Click a button to find out more about the product you are interested in
AUTO-MATE for WINDOWS(tm):
The features that made our Music-on-Hard-Drive system a favorite with so many radio stations across America are now available in an easy-to-use Windows format! The Auto-Mate 4 has the great features of our earlier versions, and some great new features made possible only with Windows:
· Extended memory usage - no more conventional memory woes. The Windows system should be able to store 2000+ recordings (depending on your memory availability).
· Overlap during playback (with dual sound card/or compatible single sound card equipped systems)
· VU recording Meters
· Ability to use any audio card that can record and play .WAV files
· Ability to use file compression [MP3, ADPCM and others! ]
The Auto-Mate for Windows is a new generation of our software package which was originally designed for DOS-based systems. The origin of Auto-Mate goes back to 1993 when even basic automation systems cost thousands of dollars. In 1994, our first product was released and was the lowest cost cart replacement/music-on-hard-drive system ever introduced. Auto-Mate systems was the leading pioneer in the affordable digital revolution. In 1995 we introduced our satellite automation system. In total, there have been three major DOS releases of our software.
Of course, times do change. Windows has become standard in the marketplace. All hardware and software has been converting to the Windows environment steadily since the introduction of Windows 95. While our DOS software proved to be incredibly reliable (it has been known to run literally months without intervention) it has become difficult to install and configure sound cards in the DOS environment. We still firmly believe in DOS, but feel that the stability of Windows has improved to the point that reliable operation is possible. They ease of installation by the user and familiar Windows interface have combined to make the time right for "The Auto-Mate for Windows." [Click Here]
for a discussion of DOS versus Windows.
We are certain that the existing users of Auto-Mate will be very pleased with the familiar features and convenience of Windows. If you are a new user, we're sure you will enjoy the easy to learn and easy to use format.
Note to Satellite Users: Auto-Mate 4 is for Music-on-Hard-drive playback applications only. Auto-Mate 4 does contain a convenient template utility for building/editing satellite templates. However, for playback interface with satellite networks, the DOS version must be used.
Important: Auto-Mate 4 for Windows currently only works with Windows 95 and Windows 98 Operating Systems!
NOTICE: Our DOS software products are recommended only for users who possess sufficient knowledge and skill to configure software in the DOS environment, this includes the ability to install sound card drivers using CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT. Our installation instructions are complete and concise, but the intricate nature of DOS installation makes it difficult to provide installation support to installers who are unfamiliar with DOS. Please review our PRODUCT SUPPORT section for more information. We recommend our Windows version for those with less DOS experience.
NOTICE: The DOS Versions of Auto-Mate require specific versions of SoundBlasterTM Sound Card for audio recording and playback. The only audio card currently in production that will function with Auto-Mate software is the SoundBlaster 16 Wave Effects Card®. Visit the SoundBlaster website for more information. All sound cards that are compatible with the DOS Auto-Mate versions are listed in PRODUCT SUPPORT.
to see an image of the main menu screen of The Auto-Mate. As you can see, there are various options for you to take advantage of. Please take a look below to learn more about the various features.
Recording with The Auto-Mate takes place through the line-in mini plug on the SoundBlasterTM audio card. Recording is in the popular .WAV format and is compatible with most WindowsTM based audio editors.
Every time you make a recording with The Auto-Mate, you are prompted to enter a unique file name. Before making an actual recording, you have the opportunity to enter additional information about the recording, such as (for spots) Account, Title, Start/Kill Dates, and Product Code. Therefore, each recording you make has valuable informational data attatched to it. A lot of PC audio recorders don't let you do that.
NOTE: Due to constraints of the visual interface, VU meters do not display during the recording process. Therefore you will need to have an external VU meter connected to check your audio levels.
Random Playback Mode:
(Version 2.1 Standard)
Once you have recorded some spots, music, and liners into your P.C. with The Auto-Mate, it then obtains the ability to automate your audio at the touch of a button. There is a utility screen which lets you tell Random Playback Mode how often to play a liner or take a commercial break. Commercial breaks are generated according to a rotation list you generate. Commercial breaks are then generated in an ROS fashion. Liners play randomly - with a legal i.d. automatically playing near the top-of-the-hour! Music plays randomly, and does not repeat until all selections have been played. Think of it like a 'shuffle play' on your CD player, except the music is on your hard-drive.
(Version 3.0 Simple-Sat)
With this version, you gain the ability to take commercial breaks at specific times, by interfacing with relay cards and the Simple-Sat Satellite Playback Mode module contained on another P.C.. This feature basically allows you to simulate a satellite network, by taking 'local' breaks at pre-determined times throughout the day. Version 3.0 also allows for played material to be logged on the hard-drive for later sorting and printing. Version 2.1 has a logging function when a printer is attatched to your parallel port..
Regarless of which version you choose, Random Playback Mode is absolutely the easiest way
available to provide a continual stream of audio programming,, requiring only a minimal amount of staff involvement!
A handy way to quickly select and play your recordings. Great for live shifts or sports broadcasts. Simply enter the three to seven digit recording i.d., and it pops into the queue box. Up to 15 recordings may be placed in each line-up, including pauses - allowing you to line up a number of breaks at one-time. Say so-long to those clunky old carts - you know they aren't going to last much longer anyway!
You can probably buy the Auto-Mate standard software package and a SoundBlaster audio card for much less than the cost of repairing your failing cart decks!
Pick-List Playback Mode:
(Version 2.1 Standard)
Lists of your recordings are categorized (by Spots, Music, and Liners) and then displayed in the lower-half of the screen. Simply scroll up-and-down, pressing enter when you find a file you wish to place in the line-up. Each selection is then displayed in the top-half of the screen. As entries are made, the total run-time is tallied. Up to 500 entries may be made for playback.
The user can either choose an immediate playback mode (plays chosen recordings immediately just by pressing the <F1> key) or work can be saved in a 'template' to be played and/or edited as often as desired.
When Pick-List playback is started, all chosen files will play back-to-back, giving you full control over what it played. It's great for automating your station on a short-time basis - such as mid-days, overnights, or whenever you need to get out for awhile! Make some short voice recordings, insert them in the right places, and your listeners will think you are right there live. Imagine being able to build a four hour on-air shift in less than half-an-hour!
(Version 3.0 Simple-Sat)
With our Version 3.0 Simple-Sat, you gain the added potential of being able to use a relay card to send contact closures to start external audio sources as well as receive contact closures to re-start your pick-list. This allows your Auto-Mate music-on-hard-drive features to be integrated for use as part of a larger overall automation system.
Version 3.0 also has improved spot verification logging functions. It also lets you make up to 750 individual entries in each template - an improvement over the 500 entries allowed with version 2.1. Version 3.0 Pick-List can also automatically load and run another daily template file when the file for the previous day has been completed!
Satellite Playback Mode for DOS:
(Version 2.1 Simple-Sat)
If you use a satellite network for some or all of your daily programming, The Auto-Mate Simple-Sat is for you! Simply wire the dry contact closures from your tone decoder or satellite receiver to a comm. port of your P.C. and The Auto-Mate will play your breaks, liners, and i.d.'s for you. It's so versatile, you will wonder how you got along without it. Rushing to build a master-tape of spots for the day or constantly loading your instacart decks will become but a bad memory. You can build up to one week's worth of commercial breaks in advance, giving you maximum walk-away time. It is also possible to match your satellite announcer to his or her actual shift, giving your station a more local sound. If your network announcers do not record liners for you, this feature is still useful for inserting daypart specific liners. With Version 2.1, all closure sensing and satellite audio muting occurs on hardware already in your P.C. - keeping your equipment expenditures to a previously unheard of minimum.
(Version 3.0 Simple-Sat)
to see an image of the Satellite Playback Mode screen
You get everything you do with Version 2.1 Simple-Sat, plus the ability to integrate a low-cost relay card to send contact closures to external equipment. This is extremely useful if you wish to use The Auto-Mate in conjunction with an existing in-house automation system, such as UDS, Sonomag, Instacart, etc. This means your Simple-Sat can send a closure to re-start external audio sources, and then sit and wait for an input closure to play a break or liner.
Version 3.0 Simple-Sat also lets you swich to a secondary source of audio on a timed basis. You can also mute audio through the relay card, eliminating the need to do this through the audio card as is required in Version 2.1.
[Home] [Back to Top]
We are a small company with limited resources, but will do our best to serve you.
Windows users: Please test the software thoroughly to make sure it meets your needs before purchasing. You have 30 days to evaluate the software after installing it. Due to the multi-tasking nature of Windows, we cannot address all of the situations that may be encountered. If you are comfortable with the operation of the software on your P.C. after a trial period, and feel comfortable that the software will serve your needs - we will be pleased to have you as a customer. If you are still apprehensive after testing the evaluation download, or feel that you will need on-going detailed support, you may wish to seek another vendor. Some companies can offer you 24 x 7 personalized customer service.
Please use e-mail for support whenever possible. Most often, this will yield the fastest response.
Technical support costs (in money and time) can be astronomical, and must be factored in to the price of any hardware or software. In using this package, you should be aware that we offer no claims of continual technical support, or support on-demand. We are skeptical of any company that claims to offer unlimited free lifetime technical support. Imagine if you told a client that if they buy an advertising package this month, they will get free advertising every month after that - forever. Of course you couldn't do that.
30 Day Support Period:
Our current policy is to offer 30 days of no-fee technical support. The full support period generally begins when you receive your software, and lasts for 30 days beyond that date. Please be aware that this support is designed largely for technical, not operational, questions. There is ample information contained in this manual and on-line software help files in the program to familiarize you with The Auto-Mate. However, we recognize that there may be operational questions to which you can't find the answers. In these cases, we will be happy to speak with you during the 30 day support period at no fee. The goal in setting our policies is to prevent people from becoming dependent on expensive telephone support instead of finding solutions in the manual or our web site. Please use e-mail for support questions whenever possible.
After 30 Days:
Once up and running, we seldom hear from most of our users. However, there are those who - for one reason or another - end up substantially increasing our support load month after month. Several problem potentials exist in this area. 1., Experimenters who alter their system continually, and then need technical support to undo the damage, 2., purchasers who encourage staff to call our support line rather than having questions referred to a qualified person in the facility, 3., users who do not have access to a competent broadcast engineer or computer hardware/software technician - and 4. (and this is the big one): Those who fail to make backups of their system! Any system, run long enough, will experience a hard-drive or other failure. You don't want to have to rebuild from scratch if this happens! Keep a backup of all system files. We will discuss this more in later sections.
Lately, particularly with our older clients, we find that many are upgrading to newer P.C.'s. Of course, this is a good idea, but often requires us to assist users as if they were new customers all over again with technical installation issues.
For these reasons, we reserve the right to institute a support fee which is designed to help us cover our costs. From 1994 through 2000, we have seldom asked anyone to pay for support because the load has been mostly light. However, as time goes on, it becomes apparent that the profits from a particular sale can eventually be swallowed by the technical support load.
Take, for instance, a long-term user who has only one problem per year. However, this problem may take one or two hours for us to solve. It is easy to see it is possible over the years to actually spend more resources supporting a client (through staff time and phone tolls) than the client actually paid for the software. Of course, a business cannot survive if this were allowed to continue.
Therefore, the situation is monitored on a constant basis to ensure that we are able to continue providing support as needed. A new fee structure is being implemented Starting Jan 1. 2000.
Support Fees AFTER 30 days:
Effective January 2001 until Further Notice:
( Phone Support: If the question relates to system functionality problems, or you require operational assistance:
$25 per hour (or fraction thereof - 15 minute ninimum)
$.25 per minute for phone charges (if we are calling your facility).
*E-mail Support: No Charge for initial consultation. If the problem cannot be solved via e-mail, or can - but is of a complex nature, you will be advised that the problem is billable for our time spent researching/writing e-mail responses. In that case, the $25 per hour fee applies.
Please use e-mail for support whenever possible. Most often, this will solicit the quickest response.
$Billing: We will invoice you via e-mail. All invoices must be paid within 30 days. Failure to pay will result in banishment from further technical support until the bill is paid.
The support fee and support policies are subject to change year to year. We will attempt to notify all users of changes in the support policy or fee structure as they occur.
A few More Words on Technical Support:
In order to keep costs low, we do not offer around-the-clock technical support. In fact, many times you will get connected to our voice mail. This is all the more reason to be self-sufficient in being able to solve your own problems. Please be aware that response may not be immediate, and our resources to assist you with certain problems are limited. Keep in mind that helping you is our top priority and the lack of ability to always be there is simply an economic reality.
[Home] [Back to Top]
DOS or WINDOWS(tm). Which is better?:
We have all heard the age-old debate about DOS versus Windows. In this section we will give an overview of the differences as it relates to our products. In brief, there is no answer to the question 'which is better'. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Some people like apples and some like oranges. However, perhaps we can shed some light on which operating platform is right for you.
DOS is an outstanding platform for reliability, but does have limitations. DOS basically does one thing at a time - and does it well. Part of the reason DOS works so well is that it doesn't have the 'overhead' of worrying about multiple tasks at the same time, such as Windows. Also, when there is only one task running, there is less chance of some other element (program) failing causing your system to fail.
On to Windows:
Over time, it became apparent that people wanted more 'bang for the buck' from a computer. The computer had to be able to do several things at once (i.e. word processing, play a CD, run the Internet, etc.). There was also great demand to standardize functions. This was demanded by the average user (who just wants to point and click) and by software manufacturers, who believe if everything is done the same way, they won't need to provide as much training/support. Other concepts have come into play, such as Plug-and-Play, which allow the user to simply plug in a piece of hardware (such as a sound card) and it will work - most of the time.
Why we're 'Doing Windows':
It's safe to say that it has become a Windows world. Some of us might be content to stick with old reliable DOS, but the handwriting gets more clear on the wall as time goes on. Hardware manufacturers and the ubiquitous Microsoft® don't have a lot of use for DOS any more. Over time, this has made it much more difficult to support DOS, especially from a hardware standpoint.
In the case of Auto-Mate, our DOS software runs fine in a 'DOS box' under the Windows environment but is tied into a specific brand of sound card that can interface to DOS. The installation instructions for getting the Sound Card to work in DOS can be tricky for today's users who do not have a familiarity with the ways of DOS. Ultimately, while our DOS software continues to run with incredible reliability, the decision had to be made to go with Windows to enhance ease of installation and to add new capabilities for the typical user.
Which Platform is for Me?:
Our DOS software is still available, as it does fill a need for the DOS die-hard, where installations which require some of the specialized funtions of our DOS software, or where reliability is highly critical (for example:. emergency message systems, or inacessible mountain-top installations).
In our Windows version, I was very careful to retain as many elements as possible of the old DOS program that people enjoyed. Some parts of the internal code were duplicated over from DOS. Windows has become much more reliable, and while it still is not as 'rock solid' as DOS, the typical user will be quite pleased. In order to enhance reliability, it is recommended that a Windows installation be done on a dedicated P.C. which contains a minimum of other applications.