LowEndBox - Cheap VPS, Hosting and Dedicated Server Deals

"We Can't Send Email More than 500 Miles". A True Story.

Email Icon

I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

“We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.”

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,” the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. “Come again?”

“We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,” he repeated. “A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.”

So begins a highly entertaining anecdote.  As it turned out, the chairman was completely right: they could send email to recipients 500 miles away, but no further.

The story is from the 1990s and I read it while also running an email system (a horrible job).  The technology is much older – references to Sendmail 5 and SunOS – but the tale will make sense if you’ve ever administered any kind of system.

The entire encounter is amplified by the fact that it’s a group of statisticians reporting the issue.

I certainly am not going to deprive you of the pleasure of reading the original tale, which can be found here on MIT’s web site.



1 Comment

  1. Jarry:

    So bizarre, and yet true!

    July 18, 2022 @ 6:16 am | Reply

Leave a Reply

Some notes on commenting on LowEndBox:

  • Do not use LowEndBox for support issues. Go to your hosting provider and issue a ticket there. Coming here saying "my VPS is down, what do I do?!" will only have your comments removed.
  • Akismet is used for spam detection. Some comments may be held temporarily for manual approval.
  • Use <pre>...</pre> to quote the output from your terminal/console, or consider using a pastebin service.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *