Seance is a utility that might allow you to communicate with your Palm from beyond the grave. :->

The Problem

Some Palms, like the Tungsten E, don't use a cradle and don't have any way to initiate a HotSync except by tapping a button on the screen. But what if the screen is broken or otherwise disabled? How do you get the data - that you foolishly didn't back up - off the device?

Thankfully this is not an everyday issue. (And you always make sure to back up your data frequently, right?) But for those who have this problem, they really want a way to get one last HotSync out of their Palm.

The Solution

Enter Seance. Palms will automatically run a program with a particular name in a particular directory when a memory card is inserted. Seance takes advantage of this, and when run, initiates a HotSync.

You name it "start.prc" and put it on a memory card in the /Palm directory. (Using a card reader, presumably.) When you insert the card, it is automatically launched. It looks up the HotSync app and sends it the sync command. If it succeeds in this, it plays a rising tone. If it fails, it plays a falling tone. Seance has no user interface at all beyond the notes it plays.

It comes in two versions. "Seance-l.prc" initiates a "local" (cable or cradle) HotSync. "Seance-r.prc" initiates a "remote" (network) HotSync. I'm not sure how useful the latter is, but it's there if you need it.


There is a major limitation. If the Palm is locked (via the Security app), then start.prc programs aren't run until the Palm is unlocked, according to Palm's docs and my tests on OS4. So if you have your Palm set to autolock itself, like I do, you may still be unable to HotSync even with Seance. I don't see any obvious way around this.

There's one minor limitation. There exists a little hack/preference panel called "InsertSD" which allows you to disable the OS from running start.prc on card insertion; if you have that set, you're similarly in trouble. I dunno how many people have that installed, though. Fortunately, you can set InsertSD to run the "start.prc" of a card with a particular name. If you configure it to automatically launch the "start.prc" of a card with a particular name (e.g. "SEANCE"), you could still get a HotSync from Seance while InsertSD was enabled.

It is important to note that Seance has no warranty whatsoever. I take no responsibility if you lose data, have your Palm catch fire, or suddenly break out with acne.

That being said, Seance is very simple and I can't imagine a way it could do any harm. But if somehow it does, that's your lookout.

Downloading Seance

You can get the latest binaries and source code here:

Seance.zipThe programs46105600eaf4121f897f15a93c0eefb1fd216c083f0a5217df7d19a3335a8b8856bd8e72
seance-src.tgzSource code (under GPL)ab7a0a13ed22f2cef7c80dd054d6f50b16469e92ea8f1790e5410a2570f590182b9bbef2