Why are software setups so slow?

My main workstation died today (the PSU gave up, it seems). So I have been forced to plug my ‘workspace’ HDD to an old spare Dual Xeon Azken Station. I bought this old station with an OEM Windows Vista license back then, so I formatted its boot hard drive and installed the OS. After -many- hours I am now able to work again. My impressions:

– I’ve wasted about 5 hours if you add up the time it took to unsuccessfully try to resurrect the dead computer, transplant the hard drive I work with, and then install a fresh OS, upgrades, and Visual Studio. During those hours you’re forced to keep an eye on the computer just in case you’re prompted for some input for the installers to continue. Not fun.

– Wow. When you shift back to an old computer/CPU/OS, all of a sudden everything seems so sloooooooooow. It is incredible how one gets used to a swifter workflow and then going backwards makes you wonder ‘how on Earth could I work like this 4 years ago?’. The same happens when you are forced to downgrade to a smaller computer screen, etc…

– It’s taken about 1 hour to install Vista. Then VS2010 told me that I needed to install Vista’s Service Pack 1. It’s taken 5-10 mins to download it, and more than 2 hours to install it. *WHY!?!?* Does each and every bit that is copied to the hard drive get double-checked with a delay in between? I mean… I am aware that patching an OS is a delicate task, but I am sure that there’s no logical explanation for this to take SO LONG.

– I’ve always had the same impression with some software setups. Specially with setups for products developed by huge companies, such as Microsoft, Adobe or Autodesk. I have been a professional developer for my entire adult life and I have created hundreds of setups of all types and sizes myself over the years. No matter how many checks a setup must perform, installing software does -not- (can -not-) reasonably take much longer than the mere time that it takes to inflate and copy the files…

The only explanation I can give to this is purely commercial. Probably these companies are making their setups intentionally slow so the customer gets the impression that the large sum of money that he just paid for the product is worth the GREATNESS and unbelievable GLORIOUSNESS of those MAGNIFICENT bytes that will (absurdly) take 30-to-90 minutes to get copied.

I may be wrong, but I see no other explanation.

SSS all the things!!

SSS all the things!

Jon Valdes did this super-funny image for the Beta Testing team after we released an internal build with SSS enabled.

One of the most remarkable improvements introduced by the new BSDF system I’ve been working on for the last weeks is the very complete and flexible physically-based SSS system which we announced some days ago: http://blog.randomcontrol.com

Good coding memories

LEGO render

LEGO scene by Erwan Loison, rendered in fryrender

Last week we were migrating our website to a new web server at RandomControl. While transporting the forum I came across this folder where we store most of the announcement-related images since the early days of fryrender. Some of these images were rendered by our testers and some others were made by me. They are a good example of the kind of stuff I’ve been involved with during the last years. :)

Good memories :: Lots of old images

Some of this stuff reaches back to 2006, when I started coding fryrender. Watching the images in that folder brings a lot of good memories of the different stages the product has been at. These are some of my favorites:

Old Sub-Surface Scattering tests
Classic WinOSi dispersion test
LEGO spaceship (scene by Erwan Loison)
Camera response curves (scene by Jose Manuel Linares)
Instancing tests (scene by Martin Hindricks)
Anisotropy tests
Bloom chart
Glare chart
Heavy Bokeh
Image-Based Lighting tests
Micro-Polygon Displacement Mapping tests
More MPDM tests

EDIT: The links in this post are gone since we opened the new Arion forum in 2014.