An Upgrade for Tour Egypt

Ras Sidr on the Sinai Coast

Tour Egypt is a major business segment of InterCity Oz, Inc., one of the world's oldest web service providers that was begun at the very inception of the commercial internet. This year marks our tenth anniversary on the Internet, no small feat as we have watched tens of thousands of such businesses come and go. We have also weathered numerous storms over that period of time, while we learned about this new medium in the early years when windows notepad functioned as a web editor and server software worked sporadically at best. Those were the days of gray backgrounds and only rudimentary formatting capabilities on the net. As the net progressed, so did we, with new capabilities and technologies, though the net itself was sometimes the least of our problems.

Alexandria's Citadel: Photo  by Ahmed Salah

During the mid 1990s, we rode out the violence that brought tourism to a standstill in Egypt, and the terrorism and wars of this early 21st century that, while having nothing to do with Egypt, once again adversely affected travel to the country. While tourists fretted about Egyptian tours, we also watched the government make Egypt one of the safest destinations on Earth for travelers. We've struggled through, sometimes patching up our operating software, surviving Microsoft's abandonment of NT, which was used on our servers, and even the demise of the company that originally provided our web server software. We have managed to muddle our way through the ups and downs of the electronic frontier, through virus epidemics and denial of service attacks. As founder and president of InterCity Oz, Inc., and operations manager for Tour Egypt, we even managed to survive my own near demise with cancer several years ago. As I have grown older, time seems to slip by ever faster, but looking back on the past ten years, it seems like a long stretch indeed.

Alexandria's New Library: by Ahmed Salah

We look forward to serving Egyptian tourism and the Internet community over the coming years, but we will begin this next decade with a major system revamp. Over the next several weeks, we will completely overhaul both our hardware and operating systems, including the addition of more bandwidth. We will be upgrading almost all of the software we currently use in order to better secure the site against hackers, which have become a terrible problem, and when finished, we expect the system to be considerably faster and more reliable. The upgrade will include three new high speed server machines, adding to the ones we currently use, and this will allow us to spread the Tour Egypt resources out over more processing power. Our databases, which provide hotel and other information, as well as tour requests to travel professionals, will have their own dedicated server, as will our all important messaging and chat system, all for greater speed. This will be aided by a new professional SQL system and moving to a T3 dedicated internet connection. For security, we will be replacing our NT systems with Windows 2003 Professional server systems, a new mail server and new firewall software. However, during this period of time, we expect some small amount of downtime, though, for example, probably not any longer than when a tornado took out nearby power lines a few years ago, or before that and our move to Texas (our servers were once in Florida), the evacuation of our hardware in the face of Hurricane Andrew.

The Pyramids, and a lone camel: Photograph by Carol Mandel

It has not always been fun, but while there have been struggles over the last ten years, it has not been without a great deal of pleasure and even adventure. We have grown to know and love the Egyptian people, traveled to exotic destinations, and I can even say that we have enjoyed the various challenges that we have faced over the years. We have scuba dived in the Red Sea, gone camel riding in the Western Desert, climbed mountains and burrowed through tombs. We have visited every part of Egypt, sometimes staying in some of the finest hotels the world has to offer and eating in five star restaurants, while at other times roughing it out with rudimentary accommodations in order to support our budget minded readers. We have certainly made new friends, many in Egypt but others spread out across the world. Some, we have never met in person and yet we now call them old friends. That is the way of the internet, though in our case, sometimes we do connect in Cairo or Luxor with individuals we have emailed for years and who live only some few hundred miles away from us in the States. Our goals have been twofold. One is to bring an understanding of Egypt and Egyptians at large to the western world. They are a kind and noble people who, in many ways, are not unlike ourselves in the west.

St. Paul's Monastery in  Egypt's Eastern Desert (Arabian Desert)

The more I have learned of Egypt, the more I find that it has in common with the U.S., where I live. Egypt is a melting pot in its corner of the world, with vibrant and enthusiastic people. Yet, the Egyptian civilization is so very old and intriguing. At the same time, we also seek to support tourism to Egypt by providing comprehensive information to potential travelers. Lately, this has been increasingly difficult to do. Those who write us with questions compete with a minimum of 5,000 junk emails each day, which requires hours of work to sort through, while at the same time slowing down delivery of the Tour Egypt web site.

An ancient dahabeeyah,  restored and still carrying passengers on the Nile

It is regrettable that the Internet has become such a hostile environment because of so many people serving their own interest, or simply causing destruction for destruction's sake, but that is the reason for the upgrade. So please bear with us over the coming weeks. We are bringing in additional technicians to speed up the upgrade, but if Tour Egypt is down for a short period, it is anything but gone. In fact, we have been in the process of also hiring additional writers to better serve our readership, and after the upgrade, we will be offering additional resources on Tour Egypt. Archives