Helping others teaches meToday Paul Moor called fo…

Helping others teaches me

Today Paul Moor called for some guidance about why his correspondents kept getting returned mail as undeliverable from his account, a German ISP called T-Online.de. He wanted to understand better what happens from end to end when someone sends email to someone else over the Internet.

As usually happens when I get a question like this, I decided to turn first to Google. Already I knew that the appropriate topic was SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) so I simply looked up SMTP using the Google search engine. From that starting point I found the RFC (Request for Comments) page related to this particular protocol. While examining the various resources supplied, I found my way to this fascinating history of RFCs which documents the beginnings of the Internet and its development through dialogs and email exchanges between the founders. I would probably never have found and read this document had it not been for Paul’s request for help. This byproduct of helping is one of the reason that I welcome pleas for help from friends. Helping them learn always results in my learning something I didn’t know before they sought my help.

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