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eightbit

My Palm mission

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Posted (edited)

Well, this was unexpected. As most know I recently scored a nice vintage 1999-2000 Alienware tower computer and have suped it up with just about everything I would have wanted out of the machine back in the year 2000.

 

But, when I got it I saw the original owner had the Palm Desktop software and HoySync stuff installed. That really brought back memories. I absolutely loved my Palm devices. I had a III, and later a IIIc, a Zodiac, a few Tungstens...purchased a lot of software and games and it was a great time.

 

Then, after looking through some old burned disks for older software for the Alienware build I came across a disc I burned in 2005 with all of my Palm programs. I must have burned these just to store away and clear out my drive at the time as things were moving to cell phones. I think I may have moved to a Symbian based phone at the time.

 

Anyway, all of these coincidences got me to thinking that I need a Palm device of some sort to compliment this old machine. I wanted the best that can still use normal AAA batteries as I did not want to deal with lithium ion batteries that are probably dead (or dying) by now. After some research, the Palm IIIxe seemed like the plan. Still takes AAA batteries, has 8MB of ram and is upgradable to Palm OS 4.1.

 

First one I got was boxed new...and dead. Just buzzed when turned on. Bummer. So, since I already had mostly new parts (and the box, dock, CD, manuals, etc) I hopped on ebay and purchased two more IIIxe's to be safe. One for $5 and another for $10. The $5 was perfectly fine other than some minor blemishes. The $10 one was a lot worse for wear, but worked. I migrated the mainboard from that into the "new" palm I already had and it works perfectly. The screen was fine...it was just the mainboard that had a problem.

 

So, at the end of the day I have two of these. One that is absolutely mint and new (stored away now) and one that is fairly respectable with only some minor wear. I also updated both of them to OS 4.1 tonight and installed Bike Or Die! and played a few rounds. Man, I missed the Palm!

 

I also found others have archived their software for download here:

 

https://palmarchive.com/files/

 

This archive was invaluable as that is where I found the 4.1 update for these handhelds (which was a pay upgrade at the time)

 

 

Anyone else love these devices?

 

 

Edited by eightbit
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I am still in love with my Palm TX or T | X as some put it. I still use it and it works just fine for reminders and notes. I use the palm desktop still. Had a chance to put a lot of 8 bit games on it some 16 too. But decided against it. Yes I still do love it... it still works
.what's not to like?

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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My Palm LifeDrive was one of the most disappointing purchases ever.  I went from a IIIx to a TX, but the TX was missing some functionality so Palm pushed me to the LifeDrive, for which they dropped support six months later.

 

Garnet was terrible.  It crashed all the damned time, it could not reliably switch between Bluetooth and WiFi Internet, and so on.

 

Actually, I just dug up a blog post I made at the time called "10 Reasons Why I Hate My Palm LifeDrive."

 



Ten reasons why I hate my Palm LifeDrive

 

My primary purpose in purchasing a new Palm was to replace my well-aged Palm IIIx, which had served me well for a couple of years but began suffering screen calibration problems. When beginning my deliberation on Palm versus Windows Mobile, I stuck with Palm because I already had a small investment in Palm-based software. Even with this prior investment and the purchase of software afterwards, I am ready to abandon all of these investments and move completely to Java applications on my K790a. In fact, I am only one app away from being able to dump Palm completely, and I am considering writing it myself.

 

 

1) Palm Support (or lack there-of)

 

I contacted Palm support more than a few times about some of the issues I address in this list. Each time Palm's response was more or less that the problems I was having were due to me using the device improperly -- all of the faults I find with the LifeDrive are really my fault. In reality, I bought the LifeDrive because the T5 I purchased originally would never support WPA WiFi encryption, and buying a LifeDrive instead was Palm's solution.

 

 

2) Horrible file type handling

 

The LifeDrive support IrDA, Bluetooth, downloads (via the Blazer web browser,) and email attachments (via VersaMail) for file transfers. However, if the file does not have a “registered” handler, the system rejects the file. This is really a pain in the ass since it seems that some programs are unable to register themselves as handlers. For instance, I run Kinoma Player and MMPlayer, which together support a multitude of video and audio file types, such as MP4 and DivX-encoded AVI. Forget transferring these files via any means other than directly copying to the drive or SD card, as the PalmOS rejects the files, without chance to just save the file.

 

 

3) Limited Bluetooth phone recognition

 

It does not recognize my new SonyEricsson K790a, so I am unable to use the SMS or EDGE networking features. To be fair, the unit only recognized my T637 enough to use it, but tests always failed because of unrecognized responses.

 

 

4) Unstable networking stack

 

The network stack cannot switch between Bluetooth and WiFi without crashing.

 

 

5) Unstable applications and operating system

 

The Palm-included applications, primarily Blazer and VersaMail, crash under normal use. It is also extremely easy to crash the operating system. Mine reboots so often that it is practically useless during a normal day.

 

 

6) The LifeDrive is seemingly abandoned

 

As I stated before, I have contact Palm on several occasions about numerous problems. I even presented a good dozen bug reports, each reproducible. All of my cries have gone unanswered, and there hasn't been a major system update since December of 2005, which did not address any of the problems I had with the system.

 

 

7) No sense of security

 

The Palm Desktop software is not multi-user aware in the Windows environment. Each Windows user who wishes to use the Palm Desktop must install the software, and even then the Palm user profiles, which are often different for different Windows users, are not protected.

 

 

8) Poor performance and functionality from included or sanctioned software

 

My 50MHz Amiga has better performing email and browser software than VersaMail and Blazer.

 

VersaMail crashes the moment it touches an ActiveSync (Exchange 2003) server, which I have come to find apparently actually communicates via Outlook Web Access in basic authentication mode rather than RPC over HTTP. The only good thing I can say about VersaMail is that it seems to handle IMAP better than Outlook 2003, though it would be nice if messages no longer on the server would be cleared from the Inbox. VersaMail should also support groups or at least have better contacts lookups.

 

The LifeDrive also supports VPN software. Even using the Palm-sanctioned VPN program, the system still fails to recognize that VPN functionality is available. None of the VPN menus work, and the program must be launched on its own rather than conveniently from within programs.

 

 

9) Left-Handed mode does not change user interface elements

 

The LifeDrive provides a left-handed mode which one would assume makes the unit more friendly to left-handers. However, it only seems that this mode affects the direction of the landscape viewing mode layout. One would expect that in left-handed mode the UI would adjust itself in ways such as putting scroll bars on the left side of programs to prevent having to reach across the screen to scroll. The left-handed mode setting also does not survive a reboot, so needless to say that, irrespective of its apparent uselessness, I never set it anymore as I would have to do so many times a day.

 

 

10) Unfriendly, inflexible, and obstinate hand writing recognition

 

Graffiti2 is a pain in the ass to use, especially if you do not write with the exact hand orientation as expected. This is another problem for many left-handers already. It also differs in many regards to the original Graffiti system, and cannot be trained to the writing nuances of the user.

 

 

All-in-all, the Palm LifeDrive has amazing hardware specs: 413MHz Intel XScale processor, 4GB built-in hard drive, SD RAM and SDIO, high resolution color screen with fast refresh, Bluetooth, WiFi, IrDA, and USB. The machine rocks, but is crippled by the PalmOS. This was supposed to augment my laptop as a surrogate in times when I either could not carry or simply did not have my laptop available. Instead, it has been an incredible encumbrance. My experience with the Palm LifeDrive has not only pushed me away from future PalmOS-based devices, but also to sway the professional recommendations I make to my clients. My LifeDrive is close to becoming a $500 paper weight, or embedded in a wall.

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I remember when the lifedrive came out. I passed on it because with a hard drive it just didn't entice me. I kept thinking about all of the hard drive failures I dealt with in the field I guess.

 

I have a TX now (got one for $10!) and it's fantastic. I have been able to install many of my old applications and have not experienced any crashes yet....although I know that's a thing. My Zodiac crashed all of the time. Even still, something about the PalmOS itself I love. The uniform way most all applications used the menu system, the appealing PalmOS font, PocketTunes, TCPMP....it's a fun little device to tinker with. But your blog made a lot of good points. I was pissed at Palm over my Treo 650. The damn thing never got an update and the web browser was a joke.
 

Nowadays I find these devices fun to play around with. They are dirt cheap and most still function and hold a charge...and there's a ton of software archived online to putz around with.

 

But for actual "work", no way in hell.

Edited by eightbit
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23 hours ago, eightbit said:

But for actual "work", no way in hell.

I get it.  I think about a number of Palm applications I actually liked and used.  Really some great stuff out there, and I could even run Java J2ME applications with WEME.  But these days my play time is reserved for my SonyEricsson C905a.  As forums posts and programs are disappearing, I am working to archive as much as I can to keep it going.  To the point I am starting to re-sign some applications with my own code signing certificate and root installed on the phone.  I just wish I could come up with some deep documentation on all of its customization XML and registry functions.  I would love to figure out how to create new firmware for it -- just adding TLS v1.2 support would be a huge leap forward.

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Thankfully there are a lot of people archiving their Palm "warez". I have found things in the palm archives that I could not find elsewhere. Even games and software that I paid for (and thankfully archived 15 years ago) are no longer downloadable. All of those websites are simply gone. I have been sifting through both my collection and the stuff in these archives and have installed a bunch of really awesome stuff. I really find it sad to see programs "die". I archive anything of value and have done so thankfully for decades. Never know when you may want to revisit that software, or even experience it for the first time.

 

Of course some of the applications I had purchased are useless as they were activated using the device ID (versus HotSync ID) of whatever Palm I had back then. I really hate that...it was like an early form of DRM.

 

BTW, what OS is that Ericsson running? Symbian-like?

Edited by eightbit
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17 hours ago, eightbit said:

what OS is that Ericsson running? Symbian-like

Java Platform.  It is an OS written in Java running on an ARM CPU (v7p or v7j, IIRC) which executes Java byte-code.  The early SE smart-phones like the Satio and Vivaz run Symbian.  I have a U5a (Vivaz,) but it does not work as well with my car as my C905a.

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Really cool! The only Sony Ericsson I ever owned what the Xperia Play. Although just running Android, I loved that thing. Only downside was the lack of internal storage but otherwise they made a damn solid phone.

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