David A. Eckhardt's PalmOS Woes page

On Monday, August 6, 2007, I filled out a customer-service satisfaction response form at Palm.com. My problem has probably been solved, but I just got one of those dreaded Error 3000 errors again today... Here is what I shared with them.

The problem was spurious "Error 3000: Data service not available at this location" messages after installation of the Treo 700p maintenance release. The frequency of the errors has dropped dramatically but I'm not sure the issue is completely solved. Overall I am very disappointed that the issue occurred at all and also unhappy with the finger-pointing between Palm and Verizon Wireless that I experienced--though I called for support a full week after the errors began. By that point I would have hoped that anybody calling either Palm or Verizon Wireless and saying "Error 3000" would have been immediately given a solid solution (instead of a long series of "brain-wipe your phone, now try this, now brain-wipe it again, now try this...").

My next layer of dissatisfaction is with the 700p itself. After suffering the horrible freezes and Bluetooth disconnections (which were clearly related to the operation of the flash file system) for six months, my phone suddenly went into an infinite reset loop. Then after months of hearing that my problems might be solved, and the eventual installation of the maintenance release, I had to go through a week of non-functional data service and a full day of tech support. Overall the 700p has been a dog.

Finally, I've been a loyal Palm customer for 10.5 years now (and a beta tester for two products), but the pervasive failure of the software base to keep up with technology has left me unable to recommend PalmOS devices. My most recent opportunity was in the middle of my week of 700p catastrophe, when as far as I could tell one essentially unusable firmware release had been replaced by one with different failure modes--there was no way I could recommend the device I was carrying to the businessman I was having dinner with. But if you take a step back it's really unacceptable that in 2007 Palm devices crash and reboot in the face of every application error. The Hotsync architecture is in desparate need of work (synching that much data without a modification log is just nuts). The inability to install Certificate Authorities is indefensible. Bluetooth headset support is not comparable to that of non-Palm phones. I can't believe the 802.11 SD card power issues are impossible to solve. The 1-kilobyte clipboard limit is psychotic in 2007 (or maybe it's me who is driven psychotic by it). As of 2007 I think MacOS is here to stay, so I'd say functional software for that platform is overdue. I'd also argue it's time for Unicode... or AT LEAST a hard deadline for it. I may live in the U.S., but my in-laws live in China...

It's hard to let go of this relationship after more than a decade, but, honestly, when this 700p wears out and I'm asked to spend hundreds of dollars on a replacement, I find it VERY difficult to envision Palm's incremental offering du jour standing up against the second release of the iPhone (MacOS support... Unicode... crash protection...). As a software professional I can't imagine it would be possible inside of a year or two to overcome five years of arrested development. But I guess while there's life there's hope. Best wishes, and thanks for the opportunity to comment.

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