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Microsoft Education

Microsoft's 10-year-old Certified Professional 791

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the snagging-them-young dept.
idigjazz writes "Meet Arfa, a promising young software programmer from Faisalabad, Pakistan, who is believed to be the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in the world. She received the certification when she was 9. During a recent meeting with Bill Gates, she presented him with a poem she wrote that celebrated his life story."
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Microsoft's 10-year-old Certified Professional

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  • by fataugie (89032) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:42AM (#13071098) Homepage
    Either the kid is really bright, or if a nine year old can pass them, what value is there?
  • and in 3 years. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wormuniverse (818854) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:46AM (#13071116)
    she will feel like she wasted her life.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:47AM (#13071123) Homepage Journal
    In the article, the girl says (regarding the lack of women in MS)
    "It should be balanced -- an equal amount of men and an equal amount of women," she explained afterward.

    I think in any job the only people who should be there are those that have proven their worth.
    This OTT political correctness/quota balancing act in lots of workplaces is just dumb.
  • by fataugie (89032) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:51AM (#13071135) Homepage
    Using computers and programming are a bit different, don't you think? What do you define as solid experience? Moving a mouse and clicking a button? Surfing the web?

    Why am I responding to an AC? I must be loopy.
  • Not "prodigious" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:53AM (#13071148)
    Kids are intelligent being, with very high learning abilities. Unfortunately the school system sucks (especially in the US). I'm not surprised that a kid can catch quickly on programming languages. They share many characteristics with natural languages, such as recursivity (talking about the syntax, not recursion as a programming technic), this is a great age to learn these things. She had the chance to have a great education. Education is extremly beneficial to economy but on a long term and thus is generally not a big concern for poilitics.
  • by Moth7 (699815) <mike...brownbill@@@gmail...com> on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:55AM (#13071154) Journal
    So a kid took the exam and passed. Did every kid in the world get a chance to take the exam? No. For every one of these stories there must be a hundred kids who think "I could have done that, why didn't I get the chance?". Maybe I could have taken my exams a couple of years early. Maybe you could have handled that big project better than the guy they gave it to. The fact is, these situations owe more to circumstance - if we were all given these opportunities, stories like this would be a two a penny.
  • "certificates" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YuriGherkin (870386) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:59AM (#13071171)
    What a coincidence. I spent the day interviewing people for a sysadmin job at my work. We had this one guy (with terrible body odour) who had loads of "certificates" ... but he could barely answer any of our questions except by re-phrasing them and saying them back to us. He didn't get hired - but he had so many certificates from "training colleges"

    No-one hires someone just because they can obtain a certificate. I bet you could train a monkey to get a Micr0$oft Cert1ficat3 - but you still wouldn't hire them or give them a position of authority and responsibility.

    The fact that a 10yr old child can obtain a Microsoft Certificate means that it's no indication of total worth as a software developer or employee.
  • by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous@yahF ... m minus language> on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:59AM (#13071173) Homepage Journal
    Okay, when will MS start getting their certification in while kids are in pre-school?

    But what good is a certification in Logo [wikipedia.org]? I guess coding for Windows beats making shoes for Nike.

    Maybe they're getting them this young so someone's ready to work on the Y3K problem?

  • Re:Big deal. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lw54 (73409) <lanceNO@SPAMwoodson.com> on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:00AM (#13071177)
    What a worthless comment.

    The article was an insightful look at life through the eyes of a very brave young woman growing up in a society that does not offer many opportunities for women.

    Having written a calculator and a sorting program in C# along with earning her MCAD, I consider Arfa a computer programmer by any definition.

    Arfa has demonstrated considerable creativity, imagination, hard work and considerable drive. I'll gladly give up your job for her to find good work =p
  • by lw54 (73409) <lanceNO@SPAMwoodson.com> on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:05AM (#13071191)
    Everyone seems to be missing the fact that she earned her MCAD, not some silly test on Microsoft Word.

    MCAD Requirements and Training Resources [microsoft.com]

  • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@alumER ... u minus math_god> on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:07AM (#13071198) Homepage

    From the point of view of adult programmers an MCAD may not count for a lot, and Microsoft may be a nasty company, but this is still an impressive little girl with an interesting story. There aren't a lot of nine year olds who can write C#. That's a good bit harder than some baby Basic, if for no other reason than the detail that you have to take care of and the object-orientation. And not very many nine year olds have the interest and dedication to pursue something like this.

    Its also important to realize that this is a little girl in a country that gives very few opportunities to women, especially women who are not from the upper class. According to the article, her dad is a soldier. It doesn't sound like she comes from a wealthy, powerful family. So, while getting this certificate may well not make her a genius, it does make her a smart and persistent little girl who has done something quite unusual not only for her age but, in her country, for her gender. I say good for her, good for her family for encouraging her rather than telling her not to act unladylike, and good for Microsoft for giving her the trip. (But if I were in charge at Microsoft, I would have thrown in a stop at Disneyland.)

  • Re:Big deal. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afra242 (465406) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:15AM (#13071221)
    Also, could this kid kiss Bill's ass just a little more? Wrote a poem celebrating his life's history? Are you fucking yanking my dick here? And they seem to gloss by her being a "computer programmer". What, because she made a little clicky-thingy in LOGO?

    Might not be a big deal to you, however, for a girl that young in a third world country, such as Pakistan, it certainly is. She was bought over to the US (first time her father and her left Pakistan) and everything was probably paid for. So she was showing her appreciation. It isn't everyday a young child from Pakistan gets to come to the U.S., and especially on a trip paid for by the world's richest man.

    However, if she is eager to start hacking away, and Microsoft won't hire her now, she should be encouraged to contribute to the Open Source community - even on a Windows project. That way, she will learn not only how to code more, but also learn how to interact with developers across the globe. That, at that very young age, will surely look extremely impressive and will teach her infinite things.
  • by Photon Ghoul (14932) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:16AM (#13071222)
    The reason that some people think like that (that any one group needs 'help' in getting the same opportunities) is because even people who are qualified are unfairly judged by their genetalia, skin color, nationality, sexual preference etc. Yes in the modern workplace. It's probably much worse in Pakistan than western nations.
  • by rcs1000 (462363) * <rcs1000@gmCOMMAail.com minus punct> on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:18AM (#13071225)
    I don't mean to pick, but she's nine years old. At that age I had some pretty peculiar political and sociological views too. I admired Microsoft too.

    So, shall we cut her a little slack?

    (Also, don't forget that Pakistan is patriarchal Muslim country; a little movement towards sexual equality wouldn't be a particuarly bad thing. Not, I hasten to add, that Pakistan is among the worst offenders in this area, what with having had a woman prime minister for example.)
  • by voss (52565) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:19AM (#13071230)
    She passes a microsoft exam grown adults have failed and she manages to kiss up to a billionaire at age 9.

    Heres a photo of her.

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/photos/photo.asp?Pho toID=69691 [nwsource.com]

    and heres an article

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/232514_msft arfa14.html [nwsource.com]

    Before you call her a kissass realize she actually
    asked intelligent questions such as why there werent more women at microsoft(before the snarky comments remember she is a 9 year old girl speaking up for equality in a nation like Pakistan) and told a Microsoft VP her vision for self-navigating car.

    You have to realize for a little geek girl in a country like Pakistan going to Microsoft is like
    going to a paradise where everything works and people are smart just like her.

    If you check out her photo, in another 10-15
    years she is going to be a major geek hottie...
    so be nice and not be pricks!

    This is just a reminder to all us geeks who love to bash people from that part of the world...

    Pakistan and india are the only two countries that I know of where many of the geeks are women who are good looking and its considered a good thing to be living with your parents as an adult until you are married...think about it!

  • Re:Just confirms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Momoru (837801) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:28AM (#13071257) Homepage Journal
    While it is certainly a large amount of stuff to know, you can basically just play the memorization game. I've met so many people that used to be mechanics, car salesmen etc, that have MCSE's and are completely useless working with computers. Most signed up during the .com "Make $90k a year as a certified professional!" and had hardly used computers for more then email before. In my opinion these certifications are pretty useless. Just because I passed Calc 3 and Physics back in college by memorizing some rules doesn't mean I remember a damn thing about them now.
  • by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:30AM (#13071269)
    Either the kid is really bright, or if a nine year old can pass them, what value is there?

    I expect that this is not an exclusive or.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:33AM (#13071277)
    Seriously, it's braindead simple. The article is a beat up and sounds far far better than it is.

    Most 15 year old kids with a bit of interest in computing could pass an MCP after doing the equivalent work of decent school computer studies classes. By the way the article is written it sounds like she's done the equivalent of an doctorate degree by age 10.

    Not to put her down as a dope though. She's done well, and her achievements have marked her as one of the smarter tech kids out there.
  • by j.a.mcguire (551738) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:33AM (#13071279)
    dude, she's just 9 years old!
  • by Threni (635302) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:37AM (#13071292)
    Yeah, check out some of Mozarts early work. If he can write stuff like that at the age of 8 then perhaps writing music of genius which will inform and inspire much older composers for centuries is actually a piece of cake!
  • by Vo0k (760020) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:50AM (#13071337) Journal
    Surely it's not bad that the kid got the cert. That just shows the level of the certificate - and its worth. If you hire a guy who claims to be a computer professional and supports this claim with such a certificate, you can bet he's a liar and a moron, because even 9yo kid can learn all that - and that's certainly NOT enough to pass as "pro".
  • by Council (514577) <rmunroe@NospAm.gmail.com> on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:15AM (#13071419) Homepage
    It is a given that for every brilliant person in the world, there is another with the same capabilities who never had the same opportunities. Every Beethoven, Euler, or olympic sprinter had potential or technical equals, they just didn't end up in the right position for us to hear about them. That doesn't stop us from celebrating the ones who do it. The biggest lesson we can take away from this is that we should encourage these kids. Not say "sure, you did it, but other people could have, too."
  • by donscarletti (569232) on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:24AM (#13071449)
    On the third hand, whether males or females are better at this job is completely irrelevant while it remains the case that by far the majority of interest is the field comes from males. If more males are drawn to the field but the numbers are artificially through either policy or something less concrete, then it becomes logical that more males are being rejected than females. Thus if this became the case then there would actually be a huge difference in the average skill level of the two sexes and females on average would be inferior, dispite there being no inherant difference on a case by case basis.

    Even now there is some tension caused by women who are clearly not of the right temperament and have no interest in the field being coaxed into engineering against the best interests of their future happiness by recruitment campaigns led by females engineers who want to believe that they arn't actually a rarity and male engineers who want their field to be more glamorous and have it in their minds that women should follow a career based on the arrangement that would make it easiest to "hang with chicks at the office" and make him feel charismatic and slightly less of a male stereotype.

    The trend towards women in engineering scholarships and female friendly alternate entry schemes in the name of diversity make it so much easier for a woman to become qualified in engineering that it will do nothing but encourage people who do not have the capacity to be engineers to join on the grounds of their sex and eventually cause talented female engineers to be tainted by association and cause resentment even towards the good female engineers from male engineers that did not get the same opportunities that they did (or at least this is what is perceived). I do not see how this could help any engineers of any sex.

  • by Horus1664 (692411) on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:26AM (#13071456)

    This falls in nicely with the overall MS strategy. They no doubt hope to integrate learning about MS software and applications into infants school right there alongside the three R's as part of a basic preparation for adult life....(a bit like they integrate other people's 'applications' into Windows)

    Joking aside, how long before some enterprising MSerf makes a serious suggestion along those lines ? Am I alone in being a little worried about that ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:38AM (#13071500)
    If your false arguement was true, surely EVERY 9yo would have one?

    Surely the most logical answer is that there is something exceptional in these circumstances (kid or parents) rather than something with the certification? To falsely claim otherwise does nothing but show you up for fanboi tendancies.

    There's a 13yo somewhere with a masters degree - therefore everyone with a masters degree is a braindead moron.

    Your logic is severely flawed by your bias.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:44AM (#13071517)
    Oh dear you missed his/her point! Music lets you be creative while MS Certification requires a certain attainment of tested levels.

    - blah
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:45AM (#13071522)
    I've formerly held an MCSE certification (expired with Windows NT 4.0), currently hold MCSD (on the Visual Basic 6 track) and also currently hold MCDBA (on the SQL Server 2000 track).

    I find there are in general two ways to study for the tests (each with variations):

    1. Aquire some real world experience, study the material, maybe take some practice tests (like Transcender) and then take the real tests. 2. Go to www.braindumpcentral.com [braindumpcentral.com] and find the questions and answers that will be on the test and memorize them, then take the real tests.

    If she went path #1, it's fairly impressive. Though I think back to when I was 10 and programming proficiently in 6502 assembly and Commodore BASIC on my C-64 and I realize that children of that age aren't actually incompetent.
  • by ninja_assault_kitten (883141) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:03AM (#13071585)
    You're comparing writing a symphony to getting your MCSE?
  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:05AM (#13071597)
    If the comment came from a 30 year old man or woman in the West, I'd definitely criticise it.

    But somehow, I think I can live with a bit of radical feminism from a ten year old Pakistani girl.

  • Re:"certificates" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:05AM (#13071598)
    ..."No-one hires someone just because they can obtain a certificate."...

    That's how I got hired, and that is how I get raises.

    I got my foot in the door by having a bunch of certs. That got the interview. I just found out that the _only_ thing keeping me from getting bumped up the $ ladder is to upgrade my exams.

    Skill? nah knowledge? no Charisma? Hell no. A bunch of stupid letters after my name? yeah.
    That is how I am rewarded.
  • So what ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pegasus (13291) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:06AM (#13071604) Homepage
    I was writing my own games on Sinclair Spectrum basic when I was 6. Does this make me a wunderkind programmer? No, just a bored sysadmin who is stuck at the mentality of basic and can't really progress beyond his shell scripts. That's why I'm affraid she's only going to be somewhat above-average secretary when she grows up.
  • by Threni (635302) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:41AM (#13071802)
    (Some people have very poor reading comprehension skills, don't they?)

    I'll spell it out: I'm saying that just because one 8 year old can do something doesn't mean that it's easy.
  • by Goo.cc (687626) * on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:53AM (#13071877)
    "As a result, this produces people who, for instance, are certified for MS Exchange, but don't know much about SMTP -- they just know Exchange."

    That is probably exactly what Microsoft wants.
  • Where's the humor? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RamboIII (899894) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:58AM (#13071918)
    I figured that there'd be a lot of "fem-bot" jokes.

    Really though, I wonder what type of house-hold she lives in, and how she got involved with the whole Microsoft certification. Surely it's not as easy over there as it is here.

    It would be interesting if they were teaching it in schools over seas. Talk about blowing our economy out of the water.

  • by Lanoitarus (732808) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:03AM (#13071975)
    Mozart was recognized as a genius through general consensus over time and through direct exposure to his works, not by a rigid test drafted by a corporation.

    If you recall, there have already been cases of very young kids acing the college board tests, due to very careful tutoring and memorization. Having taken the MS tests, i can hardly imagine that approach wouldnt work if done well enough.

    Not to discredit the kid, this is an accomplishment certainly, which indicates atbest a very strong computer aptitude and at worst a very very good memory, both of which are extremely useful skills. But i hardly compare this with mozart.
  • Shame on you! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by adolfojp (730818) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:05AM (#13071986)
    I have never been so ashamed of being part of the slashdot community as I am now.

    Taking away any credit of her accomplishment because she took a Microsoft certification is just plain vile and stupid.

    Cheers,
    Adolfo
  • by di0s (582680) <(cabbot917) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:19AM (#13072103) Homepage Journal
    Not to incite a flame war or anything, but to me, a 10 year-old kid getting their MS certification somewhat devalues the certification (see, it's so easy that a kid can get it). True, she may be an incredibly gifted child, but pointing and clicking in MS Word is hardly a brain drain.
  • by lerxstz (692089) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:20AM (#13072111)
    Once upon a time in the days of punch cards etc all users of computers were considered programmers.

    That's because once upon a time, only programmers used computers. You're statement is in fact true in that sense, but it's a giant distortion of logic to carry that argument forward to today and say it still is true.

    That's like saying that anyone who can drive a car, can design one. This statment might be true for the first few guys to design and build their own cars (btw it *wasn't* Henry Ford) but it sure ain't true today. You can't always apply yesterdays' truths to today!

    (Either that or you're a sys admin/tech support guy with a grudge against programmers, serving up some nice flamebait.)
  • by VortexMK (766680) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:32AM (#13072212)
    Actually it was a joke. Anyway, people are frustrated that ordinary pakistan people who have families blow themselves up for no apparent reason (except the religious one). Judging from the bbc news stories, the bombers were never fundies, their families also, one of them had little baby and nice life... so the question is what keeps 10 year old Microsoft Certified Professional girls from commiting such an act in the future? It was a good joke anyway...
  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:34AM (#13072233) Homepage
    The article says she earned a "Microsoft Certified Application Developer" certification, and that she programmed a calculator in C#.

    I don't know C#.

    This isn't your average nine year old.

    Or maybe she is, and we just don't give nine year olds enough credit.

    In any case, she did something very cool, and we shouldn't be trying to tear down a little girl to make ourselves feel a bit less like the discontented band of underachievers that we really are. Instead, we should be congratulating her, and encouraging her to get some Linux certifications under her belt.
  • by Jaruzel (804522) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:55AM (#13072450) Homepage Journal
    I don't think It needed a 10 year old kid to devalue it. I think MCPs/MCSEs are doing a good job devaluting themselves.

    Here in London, every second street has a 'acredited training centre' which after 4 days of 'intensive' (read, mind numbing) training, they guarantee that anyone can get their MCP. Combine that with Microsoft setting the pass value at ~60% correct answers, and you've got a pretty much useless qualification. I've worked with many MCSEs and only a handful of them actually knew their Kerberos' from their SMBs.

    What our industry needs is a cross platform Chartership program, that other professions have. Something that you have to work towards over a period of years. Something that will actually mean something at the top of your CV.

    -Jar.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:55AM (#13072452)
    doubt that a married multibillionaire needs to masturbate very often no matter how nerdy he is

    Last time I checked, being married wasn't a guarantee to get any regularly.

    On the other hand, being a multibillionaire probably means he can be Lewinski'd [wikipedia.org] instead of masturbating.

  • by amightywind (691887) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:58AM (#13072492) Journal

    Well done to Arfa and her father. I hope she becomes a very competent member of the software development community.

    Agreed. But I fear for her and millions of promising girls in the Islamic world for whom misogyny, early forced marrage, and the burqa await.

  • by SatmanUK (896429) on Friday July 15, 2005 @10:08AM (#13072572)
    Think I shall have to concurr with this, with over 15 years of experience of in the computing industry the smartest peopel I have worked with have very little MCP qualification, and some of the most inept have MCSE's . Just goes to show that anyone can read a book and learn it but if they cannot make 2+2=5 they will just be another goat in the herd. What I would like to see is more weight given to references from trusted sources, a bit like the linkedin websites. As for the 10 year old , it shows that age has nothing to do with intelligence and ability when it comes to MS certs, its pretty easy to google for 'assistance' :), if she was a 90 year old there would not even be a post ..
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Friday July 15, 2005 @10:11AM (#13072606)
    She's what...? Nine?

    You're right though. We need to take nine year old children to task on their political beliefs. Her ideal of a world of equality is in direct opposition to the reality of the situation. We must disabuse her of her childish notion that people are equally good.

    Or perhaps we could let a nine year old dream of a better world.
  • by borgheron (172546) on Friday July 15, 2005 @10:42AM (#13072933) Homepage Journal
    It's more interesting because it was submitted this time by CowboyNeal.

    Don't you know how things work here at Slashdot? Despotism at it's best.

    GJC
  • by ebuck (585470) on Friday July 15, 2005 @10:57AM (#13073089)
    Even Mozart's work improved with age.

    At 8 Mozart was just beginning to write music. At 9 this person obtained professional certification from Microsoft. Obtaining a professional certification is something that is done traditionally after years of experience in the field. Ability to pass without any experience indicates that this is not a professional certification (reguardless of it's name), but a competency test.

    Professional certifications which hold true to the "disctinction among those with years of experience" are valueable because they are rare, and indicate that the person is more desirable (due to his expertise) than his peers. Examples of this include the Certified Professional Accountant, and the Certified Professional Engineer, and a handful of others. For Computer Administration, you may wish to look into the SAGE certificaitons, or other item available from the ACM / IEEE.

    Hybrid certifications incorporate elements of the compentency test to avoid penalizing those who should already hold the certificate but haven't entered the program. They tend to discount lenght of time in the field for equivalent demonstration of experience. CCIE and RHCE come to mind, as they are both exams where you must demonstrate that you can preform certain tasks.

    MCSE and many, many others are not much better than compentency tests. They aren't a demonstration of knowledge, they are a demonstration of information. The difference between these two should be clear, but to demonstrate: You can know that TCP is the Transmission Control Protocol without understanding how to use it. Such certificates can be useful as a prerequiste, but often companies don't want information, they want knowledge. Information can be looked up.

  • Re:Yes and no. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Friday July 15, 2005 @11:23AM (#13073322) Journal
    There are kids who can't keep up with the current educational system. It could be argued that they need more help. The smart kids will do OK if they don't get as much guidance. They could do better if they got more, but you get the idea.

    It is this attitude that is responsible for the sorry state of education in this country (USA). The vice principal of our high school infamously remarked that students such as myself would learn "by themselves in a dark closet with a flashlight." Perhaps intended as a compliment, but used to justify cutting programs for students who were motivated and wanted to learn so that the resources could be spent on bringing "making everyone above average."

    It is simply not the case that everyone has the same potential. You cannot make those with lesser abilities equal to those with greater abilities, unless you are willing to try to drag down those with the greater abilities, and sadly it seems that this is becoming more and more the modus operandi. This is tragic, because those minds are our most vital natural resource; we are plundering them for the purchase of a tiny slice of equality that does little but make us feel good.

    All this in an environment where people love to bitch about the quality of education, but don't pay teachers what they are worth and expect endless hours out of them.

    Are teachers professionals or not? They want to be treated like professionals and paid like professionals, but they don't seem to want to be held accountable like professionals or work long, hard hours like professionals. People might be willing to pay much more for good teachers if the teachers' unions didn't make them subsidize poor teachers at the same time.

  • by jjoyce (4103) on Friday July 15, 2005 @12:23PM (#13074091)
    Gates didn't start donating money until he developed a reputation as an asshole. That isn't kindness, it's public relations without hiring a PR firm.

  • by kz45 (175825) <kz45@blob.com> on Friday July 15, 2005 @12:58PM (#13074508)
    Not to incite a flame war or anything, but to me, a 10 year-old kid getting their MS certification somewhat devalues the certification (see, it's so easy that a kid can get it). True, she may be an incredibly gifted child, but pointing and clicking in MS Word is hardly a brain drain.

    well, there are 10 year olds that can ace college calculus classes. Does it make it any easier?
  • by evilpenguin (18720) on Friday July 15, 2005 @01:08PM (#13074631)
    I wasn't one of the people arguing with you, but as a programmer of some 15 years of professional experience, I will say that I think you need years of experience to become a good programmer.

    But I agree with you that you can be a useful programmer in much less time.

    I would also encourage anyone who has a computer to learn some programming. Otherwise I don't see the point. I don't like the way computers have become just another device to deliver entertainment. The whole point of the machine is to enable people to automate processes, to anaylze data, to, in short, compute.

    Having a computer and not learning to program it has always struck me as being like having an airplane and only using it to taxi around the airfield.

    I also don't think everyone who learns some programming needs to go on to become a professional and to master some sort of elite skills.

    I just started doing it in the mid 70's (I was a kid) for fun. My old man was an electrical engineer and we built our first S-100 bus Z80 based system from scatch in 1976. I had to write the boot ROM for the thing to boot into a very early version of CP/M (I think it was 1.1 - it was CP/M 1.4 by the time we really had everything working). We burned our own EPROMs and we had those lovely 8-inch SSSD floppy drives. A> and B>

    Ah... Memories: A> PIP B:=A:*.COM Mmmm....

    The first programs I wrote were just for my own curiosity. I've always been more linguistic than mathematical (although I do well at both), so a couple of my first programs were a letter frequency counter and a vocabulary analyzer.

    The first just counted how many times each letter appears in a given text file. The second kept an array of distinct words and an array of counts. I recall that I used a binary search to find the word in the one array and then used that index to find the count in the parallel array. I also recall that I wrote a bubble-sort algorithm to resort the array each time a new word was found. Of course that got to be horribly slow, so I hunted around for a faster algorithm. I'd love to claim I independently arrived at the quicksort algorithm, but I didn't. I found it in a book and worked through it to understand it.

    I guess I'm both agreeing and disagreeing with you. I don't think that everyone can become a good programmer. You have to like that kind of mindset to do it. I don't think everyone can even be a useful programmer, although most probably can.

    Here's where I strongly agree with you: People should be encouraged to program. They should be treated gently when they present workproduct. If someone had said to me about my little vocabulary analyzer "Boy, are you stupid! You're an idiot to sort that way! What a retard!" I doubt I would have carried on. Instead a "grownup" friend of my dad (a programmer -- my dad, as an EE, looked on programming as "the black arts" -- he always used to say that the only reason software existed was because no one had invented an editor for hardware) said "I notice that your program spends most of its time sorting that list. Do you think that you could make that sort faster?"

    Things like that keep you going.

    The fact that today I could write the same program in three lines of perl without knowing anything about sorting doesn't change the usefulness of the knowledge and experience I gained by doing it the hard way.

    So, while I'll be the first to say that being a good programmer is difficult, I'll also say that few professional programmers are actually good programmers who could really come up with an original non-obvious algorithm.

    I'll also say don't let the naysayers break your spirit. You may never become a great programmer. But you might. (I wouldn't call myself a great programmer -- that's reserved for the Djikstra's of the world) And I guarantee that you will learn many useful and fun things along the way.

    Oh, and no programmer who thinks he is an elite programmer actually is. All the really talented ones know full well that they have no monopoly on cleverness. Even a junior programmer of modest skills sometimes thinks of the one thing no one else has.
  • by vandon (233276) on Friday July 15, 2005 @02:35PM (#13075604) Homepage
    I've taken(and passed) 3 W2K MCP tests. W2K Prof installing, config, and admin, W2K server installing, config, and admin, and a IE/IEAK test.
    They are all about 'what is the default install dir?', 'where do you add and change users?'.
    Very few of the questions actually did any problem solving such as 'Your workstation has no network, use this sim to fix it'. I believe the hardest sim was for server and it was 'set up a network printer and share it for the 'accounting' user group to use between 8am and 5pm'
  • by Fallen_Knight (635373) on Friday July 15, 2005 @03:58PM (#13076472)
    yea your right, from TFA

    "she started displaying a remarkable memory, perhaps photographic, at a young age." almost all tests are easy when you have a good memory.

    "The institute instructors assumed it would take Arfa about a year to go through the process of certification for developing Windows applications. But after four months of study and work, over summer vacation, she passed the required exams."

    Seems to me to be just microsoft propaganda. creating apps in windows is drop dead easy now with C# and the other crap they have. and i mean EASY. took a VB course in university making stpid little applications for an easy 3 credit A and its easier then the code i was writing in C at 7 and 8.

    NOW when a 9 year old can write/debug drivers or win32 API apps in C let me know. Because THAT is actualy hard! Now back to USB driver code i go..
  • Re:Yes and no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by coreymichaelbarr (818343) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:38PM (#13077892)
    Serious question: How does a kid develop a relationship like this without 1) finding a child molester, and 2) making people think it's a child-molesting relationship?

    I ask because when I was much younger, I met a Microsoft employee who I possibly could have developed that kind of a mentoring relationship with. My mother put the kibosh on it because of her fears of the above. Silly, yes. But if I ever wanted to be in the mentor part of this equation, I would be afraid that somebody else's mother would have the same fears. I'd like to learn how to prevent that.
  • Rubbish. All rich people have 'foundations'. It's the ultimate tax dodge. Bill's foundation gives away the most simply because he's the richest. Most of this 'giving' is thinly-veiled advertising and promotion for Microsoft.

    How much does Bill give away as a percentage of his total wealth? George Soros gives away about half. I'll bet you that Bill doesn't give nearly that much.

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