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Microsoft Education

Microsoft's 10-year-old Certified Professional 791

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 Underholdning ( 758194 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:45AM (#13071111) Homepage Journal
    Before the flood of jokes start, I'd like to ask those of you who are MSCP (I know you're out there) how difficult is it to get that certification? Is this really a child prodigy, or are the questions ultra simple?
  • Article Snippet (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:05AM (#13071195)

    "Afterward, Arfa described Gates as an "ideal personality," explaining that he had been second only to Disneyland on her list to see of rich and powerful men who cheapen cultural values"
  • Re:Not "prodigious" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xiaran ( 836924 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:11AM (#13071206)
    Yep. When I was 10/11 I learnt z80 asm on a homebrew machine that me and my dad made(actually I broke it more cause I was a crap solderer :) I got better). Then learned basic using MBASIC and CBASIC under CPM. Then got Turbo Pascal 3.0 and learnt that. Started coding in Hendrixs Small C compiler at about 12/13 ish I think. Learnt 6502 asm on an apple 2 at school. Soes this make me a genius? I wish. (gasp... just realised Ive been coding in C for approx 20 years. I suddenly feel old... youd think Id stop with the accidentally dropping breaks from switch statments by now).
  • by Artega VH ( 739847 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:13AM (#13071213) Journal
    The girl says it "should" be balanced. Which I read to mean that ideally it should be balanced. It's impossible to know what she exactly meant by that short quote however.

    And in general to the people who are scoffing at the MCAD - she's 10 years old. Perhaps that escaped your massive brains but this is an article talking about something that is a good achievement for someone her age. Its not even worth noting for someone only a few years older than her. At 10 most slashdotters were still singing soprano and afraid of girl germs (It seems some still are).

    Well done to Arfa and her father. I hope she becomes a very competent member of the software development community. We can all hope she discovers the wonders of open source though...
  • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:24AM (#13071245) Homepage
    This OTT political correctness/quota balancing act in lots of workplaces is just dumb.

    On the other hand, there's no evidence whatsoever that men are more capable than women when it comes to programming or support. And it's fairly ludicrous to assume that women don't get into the field because they just don't feel like it. So we have to ask: what exactly is keeping a field where men have no inherent advantage whatsoever a primarily male-dominated industry?

    My guess - based on more than 20 years of purely anecdotal evidence - is that it has something to do with the rampant immaturity and mysogynism of a significant minority of the males who choose some sort of computer work for a profession. And while in those more-than-20-years I've seen a marked improvement in a number of other professions, the same can't be said when it comes to the computer industry. It's still the refuge of an alarming number of childish little brats who hate and fear women, and have no problem whatsoever making any woman who 'invades' their turf feel unwelcome.

    But again, that's all anecdotal. It could just be that all the IS departments I've been exposed to during various contracts were just unusual exceptions. And it could also be that I'm going to win the lottery tomorrow, after being struck by lightning - twice.

  • by FridayBob ( 619244 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:28AM (#13071265) Homepage
    I'm no MSCP, but I hear from people who have followed the courses that they're not very impressive. Basically, they just teach you how Microsoft programs work, but give little or no background information. 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.

    Nevertheless, I suppose it's still impressive when a 10-year old gets though these exams... if only because it means they did a lot of reading and actually worked with a computer (instead of just playing games on it). Hell, most kids that age have the attention span of a flash bulb!
  • That's nothing.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:36AM (#13071286) Journal
    I gave my four year old son my old Laptop (a working but battered Acer PIII-600 running XP), which he uses to play fun and learning games and visit Web sites such as Cbeebies [] etc.

    He's five now but a few months ago he proudly told me he'd changed his desktop image to match that of my desktop. Spooky!

    Oh, just to redeem him - he saw me using a ssh connection to do some admin on one of our Linux servers and was interested in the non-gui-ness of it and the fact that you had to type in commands, so I showed him a few. Now his favourite 'trick' when he sees me logged in is to do a 'df -h' or 'top' for me!

    What do you think - RHCE at five??!!
  • by mrRay720 ( 874710 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:36AM (#13071288)
    I love how the automatic assumption is that this is a bad thing. Surely it's GOOD that a 9 year old can manage it, highlighting the ease of Windows management? Isn't the question to ask is what can be done with other systems as easy to grasp?

    A more serious point though is that you can train a kid to do anything like that. I'd be willing to bet that this is less a reflection of MS and the kid, and more of the parents raping their child of her youth. Give me someone from birth and I bet I could make them a Solaris guru by the time they were 10.

    Anyway, I blamed parents and promoted Windows' ease of use - I expect to be thouroughly berated and modded down for being a troll. yay.
  • by Petersson ( 636253 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:42AM (#13071309)
    She is not an American, she is Pakistanian. RTFA, she's a muslim, that means that as soon as she has period she is considered to be a woman and her life will change brutally.

    She can then be married (her family arranges this), she starts to wear headscarf [] and her career burns in hell. Or for a whole lotta bucks she will become Bill Gates's wife...

  • Re:Big deal. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saib0t ( 204692 ) <saibot@hesper[ ] ['ia-' in gap]> on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:42AM (#13071310)
    (first time her father and her left Pakistan)
    Not so, it's the first time they've been in the USA...
    Her mother and two brothers, ages 3 and 7, stayed home while she and her father came to the United States. It was the first trip to the country for both.
    And pakistan may be a third world country, but she certainly isn't representative of the people living there.
    her father, Amjad Karim, who serves with a U.N. peacekeeping force in Africa
    Impressive girl though, too young yet to realise how crap Microsoft (as a company) really is.
  • by Flyboy Connor ( 741764 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:48AM (#13071329)
    Or she just continues her studies and becomes an average student and average worker over time. I recently read about sociological research that pointed out that 'gifted' people are a lot less likely to become outstanding contributors to their chosen field than those that simply have to study hard for it.
  • by Flyboy Connor ( 741764 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:11AM (#13071402)
    I sure as hell didn't learn BASIC at age 12 because I thought it would get me a highly-individualistic, abstract, stressful job. I just wanted to make the computer do cool things.

    But you DID take up a highly individualistic, abstract activity because you LIKED it. In general, girls like to spend their time on other things. They do not think creating computer programs is cool.

    You could also track back to the video games you mention. Why do boys play video games and girls not (on average)? Does this point out a basic difference between men and women, or is it just cultural pressure?

    My daughter is five and plays computer games, and a lot of her girlfriends do too. I am wearily waiting for the moment when she stops being interested in computers. But maybe I get lucky...

  • Re:Just confirms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:40AM (#13071502) Homepage
    MOST of what I found in the microsoft certifications are more based on learning the microsoftspeak and less about specifics.

    microsoft went out of it's way to make sure that someone that learned how to admin on their own can NOT pass the tests without buying the coursework or taking classes.

    Example? sure...

    What partition do you boot from? Boot or system?

    if you said boot then you are wrong. Microsoft says you boot from the system partition, and run from the boot partition.. now this was back in my NT4 sertification days, they may have removed that decietful nugget of information by now but I doubt it. they intentionally obfuscate and use backward speak to make sure that someone that had been in computers for 20 years can NOT pass the test without paying for courses or books.

    Very scumbaggy of them.
  • Yes and no. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:41AM (#13071503)
    First, congratulations to her: yes, it's an accomplishment. The only reason we think it's a major accomplishment, though, is we've been fooled into thinking kids can't learn complex things. We mistakenly think that kids are capable of much less than they are--not because the kids can't perform up to their capability, but because the educational system doesn't do the kids justice.

    I was lucky. When I was in elementary school and showed a real gift for computers, several teachers went considerably out of their way to put me in groups of people who knew what they were doing. By the time I was nine, I was spending my summers in the local community college's computer lab. I wasn't taking college courses, no, but my teachers hooked me up with a student named David Carlson and asked if he could just spend an hour each week answering my questions.

    David became my best friend in no time flat. An hour a week turned into a considerably more during the summertime, between his jobs and other commitments. I learned LISP from David (on a Symbolics LISP Machine--talk about your sexy hardware). Shortly after I turned ten, David showed me the Y-combinator. It took me a few weeks to understand it, but when I did--whoa! I was blinded, just blinded, by the beauty of it.

    Then we moved away to a different city, different school system. Supposedly this one was much better, but there were no longer any teachers who'd go out of their way to recruit college students into letting me hang out with them for a while. They expected me to go through the exact same hoops as anyone else. I wasn't even allowed to take Programming in BASIC at the high school level. No more LISP Machines for me. From '86 to '92, I had no access to any machines more powerful than an Apple IIgs, and no languages more powerful than Basic. I wouldn't get access to a LISP environment again until I got to college in '94.

    Now I'm a graduate student. Last semester I took a course in programming language theory, where we were exposed to the beauty of the Y-combinator. And to think... I knew the Y-combinator when I was just ten years old, just due to the kindness of a smart college student who wasn't smart enough to know "the Y-combinator is too much for kids".

    David Carlson was the finest teacher I ever had, because he didn't have preconceptions about what I could or couldn't learn. And as soon as we moved away and my education got turned over to bureaucrats who were concerned about "age-appropriate academic skills", I got left out in the cold.

    David died a couple of years ago of brain cancer, way before his time; he was barely forty. He left behind a wife and kids, and you know what? I think those kids are going to turn out to be geniuses. Because he and his wife were too damn dumb to know their kids couldn't possibly learn things.

  • by CdXiminez ( 807199 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:03AM (#13071591)
    The good thing about that is, that by the time they go into puberty, they will want to break away from everything parents and school push on them, so they'll go into Linux or Mac.

    If this particular girl is as smart as they say, by the time she's in her late teens, she probably will want to have the level of control that Windows cannot give her.
  • Re:"certificates" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by YuriGherkin ( 870386 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:32AM (#13071745)
    My point was that this guy looked *great* on paper but was completely crap at the interview. By the way, he showed us his "certificates" and his average scores were barely above the pass mark ... it even mentioned which questions he got wrong. e.g. "What is the difference between RJ11 and RJ45?" !

    Yeah, you can have certificates and letters after your name, but if you aren't any good at the practical side then you will get found out very quickly and lose your job - if you even get past the interview stage.

    Are you in a big company? That would make sense if they only promote based on paper credentials rather than personal achievement. Consider yourself fortunate then.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:46AM (#13071835)
    Sith apprentices are called younglings too??

    No, children strong in the Force were brought to the Jedi temple as young as possible and were called younglings until they gained a master at which point they became padawns. After that of course they go up the heirarcy to Jedi Knight and then to Jedi Master (and within Jedi Master they can be eleveated further by being appointed to the Jedi Council). Sith did not take such young children as apprentices and the apprentices they did take were just described with generic words such as apprentice or protégé.

    Wow, that was my nerdiest post ever.
  • by Seng ( 697556 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:45AM (#13072341)
    Dead server? Boot Knoppix, restore data... Lost password? Boot Knoppix, recover SAM, crack it (or use any of the reset tools, etc.) The Microsoft way: Install parallel copy of Windows XYZ... proceed with 2 hours of extra BS, then still end up reformatting later :P
  • by FridayBob ( 619244 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:47AM (#13072354) Homepage
    "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.

    Well, naturally. SMTP is just telnet over port 25 using a series of predetermined commands (the protocol) that allows different hosts to exchange information with each other (email). The protocol itself is really quite simple (some say, too simple for current needs, and that it needs upgrading, or even replacing). However, if Microsoft were to start teaching SMTP to their students, they'd see what Exchange does and doesn't do with the protocol, and then many of them would probably start asking awkward questions, or even go looking for better mail server software. Obviously, it's better for Microsoft to avoid all that.

    There might also be a worse reason for Microsoft's reluctance to teach students about SMTP. For if Microsoft were ever to succeed in replacing SMTP with a protocol of their own -- something proprietary -- then all that 'complicated' SMTP stuff would suddenly become irrelavant anyway. In that case, the only mail server left for anybody to learn about would be Exchange -- in exactly the way it's being taught now.
  • Here are your recent submissions to Slashdot, and their status within the system:

    * 2005-05-05 22:04:04 Nine year old girl becomes an MCP (IT,Microsoft) (rejected)

    I wonder what makes the story more interesting now that it is old.
  • by @madeus ( 24818 ) <> on Friday July 15, 2005 @10:34AM (#13072837)
    Under-achieving eh? How do you explain the fact that of the London suicide bombers was aided by a now disappeared PhD student studying Chemistry?

    Exactly - one of the his coaches, NOT one of the actual bombers, was PhD student (Osama Bin Laden is quite well educated too, but you don't see him volunteering to blow himself up).

    They all lived in a very poor, violent and high crime working class areas (or perhaps more accurately, a non-working area, given the primary industry is the collection of social security). Living in poor areas is true of majority of Muslims in the UK, particularly in the London area where unemployment in the Muslim community is at 30%.

    Walking round east London (or Leeds, or Bradford for that matter) and you'll get some idea of their living standards (just not at night).

    The problem the west has isn't the fact that these people are disenfrancised [sic] misfits

    I disagree in the strongest possible terms, suicide bombers are in fact usually unsuccessful males, this is exactly what makes them prime target for recruitment. Successful people with high levels of self esteem aren't easily persuaded to blow themselves up in the name of religion.

    If they don't feel disenfranchised by the society they live in then there is less chance of them being turned into suicide bombers by manipulative, politically motivated groups.

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

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @10:43AM (#13072938) Homepage
    Actually I hold 30 certifications. I no longer hold ANY microsoft certifications as I found they have no real value to someone with over 20 years real experience in IT and IS, Also many managers that are worth working for also feel that way from being burned by hiring MCSE's without any real experience.

    Some certs are worthwhile.... Cisco and Novell for example. Others have a much lower value.

    Cisco training materials are clear and TRUTHFUL in the information.. Microsoft training materials typically have either ass-backwards information or are full of Corprate-microsoft-newspeak that is 100% worthless in the real world, but required to pass the test. Just try and read the Microsoft published manual for the VB.NET certifications.. the guy slams hungarian notation as useless and confusing. and then has examples that have variable names that in a 45,000 line app will cause the next developer utter hell.

    BTW, I recieved my MSCE in 98 and then let it expire to satisfy a stupid PHB requirement that all IT employees be MS certified. after the company spend millions to get that so we could tout a stupid statistic to customers that "all our peopel are certified!" the bean counters promptly dropped the requirement citing expenses. (yay for the bean counters!)

    Sorry about the long winded response to the obvious troll from a MS drone but I am in a GREAT mood today.
  • by WhiplashII ( 542766 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @11:25AM (#13073337) Homepage Journal
    I would seriously disagree with this! Destroying companies removes jobs and value from the economy, because things that could be done previously can no longer be done. Taking your gains and giving them away to people also destroys economic value for less obvious reasons (essentially it hurts the recipient emotionally and makes them less likely to try to advance themselves). Giving money to people is probably the worst thing you could do with it - for example, pretend that instead of giving his money away he decided he wanted Mt St Helens moved 2 feet to the right. He spends billions, so the net effect to him is the same. Others receive the billions (as salary), so they are also better off. But in addition, the workers at the end can have a feeling of pride - they did something very hard (stupid, yes, but hard).

    Donations do not make up for damaging the economy - that is a far less than zero sum game. It is far better for everyone if a rich guy hords his money, but creates economic value (jobs and a better life for everyone). In the long term (more than a single lifetime), economic value is always redistributed. Donations help in the short term, but long term make everyone worse off.

    Of course, that said, balance is required in everything. (I currently donate about 20% of my income to charitable institutions...)
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @01:24PM (#13074815)
    My four-year old can use a computer without assistance. So far, she hasn't written any software.
  • Re:Big deal. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @01:53PM (#13075138)
    This entire topic has moved me to compose my own poem to Bill:

    Bill, you are wonderful because your mother was a close friend of IBM CEO Akers who gave you the DOS licensing (biggest cash cow in history of mankind);

    Bill, you are wonderful because you hired Tim the programmer to copy Gary Kildall's CPM and call it DOS;

    Bill, you are wonderful because your uncle was VP of First Interstate Bank which magically gave your company it's financing

    Bill, you are just too wonderful.

  • by Shadowlore ( 10860 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @03:31PM (#13076222) Journal
    There aren't a lot of nine year olds who can write C#.

    My six year old girl can program in Python, and is learning how to work the Linux command line (she is already fluent in X-Windows/Fluxbox/Gnome). So can several young children I am aware of. At her current rate she'll be ready for RHCT/RHCE in a couple years if she still wants to. ;)

    Remember, Farragut was commanding a naval vessel at the age of 12, and had a solid understanding of caclulus and advanced geometry, not to mention navigation on the open seas by that age. The only reason children of today don't do such things is because society/government won't let them.

    Around here, we don't restrict their learning resulting in children single-digit-age who do/know/understand more than most graduates.

    What we need is more of these stories in order to have a chance at breaking the molds we've been shackled with.
  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @04:59PM (#13077110)
    Well I'd have to say she is bright in that she obviously adept at sucking up to a rich and powerful man and and figured out a good plan to get on a fast track to a high paying job in Redmond. A key benefit there being escape from a mostly poverty stricken, very Islamic Pakistan, where she probably doesn't have great prospects in adult life, being a women in a very Islamic country, beyond getting married and raising a lot of kids.

    I'm betting she's well on here way to locking up a college scholarship from Microsoft already.

    So even if the exams are an exercise in memorization, she is obviously crafty(assuming her parents didn't make here cram for the exams and write the poem).

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.