Hotspot, Call Shop and Cyber Café Software : Preferences


The Preferences function is the program's nerve centre and enables access to almost all the options relevant to system functioning. The first four sections (Manager, Notifications, Receipts and Printing) are relative to the configuration of Explorer Manager, while all the others refer to the configuration of the Server.

We will now analyze the various sections :



Explorer Manager configuration





The items on this page greatly influence the program's graphical interface:


Use Mode

Allows you to select the program's operation mode by choosing from 6 different possibilities :

  • Internet Café

  • Hotspot

  • Call Shop

  • Internet Café + Call Shop

  • Internet Café + Hotspot

  • Internet Café + Hotspot + Call Shop


Based on your selection, the program will hide or display the respective functions on the Explorer Manager graphical interface. For example, choosing the Hotspot mode hides all functions exclusive to Internet Café and the Call Shop, such as allowed applications, telephone rates, order and printing management, etc.

Language : allows you to choose the Explorer Manager language.


Use background image for workstation monitors : allows you to specify an image to use as a background on workstation monitors. For example, you could use a map of the premises as a background image to help operators immediately identify a workstation.


Enable the smart card reader : allows you to enable or disable use of the smart card reader.


Run automatically at Windows startup : this option, enabled by default, allows for Explorer Manager to automatically run at Windows startup.




Explorer Manager provides notification of particularly important events, such as the arrival of a new order, a user logging out with a post-paid session, etc. The notification is displayed in a pop-up window accompanied by a sound. You can individually enable or disable each type of notification and decide the associated sound by indicating the relative WAV file.




The program can issue and print receipts following an operation that involves takings. You can indicate which operations require printing of a receipt (account balance, a pre-paid recharge, etc.) The taxes to enter on the receipts can be completely customised by indicating the name of the tax (generally VAT) and the corresponding tax rate (for example 20%). You can also specify whether the prices indicated during the operations include or exclude taxes. For example, if a 30 euro recharge is made with the "Prices include taxes" item enabled, a receipt will be printed with a total amount of 30 euro (including tax), while for taxes not included in prices a receipt will be printed with an amount of 36 euro (6 euro taxes).

The layout of the receipts is completely customizable : you can choose the logo image to print, the size of the characters used and the text to enter for the title, sub-title and the background text on the receipt. If you want to also change the receipt layout you will need to directly change the Receipt.htm file in the Custom Data folder.



It is possible in this page to personalise the following prints produced by Explorer Manager: User Card, Prepaid Top-ups, Prepaid Tickets and Terms of Use.

It will be possible in all three cases to specify the printer which will be used and the htm files containing the scheme used for printing. The file-schemes are normally contained in the “Custom Data” folder of the programme. It is possible to personalise the look of the prints by modifying these files or creating new ones. It is possible to modify the htm files by using any webpage editor while taking care only to avoid altering the TAGs included between two % symbols like for example %NAME%, %LOGIN%, etc.

In the case of prepaid top-ups and prepaid tickets, it is also possible to modify the number and set-up of the elements in the page by personalising the PrepaidRecharge.htm and PrepaidTicket.htm files.




Explorer Server Configuration





On this page we find the following options :


Disconnection of pre-paid sessions when credit finishes : causes automatic disconnection of users whose pre-paid credit finishes while they are navigating.


Disconnection after X minutes of inactivity : by enabling this option, users will be automatically disconnected after a certain number of minutes of inactivity.


Pre-paid sessions : this section allows you to choose whether to display the remaining credit or the equivalent remaining time in the pre-paid mode sessions.


Notification when credit is about to expire : by enabling this item, the customer will receive notification when his/her credit goes under a pre-set threshold. If this item is enabled, you must indicate the thresholds, based on the type of navigation (pre-paid, time or traffic based), under which credit must be considered to be expiring.


Pre-Paid Tickets : the first two items of this group are used to automatically delete tickets that have expired or that have a small residual credit, while the last item is used to define whether to allow logins using tickets that are "sold".


URL log : logs the URLs of sites visited by users.


Log only the HTTP/HTTPS traffic: this option is useful for reducing the size of the log file generated by the workstations connected to LAN2.


Block the workstations awaiting the balance: by enabling this option, the workstations used for surfing in postpaid mode will be blocked until the account of the customer which has used them is settled.






License code : allows for the customer code and relative password to be entered. Entering this data is essential for acquisition, through the “Update” button, the number of customer stations that can be activated (customer license).


Default parameters: this section allows you to set the default values for certain parameters (navigation mode, group etc) for automatic allocation to the user when a new record is created.


Required fields: specifies which fields are required when creating a new user record.


Enable printing monitor : allows you to enable or disable the printing monitor. If you choose to disable this item, the program's main screen will hide the section relevant to printing and leave more space for the other elements on the main window.


Enable order sending from workstations : allows you to enable or disable sending of workstation orders. As in the previous case, disabling the orders removes the corresponding section from the program's main screen.


Checkout management : this group contains two checkout management items. The first enables automatic checkout opening on the first operation of the day, without necessarily having to manually open the checkout using the corresponding items in the Checkout menu, while the second enables the non-registration of operations with an amount under a certain threshold (e.g. useful to ignore small credit adjustment operations).


Operator Passwords : this group of options is used to require operators to change their passwords at intervals of a certain number of months and to specify requirements for the passwords entered by operators.


Conditions of Use : this is used to edit the HTML file containing the conditions of use displayed to users on first access.


Prevent the deletion of users who have navigated in the last months: enabling this function the operator can not remove users who have navigated at least once in recent months.


Permitted Applications


Allows you to specify which programs can be launched on the navigation workstations. For example, word processing, chat, game programs etc. can be enabled. The applications can be manually added using the "New" button or you can use the "Find..." function capable of exploring computers with Explorer Client running to request a list of installed programs. One or more workstations can be simultaneously explored. After the search, the full path of each program found is displayed, as well as the number of workstations with the program. You can use the "+" button to enter the selected programs on the applications.
The "Check" function provides another convenient tool command, useful to check whether the programs enabled are actually on the indicated paths, on all the active workstations. In fact, it often happens that you forget to install a particular program on certain workstations or the program installed has a different path to the other workstations.

Remember that the list of permitted applications is only used to define the programs that can be executed on the Internet Café, however not all users are automatically enabled to use them. This operation must subsequently take place by enabling the programs you have just chosen, in the various User Groups.


Lastly, the bottom of this section includes certain items that allow you to specify the commands to mount and unmount CD ISO images (by default Daemon Tool Lite freeware program commands which can be downloaded at the address and an item, in the Programs menu, that allows you to hide the applications not installed on that particular workstation.


Notices to Users


A "User Notice" is a message that can be sent to surfing stations while the user is connected or that can be displayed immediately after login to users of both fixed stations and hotspot users.

In this section, you can define any number of notices and you can specify the name, width, height and the option of being displayed on the entire screen for each. By clicking the "Edit" button, you can enter the text of the notice (and any images) using the program's HTML editor. Notices entered in this way can then be enabled in the sector provided in User Groups.




Files and User Registry Keys


Users often use customisable programs. Take the Formula 1 game, for example, where the player can customise the vehicle, a preferred circuit, etc. This information is saved by the game in a certain file on the workstation or in a Windows registry key. Clearly, once the session ends, this information is still saved on the workstation and another user can then access it. He/she can change these settings by permanently deleting those of the previous user and when the previous user logs in he/she will find their personal settings have changed.

To avoid this problem Softvision Explorer offers the possibility of saving and restoring certain files and/or registry keys for each user accessing the workstations.


User File : allows you to define the user files to be associated with each user (via the respective User Groups). Each user file must have a specified file path on the client (file to write) and the file path on the server to send on first login. With subsequent access, if the "Update" item is enabled, the file changed by the user during the session will be sent (the file is sent to the server once the session ends). Instead, if the "Update" item is not enabled, the same file will always be sent to the workstation for each access. This operation mode is useful if you want, for example, to reset the settings of a program on each start-up, preventing persistent changes made by the user.


User Registry Keys : this is similar to the above, however it works with registry keys instead of files. Each key must have a specified type (string, number etc.), the key value to send on first login, the key update ability and the full path of the registry key to write on the workstation.






This screen contains several settings relative to surfing stations.


Type of station : this is used to personalise several types of stations by modifying the associated icon or adding new ones.


Access : in this group of options, you can specify if the system can be accessed using a login and password and/or pre-paid tickets and if the user is required to accept the Conditions of Use before the first access.


User drive : Normally the user drive is created on the server in the shared "\\ServerName\Softvision Explorer Data" folder. The items in this group can be used to save the user drive data in a different network position or request the drive to be directly created on the computer client. However, in this case, on logging out the user could lose all his/her saved data.



Hotspot Configuration



The Softvision Explorer can manage internet access for computers or other devices like PDA, mobile phones etc., using wireless connections. These devices do not require any software to access Hotspots managed by the program.  
Softvision Explorer supports two different types of Hotspots :


Hotspot on LAN 2 : this type of Hotspot is based on one or more wireless Access Point connected, possibly through a switch, to a second network card (LAN 2) on the server. The configuration of this section is necessary only if you wish to use the software as a Hotspot or to manage connections on LAN 2. In this screen you will have to specify which network card is connected to the network with the internet connection (LAN 1) and which network card is connected to the wireless Access Point of LAN 2. If you are using a Router wireless, you will also have to specify the IP addresses of the WAN and LAN ports of the Router Wireless. These are set at the default values of (WAN) and (LAN). Finally, with the “Use internal NAT” option, you can avoid changing the modem’s routing tables. This function is available only for Windows XP and Vista with the firewall active. For further information on this type of configuration, we strongly advise you to consult the guide to installation and configuration of the software. Lastly, the redirection mode specifies the technique to use for redirect users not logged in on the authentication page. This mode must run as "standard" in the majority of cases. You must use the "Alternative" mode only when there are problems with the other mode (for example with some particular modems).

RADIUS Hotspot : uses wireless systems that communicate with Softvision Explorer using the RADIUS protocol. It is possible to use any wireless router that supports DD-WRT and CoovaAP firmware (Linksys 54GL, Netgear Wrg614 etc.) or any other system  that supports the RADIUS certification. In this section you will need to specify the 'Shared secret' necessary for the RADIUS protocol and one or more locations. For detailed information on the set up of this type of Hotspot, consult page 'Set up of a RADIUS Hotspot'.


For a comparison of different solution see the article Hotspot Comparison on LAN2 and Hotspot Radius.


The Captive Portal, i.e., the website that users see when they attempt to access the system, can be completely personalized. The Hotspot branch of this window contains two sections for personalization:



  • Captive Portal Preferences: this section allows users to decide whether or not to enable the change of navigation mode during a search or the renewal of a subscription. For example, if this item is enabled, users who are navigating in prepaid mode could simply purchase a recharge for their account or purchase a traffic subscription and, thus, change their navigation mode from prepaid mode to traffic mode. Obviously, it is also possible to indicate which navigation modes are accessible to users. From this section, you can also enable the use of pre-paid recharges, pre-paid tickets, login/passwords, registration via Web and the obligation to accept the Conditions of Use on first access.




White List


This page contains two White Lists for the hotspot: one for MAC Addresses and one for websites. The first specifies a list of MAC Addresses of devices that can navigate through the Hotspot without the need for authentication. Typically, this option is reserved for the personnel of the establishment where the Hotspot is installed. The website White List, on the other hand, permits even users who are not logged-in to navigate some websites. This function is essential, for example, to allow users who are not logged-in to access PayPal to recharge their accounts.



VoIP Telephony


This section allows you to enable the VoIP functionalities necessary for the program to manage a Call Shop.

The first thing to set is the list of VoIP service carriers. The program needs at least one VoIP carrier  to route the calls, however we recommend you set more than one to ensure a carrier is always available if the others are temporarily unavailable. Furthermore, by setting multiple VoIP carriers and by uploading the relative telephone rates for the different countries, you can request the program to route the call using the carrier with the least charge for that particular telephone prefix.

Having entered the carriers, you must set one of them as "default". This carrier will be used to route the calls with no specified routing information. For further information on this functionality, view the VoIP Rates section.

The lower part of the window includes a "SIP Client Registration" frame. Here, you must specify if the SIP telephone must use authentication based on a username and password to register or if the program must only accept calls from telephones that conducted the registration operation.



Re-charge using PayPal


In this section you can configure the system to accept re-charge payments with a PayPal account or by credit card. Before configuring this section, you are advised to consult the page on re-charge using PayPal. In particular, for the correct functioning of the recharging procedure, you must activate the immediate payment notification (IPN) in your PayPal profile and turn the port TCP 80 towards the server.
The following parameters must be entered :


PayPal Account : email address linked to the PayPal account through which payments are to be made.


URL to be displayed for successfully completed transactions : this is the page that will be displayed on completion of a successful transaction. It is very important for this URL to be correct, because the customer’s pre-paid account is automatically credited with the re-charge when, at the end of the transaction, re-direction to this URL from PayPal’s site occurs.

URL to be displayed if a transaction error occurs
: this page is displayed if errors of any kind occur during the transaction. Both these pages can be customised as you wish, as long as the internal structure of the pages is not altered. To this end, we advise you to modify the pages by first making use of the downloadable resources at :

Percentage to be credited to the pre-paid account
: seeing as the retailer pays a commission (about 4%) on every transaction, it is possible to arrange for the cost to be paid by the customer, by crediting their pre-paid account with less than 100% (for example 96%) of the actually requested amount.




Multiple Servers


You can use multiple servers to communicate computers that run Explorer Manager. Let us assume, for example, that a hotel chain has a server installed with Explorer Manager to manage the Hotspots in three different hotels which we will call A,B and C. If a customer is registered in hotel A, obviously he/she can only access that particular Hotspot. If the customer goes to Hotel B he/she has to register again to also navigate in those Hotspots. To avoid multiple registration, the Multiple Server function can be used to ensure the various Explorer Managers installed in hotels A, B and C communicate with one another via internet to exchange information on their registered users.
We will now analyse in detail this procedure functioning : if a user is registered at hotel A and then goes to hotel B (where he/she is not registered), once an access request is made the Explorer Manager in hotel B, on not finding the user among those registered, will query the other network Hotspots (A and C). Since the user is present on Hotspot A, his/her data (personal, credit, etc.) are sent to the requesting Hotspot (B) to enable the user to access that Hotspot. Basically, the user record is "transferred" to the Hotspot making the request. Afterwards, the user can conduct the same operation in hotel C or even hotel A. His/her record will "follow" the user to each hotel in the chain.

To use this function, you must specify each network server with the relevant public IP addresses (without fixed IP, use a dynamic DNS service). Each server must also have an associated number code that uniquely identifies it. For the correct functioning of the procedure it is fundamentally important that the server lists, with the relevant codes, are identical in all the network servers.

Remember that the servers communicate with one another using port 9393. As a result, you must forward that port to the network computer that runs Explorer Manager.


To avoid manually uploading the list on all the servers, use the following procedure:


1) Ensure Explorer Manager is active on all the network servers.

2) Upload the list on one server only.

3) Activate user sharing on all the other servers without uploading any sections.

3) Re-start all the servers.


Once the procedure ends, the list will be sent to all the network servers, thereby avoiding its manual upload.






Softvision Explorer supports three different types of database : Microsoft Access, Sql Server (also Express Edition) and MySql (from version 5).

Access is the default database. To change this setting, just select Sql Server or MySql, setting the relevant access parameters (server address, password, etc.). For a complete description of what these parameters mean, refer to the respective database guides.

Having changed the type of database used, the program will import the Access data in the new database. Remember that the reverse operation is not allowed :  for example, if you are using the MySql database you can return to the Access database, but you cannot transfer data loaded while using the MySql database.

This page also allows you to request the automatic compacting of the archive every X days. Compacting is of fundamental importance (particularly for Access) to always ensure a high performance level in accessing data on the database.


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