The On Ramp

The Blue Mountain Internet Customer Newsletter

 Issue # 34 August 2006 
Greetings from the Editor  by Carol Hall GeoCaching  by Jon Alexander
Have it YOUR Way!  by Nathon O'Neel Gold Fever  by Victor Luna
FAQ  by Matt Stephens Metal Detecting 101  by KJ Newby
Referral Winners  by BMI Staff Riddle Time  by Nathon o'Neel
Shipwreck Search  by Tony Abrego LetterBoxing  by Carol hall
BMI's Treasure Chest  by Mike Rochelle Kudos  by Matt Stephens
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Greetings from the Editor
by Carol Hall

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A wonderful August is now upon us! Vacation time is coming to an end, and "back to school" time is right around the bend. I hope you enjoy this edition of The On Ramp and I look forward to hearing from you. This issue is dedicated to the art and fascination of "Treasure Hunting" Whether it is finding a flake of gold in a stream, or locating a sunken ship, the world is full of "treasures" just waiting to be found.

I welcome your comments and additions to the newsletter! Please email me at
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by Jon Alexander

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Have some fun! Occasionally I run into a cool web site about a particular place or an exciting thing to do. GeoCaching is the best of both worlds!

What is Geocaching? Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for Global Position System (GPS) users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capabilities of a GPS unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. Here's an important tip - remember to be a good visitor. If you get something from the cache, leave something for the cache.

Geocaching is a hoot! It's free to signup for plus it's easy to use. All you need is a GPS device and a sense of adventure.
What is a GPS device? A GPS unit is an electronic device that can determine your approximate location (within about 6-20 feet) on the planet. Coordinates are normally given in Longitude and Latitude. You can use the unit to navigate from your current location to another location. Some units have their own maps, built-in electronic compasses, voice navigation, all depending on the complexity of the device. You don't need to know all the technical mumbo jumbo about GPS units to play Geocaching. All you need to do is be able to enter what is called a "waypoint" where the geocache is hidden. See the documentation that came with your GPS unit to find how to enter a waypoint.

To find a cache in your area locate the "Hide and Seek a Cache" listing down the side of the main screen after signing up. You can search by either a zip code or "state and country". If you travel internationally you can have a whole word of fun with Geocaching. I found 73 caches around my zip code. Have fun!
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Have it YOUR Way!
by Nathon O'Neel

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Did you know you can customize your BMI home page?
What does this mean? It means that you can customize your BMI homepage to include content that YOU want and in the order YOU want to view it!
We offer a wide variety of options to tailor it for yourself. Maybe you want to see the Google Search Engine, the Weather and CNN news, but you don't want to see BMI advertisements, or lottery results. No problem...that is your choice!

In order to customize the starting page you must first login to it:

  • Go to
  • Login with your user name and password
  • Click on customize in the upper right hand corner
  • On the new page you will see the many options that are available
You can remove things you don't want to see by clicking on the little red X in the upper right hand corner of the box(s). You can always add them back later if you wish.

The list on the right are things that are not currently on your custom page. You can add those items(s) by clicking on the numbers 1, 2, or 3. The number will determine which column the item will appear on your page. You can then move that box up or down to where you want it.

If you would like to move an item to another column, you must remove it first by clicking the little red X, then add it to the list on the right.

Once you are finished, these changes will be saved for you. Whenever you login to the BMI home page it will bring up your custom settings. The computer automatically remembers your login.

If you want to return to the way you had it previously, click the reset button at the bottom.

Each time you return to the BMI homepage, your custom page will be waiting for you!

Have Fun!
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Gold Fever
by Victor Luna

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Do you think that panning for gold is a thing of the past - just something you see in the movies but never seriously considered doing? Think again...many people still do it for fun and profit! Who may find a valuable nugget!

All you need to pan for gold is
  • A shovel
  • An old dishpan (or a $5 gold pan)
  • A magnifying glass
  • A pair of tweezers
  • A small plastic vial in which to put your gold
Gold pans are found at hardware stores, metal detector stores, rock shops and hobby shops.


1. Fill two thirds of your pan with gravel, sand and sediment from the riverbank, then top it off with stream water.
2. Keeping the pan partially submerged, swirl it in a circular motion until the lighter sediment washes away.
3. Push aside the rocks on top and - (this is the moment of truth) - see what's left at the very bottom of the pan.
4. Look for material with a shiny yellow sheen, but not stuff that twinkles like a crystal (that's probably just fools gold)
5. Collect the gold flakes with tweezers and place them in your container

Gold has been found in all 50 states Here are some websites that will help you when you decide to go panning for gold: Good Luck!

Gold Maps
Gold Prospectors
Get Gold
Nugget Hunter
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by Matt Stephens

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Greets to all of our wonderful Blue Mountain Internet subscribers! You may remember that last month I asked for suggestions about topics to discuss in the newsletters. I am happy to inform you that over the past month I received a few suggestions. So, I picked one that I thought many of you wonder about from time to time. Connection speeds

The question posed to me was "Why do my connection speeds vary from time to time? Typically connection speeds will vary depending on several factors: Phone line quality, internet traffic, and the computer you are using.

What is poor phone line quality? That's a very good question. Your phone lines are hard wires that route from your home to a central phone office and on from there to where ever it is that phone lines go. From the central office to your home, the lines are outside - sometimes they are above ground and sometimes under ground. Things like the weather and animals can affect the quality of these lines.

Let's say that your lines are above ground. During the spring and summer animals are on them and they experience large temperature changes. The animals will claw at the lines causing little breaks and expose bare wires in many cases. The temperature changes will cause the lines to expand and contract, in turn causing these little breaks in the lines to get larger and weaker. This will cause a small amount of static on your phone lines. Then when the wet season arrives, such as fall and winter, the moisture will seep into the lines and cause even more static. The extent of damage will make your connection speeds vary.

"But my lines are under ground". Okay, this is just as typical. Underground wires have the same fundamentals. Through ground movement, insects and other things, the lines have a tendency to become "weathered" over time. This allows moisture to get into them as the seasons change. It causes static on the lines (known as line noise) which in turn makes your connection speeds vary.

"What about internet traffic?" Every day, millions of people get online. Some sites such as MSN, Yahoo, Google or other very popular sites, may experience slow downs during heavy traffic times. Typically around 3:00 p.m. the internet will start to slow down, and then it takes another dive around 5:00 p.m. Why, you may ask? Well, kids are out of school, parents are arriving home and everyone is getting online. When more people get online and try to go to the same popular sites you are trying to get to, things will inevitably slow down. Your connection will still show a normal speed, but pages may load slower. A good solution to this is to try and do your internet work later in the evening, usually after 7:00p.m.

The last thing that I mentioned is the computer you are using. How often do you shut your computer off? How old is your computer? Are you running a newer operating system than what your computer came with? When was the last time you formatted your computer and started from scratch?

All these computer variances can affect your online experience. I'll explain them one at a time.
  • First, how often do you shut down your computer? This means how often do you turn the computer completely off? Many times I have found that computer techs tell customers not to turn their computers off because of one reason or another. I find this very hard to digest.

    The main reason is that when you leave your computer on all the time, your computer's memory begins to fill up. Every time you open a program, a small piece of that program remains in memory until you shut the computer off. This is so that the next time you open that program it loads faster. However the down side to that feature is that when you leave your computer on all the time the memory fills up and it begins to slow down dramatically. My personal belief is that shutting your computer off once a day will keep it running smooth.
  • How old is your computer? You may be wondering why that matters. Well, the funny thing is that electronic components are not much different than people. Age slows us all down.

    Your computer heats up and cools off a lot during its life and with that comes wear and tear. Memory will start to function differently; the processor may start to have issues as well. Also, the information on your hard drive will get scattered through installation and un-installation of programs. All of this will cause "wrinkles" in the skin of your computer and cause it to slow down.

    Preventive measures can be taken to slow down the aging process though. Things like frequent virus scans, adware and spyware removal tools, and of course safe surfing. Just like your car, your computer requires frequent maintenance, and once you know how to do it, it's very simple to do and doesn't take a whole lot of time. On my home computer, I run maintenance every time I change the oil in my car. It all happens together at the same time. While the oil is draining out of my car, I start the cleaning programs on my computer.

    Check with your local computer tech for maintenance suggestions and a schedule that best fits your computing needs. If you don't have a local computer tech, call our office at 800-485-5006 and we'll see if we have a partner in your area.
  • Are you running a newer operating system than your computer came with? You may think that a newer operating system will speed up your computer. In fact, it may do just the opposite.

    Your computer was designed with the requirements of a specific operating system in mind. Let's say your computer is 10 years old, and was made with Windows 95 in mind, but you wanted to join the 21st century with Windows XP. So you took your computer in and had Windows XP loaded on it. Sure, it turns on and functions, but did it speed up? I didn't think so.

    The reason for this in most cases is that people don't know what makes their computers run fast. Memory, current and correct drivers, and extra programs not running all help a computer to run faster. Again, this is much like your car. If you upgrade your stereo, but you don't change your speakers, you aren't going to get better sound. If you upgrade your operating system in your computer but you don't touch the hardware, you won't be able to utilize the new operating system.
  • When was the last time you formatted your computer? Now this one is not for the faint of heart. A format or complete reinstallation of your operating system and programs should always be done by a qualified technician.

    So why do I bring it up? Well, let's say that your computer was new about 5 years ago. It's running Windows XP. Over the past 5 years you have added games for your kids, and then removed them as the kids out grew them. You have been online from day one, but you haven't run any security software because you really only check your mail and occasionally go to websites to look for things. Over the course of 5 years your computer has seen things come and go. It's getting slower and you can't really figure out why. Well, once again, when you add and remove programs, the hard drive becomes fragmented. That means that there are pieces of programs and files all over the span of your hard drive.

    Think of it like this. The music on a CD is recorded in order. A hard drive is a lot like a CD. However when you add and remove programs, the information "burned" on the hard drive is now scattered all over the place. That causes your hard drive to have to search all over the drive surface for the information that it needs. You could run the defragmentation program in Windows but there is danger in that as well. I have seen a couple of times where running that program will cause loss of system information and cause the hard drive to actually crash.

    Now I'm not saying that you need to format your hard drive once a year or anything. But when you notice that it's getting slow, and you have run programs to try and clean it up, and it's just not like it used to be, you may want to think about having it reloaded. Most computer shops will be able to perform this for under $100. Your computer will be back to running like it was brand new again.
So, while this was pretty lengthy, you now have a grasp at why connection speeds will very so much from connection to connection. The most common is phone line and weather conditions. But it all flows down hill. If your phone lines aren't great, and your computer is old and over run, then you will do nothing but continue to slow down.

Keep your suggestions coming for article ideas. Next month I will be talking about ways to keep your computer "tuned up" and a good maintenance schedule for the average person to follow. Take care everyone.
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Metal Detecting 101
by KJ Newby

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The hobby of metal detecting is now firmly established in Britain, the USA, Australia and many European countries. The many thousands of metal detectorists who enjoy this fascinating hobby reap benefits in a variety of ways; relaxation away from the pressures of work or domestic life, fresh air and exercise, and making new friends and meeting other enthusiasts. But these are common to many other hobbies and there are more specific benefits which set metal detecting apart; the gain of knowledge about the past, the excitement and pleasure one feels when handling objects which haven't seen light for years, and of course the coins and artifacts recovered. The newcomer to the hobby is happy to find anything other than silver paper, ring pulls and soft drink cans!

Below is a list of websites that may be of interest to you as well as the do's and don'ts of metal detecting:

Go Metal Detecting
Dirty Knees Metal Detecting
White's Electronics


  1. Do not trespass. Ask permission before venturing on to any private land.
  2. Respect the Country Code. Do not leave gates open when crossing fields, and do not damage crops or frighten animals.
  3. Do not leave a mess. It is perfectly simple to extract a coin or other small objects buried a few inches under the ground without digging a big hole. Use a sharpened trowel to cut a neat flap do not remove the plug of earth entirely from the ground, extract the object; replace the soil and grass carefully so that even you will have difficulty in finding the spot again.
  4. Help to keep land tidy - and help yourself. Bottle tops, silver paper and tin cans are the last things you should throw away. You could be digging them up again next year. Do yourself and the community a favor by taking the rusty iron and junk you find to the nearest litter bin.
  5. If you discover any live ammunition or any lethal object such as an unexploded bomb or mine, do not touch it. Mark the site carefully and report the find to the local police and landowner.
  6. Report all unusual historical finds to the landowner.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the laws relating to archaeological sites. Remember it is illegal for anyone to use a metal detector on a scheduled ancient monument unless permission has been obtained from the Secretary of State for the Environment. Also acquaint yourself with the practice of Treasure Trove.
  8. Remember that when you are out with your metal detector, you are an ambassador for our hobby. Do nothing that may give it a bad name.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to show and explain your detector to anyone who asks about it. Be friendly, you could pick up some useful clues to another site. If you meet another detector user, introduce yourself. You may learn much about the hobby from each other.
Have fun and happy hunting!
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Referral Winners
by BMI Staff

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Congratulations to our July 2006 Referral winners!!

To enter in this month's "Refer a Friend" contest, simply refer someone to BMI. If they signup, both YOU and your FRIEND are entered into the drawing for great prizes!

Barbara B. of Boardman, OR for referring Sandra C of Boardman, OR
Brad D. of Caldwell, ID was referred by Jean Anne K of Cove, OR.

EACH lucky winner received $25.00 credit on their BMI Account!


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Riddle Time
by Nathon o'Neel

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When can you add 2 + 11 and 1 is the correct answer?
When you add 2 hours to 11 O'Clock to get 1 O'Clock.

Which would be worth more: A pound of $10 pure gold coin -or- 1/2 a pound of $20 pure gold coin?
A pound of gold is always worth more than 1/2 pound!

Which two 5-letter English words do not change their pronunciation when 4 letters are taken away?
The words "Queue" and "Aitch"

When asked how old she was, Suzie replied, "In two years I will be twice as old as I was five years ago." How old is she now?
She is 12 years old

How would you rearrange the letters in the words "New Door" to make one word? (Note: There is only one correct answer)

You throw away the outside and cook the inside, then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What did you just eat?
An ear of corn

What is bought by the yard and worn by the foot?
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Shipwreck Search
by Tony Abrego

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This type of treasure hunting is probably not for you average 'weekend adventurer", however, it is a most fascinating topic!

Underwater explorers may have hit the jackpot with the discovery of the Civil-War era S.S. Republic. The paddlewheel steamship went to the bottom of the Atlantic in 1865 with a cargo of gold coins that may be worth as much as U.S. 180 million dollars!

But that may not be all that's valuable about the wreck. The ship could represent a time capsule of an important part of United States history.

The ill-fated ship was en route from New York to New Orleans when it sunk on October 25, 1865, during a hurricane near Savannah, Georgia. Its cargo included some 20,000 - $20 gold pieces, which were to help fund post-war reconstruction. While the Republic's passengers were able to abandon ship, its precious cargo went to the bottom.

Position Fixing When locating a shipwreck, one of the first things you need to know at sea is where you are. If you find a shipwreck, you want to be able to go back to the same spot again. Near land, you can find your position from landmarks. By measuring the angle to three landmarks and plotting the angles on the chart, you get three lines that cross. That marks your position. This is called "triangulation", and is also used underwater by archaeologists. Away from land, sailors at one time used the sun or the stars to work out their position. Nowadays, sailors use electronics. Older systems like Decca or Loran rely on having a series of transmitters at fixed points. These send out a signal, which can be picked up by a receiver on the boat. By working out the strength of the signal, the receiver works out your position, which can be plotted on the chart.

A more up to date system uses satellites, and a computer on the boat receives signals from the satellite, like the older systems did from transmitters. This Global Positioning System (GPS) can work out your position to within a few feet anywhere on the earth.

Magnetometers are very large underwater metal detectors. They work in the same way, by reading differences in the magnetic readings of the earth. This means that if they pass over an area where metal is buried, they let you know, either by sound or by a needle on a dial. It also tells you how strong the reading is. The same is true for magnetometers, except instead of being carried by hand, they are towed from a boat. They look like long thin metal fish, with a large magnet in their nose. The way they work for wreck searching is simple. The boat sails up and down in a series of lines, a bit like a farmer plowing a field. This way the searchers know that they are being systematic, and covering the search area thoroughly.

Anything found is called a "hit", and a marker buoy is dropped on the spot. The bigger the hit, the more likely that something big lies down there on or just under the ocean floor. Each "hit" is then checked out by divers. Sometimes it is an unexploded bomb, sometimes a lost anchor or just sometimes part of the missing treasure wreck.

Sonar works by sending out a pulse of sound that then gets reflected back from either the seabed or anything else down there. It was first developed to help warships look for submarines, but nowadays it can also help us look for shipwrecks.

The basic kind is an echo sounder, and a paper trace records the seabed. If the bottom is flat, a shipwreck might show up as a bump on the flat seabed. Sidescan sonars do the same job, but cover a much wider area, sweeping a large lane over the seabed. Searchers still have to sail their boats up and down, like mowing a lawn, making sure all of their search area is covered.

A development of the echo sounder is the sub-bottom profiler. This is an echo sounder powerful enough to look through the ocean floor and give some idea if anything is buried beneath the sand or mud.

Other tools have been used, from aircraft, towed sledges, unmanned mini-submarines or just simply using scuba divers. The best tool is knowledge. If the searchers know where the ship sank from old documents, then they have a good chance of finding what they are looking for.

Here are a few links to Shipwreck Searching:

NJS Cuba
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by Carol hall

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Okay, so you don't own a GPS, or a sonar device. You are not keen on digging and getting you knees dirty. The idea of swirling sediment in a dishpan doesn't excite you. You can STILL BE A TREASURE HUNTER! An up an coming pastime that weaves navigation, clues, art and intrigue together is referred to as 'LetterBoxing" In addition, this is a free and fun adventure.

In April of 1998, Smithsonian magazine published an article on the Dartmoor letterboxes. Within a very short time, a loose alliance of adventurers and rubber stamp enthusiasts pioneered the introduction of the hobby to the US. With the Internet as a primary means of communication, the idea soon spread around the country. Web-sites and a discussion group were established. Letterboxes began to be placed in inconspicuous but interesting locations throughout the US.

LetterBoxes are hidden containers that hold a notebook and rubber stamp. Clues for finding these letterboxes can be found on the sites listed below. Once you have successfully found a letterbox, you place your stamp impression in the notebook, and use the stamp in the letterbox to make an impression in your own notebook. You then replace the hidden letterbox and move on.

Part of the art of letterboxing, is creating your own personal rubber stamp that represents your "signature".

While researching articles regarding "treasure hunting", I was thrilled to find this topic. I eagerly searched for letter boxes in my town of Walla Walla. YES! One was listed. Much to my disappointment, however, I found that it has perished in a recent landscaping project at our city park. I know that letterboxes can careful when you hide them!

Here are some great links to get you started:

Walking Dartmoor
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BMI's Treasure Chest
by Mike Rochelle

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Special Things from BMI
In my own words "The internet is the internet". You can get to from BMI or any other provider. You can also use your existing Instant Messenger with just about any internet provider.

So what makes the difference?

At BMI, the difference is those little things that make you wonder why others don't include those benefits also. You get:

  • Technical support you don't have to pay extra for
  • Technicians that you actually want to chat with about your concerns (If you really get lucky, you might get a wonderfully smart-alecky guy like me that has seen it all and will tell you so!)
  • BMI offers award winning software that you can download. Most of it is for free like Spybot search and Destroy, or Windows Defender.
  • We also have a very high quality anti-virus program that for a mere $2 per month or $20 per year, protects your computer from ALL the viruses. The other more expensive programs require you to load up your computer with unnecessary extra software.
  • How about kids? Want to protect them from the bad stuff on the internet? We have a parental control that works wonders. Our control only lets your kids view approved sites that have been examined and given an approval rating by a real person.
  • How about something for your computer? BMI now offers cool new hardware for your computer (web cams, usb modems and other neat stuff)

    So, whatever you are looking for, please remember we are here for you and will assist you in all your internet needs!
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by Matt Stephens

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Nate, I want to thank you so much for all your patience and help in walking me through the anti-virus program. I thank all of the staff at BMI for the great job you do.
-Ron W.- Veneta, OR

"Thank you Nathan and Tony. BMI is the greatest especially for a computer know nothing like me."
Thank you.
-Johanna S. Bend, OR

"Thank you so much for hanging in there for me! I really appreciated it."
-Claudea M. Baker City, OR

"Thanks so much for your tech support. BMI.NET is truly a place to call home. THERES NO PLACE LIKE HOME!"
Thanks again.
-Jack and Carol K. Union, OR

"Thank you, Matt, for your good help. It is great to be back in business!!"
-Marjorie D Redmond, OR

"Thanks Nathon.. You made it easy to get up and going.."
-Terry S. Haines OR

"I would like to thank Nathon the tech support guy. Nathon was the most helpful person I have talked to so far at Blue Mountain. He has a way with customers. He is a people person and that is what we need. Thank you very much,"
-Karen L. Fuchs Philomath, OR

"Thank each and every one of your employees because what a terrific ISP al of you make! You are FABULOUS!!!"
-Meg A. Pateros, WA
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