Posted on Mon - December 12, 2005

Static and connections

The Palm m515 is a great PDA, no doubt about it.

Except it has one big flaw. Over time (and with varying temperatures) a mild static charge builds up across a couple of places. This has no effect on the PDA itself, but it can prevent the m515 from connecting to a USB equipped computer.

The good news is that Palm acknowledged the error as part of a class action lawsuit and provides cards free of charge to reset the Palm and discharge the static.

The bad news is that the Florida company that Palm subcontracted the job to stinks.

About 30 months ago I upgraded both my computers to new Macs. I had been noticing problems with my Palm HotSyncing on Domo iMac for a while before that, but since I could still HotSync to Kvaris (my Powerbook) it wasn't a biggie.

After several months of frustration and trial and error, I finally eliminated every possible problem except my m515. I called Palm, they gave me a number in Florida.

The number in Florida asked a few questions including the serial number on my Palm, made it seem like my fault, and told me they were sending a reset card.

At this point I didn't know about the class action suit.

A few days later, no reset card. I called the number again. They assured me it had been sent.

Another week. No card.

And so on for more than a year and a half.

Meanwhile I have entries in my Desktop software that aren't on my Palm and vice versa. It boils down to two calendars, two address books, to sets of notes, etc.

Last week it came to a head. I asked that they send another card. Four people said they thought the company could, no problem. The fifth checked the database for my serial number and told me that the card had already been sent. I explained I had never received the card. I offered to pay for another one, I told them I could have a certified check in their hands in 48 hours. No go.

Believe it or not, Palm did build a backup transfer into their PDAs, it is a IrDA standard, the same that lets you "beam" information to another Palm.

But Apple retired their built-in IrDA (although they may have brought it back).

Finally tonight I am leafing through one of the many catalogs I get. I don't usually buy much but I love to look. And there it is in X-Treme Geek, an IrDA USB dongle.

Hmmm. Unfortunately, not Mac compatible.

But never say die. I fire up Safari and start Googling. That is when I find out that while Apple is at the cutting edge of Bluetooth technology, there is only one IrDA chipset supported natively by the OS. And apparently there is only one company in the US that manufactures USB IrDA dongles that are supported by the Mac OS, Bafo Technologies.

Okay so far. But it took me six tries to find one of their approved vendors that carried the dongle, PCMall. According to the vendor website, it is compatible with Mac, according to the manufacturers site, this particular model isn't.

We'll give it a try anyway.

I figure I will only need it for a year or so for my m515 until I upgrade to the Treo 700p, and after that it will be a good occasional device to use. If it works, I may just keep using my m515 as a backup even after I get the Treo.

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