Things I Like: Next.app for iOS (A Simple Spending Tracking App)

There are a million budgeting apps available for iOS. Most of them are way over-designed for my purposes. I basically gave up on finding one for the phone after testing out Mint, Quicken, YNAB, etc… they were all just too much.

What I wanted was simply this: when I spend some money, I want to be able to, VERY quickly, punch in how much and roughly on what. And I want to be able to view those entries grouped by day, week, and, most importantly, monthly.

I don’t want to have to view and then cross-tabulate the five different accounts spending can occur in.

I don’t want pie charts, graphs, or to be flooded with data.

I want to be able to input a spending event VERY VERY QUICKLY. This is the most important part.

None of the apps out there did all of this well, if at all. So I gave up on it entirely for a while until I happened across this article by Federico Viticci, a hardcore iOS nerd whose work and reviews I’ve respected for years. In it, he explains why he loves and how he uses Next, a simple iOS budgeting app. His review sounded like exactly what I was looking for, so I grabbed the app.

It is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

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This is the screen that greets you when you open the app. It’s a bunch of easy-to-parse icons defining categories. The ones in blue are ones you’ve added spending for before. The darker the blue, the more money you’ve spent on that type of thing.

Simply tap an icon, punch in the amount and tap the checkmark key and you’re done. Takes two seconds.

Wanna see how much you’ve spent in the last day/week/month/year? Swipe right and choose:

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Tap on any category to see a trend line over the time period chosen (so, day over day, week over week, etc.):

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Swipe to the rightmost screen to see a daily breakdown of every charge you’ve entered grouped by day instead of by kind (like the other screen does):

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None of this is like “awesome new exciting!” but I’ve been surprised at how hard it’s been to find an app that does this well. The key need for me here is quickness; if there’s any friction at all in using an app like this, I know I’ll stop using it in short order. And that sucks. But Next just gets out of the way. I can order coffee and quickly enter how much that run cost without pissing off the person behind me in line in the drive-thru. It takes literally about 3 seconds from grabbing my phone to having entered the data and done.

I don’t use this feature because it would slow me down too much, but if you want to enter a note on any entry to describe what it was or whatever, you can. I find that just tapping a category icon for each entry gives me all of the detail I need.

So, bravo to the fine Germans at “no identity gmbh” for making Next, which does everything I want it to and does it exactly how I want it done.

 

 

iTunes: FUCK Your Albums, Son

Lord have mercy, am I ever tired of this malevolent piece of shit software… (and spare me any thoughts about replacing it with a hand-crafted lossless FLAC archive or fucking Spotify or whatever floats YOUR particular boat; I’ve been ripping my own music into and buying music through iTunes since it came out 16 fucking years ago, I’m not spending the time and money that would be necessary to recreate my library anywhere else right now. iTunes is my goddamned wife, and we’re married in a country that doesn’t recognize divorce. So be it).

I was checking the iTunes Store this week for a rare track by Clutch (pronounced: FUCKING. CLUTCH.) that I saw on YouTube and that I wished, if it were available, to purchase for my own library. It wasn’t, but I saw that there was a Deluxe Edition of their last studio album, which I already own, that features three bonus tracks, which I do not.

So I bought just those three tracks, to complete the whole album.

iTunes, in its infinite retardation, loaded them up into the library as so:

iTunes_Album_Splitting_01
Yes, iTunes. These are DEFINITELY two unrelated albums. For certain.

Okay, fine. One set of tracks is called THING and the other is THING (Deluxe). And maybe there’s some colossal sperglord out there who would want these two things kept separate. I, however, being a normal goddamned human being, do not.

I mean, fuck’s sake, it even knows that the track #s on the latter three tracks proceed directly from the first twelve. THIS IS ALL ONE GODDAMNED ALBUM, ITUNES.

So, in any other music managing app in the world, to correct this one would simply:

  • select all tracks
  • edit their info
  • force one album title onto all fifteen tracks, which:
  • will make any non-mongoloid music app understand that “oh hey, duder wants these to all be considered one album. Done”

iTunes, being a special snowflake, considered my request to lump these into one album and gave me this:

iTunes_Album_Splitting
wut

How in the actual fuck it decided that tracks 9-15 are an album by a band called Clutch named Psychic Warfare that is completely different and separate from the album by a band called Clutch named Psychic Warfare that contains tracks 1-8 is a mystery that I will never solved short of kidnapping the entire iTunes development team from the last 20 years and locking them into a torture-filled Skinner Box of my own devising until they spit out the truth.

Now, I’ve been wrestling in the mud with iTunes for a looooong fucking time at this point. Even after the Great Purge of 2006 (am I mildly ashamed at the number of live U2 bootlegs and Cleopatra Records “re-recordings” of 80’s cock rock greats by the middle-aged current versions of same that I had? Yes), or the Lesser Purge of 2012 (when I, and millions of other people, quietly deleted that Gotye album¬†that, aside from that one tune, really, really sucked), I’m still sitting at about 17,000 songs and 140GB of music. So, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way to make it behave. Sometimes.

One thing you can do is right-click and GET INFO and change not just the album name, but go into the SORTING OPTIONS and try applying the album name to the SORT AS field, which is usually blank. I did that here and…

iTunes_Album_Splitting_04
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK

This has NEVER been reproducible or reliable, so sometimes you just have to do it a few times and see if it ever gets it right. Which is fucking infuriating, but what are you gonna do?

iTunes_Album_Splitting_02

There. Was that so fucking hard? Yes. Yes it was.

As an aside, I do use Google Music just as a last-ditch backup dump for all of my music. I use their Music Manager to automatically upload anything new that shows up in my iTunes to Google Music. On a whim, I decided to see how it treated this same scenario:

gmusic_01
Oh, bother.

So, Google Music, too, thinks these are two separate albums. Great. Let’s try fixing that. Click the little … icon and change the album name from “Psychic Warfare (Deluxe)” to just “Psychic Warfare” and click enter…

gmusic_02
et voila.

Well. THAT WAS FUCKING EASY. SURE WISH APPLE COULD FIGURE OUT WHAT THEIR PRIMARY COMPETITOR HAS.

Not that Google Music doesn’t have a ton of other problems (playlists capped at 1000 songs is the biggie for me), but this kind of simple shit should automatically work in any app that purports to be a music library manager or player.

Maybe just switching to the new-ish Apple Music would be easiHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAican’tevenfinishthatsentenceAppleMusicisadumpsterfire.

One Messaging App To Rule Them All

Facebook Messenger. Google Hangouts. iMessages. Pushbullet. What’sApp. Snapchat. Slack. SMS. AIM (lol).

I am fucking sick and tired of Messaging apps. Not because I hate messaging folks; NAY! I much prefer it to having to actually (ick) talk to people like, in person or, worse, over the phone.

No, I’m sick of how fucking MANY of the goddamned things I have to keep installed to stay in touch with everyone, everywhere. And I’m further sick of the ones I use most not existing on all platforms I need to use them on.

At the most, I would think two of these fucking things would suffice; the one you use to talk to family and friends, and whatever work inflicts on you. But no; some co-workers fear change so they’re using AOL still because that’s what IT approved in 1997 and that’s that. Other co-workers will use Slack with you but IT doesn’t trust it so you can’t do a general roll-out because some guys don’t have admin rights to install anything on their machines because why would you trust the guys who build the stuff that makes all of the company’s money with any level of control over their personal work machines?

Over on the personal side of things, iMessages is great and you can use it on your iPhone, your iPad and your Mac but WHOOOPS! Apple likes to pretend PC’s somehow still don’t exist so you get nothing on Windows (well, iTunes exists there because they can directly make money from it but let’s not pretend iTunes is anything but a brutally painful experience on any platform and that’s a post for another day…) so have fun typing on your phone while you’re at work and your wife needs to know how to get Netflix to work on your mother-in-law’s TV. Meanwhile, Pushbullet is every bit as good if not better than iMessages if you’re rocking the Android lifestyle ‘cuz it’s got great apps for phones, PC’s and a fine browser plugin for Safari on the Mac but BZZZZT what if you’re in that common boat of having an Android phone but an iPad tablet? Go fuck yourself, that’s what, because Apple will dig up the corpse of Steve Jobs and let Bill Gates have sex with it live during their next keynote before they’ll allow a non-Apple app touch the messaging stack on their iOS devices.

Facebook Messenger could allllllmost fill this niche as it exists for every possible platform up to and including your toaster, but then you have the problem of, if you’re a middle-aged white guy like me, of having a lot of folks you actually want to talk to who don’t have Facebook accounts because they think Mark Zuckerberg is an Illuminati or Freemason or they somehow think that not using FB prevents a single goddamned thing when it comes to corporations and/or the government building up a profile on them (SPOILER ALERT: it doesn’t; you’re fucked, coming and going, always, without exception) and so nope, that can’t do.

Google Hangouts is such a shitty app that even Google¬†doesn’t use it anymore.

I don’t even understand what the fuck Snapchat is but the only way I can get my dealer to respond to me is to send him a picture of my dick with my order written on it in glitter via that app so I have to keep it around and come to think of it that’s kinda fuckin’ weird of the guy, no?

I just want one messaging app that does all of the following:

  • Works on EVERYTHING. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, WinPhone… I guess Blackberry can fuck off at this point, but that’s about all I’m willing to forsake. And I prefer dedicated apps on the desktop, but would settle for a robust webapp that properly integrates with Chrome or Safari’s desktop push notifications.
  • Can talk to all of these other stupid formats. Remember Adium? Pidgin? You had ONE app and could Instant Message people on MSN, AOL, Yahoo, IRC, one app that spoke to all the other popular platforms… I realize this is probably a dead letter at this point, because Adium and those others cared primarily about helping people communicate, whereas today every commo platform cares most about being able to harvest as much of your information as possible, locking you into their platform, and selling your profile to advertisers. So, I’d settle for just “if I have a valid phone # or email, this app should be able to communicate with you from me over text messaging”.
  • Syncs properly. If I read a text from my wife on my phone, I don’t want the desktop app to still think that message is unread. This should be simple. For some reason, it is not. IMessages does decent with this, but sometimes it gets confused about what device I’m actually on and never shows me a new text when I’m actively using, say, my iPad, but the app on my phone, which is on a desk somewhere far away from me, is showing the red notification pip just fine. Dumb. And infuriating.
  • I’d prefer if these apps never showed me emoji. Like, EVER.
  • But they should easily show me attachments or pop out links to the browser on whatever device I’m looking at.

It feels like this will be possible one day soon; Pushbullet is basically there, but only for folks who are all-in on Android for their phone and tablets. I am not, and switch around, so it’s just close enough to be infuriating when I bump up against the edge cases where it’s not.

Then again, maybe not. I have adult friends these days who literally don’t bother with any sort of actual computer in their life. They have a smartphone and that’s it, so native SMS covers them entirely. So maybe this will never happen and I should just go fuck myself.