Friday, December 10, 2010

Trouble in Palm Pre Land

Karma really sucks.  I had recommended to a friend that she get the Palm Pre Plus from Verizon (this was some time ago and they still had it available).  Instead, she was convinced she would like the LG Ally better.  I caught up with her recently to find that her Ally was being troublesome.  I'm not knocking the Ally since I considered it too.  I bragged on my Pre though.  I gushed over the multi tasking and how I have not had a single problem.

This is where karma comes in.  I'm sorry, I won't brag or be proud anymore, Karma.  Please accept my apologies.

My Palm Pre has held up well even though I only bought it in August and its now December.  Despite the hardware warnings I've read, its done fine.  Its not done the Oreo twist but its not the snug device it once was either.  Regardless, that's not where my problem comes in.  Actually, it was all software and I cannot explain it.

App Updates
I've installed a whole lot of apps to try and update my phone regularly.  Somewhere, sometime this went awry.  It may have been one of those late night updates when I hit it before going to sleep.  Soon after, I came across an odd blank app.  At the top of my update list was an app slot with no name, nothing.  Palm sure wanted to update it though.  Clicking on it returned an error message.  Hmm...  Strange indeed.

I was actually worried that in all the apps, including homebrew, I had downloaded a malicious one, perhaps opening a backdoor to viruses.  Was that blank app a virus? I pondered.  Nah.  Its built on Linux.  If its a virus it won't do much damage.  As a side note, I have heard of a few exploits in webOS but no real viruses.

App Catalog Errors
Searching for this error brought back a lot of hits.  Apparently there was some great App Catalog failure before I bought the Pre.  A lot of forum posts were over that but no one seemed to have a good answer.  I tried the few ideas including Pausing All Downloads and Deleting All Downloads without success.  I'm still not sure what all I deleted.  This was turning grave.  I was up late worried about my sick Pre.  I had to find a solution.

Visiting the Doctor
Part of the reason I chose webOS was the webOS Doctor.  After my wife's Droid bricked during the update to Android 2.2, I knew that Android was out (we had to take it and she received a replacement phone--what a joke!).  The Doctor will reload the software on your Palm should the worst happen.  This is like a brain transplant for someone and only webOS has it.  If you're using an Android phone, well, you don't have a brain anyway because you're a robot, at least partly.

I felt I had no other choice.  I was going to wipe my phone and start over.  Sure, webOS lives in the cloud and would reload everything but it was the point.  The App Catalog shouldn't have erred like that.

I started downloading the Doc but while I did,  I continued looking for one last solution.  Ha, there's a built in reset option!  How could I have missed that one?!  With four options including a total Full Erase, I was prepared to try it.  At worst, I was going to use Doc anyway.

I used the Erase Apps & Data option and waited for the reboot.  webOS came back up asking for logins.  I was quickly logged into Palm, Google and Yahoo accounts.  My apps started downloading and my personal information was still available.

Did It Work?
Yep.  Once the accounts were finished syncing I updated the phone, installed more apps, and updated again.  Its still working fine actually.

Here's the How To
Palm has the how to article online but to save time and trouble, here's the synopsis.

  • Backup your phone first (or don't) - type Backup to take care of your Palm profile including what apps you have installed.  Plugging in your phone and downloading your files from the USB drive is a good idea too.
  • Type Device Info and open Reset Options
  • Try Erase Apps & Data first.  It won't touch your USB drive files and will probably fix your problem.  Move onto Full Erase if you don't care about your files or are worried they're part of the problem. (Note, older versions may say Partial Erase)
Precentral also has a helpful piece on this called How To: Restore a Seriously Ill Pre.  They outline the procedure more specifically and also go into detail on webOS Doctor.