The education on this site is great! I haven't had algae at all, my water is clear (except for the dust that gets blown in, since I live in the desert) and I haven't had a problem balancing my water. I use the TF-100 test kit to test my water. I use liquid chlorine almost 100 percent of the time, and have only occasionally had to put in muriatic acid to adjust the Ph. I've deviated from liquid chlorine twice recently; using cal-hypo shock, but I knew that my calcium was low enough to do so, and how much calcium it would add. I also used tri-chlor in a floatie for vacation, but my CYA was under 40, my TA a little high, and my Ph about 7.8, so I knew that using tri-chlor for a week wouldn't hurt and would even help.
And I don't spend very much time at all with chemicals and testing. I spend most of my time in the pool, not worrying about keeping it swimmable! Thanks, TFP, for helping this new pool owner learn how to take care of her pool and have a fun first summer of ownership!