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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Computer World

 A new computer. What a lovely thing to behold in its pristine state, sitting there on the table clean, uncluttered and mine. O.K. the family's.

It's a behemoth, making the one it's to replace seem quite prehistoric and weeny.

It's got Intel's Core i5, 1 Tetrabit of hard drive and 6 Gigabits of RAM, and  more USBs than you could shake a stick at.

Last Saturday was spent admiring its beauty, as a chilly fear crept over me about what lay ahead.

Moving all the stuff on the old computer to the new. I know I'm not the only person whose had to do it, but talking to friends most would rather rip their nails out than go through that experience again.

Both Microsoft's beloved XP operating system (OS), on the old computer and Window 7 the OS on the new have an "easy transfer" facility. It will, with some difficulty apparently transfer all your files, photos, MP3s,  documents, preference and settings from the old to the new computer. But not the bloody programs, which you need to run all the files, photos, MP3 and docs on the new computer.

How many of us retain the installation disc, or the activation code of some vital piece of software which you purchased in those far off days when the internet skipped along at 28 kbps? If you have, or think you have, you spend the next few hours rummaging through every drawer, every nook and cranny desperately seeking the bloody stuff.

In the good old days I ran about 4 or 5 essential programs and little else. Most of the stuff I thought valuable and needed to transfer to a new computer could be stored on initially, a few floppy discs, then a writable CD and later a small memory stick.

Now we have a dedicated free standing hard drive which holds the zillions of photos, pdfs of bank statements, tax returns and  bills, letters of complaint to papers, the BBC and the neighbours (only joking). Along with 5 drafts of our wills and the final document, and three or four half started novels and short stories.

The more I thought about it the more I realised that transferring all that data was not a problem. It provided a great opportunity to dump/erase/dispense with masses of junk. What was the real problem was four programs in ascending order of importance. Microsoft Office, applications for the digital cameras, Real Arcade Games and Quicken.

I have loads of stuff that I want to keep using Excel. Word and Publisher. At a pinch I could use one of the free Office suites, but I'm used to MS Office. The software for the two digital cameras we have make processing the images so much better. Real Arcade Games - ancient platform games which I downloaded years ago, but which we love.

And Quicken 2004 - my financial program. With this I managed to plan paying off the mortgage in 11 years, with this I know exactly where every penny is spent, every pound saved. And it keeps the financial records of my wife's business, produces invoices and bills etc, etc.  It is invaluable.

I was able to reinstall MS Office on the new computer, I had the discs and those for the photo apps, and the updates were downloaded on line. Other stuff I re-downloaded from the net., including Firefox and then just set up the old bookmarks. Real Arcade I discovered no longer exists and anyway my subscription died yonks ago.

But Quicken, oh Quicken. Intuit, the bastards, reckoned that the UK was too small a market so they ceased producing a UK version and providing support in 2003. Germany still has Quicken as does the US and Canada! They clearly felt some sense of guilt because they sent me a special UK edition when they cut us adrift. 

Quicken doesn't work very well on Windows 7. But I had my Quicken SE UK disc and I inserted it, not in my new PC but in the laptop which also runs on "7". To my surprise it loaded without any problem. But I couldn't find/didn't have the registration key, and without that the program would die after 24 sessions.

If I could not get my financial stuff on the new PC I was stuck (or so I thought).

I had a personal finance package call Personal Accountz (PA). It could read Quicken files (after they'd been converted into PA language). I dutifully copied all my Quicken files, downloaded them onto a memory stick and uploaded to the laptop  and converted them  to PA speak and waited to see what happened. OK, I thought. Looked a bit strange but was intelligible.

Except...one of my accounts on Quicken is my "Halifax" checking account. For some unknown reason PA decided to rename it and all the entries  "First Direct". If it can't get that right there was no way I was going to let it handle my money. The final nail in "PA"'s brief existence on the computer was the realisation that it couldn't handle business accounts. So it was wiped.

There is transfer software out there which claims to transfer not only files and data but applications as well. Jack Schofield looked at this in an article last November.

The only one you could trust, reading the reviews, created an image (like a pdf ) of your old system, OS, data, programmes and all and dumped all of it onto your new PC. You'd have Windows 7 and your beloved XP and all the old clobber on the same PC and you'd switch between one OS and the other. Frankly, I thought that was cheating.

The other systems which claimed to transfer programmes, had so many caveats and get out clauses; "in certain circs some programs wouldn't be transferred", that I thought that it would be just my like to find Quicken, steadfastly staying stuck on my old PC.

I was desperate. I then realised that I had two PCs on one of which ran, undisturbed, contentedly and without a whimper "Quicken". It is a bit of a bugger but I can switch from one to the other by switching the monitor cable from one PC to another. There had to be a simpler solution. So I typed into Google "How to connect 2 PCs to 1 VDU". And there it was.

A "KVM" (Keyboard, VDU, Mouse) switch. With that installed using one keyboard, VDU and mouse I could switch between one PC and the next.

A new world dawned. My old PC would run Quicken and Real Arcade games  and very little else.With masses of other stuff transferred to the new PC there would loads of additional storage for photos, MP3s and movies.

Thank you Quicken for deserting us Brits in 2003. It has brought out the Bulldog spirit in me.

And I will still have my lovely 8 year old PC: which has perked up wonderfully after I hoovered it!

1 comment:

Tenon_Saw said...

I have replaced Quicken with Bank Genie Pro - it took a while to learn how to use it but it will do the job. http://bankgenie.net/index.html

Commenting on here took me to an old style Blogger Page and the comment vanished - I'll try again.