Mystery, but good cheer, over repair of ‘non-existent’ fault

A generous act of user support by ISP Paradise Net has precipitated a mystery.

A generous act of user support by ISP Paradise Net has precipitated a mystery.

A Paradise technician applied a fix for a perceived bug in the way an email client interacts with the Paradise mail server. This promptly solved the user’s problem of not being able to send email; but the manufacturer of the email software denies that the program operates the way the Paradise man thought it did.

The user was initially told Paradise does not support or offer advice on Qualcomm’s Eudora email program, a favourite resort of Microsoft Outlook-phobics.

An earlier Computerworld story alluded to a previous similar response. Comentators at the time said this was a reasonable stance; an ISP should not be expected to support applications installed by a user on his or her own PC.

The customer, though, insisted on taking the problem higher, through a contact in Paradise owner TelstraSaturn.

Within a day a pleasing email arrived from Mark Goldfinch, network engineer for TelstraSaturn and Paradise.

“All ‘standard’ mail clients should be using port 25 and the SMTP protocol to submit mail,” he wrote. “Eudora, I know, uses TCP port 587 (mail submission as its termed) by default. smtp.paradise.net.nz has only historically allowed port 25 access, anything connecting to port 587 would have received “connection refused” immediately (and perhaps fallen back to port 25).

“I’ve just enabled an exact mirror of our smtp service on port 587 of smtp.paradise.net.nz.” This was a step definitely beyond the call of duty, and the author of this story and the earlier one now takes back the implied criticism of Paradise in October. The user’s email sending capability was promptly restored, apparently due to the Paradise fix.

However, asked whether it considers Eudora is out of line with a de facto standard, Qualcomm replies that the apparent bug has been misunderstood. Eudora does not operate on port 587, unless it has been set to do so. “I can guarantee Eudora uses port 110 for POP, 143 for IMAP and 25 for SMTP,” says a Qualcomm technical support specialist identifying himself as J Michael L.

So the mystery remains for the time being. How did a fix for a non-existent bug solve the user’s problem? Or was it all a bizarre coincidence? Something for us all, reporter, IDG network technician, Paradise and Qualcomm, to cogitate on during the Christmas break. By January, we could have an answer.

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