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On Truckers Software:
Costs to Upgrade Software
and Alternatives


There may be an overlap between truckers software and trucking software, but we generally separate the two on this basis for professional truck drivers:

  • the former is (or can be) used by any trucker with a computer (for personal use) and
  • the latter is used by owner-operators for their trucking businesses (for business use).

DVDs or CDs with computer softwareMore and more professional truck drivers are taking their laptop computers with them on the road. They may run a variety of programs on their computers for a variety of reasons.

We think that it is easier for truckers to keep up with their finances if they have some means of

  • setting up and working with their budgets,
  • tracking their spending, and
  • working with their financial account(s)

on their computers.

This may require accessing accounts online, perhaps through Internet on the road.

Note: If you use your computer to access the Internet, protect your data by making sure you have an appropriate firewall in place as well as up-to-date software for protecting your computer against viruses, spyware and other malware.

On this page, we're going to cover the issue of truckers software, costs to upgrade and potential alternatives from a money saving perspective.



Time Limited Functionality on Truckers Software

Here's what prompted this page: Back in 2010, we purchased and installed Quicken Deluxe 2010 on our laptop computer.

We were informed by Quicken that on a certain day in 2013, the One Step Update function in that program would cease to work. Mike said that their End-User License Agreement or EULA specifies this.

In order to continue using One Step Update in that program, we would need to upgrade the software.

But did we want to do that?

In a 2009 article entitled "Is Quicken at the end of the road?" the author listed reasons why Quicken products are dying, one of which is:

Quicken's enforced upgrades: Quicken "sunsets" its desktop applications every three years. If you're using an older version of Quicken, it will still function on the desktop, but its ability to access online information, like stock prices and bank balances, will end. Intuit does this so it can focus its development and maintenance on newer versions and shifting standards for online financial services, I'm told. Skeptics believe it's so Intuit can squeeze upgrade dollars out of locked-in users. Regardless of the reason, it angers users who are forced to upgrade their software even if they're satisfied with it. ...

Other articles on Quicken and its EULA are here and here and used to be online.1

We have never liked being forced to upgrade software and evidently others feel the same way.

By way of background, for a number of weeks, we had been experiencing difficulties in getting one of our online accounts to update when using One Step Update in our Quicken program. Because of this, Mike was having to manually update info for that account. This situation was taking place before the software "sunsetted" that function.

Some questions naturally arose about a forced upgrade of this piece of truckers software:

  • What advantages, if any, are there in spending money on a software upgrade?
  • How would we be assured that the new product would work any better than the old one?
  • How much time would it take to do manually what the software was supposed to do automatically?
  • At what point would the investment of time override the cost of the newer software?
  • What experiences have other users of the upgraded software had with it and how did they review it?
  • Are there less expensive or even free alternatives to this product?
  • How would a free or less expensive alternative work with the software we use to file our taxes?

For what it's worth, the reviews that Quicken Deluxe 2013 has received on Amazon.com to date (mid-January 2013) have been so pitiful that we're not going to link to them here. You deserve better than 1 or 3 stars out of 5.



Types of Truckers Software Affected

Frustrated man.Most of the questions above can also be asked about other types of software for truckers, not just personal financial software. These categories include, but are not limited to: browsers and Internet software; communications programs; photo, video and graphic design programs; educational and entertainment software; games; audio, Mp3 and sound programs; operating systems; security programs; and utilities.

Whenever new products are released, it seems there are almost always bugs to be worked out. Frankly, we are disappointed that Microsoft Windows operating systems issue "updates" at all. An author at ZDNet.com wrote, "...honestly, is there any hope that Microsoft will ever fix the bottomless pit that is Windows Update?"



New Computers, New Operating Systems, Forced Upgrades?

When we were looking to access the Internet for the first time in the mid-1990s, we were forced to upgrade to a newer Windows operating system. We have since had to upgrade operating systems twice, once to Windows XP and again to Windows 7.

The situation with Windows 7 was foisted on us when the laptop computer we were using on the road in the second half of 2010 started acting up.

We ended up buying (at a Wal-Mart on the road) a new Dell laptop that came with pre-installed operating system and office software -- neither of which was on an accompanying DVD or CD.

Vicki was so used to using Windows XP that she originally hated Windows 7. Both of us had such difficulties in setting up Windows 7 in a way that worked well for us that we ended up having to start over with a fresh installation of software over the preloaded stuff.

Frustrated woman.That meant that we had to invest in both

  • a new Windows 7 operating system and
  • a new version of MS Office.

To add insult to injury, we couldn't find the box containing the personal financial software package that we had put in self storage when we went on the road full-time in 2009. (Perhaps it was stored in the back of our storage unit, way at the bottom!)

So, we were forced to buy a newer version of that piece of truckers software, too.

That was three expensive software programs that we had to buy right in a row! Argh!



Do I Have to Upgrade Older Truckers Software?

What if you're not having issues with your computer or older versions of truckers software? What if everything seems to be perking right along?

Users with older computer programs will need to decide between these options:

  • use the older programs on computers with older operating systems and wait for either to "give out" in some way;
  • risk trying older programs on computers with newer operating systems (which may or may not work); or
  • buy newer programs (aka "upgrade software") to work with newer operating systems or to work under a newer EULA.

If you stick with an older version of truckers software, occasionally, you may need to make adjustments to read files created by others on newer computers or using newer software.

Such was the case when Vicki was using MS Word 2003 after MS Word 2007 came along. She has a friend who had upgraded to the newer program, which created files with the default ".docx" file extension. Vicki's computer didn't know how to interpret the new file extension. She ended up having to find, download and install a "patch" to read those files.

This whole issue of needing to upgrade software raises an interesting point: Is there a better way?



Alternative to Proprietary Truckers Software: Open Source Software

We have come to appreciate "open source software." According to Wikipedia:

Open source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available and licensed with an open source license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open source software is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner.

Courtesy of Logo Open Source Initiative: OpenSource.org.
Courtesy of Logo Open Source Initiative: OpenSource.org.
  • Truckers Software Spotlight: OSS: Browser

    We first learned about open source software in 2009, when we were having lots of problems with Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) browser software crashing on our computer. We found Mozilla Firefox to be an excellent free and open source browser.

    Mozilla continually upgrades Firefox (sometimes multiple times a year) and never charges a cent. Its crash rate is miniscule compared to MSIE and when it does crash, a re-launch of the program allows users to restore a previous session (which is really nice if you were right in the middle of something).

    Note: If you have "Clear history when Firefox closes" checked under Tools -> Options -> Privacy, you will not be able to restore a previous session.

    The open source nature of Firefox allows interested folks to create "Add-ons" that allow users to do many different things to customize their online experiences. Vicki's favorite Firefox add-ons are:

    • Google Shortcuts and
    • Shorten URL (Bit.ly).

  • Truckers Software Spotlight: OSS: Office Programs

    One open source product Vicki doesn't like is OpenOffice. She tried it and never could get used to the differences in the word processing program as compared to MS Word.

    It took Vicki a long time to get used to many of the vast changes in MS Word 2010 as compared to previous versions of the software. Even in 2013, she still has to research how to do some tasks that were more straightforward in older versions.

    An excellent improvement to the Word and Excel programs in Microsoft Office 2010 (at least from Office 2003) is allowing users to save files as .pdf documents.

  • Truckers Software Spotlight: OSS: Advantages

    A 2005 ComputerEconomics.com article states that the most important advantage in the use of open source software (of the 5 options given) was "less dependence on vendors." The second most important was "lower cost."

    In 2010, PCWorld.com listed "10 Reasons Open Source is Good for Business."

Of course, one comes back to the issue of upgrading open source software on individual computers each time a new version comes along. This may or may not be problematic.



Alternative to Proprietary Truckers Software: Cloud Computing

Clouds in the sky, symbolic of cloud computingInstead of continually relying on truckers software programs, some truckers are utilizing "cloud computing," a term that TruckingInfo.com says is still evolving, but which MassLogics.com used to call "Web based trucking software."2

According to TheTruckersReport.com:

Until now, software applications came in one form — programs — that installed on your computer’s hard drive and were updated with manual data inputs. Recently, however, a new phenomenon has begun to show up in the computer world — cloud computing. Instead of installing on your computer’s hard drive, the user of a cloud application will access their account via the Internet by logging into their account and entering relevant information online.

The "Internet for Beginners" About.com author says: "'Cloud Computing' is a somewhat nebulous term to describe users 'renting' or borrowing online software software instead of actually purchasing and installing it on their own computers."

  • Email in the Cloud

    We think of Gmail as "email in the cloud." We've used Gmail since 2009. We neither rent nor borrow it. Advertisers whose ads appear along with Gmail pay for the service.

    We also have web mail access through the website domains that we have registered. All of the communication sent from and to the email addresses set up on those servers is "in the cloud," even when email is forwarded to other accounts.



  • Free Cloud Computing Apps and Services

    Many truckers are familiar with some free Smartphone and trucker apps. (Note: even if the app is free, the data packages to access them may not be free.)

    You may search to find lists of free cloud computing apps and services.



  • Comparing Cloud Computing With Truckers Software for Trucking

    According to a short article from Len DuBois Trucking, cloud computing is allowing truckers to be smarter, more efficient, more predictable and more profitable.

    DecisivConnect.com once said that cloud computing is boosting productivity in trucking for its users.3



  • Security Concerns About Cloud Computing

    Important questions about cloud computing are:

    • What does it cost -- both in short-term and long-term time frames?
    • What happens if the server where the program runs goes down or gets destroyed?
    • Do you get locked into a contract for a monthly service fee?
    • If you decide to leave, can you take your information with you and have it totally wiped off the server?
    • How likely is your information to be hacked or breached?

    At one time, XRS said that security concerns among businesses using cloud computing are shrinking.
    http://xrscorp.com/blog/technology/is-cloud-computing-secure/ (no longer online)
    You may want to read about best practices for securing your data [in the] cloud.

    This article described "Cloud-Based Data Storage" as Hurricane Sandy was about to strike land in 2012.





Is "Free" Truckers Software the Best Way to Go?

If cloud computing isn't for you and if you're looking for free accounting software for truckers, you may be able to find it. But will it end up costing you in the long run?

Man's hand inserting DVD or CD into computer. "How can free software for truckers cost me in the long run?" you may ask? Answer these questions:
  • Will it cost you more in terms of your time than if you had paid for a program or service?
  • What is your time worth to you?
  • Can a paid program or service automate mundane or routine tasks for you?

Too many truckers have relied on free or lower cost truckers map software, GPS units or services and wound up in trouble with low clearances.



Which Truckers Software Solution Did We Choose?

We started out on this page by describing the "sunsetting" of a function in Quicken 2010, the personal financial software we've been using for over 2 years. As of this writing (mid-January 2013), we still haven't arrived at a conclusion about which way we will go. However, Vicki has done some research on possible alternatives.

Although we certainly don't recommend these resources, we are providing them as a courtesy:

Although Mint is supposedly secure, we're nervous about putting our personal finances online. If you're a professional truck driver who is using Mint, we would very much appreciate your service review to find out what you like and dislike about it.






truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: Evaluate all of your options when it comes to truckers software upgrade "requirements." See if there are open source, cloud computing or free or lower cost alternatives that keep you from having to spend money on upgrading software.

When it comes to protecting your computer from spyware, malware, worms, Trojan horses and the like, be very careful about relying on free software programs -- especially if you have your financial account information on your computer.

One way of looking at the cost of truckers software is to divide an annual cost by 12 to get the monthly cost or by 260 (52 x 5 = 260) to get the daily cost (if you use your software 5 days every week of the year).

For example, if a truckers software program costs $45 per year, that's less than $4 per month or about $0.17 per day (5 days per week usage).

Evaluate the upfront cost of truckers software or cloud computing service in terms of the time that it would take you to do the same tasks yourself. You may choose to think of this in baseball terms as the difference between a human pitcher and a pitching machine. The former can't throw as tirelessly as the latter, but the machine can't get "sore muscles."

Regardless of which route you take, don't forget to back up your data regularly. Even though you may be computing "in the cloud," it is one of those ugly facts of life that sometimes hard drives crash.







References

1. https://qlc.intuit.com/questions/159674-what-is-with-this-latest-announcement-that-quicken-2010-
will-no-longer-function-with-the-bank-this-could-be-a-major-civil-case (no longer online)

2. http://masslogics.com/cloud-computing-trucking-software (no longer online)
3. http://decisivconnect.com/2012/04/sweating-the-small-stuff-using-
cloud-computing-in-trucking-industry-to-boost-productivity/
(no longer online)








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