Sunday, April 1, 2001

Cradle Robber keeps thieves at bay


By Chris Phillips

As the use of Palm devices continues to increase, I suppose it's only natural that thieves will make their presence felt by attempting to steal them. Those of you who use Palm devices with sealed, rechargeable batteries are even more at risk of theft because you have to leave your Palm devices in their cradles for certain periods of time so the batteries can charge. If you're like me, you step away from your desk several times throughout the day, leaving your Palm device unattended in its cradle, occasionally for long periods of time. Obviously this presents a thief with the perfect opportunity to simply pick up your beloved Palm device and walk away.

Your first line of defense

It's for this very reason that Cradle Robber (at was developed. There are many applications available to keep the data on your Palm device safe, but Cradle Robber is the only application I know of designed to keep the physical device from getting stolen. At this time, Cradle Robber only works with the Palm V, Palm Vx, and Palm IIIc, the Palm products with sealed batteries. The manual is very clear that this product should not be used with a Palm unit with removable batteries. The product hasn't been tested on Sony or Handspring devices either, so use it with those products at your own risk. I've recently learned, however, that version 1.3 of Cradle Robber will support Handspring's Visor Prism as well.

How does it work?

Cradle Robber works by activating a process that runs in the background at all times. When you set your Palm device in its cradle to recharge, the alarm automatically activates. When the Palm unit is removed from the cradle, the program will wait four seconds and then sound an audible alarm and disable all the buttons. The alarm can only be turned off by entering an unlock code via a numeric keypad on the screen or by returning the Palm device to its cradle. If the Palm unit isn't returned to its cradle or deactivated by entering the unlock code, the alarm will continue to sound until the battery is so low that the Palm device automatically turns off. Also, you can't perform a hard or soft reset while the alarm is going off.

Installation and configuration

Installation of Cradle Robber is performed in the traditional manner by adding CradleRobber.prc to the Palm Install Tool and then performing a HotSync.

Once installed, tap on the cute Cradle Robber icon, pictured in Figure A.


Tap on the Cradle Robber icon to begin.

You'll be presented with the 1st Time Setup screen, pictured in Figure B.


Take note of this caution.