Frequently Asked Questions for Sync-O-Matic 2000

Updated: May 15, 2000

> Why is this version called Sync-O-Matic-2000?  I have heard about Sync-O-Matic 3000.
> Which is the newest verion?  Which is more cool?

The short answer is that Sync-O-Matic was named incorrectly. It was named as a joke. The idea was to name it after the Saturday night Live Bass-O-Matic skit. We thought the device in the skit was the Bass-O-Matic 3000 so we named the product the Sync-O-Matic 3000. Of course we did not anticipate the Year-2000 buzz and how everything from Microsoft Office on down would be named Blah-Blah-2000. So, Sync-O-Matic followed the trend into the new Century and was renamed Sync-O-Matic 2000. Sorry for the confusion.

For a while, we kept the versions in sync, but as of 5/15/00 Sync-O-matic-3000 was frozen and development will moveforward on Sync-O-Matic 2000 exclusively. During the transition some -3000 users complained that they liked the complicated, clunky, powerful interface of -3000. So, much f the look and feel of -3000 lives on (improved somewhat) as the "More Details" screen of -2000.

> What hardware should I buy?
See for the video capture hardware We have tested and recommend (and like the following cards) We have tested and do not recommend the following cards for direct video encoding The problem is that these cards have hardware compression which is necessary for activities like non-linear editing of video, but very bad for RealEncoder direct encoding. If you are planning a post production step in your video, then hardware compression cards are necessary, and Adobe Premiere can output the proper AVI in the proper format for you. So choose the card based on its non-linear editing features, not its RealEncoder features.
>  I am used to the old directory structure - why did you change it?
The new software has a new directory structure. The C:\syncomat\ directory is no longer used by default.

In the old version, all the materials for a lecture were scattered across several directories.

This made management difficult for beginning users. So in the new version, things are merged together for a lecture named "xxx".
C:\My Documents\lectures\xxx\   (contain the htm_sld and media materials)
C:\My Documents\lectures\xxx\synccd\  (for the cd published stuff)
C:\My Documents\lectures\xxx\syncweb\  (for the web published stuff)
The style directory is now in:
C:\Program Files\Syncomat\style\sync2k\
To make more styles, make subdirectories under
C:\Program Files\Syncomat\style\
If you really want to keep the old directory structure, there are enough settings in preferences to force the old way of arranging disk. But I assure you that the new way is much cleaner. You don't delete something and end up losing 1/2 of the stuff needed to make a lecture.
> I loaded netshow and it knocked out some of my Syn-O-Matic drivers....had
> some wierd irq conflict...i think that the REAL technology is pretty solid
> but as you mentioned can be "strange " at times...
Had the same problem. I think I have it working by uninstalling everything, then installing Netshow, then Installing RealPlayer.
> Why do all the lectures have pictures of you?  Does that mean that
> all my lectures have to have pictures of you in them?
Make sure to replace the file \styles\sync2k\inst160.gif with a picture of you rather than me!
> Every time I try to make a screen shot of a browser showing a 
> Sync-O-Matic lecture, my picture shows up pink or does not 
> show up at all.
Bring up RealPlayer. Right click on the picture area and select preferences. Select the "Performance" tab. Look for something like "use optimized hardware" "super-performance booster", or some such check box. Un-check the box and then view the lecture. At 160x120 10 frames per second, it is not really necessary a bunch of tricked out hardware techniques.

You can leave this unchecked forever with no negative consequences - unless you start watching a bunch of 640x480 video at 1Mbps (which looks pretty bad on Real anyways).

> Are you running a server?  I like the idea because of bandwidth
> negotiation.  Seems to be the only reason to run one, currently.
Yes, we run a server. I like the skip forward capability. I also like the fact that you can do 14.4 on a 28.8 and use the link for something else like telnet. I prefer pseudo-streaming for low-reliability links - I think that TCP/IP and the ability to buffer minutes ahead rather than seconds ahead. In my opinion, the Real Streaming protocol is too optimistic in the face of an unreliable connection.
> Hum.. I didn't realize that.. thanks for the tip.  I'm curious.. what you
> you mean "unreliable"?  Do you mean "slow" or "dropping connections"? I
> haven't experience "dropping connections."  Maybe someday soon connections
> will be better.
No, if you have a bad 28.8 connection, listening to 14.4 audio, streaming will only get a few seconds ahead and then throttle back. Then when you get a short blip, you get a 7-10 sec pause while it resyncs. If pseudo-streaming, it tries to pull down the whole lecture to disk, hoping that it can stay ahead. After 10-15 seconds, the download is 20-30 seconds ahead and every second you are downloading 3 more seconds worth of data. So after a minute, you can tolerate lost packets for 2 mintues before your play stops. So, pseudostreaming "makes hay while the sun shines".

Once streaming gets packets after an outage, it re-buffers but once it is 5-8 seconds ahead, it assumes the net will be perfect and throttles back.

It assumes a unifomly distributed low error rate. It there is a 3% chance of and they will all be about the same length. It is NOT designed for the way things really work quite often - works perfectly for a long time then Streaming could work much better if it had one buffer target size before it would restart and another larger buffer size before it throttled back. i.e. get 60 seconds ahead before throttling back.

> How do I unzip with PKUNZIP and the password?  
> From Monika D.
c:\pkzip>pkunzip c:\sync -sdog -o c:\synctest.
> For some reason it seems like the video plug-in us not available, but I
> don't understand why.  What did I do wrong?  I hope I explained the  
> problem clear enough and would really appreciate if you could give me a
> hint on what I did wrong.
This has to do with missing MIME-Types in the server configuration - the following MIME type entries need to be added
MIME TYPE                     FILE SUFFIX
audio/x-pn-realaudio          ra 
audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin   rpm 
audio/x-pn-realaudio          ram
audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin   rm  
Different servers need to be configured different ways. Let your administrator know this.
> I would like to incorporate the Syncomatic into a web based course when
> at the end it calls an .asp which asks questions and stores answers in a
> database.  I would be nice to call this .asp(s) at the end of the
> PowerPoint.  
You use the CTRL-K feature in PowerPoint to make an object (Box, Text, ClipArt) active and associate a URL with that Object. PowerPoint makes that into an Image Map. Sync-O-Mat saves the image map (and in version 1.7 fixes a stupid thing that PowerPoint does for relative references) and puts it into the resulting HTML.

The student DOES have to push a button to make it work though.

Here are some examples of URLS that you might put into the Hyperlink Field in Powerpoint   (Absolute Reference)
example01.htm                   (Relative reference)
> I was just wondering if there were a reason that your Sync-O-Matic
> generates absolute links, rather than using relative ones.  In other
> words, all of the links in a file such as vn001.htm will often refer
> to other slides within the lecture as
> rather than just
>        vn002.htm
> The reason that I ask is because we want to move our lectures out of
> the original directory.  I've written a script that does mass recursive
> replacement, so I could replace
> "" with nothing, which would
> allow us to move the lectures wherever we wanted.
> I've already tried this on a lecture of two, and it works fine.  I
> just thought I'd check to esure that there wasn't some special
> Sync-O-Matic reason that absolute links were necessary.
Believe me, if we could have made one version that could be moved from path to path or server to server, we would have done it in a heartbeat. It would make Sync-O-Matic about 30% easier. Unfortuantely I was forced into absolute paths.

In strange situations over time with different versions of browsers, relative links break. It has to do with things like emdedded plug-ins versus active-X controls and combat zones between Microsoft and Real. They all add up to the point that there is no commitment to keep relative links reliable.

Even if I made all the links relative in the .htm files, the embedded links in the .rm files (which you don't see) would keep you from moving from one directory to another.

Another pitfall is that the slides that are being brought up end up being problematic if they are on a password protected site for all of the reasons that I mention above.

The solution is for you to get Sync-O-Matic and the original course materials and "re-publish" the lectures with a new path name. With Sync-O-Mat is it a single button click and an upload.

Now, interestingly because Sync-O-Mat is driven by "style" files, this convention of absolute links is ONLY embedded in the style files. With a quick edit of the style files, you could have everything (except the events) relative.

At some point if you were willing to tell folks that certain browsers just "didn't work" you might be able to make lectures with relative URLS. For me, I erred on the conservative side and decided that if the SM-2000 lectures were IE4-Only it would turn off too many people.

> 	After the upload process for the web server is completed, are all of
> the required files supposed to be in one directory on the web server?
> Specifically, are any other directories involved besides the main
> directory?
No, there are no other directories.
> 	What is "pnm" and what is its purpose?
If you run a streaming server, it uses urls pf the form pnm://blah.blah to access content using the "Progressive Networks Media" protocol. Since G2, the rtsp protcol is preferred over the pnm protocol.
> PRCT3260.OCX not correctly registered: file is missing or invalid.
This generally means that RealProducer 7.0 has not been properly installed.
> Can I get source code to Sync-O-Matic?
The authors will begin to publish portions of the code over time, but the whole program will probably not be published unless the author decides to halt active support. A source license is possible in the mean time for a negotiated cost.
> Can I use Sync-O-Matic in a commercial venture?
Yes, you can use the product commercially and the materials produced by Sync-O-matic are yours and require no royalty - after all they are just web pages. You just cannot sell Sync-O-Matic.
I am having trouble with the style directory on my Italian language W-98 box.
Yry to change preferences putting *Programmi* instead of *Program Files* in Style path... (Thanks Furio)