Zeroing Out Palm

How long has it been since I’ve had my iPhone? Less than a year, but it feels like it’s been a decade when I look back at my old Palm Treo 650. I pulled it out of a box this evening with the plan of sending it off to Cell Phones for Soldiers, and was shocked by how bulky and archaic it seems.

You May Need the Help of a Dextrous Friend

Here’s the best part: in order to ship it off to a charity, I want to erase all the old information off of it. So I went over to Palm’s Web site and dug up instructions on how to zero out the device. This is a process that “completely rewrites your device’s internal memory with zeros and ones, ensuring that any data is expunged.” It’s a fairly serious kind of reset, but I found the instructions hilarious. Especially the first step:

  1. Read through these instructions before attempting the reset. We made this method of zero out reset extremely awkward to perform, so that it would not happen by accident. You may need the help of a dextrous friend if you find it too difficult to do by yourself.
  2. Connect your device to its HotSync cable or cradle. The HotSync cable does not need to be connected to your PC, and it does not need to be connected to power.
  3. Press and hold the Power button and UP on the 5-way navigator.
  4. While continuing to hold Power and UP, press and hold the HotSync button on the HotSync cable or cradle. As you press HotSync, make sure your other finger doesn’t slide to LEFT or RIGHT on the 5-way navigator; it needs to be exactly on UP during the entire process. Although you are pressing the HotSync button, a HotSync operation should not begin.
  5. While continuing to hold Power, UP and HotSync, press and release the RESET button on the back panel of your device. This is very difficult to do with only one person; you may wish to hold the stylus in your mouth and use your hands to press Power, UP and HotSync.

Etc., etc.

Were I still a Treo user who for some reason needed to perform this kind of reset, I’d take two things away from these instructions. First, Palm apparently thinks that the crushing loneliness of being a single person disqualifies me from making sound judgments about zeroing out my device — unless I can hold the stylus in my mouth. And second, I should be in the market for an iPhone.

  1. While I appreciate your basic premise of the post – you do seem to miss something important – the humor.

    Step one is certainly meant to be funny, and when I gave my Treo 650 away a year or so ago I went through these very steps – and appreciate that I could find them.

    I have no idea – but does Apple publish similar steps to delete ALL of your data?

    And if they do, do they make it hard to do by accident?

    And if they give you the steps, and make it hard to do by accident – do they show a sense of humor about it?

    Just curious.


  2. LMAO.

    I just did this a few months ago and then sold the 650 on ebay to help purchase the iPhone. I did chuckle a little bit when reading the instructions. I seriously asked my wife to help me with this and we failed the first time. Second time I reset it myself with no issues.

    I would agree that Palm was trying to be funny with the instructions. Were they trying to be funny with Palmfolio too?

    Seriously though, I did love my treo 650. It was put through some rough times and never failed on me. I’ll give Palm that much… but I’m sorry, after owning the iPhone for only two months; I wont be getting another brand of cell phone…

  3. Supposedly there is some humour there, at least in the first paragraph but after dealing with Palm support you know that it┤s not.

  4. I think I had to use my mouth to help do this when I sold my treo. And it still took a few tries. I guess I found solace in the fact that it was never easy to erase all my data. But at the same time – isn’t this a devices that’s supposed to back everything up to my computer? I’m not necessarily saying the process should be easier, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world if I lose everything on the handheld – right?

  5. Disclosure: I’ve never owned a Palm.

    A polite “This is much easier to accomplish with two people” would be more professional than the running joke on my dexterity and/or lonliness but does it really matter? Humor in technical documentation is great.

  6. I agree this is pretty funny, I like silly directions like this, or little goofy things written in normally boring copy. Its what makes life fun, and a little smerk here-n-there can be worth a lot.

  7. Too funny. I plugged my Treo 650 in last night after nearly six months not using it and it really was awkward. I went the Nokia E61i route and the few bits of functionality it has (use it as bluetooth dial-up modem, real keys, easy swapping SIMs, and adding 3rd party apps that better meet my needs (improved SMS conversation reader & e-mail) makes me happy most days I did not select the iPhone. But, that is a whole different story,that has me loving the ease of use of iPhone and the attention paid to detain in the design of the interface.

    But, the Treo (was my 4th in 4 years) had horrible quality and design in the hardware and some poor interface design. The OS not being multi-threaded bugged me right after I turned it on.

  8. Re: zeroing an iPhone

    Just a guess as I don’t have one, but slap me with a wet kipper if it’s not the same way as with an iPod in iTunes. Open iTunes, select the iPhone, press the Reset button and confirm the warning dialog.

  9. They’re not kidding about that dextrous friend part–it is a serious contortion. I worked at a medical-billing company that provided a mobile platform using Palm devices, and by God, having to zero out 32 devices one after another made for a hell of a Friday afternoon.

  10. Thats pretty funny. Friday after work I went and picked up the 16gb iPhone to replace my treo 650 and I’ve been thinking the exact same thing. Bulky, user-unfriendly and outdated.

    It was ‘Teh Bomb’ back in tha day tho!

  11. Uhm, for a european an initiative like “Cellphones for soldiers” sounds rather obscure.
    Do they get such poor wages and can’t afford one themselves?

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