Dell XPS 13 9360 – Trackpad Issue

Summary: My Dell XPS 13 9360 laptop has issues with the touchpad. The Dell support site is the pure horror but the Dell support team via Facebook is fast and helpful.

Long story: Several days ago the trackpad stopped working. It started when I connected a Apple Magic Mouse for more convenient playing. When I disconnected the mouse, I realized that the trackpad stopped working. Thinking the laptop just swallowed up I restarted the system. And sure enough, the trackpad worked again… for some hours. After that I just stopped working again. Sometimes it repeaired it self to the point that I could use it, but no multi touch gestures (pinch, scroll etc) would work. I had a look in the Hardware-Manager of Windows and saw a yellow exclamation mark next to a I2C HID-Device. The error message states “A request for the HID descriptor failed”, what ever that means.

Error Message in device Manager
Error Message in device Manager

Unfortunatelly there is no solution known to me. In the Dell forum two threads (one, two) describe my problem yet nothing seem to solve their issue. I’ll see the Dell support for this :-/

Update 08.03.2017

After reinstalling Windows 10 and installing all drivers from the Dell website for my laptop the issue still persists. Therefore I rule out wrong configuration and wrongly installed drivers.

I tried to make sense of the Dell Support site, but am utterly displeased. You are always forced to download Dell System Detect, regardless if it is already downloaded and installed. Chat Support is not available, Mail Support redirects to the same page again and I try to avoid telephone support because of the international calling fees (I’m in Australia atm). I asked the Dell Facebook team when the chat is avialable… Stay tuned.

Related but not Dells fault: Obviously the disk I made my backup on, starts to fault… As if a broken laptop isn’t enough…

Update 22.03.2017

After reaching out to Dell via Facebook a service member reached out to me. Four hours after my message to the Facebook page I had a service call, a remote session and reference number for replacement. As I had booked a flight to Japan the support asked me to get in touch with Dell Japan as soon as I arrived.

In Japan I had some problems with the support (for a on-site replacement I need to be able to speak Japanese) and I was not keen to hand in my laptop while I’m travelling… So I decided to roll with the punches and use an external mouse for the rest of the holiday. I’ll start the support process again as soon as I’m back in Germany

Travel Laptop

When we started our tour three month ago, I replaced my trusty Lenovo Thinkpad T520 with a shiny new Dell XPS 13 (9360). The reasons where many fold: As weight and volume are premium while travelling half the weight and less than half the volume is awesome. As I didn’t intended to do a lot computer stuff, I settled for a 13 inch screen instead of a 15 inch screen. The other main reason is definitely the battery life. 10 hour of light work or browsing is easily accessible. My previous laptop seldom stayed alive longer than three hours, even with the bigger battery pack.

Obviously I had to make sacrifices somewhere: I already mentioned the smaller screen. Also, I traded power with battery life. Before I had a Intel i7 Quadcore. Now it’s “only” a dual core (although a faster one). I also had to omit a dedicated graphic unit which I had before. But my main drawback is the missing trackpoint. I know people either love or hate them and I loved it.

Out of the different configuration I had chosen the 8Gb, Core i5, Full-HD No-Touch display with 256Gb disk and Ubuntu pre-installed. Because I did not know if I would use this laptop after our travelling as much as while we were travelling, I tried to keep the costs as low as possible. Although I knew I would install Windows, I used the Ubuntu installation a while. A quite nice experience I have to admit.
Nonetheless I installed Windows. After some start problems (the WiFi card was not supported from scratch by windows, so I couldn’t download other drivers…) I installed Windows 10. I also installed “Dell Update” for up-to-date drivers.

(Not really a) review
I would love to do a review of my machine, but I do not use it enough to call it a real “review”. I use it for to keep track of my balance, booking of tours and for some light gaming. Also the occasional programming task when ever an idea struck me. Nonetheless can I say that I am (was) very happy with the laptop. The battery life is fantastic. The display is crisp and the fan spins up only while gaming (or Windows Update running wild…). The bezel of the display is slim and gives the laptop a very good size to display ratio. smaller drawbacks are the missing “roll” button (which I never use, but was activated on Windows by default; Use on screen keyboard to toggle it) and the Fat-Chin-Camera (The camera is located in the lower part of the bezel).

So all in all: A good laptop and I’m looking forward to give Ubuntu another try when I’m back 🙂

Is this thing dead yet?

I did it, I finished my masters in Informatics. After five and a half years I finally don’t have to worry any more about exams and tasks for the university. A relieving feeling.


Looking back at the time in the university (University of Applied Sciences Berlin) I’m happy that I took the challenge of starting to study. As I don’t have the normally mandatory “Abitur” I was only able to study because auf my apprenticeship and work experience. This actually helped me a lot to put some of the content of the lessons into context. Also I think that my higher age (compared to my fellow students) helped me, to take the study more serious.
The curriculum of the University is in my opinion OK. In the bachelor one of the specialization I tried for one semester (facility management) was not useful at all but the updated curriculum already ditched this topic. What I recommend to add to the curriculum would be a tutoring about Version Control, Build Server and CI early in the study. If I remember correctly those topics never arose but were introduced to students by other students who worked in companies.
The Master curriculum was a bit more disappointingly. The master has a focus on research, which is reflected in 32 credit points out of 90 being research related (plus the master thesis which is also research related). This was somewhat cumbersome. I learned a lot in those topics but as it stands now I don’t want to do research (see next section).
Additionally to learning about a lot of different topics, I met fantastic people over the course of the study and am glad to know them. I had a great time learning different topics and I realized I like to learn and switch topics often. Sometimes I wished I had more time at a specific topics but the next topic also were interesting. So much to learn so little time.
I also started to work besides the study at a company (BIG Social Media GmbH) where I learned a lot about C#, .Net, Node, Docker, CI and Version Control. I could use a lot of the ideas for my study (as well as the money obviously), so I recommend working besides the study. Also if you are in Berlin and looking for a job doing Bots, Node and JavaScript as well as C#: Have a look at there openings.

What will be next?

I have no idea what will be next. Currently I’m on holiday, travelling the world or at least some parts of it. I’m thinking hard about what I will do after that. I’ll need money so I have to work. And this work will be something with informatics. But what it will be explicitly: I have no idea. Maybe working as a consultant or freelancer as this would enable me to have different projects often. Or starting my own business as I have plenty of ideas (some of them even are not completely useless!). Or I find the perfect company which fit to my needs.
At least for my own desire to learn I have gifted my self some ebooks from Manning (I had a 50% off coupon):
  • Richard Feldman – Elm in Action (MEAP v3)
  • Enrico Buonanno – Functional Programming in C# (MEAP v6)
  • Dustin Metzgar – .NET Core in Action (MEAP v2)
  • Benjamin Tan Wei Hao – The little Elixir & OTP Guidebook
  • Jim Bennet – Xamarin in Action (MEAP v3)
As one can see functional programming (Elm in Action, Functional programming in C# and The little Elixir & OTP Guidebook) are one topic of interest as well as .Net (Functional Programming in C#, .Net Core in Action and Xamarin in Action). After I finished these I will post a short review (at least about the MEAP Versions)

Didaktics of media: Learning unit four – Report

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goal of this report is to take and rate a online learning unit. For the fourth and final learning unit we should take a mobile learning unit. I used the app Learning Japanese (Google Play Store) for my mobile phone. As an experiment we have been asked to create a video for the review:

Short synopsis of the unit:

Learning Japanese is a language learning software for the Android platform. It consists of three main components: The Kana learning (Kana being the two basic alphabets of the Japanese language), an expression trainer (Dates, Time and numbers) as well as a vocabulary trainer.

The app focuses on Kana learning, as all other components build on the ability to read Kana. Based on that skill the “daily expression” tab provides lists of numbers, dates and times as well as tests for these sections. Somewhat easy to overlook is a small icon on the top right corner of the numbers section on which you can enter numbers, which get translated to the corresponding sign (including a sound file).

The third section is reserved for the vocabulary list of the Japanese-Language-Proficiency Test (JLPT). This test is similar to TOEFL or IELTS but for the Japanese language. The needed vocabulary for the five level of this test is listed in this app and can be trained and tested.

Reflection on your personal learning experience

All in all, I’m disappointed. I started (and stopped…) to learn Japanese several years ago and hoped this app could maybe reinforce my small knowledge of the language. Even better I hoped it could ignite my desire to finally learn the language again.

Unfortunately, it didn’t ignite anything. The app may be suited to learners of Japanese which had a more recent encounter with the language but it is in my opinion not helpful for beginners or people looking to refresh their knowledge.

My learning experience with this as (again, basically as a beginner) was frustrating. There is no learning concept at all, just different components like the syllables to memorize.

Did you achieve the stated learning goals?

No, I did not achieve the stated learning goal. As stated before my learning experience was not as good as expected. I think I’m not the right target audience for this app. Maybe with a hint at the description page of the app I would have chosen another app.

Did the given time suffice?

There is not statement how long it does take to memorize all Kana or the provided vocabulary and expressions. Taking the 90 minutes in considerations the mobile learning units should take, I would say that the time is not sufficient.

Even if the learner had some training in the past, the 90 minutes aren’t enough to memorize even one of the Kana (not to speak of the vocabulary and the expressions). I managed to remember the first set of Hiragana (the first of the Kana) after roughly four hours of use, with mediocre results on the tests.

Comment on the design – what was good, what could be made better?

Two main points regarding the design are worth mentioning, when discussing this app: Usability and the used learning method.

Starting with the usability I need to add that I’m not a user interface designer or an expert on this topic. Yet, in my opinion the app lacks usability at certain points:

  • No introduction. It would be nice to have a brief introduction in the app. “What is the intended order of the lessons?”, “What can I do on the different lessons?”, “What is Kana?”
  • No information about location. When the app is started, the first screen is the Gojûon (“Fifty Sounds”, the Kana training area, see Figure 1). Most of the screen is empty, but the information that you are located at the Gojûon chapter is missing (at the top would be a good place). This is true for all menu elements. In the actual trainings this is no issue as there is a title on these screens.
  • Usage: The hamburger menu (Figure 1, top left) is a more or less known element for menus in many apps. Yet it resides unremarkable on the menu screen and I didn’t expect it to contain the whole control flow of the app.
  • Another annoying design issue with these app is the need to download every single sound file manually. A sound file for every single syllable on the Kana table (Figure 2) gets downloaded on the first click on these syllable. This is usually fast (less than one second), yet breaks the “flow”. It would be better to include these file directly in the installation or (if the initial app size is of concern) provide a “download all sound files” button.



Figure 1: Start screen


Figure 2: Kana screen


The second (and more important) design issue of these app in my opinion is the used learning method. As I mentioned earlier I had some training in Japanese several years ago. The learning method here in this app is best described as drill: “Look at these 200 foreign characters and remember them”.

The method I learned the Kana with was invented by James W. Heisig (J. W. Heisig/ K. Gresbrand – Die Kana lernen und behalten). It ties every single sign (and the modifiers) to a story which stays memorable longer. Just by looking at the Kana in this app table I remembered some of the stories from that book.

Probably the app can’t incorporate these methods because of intellectual property reasons (which is understandable) but the given learning method for this app wasn’t helpful for me at all. If the designer of the app would have tried to make the learning process a little bit less tedious (stories, small lessons etc.), maybe I would be more positive about the app.

Positive and negative aspects of the contents of the unit


  • Stroke order: On thing this app shines is the stroke order. For a “good” Kana sign, the strokes of a sign should be done in a certain order (if done so, some of the smaller hooks at the signs are more natural). Most Kana books show the stroke order with small numbers next to each stroke, but the app actually draws the sign.
  • JLPT vocabulary. For every learner of Japanese who wants to have a certificate of his language skill, the vocab list is very important (grammar is in general easy in Japanese, so vocabulary is slightly more important). The app provides a solid test tool (random tests, reappearance of wrong vocabulary, multiple choice for English to Japanese, solution to every answer) so for more proficient learner this app is a good choice.


  • Usability/Design:
    • No introduction
    • General control flow in the menus
    • The need to download every single sound file afterwards. Very annoying
  • Almost unusable if no (or very few) prior Japanese language knowledge exists


Grade the course on a scale of 0-10.

All in all, I would grade this app with a 5 out of 10. Most of the positive and negative points had already been listed in the previous chapter, but I really want to stress the point of the learning method for Kana (see “Comment on the design”). The method used in this app wasn’t helpful at all to learn the Kana (for me). I’m pretty sure one can learn the Kana this way, but it’s harder than necessary.

Other comments

The app got a bad grade from me. My main reasons for that are due to the fact that I’m not the right target audience. So if someone with more prior knowledge in Japanese rates this app, he could give a better grade. Also, the fact that this app is free should be taken in considerations, as other sources to learn Japanese like books (the mentioned one for example) aren’t free.

Elixir for aspiring Erlang developers

For the “Independent Coursework” of the University of Applied Sciences Berlin I created the following presentation:


Target audience are students of the bachelors degree Computer Science of the University.

If anything is unclear (or god forbid, wrong) drop me a mail or a tweet

Didaktics of media: Learning unit three – Report

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goal of this report is to take and rate a online learning unit. For the third learning unit we should take either a webinar or a MOOC. I participated in the course Design 1o1 Redux – Part 2: My House from the Iversity platform.

Short synopsis of the unit:

The course “Design 1o1 Redux – Part 2: My House” was the second of three courses on the platform Iversity created by the Design 1o1 Community. The target group was everyone who is interested in learning some basic design attitudes.

For eight weeks every day an email with a task was sent to all participants (I only attended one week). The mail (and the corresponding page on the Iversity platform) consisted of a short video (~15 seconds) with an abstract content. The content (mashups of drawing and images) was accomplished by a short introductory text.

The task for every day was written in a *.pdf file which consisted of four to six pages. Additional to the task there have been added some background information, learning goals, reasoning (“Why do we do this?”) and questions to interest one further.

All tasks were related to “My House” and in the one week I attended to the topic “My Room”. The overall goal of this week was to create some pictures in a Minecraft-like world and upload these pictures to Instagram (see them here).

After the first week all participants were asked to grade seven fellow participants based on six categories and three sub categories each. The grading criteria had been predefined. Two weeks after the start of this course every grading participant received their own grading.

My received grading

Reflection on your personal learning experience

I choose the course to learn something I didn’t had the faintest clue of. I hadn’t had contact with any design related topics beside software design. Therefore, I’ve been curious what I’ll have to do as well what I’ll learn.

The first task had been trivial (installing a Minecraft-like game, finding a good place for our room and make three screenshots which should be uploaded). Yet even on this trivial task I learned to transport ideas to other environments. It took me a while to find a “good” place for my room, mostly because I didn’t know what I was looking for, until I found it. My perfect place needed to be at the shore and a village needed to be in sight.

I learned to transport my room in another world. This world hadn’t had everything I needed but I found the abstract concept I was looking for.

The second task was to measure our own room and transport this in the Minecraft-like world. The participants were asked to take on of the blocks from the world and define a measurement for all dimensions. Also we were asked to make an image with our rooms overall proportions. I created that one in Excel, using different border styles to create a folding instruction of my room.

I learned about myself that I’m missing some key skills in image manipulations. And that I’m a very used to Excel. Also I choose to take the default measurement of Minecraft (1m x 1m x 1m) which wasn’t a good Idea.

For the third task we created a “colour palette” of all blocks we wanted to use in the construction of our room. This palette then should be used to create our boundaries or walls of the room.

I learned that I had no clue about colours and how they work together.

The fourth task was an abstraction task. The participants were tasked to take an object of their room (a lamp, a chair, etc. …) and abstract this object in the Minecraft-like world, honouring the measurements of the second task and not using different material other than the palette from the fourth task.

I learned to abstract my room… Given my colour palette and the measurements my abstractions needed to be… very abstract. Two blocks were my desk; another block my PC…
My room, with abstract desks, a couch and my pc on the desk

The final task was to “step into the Minecraft-like room”. With some kind of image editing we were tasked to integrate us in our newly created room. I replaced the Minecraft arm one always can see in the game with a picture of my own arm.

I learned how to make my Minecraft world more “real” with replacing my hand. That way the real world and the Minecraft world had been connected in some way.

After one week of this course I was asked to rate seven other participants. After seeing the other contributions, I found out, I really am an uncreative guy. There have been extremely creative images on the submitted pages, both from a technical view (how they created the images, the quality of the implementation) as well as the conception view (interesting ideas, very abstract topics).

I learned that there are many different ways to interpret the task. I’ve seen some good contributions which had been so essentially different to mine, although we all had the same task.

Did you achieve the stated learning goals?

The learning goal was to “Develop some basic design attitudes for better understanding the mechanics of today’s world”. I think this goal (or better, the achievement of the goal) is very hard to measure. I definitely learned some design ideas. Yet I wouldn’t dare to claim that I now understand the mechanics of today’s world better.

On the other hand, this is the stated learning goal for the whole eight-week course, so maybe I would achieve the goal in the next seven weeks. But honestly I doubt that. The tasks are too abstract for me to get connected to any real world mechanics.

Nonetheless I learned some things about myself and my abilities. At least that was a good thing.

Did the given time suffice?

The time frame which is given by the “Didaktics of Media” course for our e-learning assessments is around 90 minutes. I did not manage to get this course done in that time frame.
The assumed workload of the Iversity course “Design 1o1 Redux – Part 2: My House” itself is between four to seven hours. I needed 5 hours and 30 minutes to complete all tasks plus the time needed to evaluate my peers (additional 30 minutes). The assumed time from the Iversity course is sufficient to finish the course (albeit other participants maybe took longer, judging by their high quality contributions.

Comment on the design – what was good, what could be made better?

The design of the course was satisfying. The many small tasks and the intermediate feedback (other people in the course “like” your Instagram images) had been a nice touch. The tasks build up one another and this motivates you to not skip a task.

Also the theme was nicely integrated in all tasks. All task revolved around “My Room” (and with the next weeks-tasks) the overall course will take the “My House” topic in consideration.

One of the drawbacks of the design had been the *.pdf files. They have been to big (or the plugin used to display them was to slow). The site often froze for several seconds if the *.pdf was used.

Positive and negative aspects of the contents of the unit


  • The tasks have been described in detail (what to do, where to upload, how to tag)
  • The allocated time was sufficient
  • The tasks have been very divers (building, abstraction, image manipulation, drawing…)


  • The *.pdf watcher in the platform was slow (maybe to big)
  • The *.pdf files were very cluttered. Lots of images, different colours, the background wasn’t ideal (see next image).
  • The grading was not ideal. The given grading criteria discriminated the really creative people contributions.
  • The introductory videos had no meaning to me.

Cluttered text

Grade the course on a scale of 0-10.

I would grade this course with a seven out of ten. I was satisfied with this course in overall, but I did not reach the stated learning goal (not even 1/8 of the learning goal, as I did only one of eight weeks). Maybe my rating is too harsh in this case but I assumed a bit more.
In the end I used Minecraft as a tool to transport my room in another world. That was not what I assumed when I read about “Develop some basic design attitudes”.

Other comments

It was the first time I uploaded something to Instagram but it was a nice way to show everyone his work and see the work of the other participants.

Update: This was my first post written with the Open Live Writer of which I heard from Scott Hanselman. I needed to update some small format bugs.

Didaktics of media: Designing MOOCs

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.


Based on the title for that unit I assume we will learn something about designing MOOC. The linked article on the other hand, features a paper about the Tech Ed Revolution, which “will be the Learner Revolution”. It goes on and on about investors needing to put money in education (either traditional education or start ups) and how these start ups could fuel the next learning revolution.

What have I learned:

A MOOC is a massive open online course with thousands of participants.

The two types of MOOCs are

  • CMOOC – Cooperative MOOC . MOOCs where all participants has to cooperate and work together.
  • XMooc – Extended MOOC. Classes of Universities where non students can watch the videos as well.

My University is one of the first Universities which can self accredit a course!

Designing MOOC

The main parts on designing a MOOC is conception, production, execution and evaluation.


Why do I want to serve MOOC? It’s cool, it makes money, I want to transfer knowledge. You need to define goals.

For whom do I create MOOC? For everyone? For Students? For Users of a technology? For employees of a company? For a community of special topic?

Which content has my MOOC? The language is important and has influence on the target group. The content is important as well. The length is good to have 6-8 weeks. What is the structure of the content.

What format has my MOOC? CMOOC or xMOOC? Is it self-paced or synchronous? Which tools are you gonna use for communication? Will there be gamification elements? Is there a certificate offered?

Attention: Do you have all the rights to ALL your used content? Images in slides? Videos, the tools which are needed for doing the tasks.

Under which conditions is my content published? See CC Matrix. Make it clear if one can use it in which ways.

Costs: The Hasso Plattner Institut plans $50000 for a MOOC. Simple MOOCs are possible starting at $10000.


Think about marketing. Offer them for example on Advertise them early on.

Promovideo: Declare content, organisation of the course

Webcam vs. real camera

Postproduction is needed

Should the quizzes be peer graded or automatically graded? You need to create unique questions. Watch cultural specialties.



Use an internal or external tool?

Does the MOOC needed to be archived?

Didaktics of media: Learning unit two – Report

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goal of this report is to take and rate a online learning unit. For the second learning unit we should take a video based course. I watched a course on the platform

Short synopsis of the unit:

The course “Building Highly Scalable Web Applications in Azure” is a video based course on the platform Pluralsight is a provider for video based online training with 3.500 courses on different topics. The courses aren’t free but there is a 10 day / 200 minutes trial. Also you can sign up for the Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essential Program (free) and get three months of Pluralsight training for free.

The top categories of courses provided by Pluralsight
The top categories of courses provided by Pluralsight

The chosen course was an intermediate course and perceived very well (4.5 out of 5 stars with 173 ratings). I chose this course because the topic was interesting to me (I do work in a company with Microsoft stack) and I already have read some blog posts about the author. Additionally the allotted time (2hours, 23 minutes) sounded reasonably for me (there are courses worth of 15 hours) for this unit.

The title is very descriptive: The course covered some of the most important steps one have to think of, if one tries to refactor an ASP.NET MVC web application to a highly available, highly scalable Microsoft Azure application.

Reflection on your personal learning experience

I perceived this course as a great addition to my knowledge. I worked with Microsoft Azure on some private pet projects, yet hadn’t any chance (or the need) to create a highly scalable one. Because of my previous knowledge the intended audience “intermediate” was fitting well. I have to admit, that because of the length of the course I kept loose the concentration. I paused the course on two occasions but continued shortly after wards.

Did you achieve the stated learning goals?

It is hard to say if I now would be able to create a highly scalable web application in Azure without having to look some details up. None the less I feel reasonably proficient now to help in such a project and (with some details looked up) even do my own scalable project.

Did the given time suffice?

The allocated time for the eLearning units has been around 90 minutes. As I already stated, the course took two hours and 23 minutes. Therefore the time did not suffice or to put it in other words: I did choose a too long course for this unit.

Comment on the design – what was good, what could be made better?

The course design is terrific. The course is split in eight separate modules, which could be watched in any order. A sequential flow is intended though. Every module is than separated in sub modules with their own “mini-agenda”.

Table of content of the course

The video itself was well organized and the audio and video quality excellent. At the start of every module the speaker gave an overview what we will learn in this module, what these techniques will help to achieve and what the consequences would be, if these techniques got neglected. Most of the modules showed a load test at the start and the end to show the impact of the changes at a demo project. After every module a summary was drawn.

Summary on the third module
Summary on the third module

Positive and negative aspects of the contents of the unit

I am very satisfied with this course as already mentioned. If I would need to be nit-picky I could criticize the rash showings of the code of the demo project. I had to pause the video to fully understand the changes in the code.

Also one of the implemented techniques is not quite clear to me how this help in a real world application.

Grade the course on a scale of 0-10.

I would grade the course a ten out of ten but only if all minor flaws would have been resolved. Therefore I give it a nine out of ten.

Pluralsight in general and this course in special was very interesting and I’m looking forward to watch more of their videos.

Other comments

Also: I did the test afterwards and gained a Certificate of Achievement!

My Certificate of Achivement for doing the test
My Certificate of Achivement for doing the test

Update 17.01.2016: Updated the introduction. Nasty copy and Paste bug…

YNAB – One year review

Tl;dr: YNAB4 is awesome and you should give it a try. I managed my finances!

How the time flies by! A year ago I installed You Need A Budget 4  as trial on my system. Since then I used the software (or the Android version) everyday. After the trial period I asked the for the free student version of their software. After the license key arrived everything worked fine. No need to import/export data between trial and full product.

So, what can I say after using YNAB4 for around a year?

Accounts – A lot of them

I set up around ten different accounts in YNAB. Despite the fact that it sound as if I am a finance broker or something this seems like the ideal number of accounts for me:

  •  From my pre-YNAB time I have two checkings accounts with which I tried to seperate reoccuring payments and “fun-money”. This was a hassle to manage, because you had to bank-transfer money often.
  • Both checkings accounts came with one free debit card each. So yeah, I use one for Steam purchases and even that seldom. I set up the account in YNAB for the sake of completeness.
  • One of my most often used account is “cash”. For obvious reason (for non-Germans: Credit/debit card use is sparse in Germany. Bank-card or ca$h)
  • Also from my pre-YNAB time: A savings account. It was planned to save money there, but the interest rate of 0.1% is – how to put it… low
  • My student loan has its own account. Currently with a red number, bat soon to be changed 🙂
  • I do have a box with lose coins. So I went out to count that and create another account for that ^^ Also I happen to have an box where I put my can deposit into.
  • After I set up my accounts and used YNAB a time I found the need for additional accounts: lent money.

“Lent Money” – How to handle money which isn’t here

I lent a lot (read: often, not high sums) money to friends or my girlfriend, disburse the groceries purchase or, the other way around, someone pays for me because I left my wallet in the office. Because I tended to forget whom to pay what (and who to remind for some Euros) I set up the “lent money” account. When ever I lend money, I make a YNAB transfer to that account. This way I have  the same amount of money in total, but literary spoken in another mans pocket. The same goes for a splited meal with my girlfriend (split categories are great for that). If we pay thirty Euros I set the category to split. The one half goes to my Food category, the other half to the “lent money” account. Kind of special is my girlfriend, who has her own “lent money girlfriend” account. This way we can balance our lent money.

Renconcile often

One thing I learned: Reconcile the account often. Especialy the cash account (because you don’t have a balance/register like with credit cards). Personaly I try to reconcile every week, and even that is sometimes not enough.

Scheduled Transactions

Usefull not only for the rent but for every reoccuring payment with fixed sum. Bonus for using the “Total scheduled outflows this month”-feature in the budget view.

Capture the flag

A feature I have not used once are flags. I honestly have no idea how to put them to good use. Maybe I miss a major feature, but right now I removed the column.

Flags - I do not use them
Flags – I do not use them

Budget View

Regarding the budget view I can just say that I do like it very granular. I have fourteen main categories, each with its according sub categories. I use the note feature a lot, for the budget categories as well as the “budget category per month” column.

From the provided autofill features I use only “Amount budgeted last month” and “Average outflows for last 3 months” regulary. The calculator is unfortunatly only ok: If I use keyboard only it’s clever enough to pop up when I start to type an equotation (“7 * 7”) but does not recognize the multiply sign at the calculator itself. Instead it sums everything up.