Open Thread

Open Thread Update: Are We Appy Yet?

Last time I mentioned the frustrations of having legacy programs that are perfect for my needs…that I can’t use anymore because the software or hardware needed to run them are obsolete.

Reader M. Elllington, like me, maintains what amounts to a computer and programming timewarp:

“I have a check-writing program that I have used for about 20 years… I have a tower with a disc drive and running Windows 7, to keep my legacy check writing app.”

I hear ya.  My Simply Money program runs on a tower running XP and the records go back to the late 90’s. Maybe we should have a competition for “Oldest Software Still Running.”

The Queen of Legacy Tech

When it comes to hanging on to outdated technology, reader Ellen C. getx the gold!   “You’ll love this one,” she writes. “It’s legacy all right.”

“I own old “floppy” diskettes (small, square, rigid) AND an old Dell drive and cable … but what can I connect to the drive so I can access diskette files (Word)?
Can you spell O B S O L E T E ?”

Reader Mary W. touches on a hot button issue and then goes right for the jugular…

I miss having Microsoft Office Suite on my computer forever. Instead, we have to buy a new copy every year. Capitalists! Bah!

See you on the barricades, Mary!

Wait, there’s more

Other readers feel the same. Reader Diana misses her Kindle (“It’s enough to drive a person back to real books! Hahaha!”); WT offers some practical viewpoints and Reader Dave – Hi, Dave!! – offers a cheery salute along with his (successful) search for a better sprinkler timer.

And to reader Bobbie S.  – thanks for the kind comments! And if you are looking for ways to engage in reading with others, join our online Book Club (link is here) or join one of our online Senior Planet Communities – there’s a group for just about any hobby or interest you have. The link is here.
We’ll keep the comments open for a while – have fun reading them and feel free to add your own thoughts about your favorite legacy software.
Original column below.

Yesterday I tried to scan something from my laptop only to find that Old Reliable Dell is not on speaking terms with my HP printer anymore when I need to scan something.

Maybe they had an argument while I was at the gym and decided to break up, but I’d like the courtesy of a farewell note.

Instead, I spent a half hour realizing what happened and trying to find a workaround.  Naturally, this sort of discovery never comes during casual use – it only pops up at important times.

So now my choices are:

-pay HP a ridiculous amount of money for their paid helpline to fix the problem

-buy a new laptop and hope that one will talk to my printer

-buy a new printer and hope that one will talk to my laptop.

Naturally, this means that the legacy apps I have – that do a perfect job exactly the way I want – won’t work with any of the new equipment and software.

The Legacy Apps

I have a computer tower running XP that I keep specifically for three spectacular legacy programs that have yet to be topped:

Kiplinger’s Simply Money. Thanks to this program I can tell you to the nearest dollar how much I spent on groceries at Target last year. It changed my financial life.  Now it’s dying a slow death because my HP printer won’t talk to it anymore. bit by bit, and the functionality is dropping off.

Daytimer:  This program allowed me to keep and sort my address book, add notes for each person, keep my calendar, warn me of upcoming dates and allowed me to print out pages to add to my datebook or remember good restaurants. I love this program….but my HP printer won’t talk to it anymore and the printing function is vital.  Right now I’m manually adding names and numbers in my datebook (yes, I’m analog that way).  That’s a huge pain, but I will never stop hoping that I can revive this program…with its years of notes, info and background.

The Mystery Music Program:  I don’t know the name of this program but it’s easy, intuitive and allows me to tag and sort hundreds and hundreds of MP3, WMA and other music files.

I’ll put in a good word for,  a weight loss/calorie tracker. It still sort of runs on my Dell laptop, but the wonderful charts and graphs that really inspired me no longer appear…and my diet program has stalled.

Let us now Praise Famous Apps

There must be millions of people like me with legacy software and/or older computers or hardware that gets sandbagged with every ‘upgrade.”  Some of us are  uninterested in upgrades and the latest bells and whistles – we just want what we have to work!

Sadly, there seem to be powerful forces bent on making us lose perfectly fine legacy programs and spend a ton of dough on new hardware, upgrades and apps.

But that’s me.  How about you? What legacy Apps do you have and love?  What hoops are you jumping through to keep them running?  Have you found any help, or any replacements?  Let us know in the comments!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to


7 responses to “Open Thread Update: Are We Appy Yet?

  1. I have a check-writing program that I have used for about 20 years. I use it to make checks and maintain a check register of payments made for my regular living expenses. I have a tower with a disc drive and running Windows 7, to keep my legacy check writing app.
    M. Ellington

  2. What an eye opening and useful article. Thanks for sharing. Would love to see more about how to engage seniors in reading and other. Maybe you have worked your entire life five or more days per week, and you have always dreamed of unlimited time to just relax with no schedule. That is a kind of retirement that many people dream of. So what does that look like?

  3. Similar to Dave’s comment on smart sprinklers and how he will never go back to the old one, I think these newer apps should warrant all of us to ask of ourselves…1. Is it worth it for us to sustain the energy and resources to maintain legacy apps or systems? 2. What value can we derive from new apps that we possibly couldn’t have with our legacy system? A life changer for me is a piece of paper with all my usernames and passwords. For the last several years, I’ve have password manager app.

  4. You’ll love this one, it’s legacy all right (but un-appy –.)
    I own old “floppy” diskettes (small, square, rigid) AND an old Dell drive and cable … but what can I connect to the drive so I can access diskette files (Word)?
    Can you spell O B S O L E T E ?

  5. I used to love and adore the Kindle app that allowed me to read books on my phone, my tablet, or my computer, not to mention my original Kindle. But the odd thing now is that the Kindle has ceased to update and won’t let me read the newer books. The newer apps sometimes ‘disappear’ a book that’s been on them for reasons best known only to them. And Amazon won’t let the tablet buy new books. Why? Why? Why? Who makes these quirky rules? It’s enough to drive a person back to real books! Hahaha

  6. Hi Virge,
    I always loved the mechanical sprinkler clock where I could see everything at a glance, twist a knob and spin it to do anything I wanted.
    Then we got programmable sprinkler clocks. Every tweak required finding the manual and reading for 30 minutes to figure out how to add 5 minutes to one sprinkler circuit while squinting at the tiny, dim window.
    There’s now a way that’s better! Orbit B-Hyve – turn sprinklers on and off with my phone, and program it while sitting in my living room!

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