Friday, May 13, 2005

The perfect ROM update, is attainable.

A TamsPalm reader Tom Fraeunhofer made a comment on his blog regarding a problem that ROM updates have. They are very dangerous. If your battery goes dead in an update, you could have to do some serious hacking to get it working, and even this may not be possible. You probably know that PalmOne ROM updates come in the form of PRCs that you either launch yourself, or are automatically installed after a hotsync. Now, this is crazy in my opinion. My Creative jukebox 3 will not install an update unless the battery is full, for this reason. Any ROM update should take the same precautions, and should also make it reasonably difficult to interrupt the update, by disabling the soft reset switch. This may seem stupid because you would not be able to reset if you have a problem. However, if you need to reset during an update, you are in worse trouble already, and this will not be your first issue.

Now, if a manufacturer is even more vigilant and helpful, they could install a real
Read Only chip that contained the original OS, and a second nonvalatile flash chip that would store ROM updates. This would allow users to muck up their system to no end, and still be able to recover.

What do you think? Are device manufacturers doing enough to compensate for their technically illiterate users?

10 Comments:

Blogger Mitchell Rusk said...

I think they care more about they $$$$$ than providing "fool proof" upgrades. I wouldn't think you would have problems updating and the battery dieing, because don't the usb cables Trickle charge the PDA?

1:56 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

"What do you think? Are device manufacturers doing enough to compensate for their technically illiterate users?"

Yes! Simply by making their PDAs "disposable" so that upgrades are not needed.

2:06 AM  
Blogger Tom Frauenhofer said...

Glitches happen. Your suggestion is good but would increase the cost of developing the device as well as the complexity.

Again, given the product margins involved here (since the PDA and Cell phone markets are commodity markets) see Ron's comment above. That is what is going on these days.

Bean counters over all! ;-)

5:08 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

To T|T5: Not all cables charge your device at the same time as syncing it. The third party cable set I bought from RadioShack does do this, but the one that came with my Clie had to have a separate power cord attached to the adapter to charge it. It wouldnt just charge through the USB. Most do do this though. The problem is that not all upgrades require you to be plugged in, which should probably be a prerequisite to installing it.

As for the updates, the move from having a flashable ROM to a read only configuration has helped with problems. You can lose all updates now, but you definitely wont have a problem with destroying your device.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous gultig said...

Palm already has this. They call it a Small ROM. It's basically a just barely bootable OS that sits on the front of the flash right before the Big ROM. I think it's main purpose is for debugging, but you can flash a palm running this rom.

There is no reason that any flash should be fatal since you don't have to erase the flash entirely to install a new rom!

3:14 AM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi,
thank you all for the comments. Seems that this topic is a pretty buys one!
First of all:
Checking if a handheld is pluged in actually is easy. I wonder why nobody does it too!
Something else-some USb ports cannot supply more than 100mA. PalmOne says that this is not enough for its TT3 handheld..
Best regards
Tam Hanna

10:28 AM  
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