one day.

In any event, I have been on the lookout for a universal messenger, and its possible that the SO and I will try it out. It’s difficult on the phone though, even with The excellent third-party app Pushile. I’m still holding out hope for OneClip.

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Zapper aka the reason I’ll never use a card at a restaurant again

On Saturday, the SO and I decided to try Dros, since we have never gone there in our lives and never thought we would, due to the association we have to it from university days.

The experience was pleasant enough, although the food wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. This was particularly irritating to me, being on my epic revamp, so any time we eat out has to be totally fantastic. This is why I frequent a certain Food Lovers Market cafe, as the food is healthily made at a good price, and tastes fantastic.

When we got the bill and I saw the Zapper sign, I was excited that now I would be able to test it. I scanned the code, selected my card, hit pay, done.

It was amazing. No scratching around in my bag for my card, watching the waitress with hawk eyes with the card machine, trying to check if the machine is not a fake…Just super easy, and super convenient.

So naturally, we had to wait for ten minutes at the front desk because the Zapper machine was broken and could not print the slip, and the waitress had to find the manager whose email address was linked to the Zapper account to check if my proof of payment had come through.

Other than that, everything went smoothly and I will definitely be using the app wherever I can. The R25 for the first transaction was cool, as is the fact that it’s picked up on my account as an online shopping transaction, which means eBucks at the highest rate.

Doesn’t really fit here, but hey, cat.

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Apps I’ve given up on: MyStudyLife Edition

I started using MyStudyLife over a year ago, to keep track of my MOOC assignments. It was also preparation for my studies again.

I would have loved this app, had I still been at university and attending classes and such. I tried to make it work by adding all my MOOC assignments, adding reminders and so forth, but the effort required to open the web app and do all of that, without calendar integration with Outlook was such a pain.

I really did want to love it – the Windows app matched the Android one while sticking to Windows design principles, and I’m all for supporting a developer who actually cares about Windows Phone – but I just ended up scheduling my tasks on my Calendar again anyway, so that I could actually get a proper reminder.

So, I’ve officially given up on it, in keeping with my current strategy of going standard.

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Going standard: using built-in apps only

I’ve decided – I’m going standard. I’m tired of the app drama. I’m tired of using third-party apps in general. I should have published this before I ranted about Rooms. I barely have any apps installed on Astro, and the other day I started thinking about why that was.

I don’t need them.

I’ve started going through my phone to eliminate unwanted apps. This is the bottom half of my start screen:

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There are more folders than that in the top half, with more apps, and those aren’t even all the ones that I have on the phone. When I still had the Note, I spent a great deal of time looking for services which were cross-platform so that I could sync across all my devices.

Unfortunately, I ended up with a few which simply do not care about Windows. So I’m getting rid of them. Slowly, I’m going to see which services I actually need and which ones I don’t.

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Pushbullet channel for load shedding alerts – an update

This morning as I drove to work, the lights went out. On this first cold day of the year, with proper rain pouring down, the area I was driving through fell victim to Stage 2 load shedding. The complete darkness was maddening, as was the other drivers’ immediate reaction to drive even more poorly, which is saying something considering it was already raining.

I am aware that the Pushbullet channel has not worked correctly since I created it. This is because I have yet to find a reliable way to generate a RSS feed from a Twitter user’s profile. The options which sprang up after Twitter removed the native ability to do that are unreliable at best.

I do sense an opportunity for me to use the Pushbullet Python library that someone created out of the goodness of his heart to bypass this issue. However, I am now in the throes of preparing for my first university exam in 5 years, so I am feeling a tad bit paranoid and am over-prepping as a result.

I am also considering entering an app building competition, the deadline for which is in 2 weeks. When I’m not studying for the exam, I will be working on that. Once I’ve written the exam, I will be able to turn my attention to my other side projects once again.