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.