Installing Smartsims Applications in Computer Labs

Last Updated 21 June 2013

Overview

Thanks for your help with setting up the SmartSims business simulation apps for your computer lab or network.

SmartSims currently has five main simulations:

  • MikesBikes-Advanced (MB-A)
  • MikesBikes-Advanced: Accounting Edition (MB-AA)
  • MikesBikes-Intro (MB-I)
  • Music2Go (m2g)
  • AdSim

You will probably only need to install one of the above products for any given course,
and each Windows installer contains both a Single-Player and a Multi-Player (Internet) app.

We want to make this process as clean and simple for you as we can:

  • Apps can be run from a shared read-only network drive.
    (Mapped drive letters only. UNC paths are not supported).
  • Alternatively, apps can be ‘ghosted’ or ‘mirrored’ on to individual lab
    computers if preferred
  • You can also run our software under Windows Terminal Services or Remote Desktop sessions
  • No files are installed into the Windows directory
    (apart from the MS ShFolder.dll if it isn’t already present – very old Win9x and NT 4.0 only).
  • Multi-Player Apps require TCP/IP access to our servers, so some Firewall or Proxy configuration may be required.

Please email us (help@smartsims.com) to let us know how you get on.

Regards,

SmartSims Support Team

Email: help@smartsims.com


QuickStart Guide – Single / Multi-Player Software

Here is the list of steps to install the SmartSims apps for your lab. If you need more information, please consult
the remainder of the document or email help@smartsims.com

1. Download and install the Simulation software.

The download link will depend on the version being installed. It will be of the form:

http://ftp1.smartsims.com/versions/9.99.99.99/[ProductName].exe

Check the email you received for the exact download link.

2. Install the software on a test machine with the same Internet access rules as the computer lab

Important: Install into a clean folder every time.
You are asking for trouble by installing multiple applications into the same folder, or trying to overwrite an older version.

Decide how you want your users to access the software (eg. install on a shared Shared Network drive, ‘Ghost’ or ‘Image’ the program folder
to multiple computers, or use Terminal Services / Remote Desktop).
This is personal preference – every Institution is different. Installing on a shared read-only Network drive is
easier if you aren’t experienced with setting up a Ghost image for copying to individual computers,
but look out for Microsoft blocking the .chm help files on Network drives.

Just make sure the Multi-Player Internet access is configured correctly before Ghosting it.

Note:

  • The install contains both the Single-Player and Multi-Player executables
  • No files are installed into the Windows directory
  • All files are installed under the program folder you choose during install
  • Shortcuts are created on the desktop and in the Start Menu.
    You may want to copy these later when setting up Student desktop profiles

3. Run the Multi-Player Application and configure the Network connection for your lab.

The Connection Dialog displays a few seconds after starting the Multi-Player. Try the ‘Test’ button first.
This attempts to connect to our servers to transfer a small amount of data.
If that fails then you will probably need to configure proxy settings (click the Proxy button) or adjust your firewall settings.

Please consult the following for further assistance:

https://www.smartsims.com/docs/firewall
https://www.smartsims.com/docs/connection-info

Once the Test succeeds, then log into the multiplayer app using the login details below. Select the course with the title
which matches the app you are running, and then choose a firm to log into.

Login: labtest
Password: labtest

Look at a couple of reports or decision screens to make sure the Multi-Player works. Then exit out of the Multi-Player software
to save any changes you may have made to the connection settings.

4. IMPORTANT: Please check whether your university’s internet connection prioritizes traffic on certain ports
(eg webpages on port 80).

If so, please make sure that SmartSims TCP/IP traffic on ports 3150 and 9150 is also prioritized. (Otherwise students
will probably get timeouts when using the multi-player apps.)

See the Routers section for our router addresses. You may need to add these
to your firewall access policy.

5. Revise the settings in the connect.ini, especially the Single-Player Registration Key

You should enter a Registration Key into the connect.ini file so you don’t have to
manually enter it on every computer.

Single-Player apps operate in trial or demo mode until a registration key is entered.
Registration Keys look like the following example (contact help@smartsims.com for an actual Registration Key):

Name: ABC University Computer Lab
Registration Key: ABCD-123456-123456 (example only)

The [setup] section of the connect.ini also allows you to adjust where the apps store temporary data and save game files.

Note: You usually don’t have to set the Work or Storage parameter as we use the Windows “Application Data” and “My Documents” folders
by default.

6. Copy the shortcuts into the student user profile.

Modify the shortcuts to match the student apps drive letter etc. Note that the apps require a
mapped drive (eg F:\mikebike\ ) to work correctly. The single-player and multi-player offline mode will fail
if you are using a UNC path (eg \\labapps\mikebike ).

7. Double-check that it all works using a student login in the lab.

IT departments often do remote set-ups and installs. Just remember that an actual student login in a remote lab won’t
always have the same privilleges that you think it does. If you are able to, you should log in as an actual student and check:

  • Single-Player
    You should not see a Shareware Registration warning, and the default Save As location should be where you expect
  • Multi-Player can log in to a firm
  • Check you can open the .chm help file if installed on a shared Network drive
    If it works, then forget about it
    If you get an obscure Microsoft security message instead of HTML Help then see the notes below on .chm files

8. Email help@smartsims.com to let us know how you got on.

9. DONE!


SmartSims Administrator

The SmartSims Administrator is used by Professors and Teaching Assistants to manage the simulation.
The Administrator program should be installed to a separate folder. The installation file is SSAdministrator.exe

The download link will depend on the version being installed. It will be of the form:

http://ftp1.smartsims.com/versions/9.99.99.99/SSAdministrator.exe

Check the email you received for the exact download link.

Important: Install into a clean folder every time.
You are asking for trouble by installing multiple applications into the same folder, or trying to overwrite an older version.

The Students do NOT require access to the Administrator program. So if possible, do not make it available to them.


Network Connections

After the initial router selection process, all network connections use multiple outgoing TCP/IP connections
to a single IP and port. Port 3150 is IANA registered, but due to some labs blocking
a range of ports we have added port 9150.

The TCP connections are all outbound from the client machine to our server –
there are NO listening ports or server type features in any client programs.

See our Smartsims Firewall FAQ for more information.

Opening .chm HTML Help files from a shared Network Drive

If you choose to install to a shared network drive, then you may find that users cannot open the .chm help files for the products.
This is due to various Microsoft security patches that have been issued that prevent you from opening
remote .chm files. The generic solutions are:

  • Copy the .chm file to the local computer (or install / Ghost the software to each computer)
  • Add the network drive / installation folder to the Intranet or Trusted network zones in your IE security settings
    This can work well, but you have to know how how to configure a group policy for your network which is beyond
    the scope of this document.
  • Use the ItssRestrictions registry key and UrlAllowList string value to explicitly allow your computer to open .chm
    files in the shared network drive.

    For example, if the read-only program folder that you have set up is Z:\Smartsims\MikesBikesAdvanced, then you would
    import the following .reg file:

    REGEDIT4

    ; This ItssRestrictions key / UrlAllowList allows you to open any .chm file
    ; in the Z:\Smartsims\MikesBikesAdvanced folder
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\HTMLHelp\1.x\ItssRestrictions] “UrlAllowList”=”Z:\\Smartsims\\MikesBikesAdvanced;file://Z:\\Smartsims\\MikesBikesAdvanced”

    ; This key is also necessary on 64-bit versions of Windows as
    ; our simulation software is 32-bit. This allows you to view .chm files
    ; in the Z:\Smartsims\MikesBikesAdvanced folder from within the simulation software.
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\HTMLHelp\1.x\ItssRestrictions] “UrlAllowList”=”Z:\\Smartsims\\MikesBikesAdvanced;file://Z:\\Smartsims\\MikesBikesAdvanced”

    Important: All Smartsims simulation software is 32-bit. So if you are running
    64-bit Windows then you must set UrlAllowList under the Wow6432Node
    registry key as shown above in order for the help buttons to work within the application.

The following links discuss the issue in more detail:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/896358

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/896054

Connect.INI

You will find the connect.ini file in the program installation folder. The SmartSims Multi-Player apps
will automatically create a connect.ini file with default setup information if it is not present.

[Setup] section

This section is used by lab administrators to specify the directories that the user machines use for
storing data (since the app folder is usually read-only on a shared Application drive).

[Setup] Work=%APPDATA%\MikeBike\work\
Storage=C:\MikeBike\storage\
RegName=ABC University Computer Lab
RegKey=ABCD-123456-123456 (example only)

The directories may have environmental variables embedded in them by encapsulating them in percent signs.

For instance if the Client machine had the environment variable %USERNAME%=JSmith, then
Work=C:\Document and Settings\%USERNAME%\ would evaluate to C:\Document and Settings\JSmith\

Work parameter

Work should point to temporary space where SmartSims apps can create/edit/delete files and subdirectories.

This parameter is used to create working subdirectories for SmartSims single player applications.
Typically, the data written here is deleted at the end of each session.

Note: The Work parameter is not usually required. By default our applications use the OS Application Data folder.
This is usually C:\Document and Settings\*currentusername*\Application Data\SmartSims

You only need to override this if the user cannot write to their local hard drive.

Storage parameter

Storage specifies the default location where students should save the compressed database file
for persistent storage between sessions. It will be the default directory shown whenever a File/Open,
File/Save As dialog is shown.

If the student has personal persistent storage space on a network drive then this is the ideal
setting for the storage parameter.

Note: The Storage parameter is not usually required. By default our applications use the OS My Documents folder.
This is usually C:\Document and Settings\*currentusername*\My Documents\SmartSims Worlds

You only need to override this if the user cannot write to their local hard drive.

RegName / RegKey parameters

You may use the connect.ini to set the registration key for the Single-Player applications in your computer lab.
This means you do not have to enter the key manually on each computer.

[Routers] section

The [Routers] section of the connect.ini file contains the list of the servers that our Windows software may attempt to connect to.

The standard router addresses we use are:

  • r1.smartsimsrouters.com port 3150
  • r2.smartsimsrouters.com port 3150
  • r4.smartsimsrouters.com port 9150
  • r5.smartsimsrouters.com port 80

However be aware that these urls map to multiple IP addresses. See our Smartsims Firewall FAQ for more information
about how to configure your firewall to allow Smartsims traffic through.

Also check whether your university’s internet connection prioritizes traffic on certain ports
(eg webpages on port 80). If so, please make sure that SmartSims TCP traffic on ports 3150 and 9150 is also prioritized.
(Otherwise students will probably get timeouts when using the multi-player apps.)

The router section gives the display name of the router (currently unused), the network address in SmartSims format,
and an editable field (currently unused).

[Router Router1] name=Router1
address=inet:tcp:r1.smartsimsrouters.com:3150
editable=true

[Connections] section

This section lists the firewall proxies available for connecting. If you don’t have a firewall,
then you will only need the Direct Connection (ie no proxy) option.

SmartSims Multi-Player
apps currently require either a Direct Connection or a SOCKS proxy in order to connect. Ignore the
“HTTP / FTP Proxy” options if present. They do NOT work and have been removed from the latest Multi-Player installs.

[Connections] Direct Connection=.
Socks Proxy=.

[Connection Direct Connection] name=Direct Connection
editable=false
connection_type=direct
login=false
keepAliveInterval=240

; Note – Socks Proxy usually won’t be in connect.ini
; Only set it up if you need it

[Connection Socks Proxy] name=Socks Proxy
address=inet:tcp:192.168.9.1:1080
editable=true
connection_type=socks5
login=true
username=abcd
password=12345
keepAliveInterval=240

The fields for a Connection are

  • Name – display name in the connection dialog.
  • Editable – if true, allows user editing in the connection dialog.
  • Connection_type – direct | socks | socks5 (ie. Direct Connection, SOCKS 4, or SOCKS 5)
  • Address – address of proxy server + port (SOCKS only)
  • Login – true if a login to the proxy server is required (SOCKS only)
  • Username – log into proxy using this name (SOCKS only)
  • Password – and this password (SOCKS only)
  • keepAliveInternal – send a ‘ping’ to server every X seconds to keep connection open

When the connection dialog is attempting to connect a connection to the server,
it will try each router in turn, using each proxy in turn.

Testing your installation

Test connection to a router

In the connection dialog, click the Test button. This will test that you are able to connect to one of the
SmartSims routers, and are able to exchange a small amount of information with it.

If the app fails to connect, please consult the following for further assistance:

https://www.smartsims.com/docs/firewall

Test logging in (Multi-Player)

From the connection dialog, enter “labtest” as login and password, then click the Login button.
Log into the multiplayer app using the login details below. Select the course with the title which matches
the app you are running, and then choose a firm to log into.

Finally, choose File->Play Offline to ensure that the temporary and storage data paths are correct in the connect.ini

Testing single-player apps

Single-Player apps operate in trial or demo mode until a registration key is entered.
Registration Keys look like the following example (contact help@smartsims.com for an actual Registration Key):

Name: ABC University Computer Lab
Registration Key: ABCD-123456-123456 (example only)

Note: You should enter the registration key in the connect.ini (described in [Setup] section above), otherwise your students will be asked for a Registration Key every time they run the Single-Player
in the lab.