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#1 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 03:57 PM

My neighbor across the street asked me to help out with a software issue today.
He was running a program called Simply Accounting and it wouldn't work any more. Why an 85 year old retiree needs to keep his personal finance records on an accounting program is beyond me - but I digress.
Turns out his copy was from 2011 and when he got it the user ran a standalone program on one's local PC. The company has been sold and now it's mostly a cloud based software as a service product. Probably the standalone program has been patched many times. I think there is an up to date standalone version still available.
He had a few glitches so he uninstalled and reinstalled the software, putting him right back to 2011. The program uses a MySQL database and immediately the program informed him that the database format was now incompatible. His data is apparently toast.
I thought maybe we could run a system restore but the only restore point was 9:30 AM today and he couldn't say for sure that he had removed and reinstalled after that time. So I didn't want to chance it.
I advised him to take his laptop to the local computer store. They are pretty literate and maybe if he buys or installs the latest version of the software it'll be able to import his data. Failing that maybe they can parse the database and get a report so he can re-key his numbers.
Why people insist on running obsolete software I'll never understand. But this was one problem I didn't want to try to fix.

Edited by raymac46, 21 July 2017 - 04:07 PM.

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#2 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 04:07 PM

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Why an 85 year old retiree needs to keep his personal finance records on an accounting program is beyond me - but I digress.
As a 65 year old retiree, I can tell you exactly why. It is because he's always done it that way.

I would wonder why it would not run anymore. Something must have changed. What does a few glitches mean?

I think he would be better off contacting company. They no doubt will try to sell him the updated version, but at least they should be able to tell him if the new version can import his data.

I assume he has no image backup of his disk?
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#3 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 04:17 PM

I don't know what he meant by a few glitches but they must have been serious enough to cause him to nuke and repave his installation. I got there after the smoke had cleared and he couldn't load his data. The program will run but he would have to set everything up all over again. He cannot load his data from backup although he has it on a thumbdrive. He does not have a backup image of his system.
He's not too good at Internet communication. I'll see how he makes out with the computer store and if he's still out of luck I'll advise him to contact SAGE Canada.

Edited by raymac46, 21 July 2017 - 04:18 PM.

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#4 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 04:28 PM

Running legacy software is always a problem for individuals and corporations alike. New hardware typically requires newer operating systems and neither support legacy software. It's not really any one's fault. It's just a fact of life. The new replaces the old, even if the old is still chugging along.
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#5 OFFLINE   goretsky

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 07:40 AM

Hello,

I'd definitely get in touch with the company's technical support department and see if a sympathetic support engineer can help straighten things out.

My employer (software company, different field, though) has done some product releases that were not backwards compatible, and we've always made a point of working with customers to convert what we could, and recreate everything else for them where possible.

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#6 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 08:13 AM

I'll check with him and report back. I still think using business software to keep track of a few household expenses is overkill but it's his decision.
Since this program uses a fairly standard MySQL database there should be some way to get his data back, hopefully.
The company (SAGE) has two different versions of the accounting software - one for US and one for Canada. Makes sense as the tax laws would be different. However he has to be sure to contact the Canadian division. It doesn't help that SAGE has transitioned to SAAS instead of standalone.
He has a ton of legacy software - a Corel WordPerfect Office X6 suite among others.
I had a similar problem with Lillian a few years ago where she reset her PC to 2012 and stuffed all her data - but that was mostly photos and old email.This is a more serious matter, almost as bad as getting your data encrypted. He has the data backed up and he can't read it.
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#7 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 10:44 AM

Checked in with my neighbor and the computer store advised him to contact the helpdesk at SAGE Canada. There is also a local guy who can get data off databases so he may try that as well.
He is basically using the accounting software to reconcile his bank account and credit cards. It sounds as if he had to start from scratch it wouldn't be all that big a deal although he would lose his historical data, He is not doing any sort of financial accountng.
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#8 OFFLINE   zlim

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 11:03 AM

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He is basically using the accounting software to reconcile his bank account and credit cards.
I've always done this the old fashioned way - no computer needed.

The fact is that some things are easier and faster than using a computer. (My husband and I were both math majors and we've never used accounting software. He was also the treasurer for the High School and I was the treasurer for the Parent-Teacher Organization of one of the Junior Highs).
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#9 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 11:17 AM

Well nowadays with online banking it's pretty easy to keep track of your finances in real time. My wife likes to keep track locally too so we use My Checkbook.
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#10 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 12:33 PM

I have multiple checking accounts at different banks. My banks let me set up notifications every time a transaction greater than x amount of dollars occurs. I set it to $5. So every time there is a charge on my account $5 or more, I have an email sitting in my inbox before I get home from the store. I rarely use actual credit cards - only debit. But if I do have to charge a big ticket item, I pay it off as quickly as possible. Then it is easy to keep track of 0 balances.

It is normal human nature to prefer the status quo. This is even more so as we age. And your neighbor is 85! He is surely set in his ways. You will be too - if you live that long! This is a big (if the not the biggest) reason so many seniors are still using XP. They don't want to learn something new - even at the risk of their security.

I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my bills and other financial things. It is really easy for me - but then again, it is Excel 2007 which is just about to reach its end of support. I am pretty tech savvy yet I regret having to learn a new version of Office, and worse, migrating everything to it.
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#11 OFFLINE   ebrke

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 02:28 PM

View Postraymac46, on 22 July 2017 - 11:17 AM, said:

Well nowadays with online banking it's pretty easy to keep track of your finances in real time. My wife likes to keep track locally too so we use My Checkbook.
GnuCash is very good and is available for both linux and windows. When MS Money went away years ago, I got my mother to use GnuCash. It has some features that probably would be used only by a business, but personal users can just ignore what they don't need.
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#12 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 02:30 PM

Well I am no spring chicken either but as I get older I like to uncomplicate my life as much as I can. I don't think that my neighbor is fossilized or anything - he is a former DC-3 pilot and has lots of great stories. I just don't see why he would need to use a business accounting program for simple financial planning when as you say a spreadheet will do.
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#13 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 03:33 PM

View Postraymac46, on 22 July 2017 - 02:30 PM, said:

I just don't see why he would need to use a business accounting program for simple financial planning when as you say a spreadheet will do.
He doesn't need to. He just wants to. I don't "need" two 24" monitors on this computer, but I sure want them. And you are going to have to pry my full sized keyboard, mouse, monitors and surround sound speaker system before I move all my computing needs to a smart phone too! Yet there are many youngins today who believe the PC is archaic.
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#14 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 07:32 PM

Agreed it is his choice to use a financial accounting solution if he wants, just as it is his choice to run obsolete software. It wouldn't be mine because I have learned over the years that Occam's Razor applies in many situations and you should try the simpler solutions first and only get more complex if the simple way fails.
I spent a lot of time as a food scientist debugging complicated Rube Goldberg product formulations that offered no taste/texture advantages over a simpler, more production friendly one.
I have a desktop, keyboard and mouse setup too. I don't want to do this stuff on a five inch screen like the Osborne 1 from 35 years ago.
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#15 OFFLINE   Pete!

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 09:36 AM

Does he still have his old computer?
If so is the software functional on the old machine?

I believe Simply Accounting is capable of exporting data in a format that (for instance) QuickBooks can import.

If that works out, he can use his old machine for financial records, with the possibility (when he's ready) to move it to the more modern computer .... Depending on the old machine's OS, it may be prudent to disconnect it from the internet.

#16 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 10:13 AM

No both his laptops (one for him, one for his wife) run Windows 10.
The old Simply Accounting package ran well until he removed/reinstalled it. This apparently got it out of sync with his database and he can't do anything now. I'll see if the helpdesk at SAGE can recover his data. The software runs but he'd be back at square 1 having to re-key all his info as a new user.
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#17 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 10:19 AM

View Postraymac46, on 22 July 2017 - 07:32 PM, said:

...just as it is his choice to run obsolete software.
Well, as long as running the obsolete software does not make him a threat to others. That's why XP needs to go away. XP is not just a threat to the user, but compromised systems are used to distribute malware and spam to the rest of us, and/or drafted as zombies in bot armies to conduct DDoS attacks on innocent organizations. So while I sympathize with those who don't want to change - especially when their XP systems are still running just fine, for security reasons alone they need to modernize - or at the very least, do as Pete! noted and disconnect from any network that has Internet access.
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#18 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 03:09 PM

There are very few people I've run across who still run Windows XP. Most folks around my town have upgraded to a new laptop and ditched their older desktop - and this means that usually they have Windows 7 or newer. My neighbor across the street is solidly into Windows 10.
Whenever I encounter an old desktop with Windows XP I advise the owner to either junk it or switch to some version of Linux that'll do the job for most things.
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#19 OFFLINE   zlim

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 04:02 PM

Two XP computers in the house. We don't connect to the internet but there are things on them we use.
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#20 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 09:45 AM

While globally, XP use dropped to under 7%, it is still the 3rd most popular. With 1.5+ Billion Windows systems out there, that's still well over 100 million XP systems in use connecting to the Internet (note they could not be counted if not connected).

Those old systems are great for experimenting with Linux. I tell people if they just cannot part with their XP systems, repurpose them into a NAS (network attached storage) device, then block its Internet access in their routers.
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#21 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 10:36 AM

Sadly a lot of the old XP hardware is the 32 bit variety and is becoming obsolete - even as a Linux box. I just got rid of a bunch of 32 bit systems because it isn't worth repurposing them. They have old DDR memory, IDE storage, even AGP video.
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#22 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 11:27 AM

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Sadly a lot of the old XP hardware is the 32 bit variety and is becoming obsolete
Good point.

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I just got rid of a bunch of 32 bit systems because it isn't worth repurposing them.
Every year, I try to take used parts to make a working computer to donate to needy families. But in many cases you can't even give it away because they can't use them if they don't run current software. So about 2 years ago, I cleaned out my basement storage room and took a bunch of old electronics (computer componets, printers, and audio/video components) to our local electronics recycling center because I just could not find a use for it. And the old excuse, "I might need it some day!" wasn't buying it anymore.

BTW, if you have an electronics recycling center in your area, I sure recommend you use them as they will properly dispose of the hazardous waste without just dumping it in and polluting the land fills. I even got paid $80 for the scrap aluminum, steel and the precious metals in the old RAM and CPUs. This center also promises to properly wipe or destroy old hard drives too (though I recommend you wipe or destroy them before recycling anyway).

Sadly, I had 6 old CRT monitors but they would not take them because it is not cost effective for them to safely (and according to EPA standards) extract the mercury from inside the CRTs. They wanted me to pay them $10 for each monitor so I brought them back home.

That said, I taped a "Free" sign to one and lugged it out to the curb in front of my house. Before I had the 3rd monitor out there, some guy in a pickup truck was loading up the 2nd monitor, then he helped me with the rest. :)
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#23 OFFLINE   Pete!

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 11:29 AM

This topic may not have solved your neighbors problem but it inspired me to finally uninstall "Office 97" which was only partially functional on a Win 10, 64 bit system. I've been mostly using Libre Office recently but never got around to getting rid of the Software that I've been using since the late '90s.

OFF TOPIC Question:
The Windows 10 "automatic update" has been sending me updates to Office 2007. For instance, this month I got "Security Update for Microsoft Office 2007 suites (KB3213640)". Is it possible that the ancient version of Office was "fooling" MS into thinking I had a newer version?

#24 ONLINE   Digerati

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 11:55 AM

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OFF TOPIC Question:
The Windows 10 "automatic update" has been sending me updates to Office 2007. For instance, this month I got "Security Update for Microsoft Office 2007 suites (KB3213640)". Is it possible that the ancient version of Office was "fooling" MS into thinking I had a newer version?
My "guess" is sometime during the last 20 years :whistling: you installed one of Microsoft's "Office Compatibility" packages so you could read the newer Office formats with the older Office versions and that's what Windows Update is keying on.

As I noted above, Office 2007 is reaching its end of life this coming October. Do you like Libre Office?
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#25 OFFLINE   ebrke

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 12:44 PM

You asked Pete!, but I thought I would say that LibreOffice has been fine in my experience. I have been using it for years on linux and put it on my mother's windows laptop about 5 years ago when she could no longer afford to purchase MS Office. I haven't had the need to do anything really complex with it, but all the basic functionality of MS Office is present. It's certainly worth a download so you can see if it would work well for you. The writer will save to a variety of formats, including .pdf and .docx.
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