Do you have all your install disks?

My computer has been degrading over time. The most recent manifestation was video playback. For some reason, videos were playing as if I was in 256-color mode. I'm not entirely sure what happened; I have upgraded the video card and monitor within the past year or so, and even upgraded the video drivers more recently, but this seemed to happen well after any tinkering I did there. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling video codecs (I use the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack; it's generally served me well), but nothing seemed to fix it. I decided it was probably time to wipe and reinstall.

So, I moved the desktop files and My Documents folders, plus any other data I found (forgot about my Audible books, but I can always re-download those), to the data partition, and reinstalled Windows. So far, I can sum up the progress as "fair". Audible Manager unfortunately is giving me problems downloading books (and I'm reluctant to upgrade to the newest version, for reasons I won't describe here) -- I think I can work around that, if nothing else than by installing the latest on a VPC (something I think I need to do more often).

I ran into a big problem today, though. Sundays are usually my days for paying the bills for the week. As I've mentioned before, I use Microsoft Money for my finances, but that is something I want to change. I did pick up a copy of Quicken already, so I figured this would be an ideal time to make the switch. Unfortunately, Intuit can't read Microsoft's data files directly, so the transfer involves running a couple reports out of Money and using a tool from Intuit to import them into Quicken. Seems simple enough. All I have to do is reinstall Money and run those reports.

And it was only then that I discovered I couldn't find my Money 2006 install disc. I started with a frantic search of the disaster area that is my office, but the closest I could find was Money 2005. I was pretty sure 2006 was the version I was last using, though. So I tried the internet. I searched for Money 2006 Download, and I found a link to download a trial version. Should be good enough, all I need to do is run the reports and be done. But when I started it up, it accessed my Money data file and immediately reported that my trial version of 2005 had expired. Wait, 2005? Was I wrong? Did it read that from the data file, and was it really 2005 that I had been using? They haven't changed the interface at all; the version year is easy enough to overlook.

So I installed Money 2005, but when I tried to open my data file, I got the ever-helpful error message "Money cannot locate filename or cannot open it, possibly because it is a read-only file, you do not have permission to change it, or your disk drive is write-protected. If you have chosen the correct file and it cannot be accessed, you will need to click OK and then Restore your most recent backup file." Searching Microsoft's site brought me through a few "Page cannot be found" links (why do their own search results result in dead links?), but I finally found a page that mentioned the error might be caused by Money not being fully updated before opening a file that had been previously opened by a fully-updated copy of Money 2005. Makes sense to me. Except following the steps to update Money and then opening the file didn't help. The other explanation seemed more likely: the data file was created in a later version of Money (namely, 2006), and 2005 can't open it.

After a few moments of panic, I started to weigh my options. Attempt to buy a copy of Money 2006? Should be cheap, but an unnecessary expense, not to mention a delay I should do without before paying my bills. Find an illegal copy on the web? A possibility, one I entertained only because I had actually purchased the program, I just couldn't find the stupid disc -- but a search that would be fraught with hassles: finding the right version, making sure I got everything, making sure the download didn't include a virus or two.... What about a trial of the current version of Money? I went to Microsoft's site, and sure enough, they have one available. Their FAQ even discusses running it side-by-side with an existing version of Money on an existing data file, which gave me hope that I wouldn't see it complain the same way the 2006 trial did when I pointed it at my data file. Downloaded, installed, ran -- success.

Now, it is in the process of generating the first report. It's been at it for nearly an hour, keeping my 1st-generation Pentium 4 (i.e. pre-hyperthreaded) pegged on my nearly-clean Windows XP installation. I guess I should expect the lack of speed by now. Maybe it's not really fair for me to judge it; it is, after all, generating an XML document based on my entire financial history for as long as I've tracked it, about 15 years or so. Still, it does seem like a long time to process a file that is only 30MB, especially when I've seen reports run in an Access database (which I strongly suspect Money still uses, with the ".ldb" file it creates when it runs) up to a gigabyte in size in much less time than it takes Money to do even the simplest tasks.

Maybe it just "knows" these are its last moments with me, and it wants to make the most of them. Well, good luck with that; I'm going to bed. Hopefully it'll be done with the first report by the time I wake up, and I can start the next one off before I leave for work.

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