A while back I wrote a post that never actually made it on to Hit Coffee asking about a particular program to perform particular tasks much more adeptly than the default product that Mindstorm puts on its products. I also got on my high horse about Mindstorm and how their product ought to be able to perform these tasks without third party assistance and how that’s one of Mindstorm’s problems and blah, blah, blah. But before I posted it, two things happened: First, I found a couple third-party program that did enough of what I wanted to do. Secondly, I started working at Mindstorm.
One thing that I have discovered is that, for all of my frustration with Mindstorm for not having the aforementioned product, is that they have an application that does exactly that. It does everything that I was looking for and more. It does it remarkably faster than any of the third-party products I use. It is, around the lab, considered one of the most powerful tools we have.
The thing is, Mindstorm never released this product. Not in the company’s flagship product, not packaged with any of the company’s other product, not downloadable from mindstorm.corp, and not for sale as its own product. In fact, it used to be the only way that you could get a hold of this application was to smuggle it out of Mindstorm HQ. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way Mindstorm discovered that people were smuggling it out and so they added a safeguard that made it so that it would never work outside of Mindstorm’s own network.
Why Mindstorm is so concerned about such a helpful application that they do not offer for sale (and, as far as I know, never plan to) I am not sure. I sort of know why they never released it, I guess. It’s a little rough around the edges and it’s actually so powerful that it can gobble up a lot of CPU while it’s going. Maybe Mindstorm wouldn’t want such an unstable product bearing the corporate name and better not to offer it than have people cursing yet another product that Mindstorm does offer. Nevermind, of course, that I have been cursing Mindstorm for years for not offering a product like this.
In any event, I use that application a lot in my day-to-day work. It’s somewhat necessary. And since my computers at work are always on the network, there’s no problem. Or at least there wasn’t until the other day when we had an Internet outage. I had access to all of the local servers, but didn’t have the Internet. I didn’t think that this was actually much of a problem because little of my job requires getting on the net, but it turned out to be quite a big problem: For some reason, the authenticity check on the application did not check internal servers but instead checked externally somehow. I got a message informing me that I needed to either get the computer back on the network or, if I needed to take it off the network, I needed to talk about it to IT.
Then, even when the Internet came back, the application still didn’t work. Once off the “network”, always off the network. It was easy enough to uninstall and reinstall. Even so, the degree to which my legitimate use of a Mindstorm product for Mindstorm was hobbled by piracy protection on a product that nobody can buy struck be as a little bit humorous.