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The On Ramp

The Blue Mountain Internet Customer Newsletter

 Issue # 37 November 2006 
  • Greetings From the Edi...
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  • Holiday Cooking
  • Turkey Talk
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  • FAQ
    by Matt Stephens
    November 2006
    I don't know about you, but it's cold outside around here. As much as I love the summer time, I am welcoming the coming winter with open arms. Snow falling, holidays, sledding trips to the cabin in the mountains. All these and more make the winter more bearable. What ever you choose to do this winter to keep the cabin fever to a minimum, make it as fun as you can.

    One thing about the "wet season" that troubles me though, is the quality of my connection. It seems to be a new problem that starts for many of our customers in the fall and winter and seems to taper off in the spring. Have you ever wondered why this happens? Well, I'm here to help you. Or at least shed some educated light on the subject for you so at least you understand what is happening and don't mistakenly throw your computer out in the cold.

    If you have been on a dial up connection for any length of time, you have more than likely heard of "line noise". Line noise is defined as "interference in a line, introduced by static; disruption of computer communications caused by interference on the telephone line" So what does that mean to you? Well, static on your phone lines can come from many places. Did you see the cute little creatures that crawled on your phone lines all spring and summer? Well, those furry little wonders all have claws. And they grasp at the phone lines so they don't fall off. This will indefinitely cause little holes, tears and rips in the insulation around the lines. Then, as it gets hot and then cold the tears become worse. Then you add water from the rain and snow into the equation and you get static. A lot of static.

    Now, you're probably wondering why this matters. Well, when your computer talks over the phone lines it does it by what sounds like static. When you add line noise to this it's as if a third computer is on the line speaking an unknown language. This will confuse your computer or ours and the connection will be slow, and in some cases, even drop frequently.

    But wait, that's not all. Other things can have serious effects on your connection. Things that are completely in your control. How many programs do you have running on your computer? Many times I hear the answer none when I ask this. But look in the lower right hand side of your screen, down by the clock. Each of those little icons is a program that is running. Each of those programs is using memory. The more memory that is used, the less you have available for your connection. Your connection needs memory to load web pages and mail into in order for your computer to display it.

    One other thing that has been a problem for very few customers is radio and television stations. Do you live next door to a radio station? Is there a radio station close by? Radio stations broadcast a signal at extreme wattage which also causes static on the telephone lines. This could be one source of line noise, but it would most likely be apparent all year long, rather than just the cold and wet months.

    The last thing I would like to mention this month is other devices within your home. Do you have a cordless phone? A fax machine? An old phone that predates internet? Try removing every device from your phone line within your house, and then try dialing up. See if your speed and reliability increase. If it does than you know that something in your home was causing the trouble. You can plug things back in one at a time to find out which one was causing the trouble. Also, make sure that the phone line from your computer doesn't go through anything else like a fax machine, a splitter, a coupler, or another computer. Straight to the wall.

    So I know that most of this doesn't look very hopeful. But there can be resolution to these and any other cause of trouble. The most common issue is line noise, and a simple call to your phone company can resolve it. (Please note: phone companies charge for doing repairs to the phone lines within your home. Please speak with your phone company prior to any repair to find out the cost of such repair)

    Also, if it is a program running on your computer that is eating up all the memory, you can simply close that program.

    If it is a phone line issue and the phone company can't do anything about it due to your location (living outside city limits is a good example) than call our office. In many cases we can add an initialization string (a string of programming that tells your modem how to connect) which in many cases will stabilize your connection and cause you less grief.

    One other thing to consider is the BMI Turbo program. This program won't change the speed you connect at, or download at, but it will certainly make your online experience more enjoyable as it will enable your computer to load web pages up to 7 times faster. And the more you use it, the faster it loads frequently visited websites. I have used it at home myself and when properly configured it's really helpful.

    Just make sure that you enjoy the coming winter months as best you can. You can't change them, or stop them from coming, so you might as well enjoy t
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    The On Ramp is a monthly publication of Blue Mountain Internet.

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