Upgrading Your Palm

You can upgrade three elements of your Palm device: the operating system (or Palm OS), the memory card, or the desktop program.

You need to know these two essential facts about upgrading your Palm device:

  • If a Palm device can be upgraded, you do so by installing a new memory card.

  • Any Palm device can work with any version of the Palm Desktop.

That's it. Simple? Of course! Before you tackle a Palm OS upgrade, you have to know which version of Palm OS you're using. Here's how:

1. Press the Date Book hard button (or any of the other hard buttons).

The Date Book application appears.

2. Tap Menu.

The menu bar appears.

3. Choose Options --> About Date Book.

The About Date Book screen appears, as shown in Figure 1. The Palm OS version number appears on the left side of the screen.

figure

Figure 1: The Options --> About command shows you which Palm OS version you're using.

If your Palm OS version number is less than 3.0, you can buy and install the Palm 2MB upgrade card to give your Palm device all the latest features.

Installing a new memory card in a pre-Palm III model

What separated the Professionals from the Personals (in the early PalmPilot world, anyway) was a tiny circuit board called the memory card. It's a little smaller than a corn chip (but not as edible, so don't dip it in guacamole). If you take the memory card out of a PalmPilot Personal and install the Palm III card — voilà — you have a Palm III! Actually, you have something that thinks like a Palm III in the body of a PalmPilot Personal. It's like a brain transplant: The thinking improves, but the body stays the same (unless you're the Frankenstein monster, in which case you probably have more immediate problems). You can upgrade a PalmPilot Personal so that it becomes a Palm III, but you won't have the handy backlight for reading your screen in the dark; that feature is available on the PalmPilot Professional and later models.

The first few PalmPilot models were designed so that you could easily upgrade them. They even have doors on the backs of their cases for swapping memory cards with little fuss.

If you're comfortable swapping electronic components, upgrading your Palm device will be a snap. If you're anxious about fiddling with chips, just take your time and follow these steps:

1. Perform a full HotSync to back up your information.

You lose all your data when you change your memory card, so make sure that the copy on your PC is current. Also, if you've installed a number of add-on programs, you lose them, too. You may want to check out a program named Backup Buddy, for help in saving and restoring third-party programs.

2. Place your Palm device face down on a table or any other smooth, flat surface.

The two access doors are located on the back of the unit.

3. Clear static by touching the metal backplate of your computer.

A good jolt of static electricity can damage the tiny memory card.

4. Remove the battery door.

5. Remove the batteries.

Would you have a brain transplant with no anesthesia? Of course not.

6. Remove the large access door at the top of your Palm device.

Often, you can simply press on the door and slide it upward and off the case. You can release the door by pressing a straightened paper clip into the hole just below the door (the hole that's not marked Reset). The memory card is in a white mounting bracket.

7. Turn your Palm device so that the memory card faces you.

You'll find the card a bit easier to remove that way.

8. Press outward on the two small metal tabs on each side of the memory card to release the card, and then tilt it from the top.

After you slightly tilt the card away from the bracket, it's free and ready to be removed.

9. Pull the memory card out of your Palm device.

Wiggle the card a little to free it up as you remove it.

10. Store the old memory card in a safe place.

If anything goes wrong with the new card, you can put the old one back in.

11. Insert the new memory card into exactly the same position in which the old card sat.

Snap the new card into the brackets. If it's a Palm III memory card, make sure that the two little infrared bulbs point toward the top of the case.

12. Reinstall the batteries.

The battery door should snap tightly shut.

13. Press the power switch to see whether your Palm device turns on and runs.

If you've seated the memory card properly, the unit should run perfectly. If the unit fails to run, gently press the memory card into the bracket to ensure that the card is seated correctly.

14. Reinstall the memory door (or install the new memory door if you've installed a Palm III memory card).

The memory door snaps tightly shut.

After you've replaced the memory card, you have what amounts to a brand-new Palm device with no data. You can perform another HotSync to restore all the information in the standard Palm organizer applications. If third-party applications were installed before you upgraded, you have to reinstall them with the Palm Install Tool.

Although your Palm device is pretty hardy, be sure to do an upgrade in a reasonably safe, clean location. Don't change memory cards in a sandstorm or under water. And try to avoid swapping memory cards while riding your motorcycle (especially if you're driving); you could lose the card and be unable to find it. What would the other Hell's Angels think if you couldn't start your Palm device?

Upgrading a Palm III

The Palm III is a very different beast from the Palm IIIx when it comes to upgrades. The following directions are only for a Palm III.

Also, the Palm III has no door for the memory card because the new design requires that the memory go in sideways, so the physical process for changing the memory card in a Palm III is different from the process for changing the memory card in any other Palm device. Here's the routine:

1. Perform a full HotSync to back up your information.

You lose all your data when you change your memory card, so make sure that the copy on your PC is current. You also lose any add-on programs you installed.

2. Place your Palm device face down on a table or any other smooth, flat surface.

Four screws are visible on the back of the unit.

3. Clear static by touching the metal backplate of your computer.

A good jolt of static electricity can damage the tiny memory card.

4. Open the battery door.

5. Remove the batteries.

I'm told that you can get away with removing only one battery, but why not go all the way?

6. Remove the four screws on the back of your Palm device and remove the back of the case.

The entire back of the case comes off, revealing the memory card inside. The memory card sits sideways inside the case. The card is a little green circuit card, about the size of two postage stamps. That sounds small, but it's the biggest thing you see inside the case.

7. Turn your Palm device so that the memory card faces you.

The card is a bit easier to remove that way.

8. Press outward on the two small metal tabs on each side of the memory card to release it, and then tilt the card from the top.

After you slightly tilt the card away from the bracket, it's free and ready to be removed.

9. Pull the memory card out of your Palm device.

Wiggle the card a little to free it up as you remove it.

10. Store the old memory card in a safe place.

If anything goes wrong with the new card, you can put the old one back in.

11. Insert the new memory card into exactly the same position in which the old card sat.

Snap the new card into the brackets.

12. Reinstall the back of the case and replace the four screws.

The case snaps on tightly.

13. Reinstall the batteries.

The battery door should snap tightly shut.

14. Press the power switch to see whether the Palm device turns on and runs.

If you've seated the memory card properly, the unit should run perfectly. If the unit fails to run, reopen the case and reseat the memory card.

After you complete your upgrade, you have to perform another HotSync to restore your data. You also have to reinstall any programs you added to your Palm device before the upgrade.

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