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POssible Re-Programming Of Old Programs

Greetings  -

I have stumbled on to this site after surfing around .. trying to find a site/s where I would be able to locate brilliant programmers who possibly may be able to get two of my old [or maybe the word should be older] programs to run smoothly and flawlessly on Windows XP.  The first program is one of the first launch/menu programs released in 1995 [to co-incide with the launch of Windows 95] called "Dashboard 95" .. and the second:  "Sidekick 98" (A personal information manager)  I guess I'm just in love with these two programs, and although they both work 85% well on XP, it is, I suppose, even more frustrating than if they did not work at all.  The manufacturers/designers [Starfish Software] discontinued both these programs some years ago, and so, support/help is unavailable.  I have found limited help on a site called 'Tek-Tips' .. but what someone on this forum may be able to tell me is:

1.    Can they be "Re-Programmed" so as to work flawlessly
      on XP ..?

2.    How much might something like this cost ..?

I am hoping that I have not transgressed in any way by not being "qualified" to post on this site ..    (as I am certainly a complete novice as far as programming is concerned.  It's been a little bit like stumbling in to the Roman Senate without an ID card ..

With many thanks in advance,

Michael M.
Michael Mayer Send private email
Monday, July 25, 2005
==>1.    Can they be "Re-Programmed" so as to work flawlessly on XP ..?

Possibly. Maybe. Likely.

==> 2.    How much might something like this cost ..?

How long is a piece of string?
Sgt.Sausage Send private email
Monday, July 25, 2005
Michael, how much are you willing to pay?

You must have paid in the vicinity of, say, $50 for the originals. I don't expect you're ready to pay thousands now.

Since you're the only interested buyer, I don't see a solution.

Just curious: how are the originals not working?
Alex Send private email
Monday, July 25, 2005
The only ways I see it happening are

(1) the original owners sell the programs to someone who intends to update them and sell them, which means there'd have to be a market, or

(2) you can convince the original owners to open-source them, and you can find enough hobbyists interested in making them run under XP etc.

Obviously (2) is the less expensive option, but for some reason a lot of companies don't seem to like to open-source even obsolete products.
Kyralessa Send private email
Monday, July 25, 2005
You didn't specify what exactly the problems are so it's hard to give an answer.  Have you tried right-clicking the shortcuts to these applications and playing around with the Compatibility tab?  This can solve some simple problems. 

Depending on how the original application was developed, a clever developer might be able to solve some problems by developing a separate helper application that monitors these applications and fixes things up while it's running (something like moving controls around a window because their placement doesn't work right with XP).  On the other hand, deeper problems could be very difficult to solve and, for most developers, would require the original source, which would likely be expensive, if not impossible, to purchase.  The only other solution would be redeveloping the applications from scratch, which would be extremely expensive.

It all depends on the specifics.  The Compatibility tab might fix things for free.  If the problems are simple enough, a good developer might be able to put together a monitoring application that fixes the original application but expect this to range from hundreds to thousands of dollars (expect more in the thousands unless the problems are very trivial).  The other solutions would likely cost way more.
SomeBody Send private email
Monday, July 25, 2005
By the way, here are three possibilities for getting those programs to run without reprogramming:

1)  DOSBox

2)  VirtualPC

3)  Tweaking compatibility settings (as someone else mentioned)
Kyralessa Send private email
Monday, July 25, 2005
Many many thanks to all of you for your kind and prompt replies ..  I'll be back as quickly as I can with a response ..
Michael Mayer Send private email
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Right .. back at the keyboard.  Again .. many thanks for your feedback. Something I ought to have mentioned right from the start and which certainly ought to have been included, is that quite early on I did attempt to use the "Compatibility Options" option, but found it did not produce any results.  About a year ago I went on to a computer help site called  .. There may be some value in me pasting across the correspondence Here is the correspondence:


Thank you for visiting! My name is Jared and I will be assisting you with your question which has been assigned the ticket id (140040).

I'm wondering, have you tried XP's built in "Compatibility Mode"?

Jared S., Computer Support Technician

Question Subject: Using Dashboard 95 & Sidekick 98 with Windows XP
Category: Windows XP
Date Asked: August 1st

Thanks for your reply .. Yes I HAVE in fact, tried the
compatibility mode, but I seem to get the whole
thing just going in a loop without any final 'resolve'
to it .... (?)

 When you say "everything going in a loop", could you clarify what this means? Is this just your own expression or does it have some literal relation to the problem?
So sorry about this delay .. Actually .. what I have to
do is go through the sequence again with the compatibility mode .. but I was wondering if there would be any value in emailing you the instal programs of Dashboard and Sidekick (AS I mentioned .. they are now both discontinued) ..
If you feel that it would be worthwhile for me to install the programs on my computer and attempt to run them, I'd be glad to do that. If you want to do that, you will probably have to upload the files to a specialized website, because they will likely be too large for email attachments.
A great website for uploading files to is You just type in your email, my email (, and then upload the installation files. I will receive notification of the uploading of the files and be able to download them to my machine.
I have already sent Dashboard 95 across to you on
the website (many thanks for that
recommendation) .. I am now sending Sidekick 98
I received the Dashboard installation file. As for the Sidekick installation, there should be no problem.
Update! I just downloaded and installed Dashboard. I ran it with no problems. I just used compatibility mode for Windows 95. In case you are unfamiliar with how compatibility mode works/is enabled, here you go. Compatibility mode fools the program into believing that it is running in whatever OS you choose. In this case Windows 95. To enable compatibility mode, follow these steps.

1) Go to Start->All Programs->Dasboard and then right-click on the shortcut to launch Dashboard and choose properties.
2) In the new window, click on the "compatibility" tab
3) Check the box for "run this program in compatibility mode" and ensure that the emulated OS is set to Windows 95. Click OK and run the program.

This should also work for Sidekick, with the exception that you would need to change the OS emulated to Windows 98.
GREAT news about Dashboard ..

NOW ..

A few VERY important questions:

1. Can you drag an icon (from Windows Explorer) on to
the launch bar so that its picture gets framed into
one of the squares/rectangles ..? (With my install
their are no icons .. only 'flyouts')
2. Are the "built-in" tiny icons for Control Panel/Find/
Explorer/Task Manager showing on the main panel
(usually next to the clock or somewhere around
there ..?
3. Does the launch bar (or panel) have the default tabs
of "Desktop" and "Documents" showing there as its
first two tabs ...? (These things are a few of the
main features which I [and a number of other folks]
have noted are absent from the program).
4. Is there the usual X for the exit button on the top
right hand side .. or is there (as with my installation)
the fault of the ? character placed there instead ..?

If all these features ARE indeed working .. it is likely
that you will be making WORLD NEWS !!! Plus .. And if
Sidekick 98 ALSO works flawlessly, I will be mailing you
a bottle of Champagne ..

Thank you for your reply.

Some of these features work and some don't. Here's my experience.

1) No. The picture of the icon is not framed there, however the link is created because of the little text "flyout" that denotes the link.

2) Yes. They are located right to left of the clock and work.

3) Yes. Both of these tabs are visible. (along with the utilities tab as well)

4) No. It is a question mark, however it still performs the close function of the 'X'.

Does this help?
I really must thank you for all this trouble ..
It's a pity about the icons not appearing .. (the exit
X is not a disaster, but it sure would be nice if
all the features were working)
I suppose I'm just wondering why the compatibility
mode on XP (which is certainly a wonderful feature)
allows the program to work 88% well and not completely. It's one of those things I guess .. Dashboard
95 has been a favourite of mine for all these nearly 10 years ..and I would so love it if those icons (for example) did indeed "take' to their frames and the ? was indeed its proper X. I know this may sound fussy .. but ... (?)
Then .. Sidekick 98 works better than Dashboard .. the only flaw seem to be that the To-Do List and Phone Calls list does not 'auto-forward' .. [And the 'goals' button does not retain its text once one has exited the programe and then re-started].

I refer back then to my original thought of whether the
Registry code can be tweaked and/or re-written so as
to make these 'small' things right ..

I don't want this to become a protracted discussion, because obviously I realise that you need to get on with
helping other people, and not have me monopolise the
cyberwaves at protonic ..
Unfortunately this is not an issue of registry tweaks. It involves the code for the program not being written to run in the more complex environment of Windows XP. So unfortunately, you're stuck with what you got.

However, there are other programs that display similar info and have all those shortcuts. One of the best is called SmartBarXP. There's a link to it below. It may fill your needs for what Dashboard does.

If there's nothing more I can help you with, I'm going to go ahead and close this ticket. I'll wait for your reply before doing so, however.


Right (continuing now July 27th 8.30 pm. [S.A. Time])  ..
Just quickly to say that the Protonic computer consultant's points 2) and 3) (replying about his success/failure with Dashboard) ..  did not work for me.  I did not/don't seem to be able to get "Compatibility Mode' to change things at all.  (Maybe I'm doing something wrong in the sequence .. (?)

I'm afraid I do not have much money at all to spend on this .. so maybe that means that I ought not be talking to all you eminent people in the first place ..(?)

However .. may I throw out a question to any/all of you?
Would there be any value at all in me sending YOU the install programs for Dashboard and Sidekick ..?  (I could also send the .config file so as to let you see exactly what it looks like on my desktop.

Phew .. Hope there may be able to be at least SOME value in all of this ..

Thank you SO much for your opinions ..
Michael Mayer Send private email
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
I could help you with all of this for my discounted rate of $60/hr. We can do a $900 retainer up front that will cover the first 15 hours of labor and as necessary, we can have additional prepaid plans as needed. Any hours leftover would of course be refunded. Would you be interested in such an arrangement?
Edgar Samuels
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Thanks Edgar for your note .. I'm afraid I just don't have the wherewithal at the moment .. I really wish I did ..  I certainly do realise that expertise like this is going to cost money ..  (I suppose I may have been fantasising about the fact that all it would need would be a few tweaks and .. presto !! .. )  But thanks anyway..
Michael Mayer Send private email
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Just run your programs in Windows 95 running inside Virtual PC. For around $100 you're all set (assuming you still have a win95 licence).
Just me (Sir to you) Send private email
Thursday, July 28, 2005

You might try actually describing, BRIEFLY, exactly how these two programs are not not working in XP.  Pasting the help session text into a message tells very little, and the chaff-to-wheat ratio is far too high.

In 15 words or less per problem, what exactly are the problems with the two apps?
Karl Perry Send private email
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Thanks to Just Me (Sir To You) & Karl Perry for their notes.  Will certainly investigate Virtual PC ..  and to
you Karl .. thanks for the note ..  I'm listing (I hope briefly enough).. the Dashboard 95/Sidekick 98 problems ..

1.    On Dashboard 95, the icons do not 'take' to their
      squares/rectangles.  Only the 'flyouts'show.
2.    The small vertical column of icons for Control            Panel/Find/Explorer/Task Manager is not there.

3.    The default tabs for "Desktop" and "Documents"
      are not there.

4.    The usual X for the exit button on the top
      right hand side is replaced by a question

Then .. on Sidekick 98:

1.    The to-do list does not auto-forward.

2.    The 'Goals' list does not retain its entries
      after Save and Exit.

My great appreciation to everyone for their help ..
Michael Mayer Send private email
Friday, July 29, 2005

I suspect that some of the issues can be resolved relatively easily:

Dashboard (3) unavailability for default tabs of My docs and Desktop


Sidekick (2) saving of the goals list.

Since I have never used the software it's nothing more than a hunch, but I'd be willing to look into the matter (for free).

Just shoot me an email if you'd like me to.
General Protection Fault Send private email
Friday, August 05, 2005
 I'm an engineer and use Sidekick 98 "to-do" section for scheduling all building maintenance at work. I have searched a long time for a maintenance scheduling program to replace it but have found none. Even the ones costing $KKK don't have the reoccurring scheduling feature of Sidekick 98. It's really a shame Starfish didn't refine the program and market it to the millions of engineers like myself.
  I am now trying to find a source to purchase a Sidekick 98 CD. I have to go to XP Pro to run a new HVAC program so will be needing to load Sidekick 98 on a new computer. I've a source to download Sidekick 98, but would like to get my hands on a CD. Any ideas?
Elliott H. Steele Send private email
Tuesday, August 09, 2005

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