"System specs:" Insulting; useless waste of time

johnmeyer wrote on 3/30/2014, 3:56 PM
I want to make one more plea and ask everyone to quit asking people for their "system specs." I have not seen one instance in ten years of posting where asking this question actually helped the OP, and I have instead seen many instances where it puts the person on the defensive and makes them feel intimidated. As practiced on this forum, it often assumes the form of hazing. I say that because in almost every instance where system specs are requested, the person doing it offers absolutely nothing of use that will actually help the person solve his or her problem, and often fails to ever come back to the thread and offer advice.

It would be so much more useful to instead ask specifically for whatever missing information is required.

Let me be very specific as to why we should all stop doing this. I will do this by first looking at the actual content of what is contained in these sacred "system specs" and show how trivial and useless they are, and then will list items that are much more important to most discussions, but which are not included in these specs.

First, here is Sony's laughable list of "system specs:"

Windows Version:
RAM:
Processor:
Video Card:
Sound Card:
Video Capture:
CD Burner:
DVD Burner:
Camera:

Really??

Windows Version:
There is nothing requested about service packs installed. Also, there is nothing about other programs installed which might interfere with whatever Windows version is installed. Examples include "codec packs," QuickTime, and the almost infinite number of programs which install obnoxious background processes, most notably anti-virus software.

RAM:
I have no quarrel with this spec.

Processor:As with all the other specs, it is up to the user to know all of the things that must be included on this line. Many just enter "Intel" or "AMD." Some include a clock speed. However, without knowing the full information about processor model, number of cores, and motherboard, this item provides little useful information.

Video Card:Once again, "NVidia" or "ATI" is all that some people include. Even when they include the model, we still don't know the most important thing which is, of course, the [I]driver[/I] version being used. About 98% of the issues relating to video cards, especially those involving GPU, require information about the driver version, and this is not required by the "system specs."

Sound Card:This is about 100% irrelevant, and for many video-only users, it is simply something on their motherboard, and they don't even know what it is.

Video Capture:This is even more irrelevant and hasn't mattered since most camcorders went to memory cards.

CD Burner:What is this thing?

DVD Burner:The model can be important, but the connection type (IDE, or SATA), and information on whether it is internal or external, is far more important.

Camera:This is important, but there is something that is infinitely more important, and is at the heart of almost every single post, but is not part of system specs ...

... which is a nice segue to a list of items that are far, far more important than anything on the silly system specs list

I almost never care about the specific camera a person is using. What [I]does[/I] matter -- and matters in almost every post -- is what shooting mode they are using: AVCHD or HDV? 1920x1080 or 1280x720? 24 fps progressive or 29.97 fps interlaced (etc.)? Memory card or tape? Manual or automatic settings? I could go on.

Is the video on external hard drives, network drives, or internal drives? If network drives are used, what connection speed?

Speaking of hard drive, do you realize that this useless set of "system specs" [I]does not ask about your hard drive ???[/I] Next to the processor, isn't this just about the most critical computer spec for a video editing system? And, to be useful, the spec must include not just size, connection type (e.g., SATA), but also rotation speed, on-board cache, and technology (e.g., SSD).

If external drives are used, are they USB2 or USB3? Note that there is nothing in "system specs" about USB.

Are they reading video directly from memory cards?

Here's an unbelievably important, absolutely vital piece of information and you won't find it ANYWHERE in the pathetic "system specs:" [I]What version of Vegas are you using???[/I] Is there anything more important to know than this?

Wow, what an omission.

What monitor are they using and how is it connected? Every time there is a post which involves interlaced footage not displaying properly, this becomes important.

What Internet connection speed do they have? We've had a huge number of posts about playback issues from Internet sites, and some of these are simply a function of connection speed.


I've run out of steam, and this post is too long, but my point in making this post was to provide a detailed defense of why I think that asking for system specs is a pointless exercise that delays giving the OP useful advice and providing a resolution to the problem at hand.

So, instead of asking for system specs, I propose that everyone instead ask a specific question about whatever information is needed to provide a more complete response. Some of the possible questions are in my lists above. Alternatively, just try to help the person by putting the response in the conditional form, such as, "if you have a multi-core computer you can ... " or "if your drives are connected via USB 2 instead of USB 3, you probably can't get full speed playback from those large files."

Oh yes, for those who won't post without seeing my system specs, here they are. Bow down and worship them:

Windows Version: 7 64-bit
RAM: 6 GB
Processor: 3.2 GHz Intel i7, Asus P6T Delux MB
Video Card: nVidia 9800GT
Sound Card: Creative Titanium xFx
Video Capture: OHCI IEEE1394
CD Burner:
DVD Burner: LiteOn iHAP 422
Camera: Sony FX-1 (HDV), Sony TRV-11 (DV)

Comments

GeeBax wrote on 3/30/2014, 4:13 PM
Rather than campaign against the publishing of systems specs, why not ask Sony to edit the list to contain more relevant items?

When trying to help someone, it is difficult to know what you need to ask, whereas sometimes a quick glance will show the problem in the specs.

Also, I thi9nk it was Sony who wanted this info so they could help diagnose problems.

I don't see them as insulting, unless size really does matter?
videoITguy wrote on 3/30/2014, 4:35 PM
Regarding OP's request statement - I think it is totally without merit and goes in the wrong direction. GEEBAX makes an execellent point that the real direction to pursue is to get SCS to expand the criteria listing.

I BET if we had GPU, make, diver version etc. down pat we would have helped SCS immensely to deliver a better bug-free VegasPro 2014 this year. AS it is, the development team is paddling upstream without the benefit of what this forum could provide. It benefits all to expand , not to shrink this area of the forum interchange.
OldSmoke wrote on 3/30/2014, 4:44 PM
+1 GeeBax!

System spec/information is manly a starting point for further discussions or inquiries from those that want to help. If some one ask: " Why is my car not reaching 200m/h?" wouldn't your first question be "What kind of car are you driving?"
And yes, it would be a good idea to extend the list but keep in mind that many users may not be able to give more details. There was a user in another thread who after a couple of years realized that his spec while filled out was hidden from the forum. Once it was viewable you could see that he is using a laptop which is a vital piece of information.

I haven't not seen anyone in this forum making "fun" of another users system. And I also agree that it is an important information for SCS.

Proud owner of Sony Vegas Pro 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13 and now Magix VP15&16.

System Spec.:
Motherboard: ASUS X299 Prime-A

Ram: G.Skill 4x8GB DDR4 2666 XMP

CPU: i7-9800x @ 4.6GHz (custom water cooling system)
GPU: 1x AMD Vega Pro Frontier Edition (water cooled)
Hard drives: System Samsung 970Pro NVME, AV-Projects 1TB (4x Intel P7600 512GB VROC), 4x 2.5" Hotswap bays, 1x 3.5" Hotswap Bay, 1x LG BluRay Burner

PSU: Corsair 1200W
Monitor: 2x Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM (2560x1440)

farss wrote on 3/30/2014, 6:24 PM
[I]"sometimes a quick glance will show the problem in the specs."[/I]

Example?

Never seen it happen. The one and only hardware issue that was relevant s no longer relevant and that was the type of firewire chip.

[I]" Also, I thi9nk it was Sony who wanted this info so they could help diagnose problems."[/I]

Yes, there's a sticky but what they want it for isn't revealed.

If hardware is that vital then:

a) SCS should be publishing the specs for a reference system. I seem to recall in one of their few replies on this topic they said as far as they're concerned it shouldn't matter.

b) If it really is of some value they could make it much easier to give and less error prone. There seems to be plenty of ways to extract a huge amount of data about a system. It cannot be that hard for all that to be automated. Just click and it's all uploaded.

Bob.


PeterDuke wrote on 3/30/2014, 6:48 PM
I agree with the sentiments behind johnmeyer's post.

It would be more helpful if a person replying to a post asked for specific specs that are likely to be important AND came back SOON to try to help, once the info was posted.

(Posted by lazy person who has not listed his system specs!)
videoITguy wrote on 3/30/2014, 7:55 PM
I would like to point out for all that FARSS (Bob)'s comment above is exactly the rationale for updating a system info page that will be relevant to SCS development team.
It has come to light only recently that (likely based) on forum members initiative, SCS quality control engineers are now trolling this forum on a daily basis. The reasoning for doing so is that this forum has a lot of intrinsic value to the SCS team.

And so goes Bob's point - vice-a-versa- we hope to see more definitive design system parameters being published by SCS for the consumers of their products. This is a path that all the other NLE development teams have been doing for some years and it is time for SCS to move this direction as well.
JohnnyRoy wrote on 3/30/2014, 8:03 PM
I have to agree that the System Spec are quite old and some of them are now irrelevant and the solution is to get Sony to update them because they can be useful when helping someone debug a problem.

Sony should start by renaming the "Windows Version" spec to "Operating System" and add "OS X" for the Sound Forge for Mac and Spectral Layers customers who don't even use Windows. ;-)

BTW, Sound Card is not "irrelevant" at all, it's an *extremely important* spec for the ACID Pro, Sound Forge, Spectral Layers, and Vegas Pro Audio forums. It;s also very important in Vegas Pro when someone is trying to monitor their audio recording with their pitiful motherboard chip that has no ASIO drivers.

Maybe if we all used the Assistance Using this Web Site email we could get their attention. ;-) (i just did!)

~jr
Lovelight wrote on 3/30/2014, 9:53 PM
Interesting observation in a Seinfeld way.
videoITguy wrote on 3/30/2014, 9:54 PM
as system variables are getting increasingly complex to manage -
just take the current OS windows criteria = Windows XP32bit SP1 thru Windows 7 64 bit to Windows 8.1 and now just begin Windows 9, the designers of complex software are facing a very tough battle.

SCS will have to lock down the parameters for design just in order to survive, not too mention prosper in growth, if possible, in the NLE market of tommorrow.
Laurence wrote on 3/30/2014, 9:59 PM
In the case of Vegas, it really isn't minimum specs that give me trouble. It's more likely chip set and driver set compatibility. That and plugin compatibility. I have acquired a pretty big set of audio and video plugins over the years and I use them. Waves plugins copy protection searches on the USB stick that the copy protection might be the reason Vegas sometimes hangs on start. I really love my Waves plugins though. I don't know how I would function without their brick wall limiter for instance (and no, Wavejammer is nowhere near as good).

That or maybe it is the New Blue FX plugins, or one of the many others I have installed and use. That. Or maybe it's one of the particular chipsets on my Lenovo all-in-one PC. That or maybe the particular version of one of the drivers that Lenovo has licensed and rebranded as their own.

I know it is likely one of these things, but which one? What it isn't is my PC being underpowered or under equipped. I have an I7 with 16GB of RAM, a decent nVidia graphics card with another 2GB or RAM and lots of hard disk space. That is plenty of power.

What bothers me in particular right now is that a new version 13 is right around the corner and as far as I can tell, most of us are not beta testing it. A limited group of beta testers are not. Going to have the variety of chipsets and plugins that are needed to weed out these sorts of incompatibilities, and The likely result of this will be a first release that crashes for many of us.

Yes I will buy it. I'm a loyal user with way too much time and money invested in this platform to change now. The only question is how much I will be able to actually use it. I never could use V11 even once during it's entire life cycle. V12 has been far better but I still experience crashing regularly. It is not my system specs. Everything else runs spectacularly. It is some chipset or driver or plugin compatibility that I really wish could be figured out.
Rob Franks wrote on 3/30/2014, 10:47 PM
"I want to make one more plea and ask everyone to quit asking people for their "system specs." I have not seen one instance in ten years of posting where asking this question actually helped the OP, and I have instead seen many instances where it puts the person on the defensive and makes them feel intimidated."

What exactly is this utterly useless rant supposed to accomplish?
fldave wrote on 3/30/2014, 11:00 PM
Agree, John.

Before XP, I think those questions were relevant. Since then, the vendors and MS have mostly cleaned up their act.

It would be interesting to know what technology Sony Creative uses in their software so we can be up to date on that (SQL, VB, .Net) versions. That way we can target what to update. Considering the wide range of issues/non-issues with V12?
johnmeyer wrote on 3/31/2014, 12:13 AM
I think it would be great if SCS updated the system specs by adding many more fields, making more of them drop-down so the information would more likely be complete. (Actually, a combo box so they could still fill in their own specs, if their hardware is not on the list). Also, I completely forgot about plugins. That is a huge deal, and as pointed out above, is clearly at the heart of quite a few issues where some people report no problems, where others can barely get Vegas to open up and run.

Also, when I made my comment about the sound card not being particularly relevant, I did qualify that by saying "for video-only users." Vegas is still, at its heart, a sound editing system and I realize that many people still use it for that reason, and the sound card used is quite relevant for those people.

I absolutely stick by the pointed style I consciously used in my initial post because I have found, on many, many, many occasions, that the tone of asking for system specs assumes an attitude of "you don't belong here until you fill out this form, and we won't help you until you do." I could provide dozens of examples, but that would involve naming names, something that would be truly provocative, and against the decorum of any professional forum, especially this one.

Finally, I appreciate and agree with just about every post so far, but I do take issue with my post being described as a "useless rant" and I take even greater issue with the claim that my post does not contain "suggestions for useful solutions" and instead only offers "insulting non-sense."

I have made almost 10,000 posts in this forum over the past dozen years, and I have tried in every one of those posts to provide very thorough and complete answers to people's questions. I will let those posts speak for themselves. I am happy to continue to contribute, but not if it means having to watch "newbies" have to read through multiple replies to their request for help which often say nothing more than "system specs please." How often does this happen? Click on this Google search result for several thousand examples:

System specs please

Just read through the first several pages (I started the link above on page 2 which had more relevant results than page one), and then realize that there are several hundred more pages just like the ones you are reading. Since it is a Google search, not every result is relevant, and some are duplicates, but I am quite certain there are several hundred unique responses which are relevant, most of them from just the last few years when this practice started to become common. How many more examples does one need to justify my "rant" which simply asks, in a very detailed and logical manner, that we first try to help the person, while still asking for additional information, rather than keeping the person hanging while they are trying to get something done, almost always while facing a deadline.


Geoff_Wood wrote on 3/31/2014, 12:32 AM
Maybe an automated tool to upload all the relevant info should be developed as an add-on to Vegas. Highly tedious to update when drivers, service packs etc change so often.


geoff
farss wrote on 3/31/2014, 3:13 AM
[I]"How are we going to help a person without the needed information in the first place?"[/I]

When has that information ever been of any use in helping the person?

Bob.
ushere wrote on 3/31/2014, 3:34 AM
not sure, but i do remember a case of someone having problems with playback some time ago and only after a few exchanges did it appear they were using a laptop with a single drive....

i have no idea where i stand on this topic, other than knowing that some info isn't any use without more - this especially true of video cards and their drivers...
farss wrote on 3/31/2014, 5:41 AM
[I]" i do remember a case of someone having problems with playback some time ago and only after a few exchanges did it appear they were using a laptop with a single drive...."[/I]

For sure, there's the obvious stuff that should be in a sticky wiki along with the need for good CPU cooling and a good power supply. All the "how to build a PC for editing" articles cover this and anyone building a system would probably get the message.
On the other hand from reading way too many threads over the years here most problems relate to how Vegas is used. Many people say "I'm just trying to render out my movie" and that can mean one track of vision and one of audio 5 minutes long or 40 tracks of vision, 100 tracks of audio and it all being done in 32bit float. The latter was completely missed despite many, many posts. And people were still asking about system specs despite the project having been tried on multiple machines, go figure.

Bob.
ushere wrote on 3/31/2014, 5:54 AM
agree entirely bob....
Rob Franks wrote on 3/31/2014, 5:58 AM
When someone says they have a jerky response with avchd, one of the first things I look at are system specs.

These are details which can be used to discover possible solutions to problems people are having. I have no idea why someone would look at the whole thing as an "insult", and a "waste of time"?!

Now, is the way Sony has it set up outdated? Sure it is, but then the entire forum is outdated. To quote someone you have to copy/paste and then run italics or similar. When was the last time you saw another forum without a "quote" button?

I think it was DSE who mentioned some years back that Sony does not place too much weight on these forums and have teetered with the idea of shutting them down on a few different occasions. So given that, and the fact that the entire forum format is light years behind, does anyone really think Sony is going to update the system specs?

The type of equipment used is a good way to start the troubleshooting process and for me it almost always starts there. It's hardware and software together working hand in hand which gets an editing job done. Without some sort of hardware list (outdated or not) then the forum is receiving only 1/2 the picture. You can't troubleshoot 1/2 a picture. That's just silly.
TeeTime wrote on 3/31/2014, 6:09 AM
>Maybe an automated tool to upload all the relevant info should be developed as an add-on to Vegas. Highly tedious to update when drivers, service packs etc change so often.

+1 Geoff

Also, add codecs to the list.

/jerry
JJKizak wrote on 3/31/2014, 8:15 AM
I have always added additional info to my specs with room allowing to do so.
JJK
larry-peter wrote on 3/31/2014, 9:30 AM
I agree that some of the demands for system specs come across as "hazing," especially since many of those who come to the forum with no specs listed are new, or inexperienced users. But I also realize that there are members with a lot of IT experience who can provide deeper levels of troubleshooting than I am able to. Many times I've asked a user to provide specs just so they can get access to a level of assistance I can't provide, even though the current system spec doesn't contain nearly enough information. I still try to offer whatever limited help I can along the way.

Personally, I'd just be happy seeing the requests for specs delivered with a bit more compassion. A lot of users (especially those who seem to have less experience) post with a lot of emotion, or even panic, and many of their issues are simple to resolve without needing to know much about their hardware. Others require knowing a lot of information abut their HW/SW/codecs/drivers. I think we should be able to differentiate between the two.







Hulk wrote on 3/31/2014, 9:33 AM
@johnmeyer

My most humble apologies.

I made a serious and grave error in confusing you with another person in this forum.

Sincerely,

Mark D. (Hulk)
larry-peter wrote on 3/31/2014, 9:48 AM
??? Uhhh... check that you're referring to the right "john."