First, I noted on todays news a guy who found a cache of gold in an old cave. I only caught the end of the report but it sounded like it was in the desert on the mainland.
I used to prospect some and am still a member of the Lost Dutchmans Mining Association and the Gold Prospectors Association of America. I used to watch the shows on C-Band satellite and joined.
C-Band is those big dishes usually seen on top of sports bars. Nowadays homes have switched to the pizza-pan sized units from companies such as Dish-TV. There are some differences between the dishes. The big ones give you free programs and you can pick and choose from suppliers to get from 1 program to many programs or packages. Although you can get a package of shows at a discount, you also can order just say SciFi channel and Showtime Movie Channel without having to buy 20 other channels you don’t watch (unlike cable and the small dishes).
There are a ton of channels available on the big dishes ranging from the old standards to shows such as the “Uncut Gems” channel where you could buy a gem and perhaps cut it yourself? There is a channel where they auction off cattle and then there are the live news feeds which have not yet been edited. You can gather a wealth of information about how news organizations take raw footage and make a story about it, perhaps slanting the story as they go.
This whole other world is unknown to most people, yet easily accessable. There were also many audio channels available; however those are now becoming popular on the internet. For example, if you download the free version of the PC audio program called WinAmp (WinAmp.Com), you will find that buried in the program is an Internet Radio tab. Sort by genre and you could be listening to Polka music in seconds. If Polka is not your cup of tea, try one of the hundreds of other channels.
On another front (or is it hiding in the back?) are places where you can give your opinion or just chat. Places like KonaWeb at KonaWeb.com or the discussion areas at Clark Howard at ClarkHoward.Com are obvious choice and well publicized.
Years before the internet bacame popular, there was a thing called FidoNet where individual computers in people homes would pass mail and messages between them. You would log onto a local BBS and read messages from all over the world. It was quite popular and I think is still running mail and messages.
Many mail programs can access NewsGroups. Newsgroups have been arouns almost since the internet began and are quite popular. Sometimes during a search online you will see a message or two from a newsgroup. With these groups, you access the topic and read threaded messages about the topic. Topics include items like cultivating flowers, specific models of cars, movie stars, coffee roasting and so on. There are many thousands (or tens of thousands) of news groups. To see what I mean, go to deja.com or groups.google.com and enter in a keyword of your choice. If you want to get involved in newsgroups, read them online or investigate reading them in your browser (like Netscape or Firefox) or even mail readers like OutlookExpress and so on may let you access the news.
Then there are the chat programs which allow you to talk with people with slight delays, message by message. These are like the ICQ program and Yahoo Messenger. You type a message and wait on a reply message. Some proigrams allow you to chat with from 1 to many people in a “room”.
Then there are other hidden programs such as Internet Relay Chat (you can access it with a program such as Pirch at pirch.com). Here people create chat rooms and almost any topic is covered. Depending upon the server you choose, there may be thousands of current rooms available and the topics cover every imaginable topic. Oftentimes during an international disaster or event, people will open a room just to pass news and comments back and forth. I just checked one server and found 10,000 rooms open! Most of the rooms have a few people in them, but some of the bootleg discussions and game rooms host hundreds of people. The draw of these rooms is that anyone can create a room and become a moderator or channel god and make their own rules!
So as you see, there are many hidden treasures on the internet and in the sky and they can be fun to explore. Some may become your favorite new daily habit and others may explain why they are not as popular and unknown. Its your call.