Find Out Anything About Egypt on the Tour Egypt Messaging system
by Jimmy Dunn
How does one get from Cairo to 6th of October City? What's the meaning of Yalla? Which monuments are open and which are closed? What is Hawass, the chairman of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) up to? How about a reasonable hotel for divers on the Red Sea coast? Just how hot is it in Egypt? What's happening in Egyptian soccer? These and a thousand other questions have been answered on the Tour Egypt Conference, otherwise known as the BBS.
The Tour Egypt BBS is a real time messaging and chat system, and has been online for a number of years. It is consistently frequented by a number of people who like Egypt, travel there often, have a varied interest and expertise on Egyptian antiquities as well as travel. In addition, we also have our Egyptian nationals who visit the BBS, as well as a number of ex-pats currently living there. Here, one will find many of the people who write for Tour Egypt.
For years now, I have claimed that the Conference system, the Tour Egypt message board, is one of the internet's best resources on Egypt. I didn't always think that. When we first started Tour Egypt many years ago and set up the message board, for many months there was no activity at all, as one might expect on a new board. I lost interest and stopped checking the system after awhile. I simply put the system out of my thoughts.
Then one day, perhaps several years later, I must have gotten a message from Mary Kay Radnich which advised me to take a look at the system. What I found was something like, "you have 4,512 new messages". While I was ignoring the message system, a community had formed. In fact, a group from the BBS had actually formed a club, called the Egyptomaniacs, and had visited Egypt together. That group formed strong bonds with Egypt, and several of the members even moved to Cairo, while others were in fact, Egyptians.
For most, the BBS ends up being a place where they can meet up with people who have a similar interest in Egypt. It has certainly become a virtual community, and many have become lifelong friends with people who, often as not, they have met in person.
Today, the message board seems to consist of a core group of people who have been using the system for many years, with the addition of some newer regulars. This core group consists of a number of Egyptians, several ex-pats living in Egypt, as well as a number of people who travel relatively frequently to Egypt, and have an intense interest in the country. They make up a wonderful Tour Egypt resource. They provide answers to questions that Tour Egypt's small staff could never approach because as a body, their expertise spans a large knowledge base of information.
Hence, I would like to tell everyone a little about these people.
Mary Kay has always been somewhat of a driving force on the BBS, even though she is probably one of the least experienced in Egyptian travel. She is the informal president of the Egyptomaniacs, and you might recognize her name from our Recipe section, where she provides most of our recipes. She keeps everything going on the BBS and is a moderator of the system, also keeping things clean. Mary Kay has been a regular there since 1997.
Nancy, otherwise known as Goldie, or Shar Dahab, is living her dream in Egypt. Also a regular since 1997, anda California girl, she has now made Cairo her home for some time. She's apparently having a grand time in Cairo, and as an ex-pat living in Egypt, brings some real prospective to the Egyptian travelers who frequent the board with questions.
Adel Murad is also a long term member of the BBS. As an Egyptian journalist who actually lives in London, Adel makes many contributions to the board, and is the author of many Tour Egypt articles. However, perhaps his most interesting contribution to the message system, at least for me, is his information on the Arabic language (specific to Egypt). Beginning with a thread called EAR, standing for Egyptomaniac Arabic Resource, it became so popular that we gave him his own conference.
Then there is Sonny Stengle, a German producer who has provided Tour Egypt with some great stories and many wonderful perspectives on Egypt. Sonny frequently provides information,about the Luxor area. He inspires our imagination with balloon flights, rare interviews and many photographs.
One of my favorite Egyptians is Diaa Khalil, for any number of reasons. It is not uncommon for various Egyptians to attach themselves to tourists in order to profit from such an association. Taxi drivers are probably the best example, and though they provide considerable assistance, their motive is usually money. Diaa, on the other hand, is probably one of the best-natured Egyptians I have ever met, and has helped hundreds of tourists, I believe, because he genuinely likes people. Profit never seems to have entered that equation. On the message board, he provides information that only a life long resident of Cairo could know, but has also met many of the people he helped on the board once they arrived in Cairo. He's also a go-to-man for Tour Egypt, currently writing a number of specific articles for us on shopping in Egypt.
I've never met Muhammad Hegab, otherwise known as Gogo. Like Diaa, he is an Egyptian living in Cairo, and also like Diaa, is a walking encyclopedia on the country and who is very willing to help people.
Joerg Heinz is another German who's main claim to fame on the board is that he is a frequent visitor to Egypt. Along with providing a number of pictures to the board, he also provides visitors with a view of by an interested and knowledgeable traveler.
Likewise, Karen Phillips isanother US expatriate living in Cairo, the Gizaarea, whois very knowledgeable about details of living in the city.
Nermin is a youngEgyptian woman from Alexandria, who studies Graeco-Roman archaeology, but is best known as the banner creator for some of the regulars.
Wilde Bloemen is really Ann, a woman from Belgium who travels to Egypt regularly with her family.
Dora Barendrecht, who is Dutch, is a newbie tothe BBS ( by comparison) and her love for the country is contagious! Dora's comments and questions are full of energy and enthusiasm for Egypt.
Simone Letailleur, who has been traveling to Egypt for many years, is another long time contributor to the BBS, who is full of energy and enthusiasm for the country.
And there are so many others - Donna, Michelle, Mintaka, Mohammed Osama, Lin, Linda, to name a few more - who bring energy, enthusiasm, and a positive spirit to the BBS.
Operating the Message System
Operationally, the BBS does take some getting use to, though it is not unlike many similar programs. One must log in and establish a user name and password to post, but this is a minimal task. There is very little information required, and we do not use the information for mass mailings, nor do we allow anyone else to. Alternatively, you can log in as a guest, but you will not be able to post questions or information.
Once you have logged in, if you allow the use of frames as most do, there are two important control areas, consisting of the black menu bar at the top of the screen, and the conference list on the left.
You may open up any conference by clicking on its name. A number of "Theads" will appear under the conference name after you click it. Most of these are not single messages, but threads of messages on a specific topic. They will have a + to the left. Clicking on the plus sign will open up the thread of messages. You can read the individual messages by clicking on them.
Once a message is opened, it appears on the right side of the screen. At the top of the message are various options. Clicking "post" will post a new message to the conference. Clicking reply will post a reply to the specific message. You may also post a new message to a conference by clicking on the conference, and then the "post" on the black menu bar at the top of the screen.
Another very useful tool is the search button. This allows you to search for specific topics that might have been discussed.
Anytime that you enter the BBS, you will see any new messages that have been posted since you last marked the message as read. To mark all messages read, click on the "Mark Read" button on the top black menu bar.
There are many more options and commands, including chatting, paging and others, but these basic steps will get you going. Enjoy the BBS, and the friendly people who inhabit Tour Egypt's Virtual Community.