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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 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?
    • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:50AM (#13071341)
      As a Microsoft employee who has been forced to pass them for 8 years as a review bullet point I'll say "no value".
    • by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @08:09AM (#13071614)
      I think the parents should be charged with child abuse ... Forcing a child to learn Windows, it should be criminal!
    • by Nagatzhul ( 158676 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @11:17AM (#13073270)
      She likes Windoze enough to get certified in it *AND* she is writing poetry about Bill's life.

      How twisted is that??
  • by Knome_fan ( 898727 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:43AM (#13071099)
    how demanding getting an MCSE is. ;-D
    • Re:Just confirms (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jarnis ( 266190 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:55AM (#13071156)
      Actually MCSE is no walk in the park. You have to know pretty arcane stuff about Windows and (broken) MS applications. Now some of it is totally no-brainer stuff, but on the other hand the exams ask for a lot of 'MS approved super l33t way of doing this and that', and unless you have read the MS propaganda and the 'official' solutions, you don't know about them. Naturally the 'common sense' solution is not a valid answer - even if in the real world you actually do it like common sense dictates.

      Example: In some Windows server exams, you are asked about rolling out installations to large organizations with gazillion additional programs and custom bits. In the Real World this is commonly done by imaging the disk and just dropping disk images to the desktops. The Microsoft Way(tm) is obiviously to use an installation server, unattended installation scripts and other arcane junk, and then pray that the installation works like it should :)

      Same goes for lots of firewall/networking related things where everyone in the real world uses non-MS solutions. But in the MS world of the MS exams, you are supposed to use ICS and other 'great' solutions - and actually know how they work :)

      Now having said that, the MCP that this article refers to is a big joke. You can get MCP certified on just about anything, and the easiest ones are to the tune of "here's how you start up a windows PC and use mouse". Over here we call 'MCP' a 'Minesweeper certified professional'. Lots of MCPs are certified in something like Word and Excel, and the exams for using those are completely braindead easy.
      • Re:Just confirms (Score:5, Informative)

        by DigitumDei ( 578031 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:04AM (#13071184) Homepage Journal

        "Now having said that, the MCP that this article refers to is a big joke."

        Microsoft Certified Application Developer is what she got according to TFA.

        While its no MCSD (which she does plan on doing) or MCSE , there was plenty of C# dev in it.

      • Re:wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by TrappedByMyself ( 861094 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:27AM (#13071256)
        Now having said that, the MCP that this article refers to is a big joke.

        From the article The certification she received was as a Microsoft Certified Application Developer.
        That's 3 development exams []
        An experienced developer would need to study for these.
      • 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 clymere ( 605769 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:29AM (#13071266) Homepage
        i was skeptical as well..MCSE's are not particularly well regarded. However, the MCP exam she passed seems much more in depth than just getting certified in excel: "She has created basic Windows applications, such as a calculator and a sorting program, primarily in the C# programming language. The certification she received was as a Microsoft Certified Application Developer. She says she plans to pursue a more advanced certification, as a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer, which involves building programs into a broader system for a business." Thats C#, not VB! I'm not an MS expert, but I say thats pretty damn good for a nine year old!
        • 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.

      • 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.
      • Is it just me or does it seem that IT people tend to play Minesweeper while non-IT people gravitate towards Solitaire?
  • by aidanjpadden ( 314134 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:43AM (#13071100)
    one of the MCP exams did take me five minutes to finish - if this 9 year old girl beat that my ego is battered!

    I mean, shes 9 - and she's a girl :(
  • Epic Poem (Score:5, Funny)

    by gbulmash ( 688770 ) * <> on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:44AM (#13071105) Homepage Journal
    Her poem celebrating Bill's life:

    There once was a man from Nantucket
    Who told all the world to suck it
    Selling insecure code
    He sure was a chode
    And his ethics could not fill a bucket

    - G

  • 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?
    • by Anonymous Conrad ( 600139 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:57AM (#13071165)
      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?

      As a whole, they're pretty easy - someone half-way bright could cram for them.

      The summary does her down, BTW; it says she's MCP, which means passed any one exam, including some piss-takingly simple ones on the administration tracks, whereas she's actually got MCAD which means she's passed a number of developer exams. Yes, some of those are just cram windows features but one of those, the architecture one, actually needs some experience and thought. Or at least it did back in my day when the exam was new - maybe there's "here's all the answers" books for that too now.

      -- a VC++ 6 MCSD.
    • 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!
      • by ( 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.
        • "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)
    • 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 [] and find the questions and answers that will be on the test and memo
  • 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 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...
      • 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 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 AT gmail DOT com> 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.)
    • 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 purel
      • 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 o
    • dude, she's just 9 years old!
    • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:57AM (#13071361) Homepage
      You do realize that you're taking issue with a 10 year old, right?

    • 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.

    • 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 bigbinc ( 605471 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @05:53AM (#13071140) Homepage Journal

    This chick will be so burnt out by the time she is 20, it won't even be funny. I saw the smile, what a nice smile. In 4 years, she will look like Glenn Close or Susan Sarandon.

    Send her to the customers at 15, she will be crying to Mommy 2 weeks later. Then comes the drinking, the drugs, 3 or 4 divorces. is good.

    • 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.
  • 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 DOT brownbill AT gmail DOT 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.
    • by Council ( 514577 ) <rmunroe@gma i l . c om> 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."
  • "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.
    • Re:"certificates" (Score:3, Insightful)

      by B5_geek ( 638928 )
      ..."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.
  • by Nexu ( 687889 ) <nexu,jin&gmail,com> on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:03AM (#13071183)
    From this article ( tory_2900904.asp [] ) on Feb 16 2004 report that an 8 year old boy is the youngest. I'm not a math wiz. But last time i checked on elementairy school. 10 > 8. What's going on here?
  • by lw54 ( 73409 ) <> 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 []

  • by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:05AM (#13071194) Journal
    I think she just handed him a copy of Howl. It's not her fault that the press makes her look like the author.
  • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> 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.)

    • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:56AM (#13071358)
      Back in my day, us kids had to write in assembly, and we didn't have these fancy registers you young whipper-snappers have today! We just had an accumulator and sixteen K of memory!

      Kids these days! You've all got it so easy!

      And get off my lawn!
  • by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:18AM (#13071229)
    MCSE is to computers as McDonalds Certified Chef is to fine cuisine.
  • 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. toID=69691 []

    and heres an article arfa14.html []

    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!

  • by Joel Rowbottom ( 89350 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:28AM (#13071261) Homepage
    "Rise, my young apprentice..."

  • 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 QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Friday July 15, 2005 @06:40AM (#13071302) Homepage Journal
    Shit, that must have been hard, I mean, how many words rhyme with "bastard"?
  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @07:37AM (#13071496)
    Dear bill they love you there in pakistan
    you know how hard it is to be an also ran
    and since the trial you've been working so hard on your tan
    to do everything you think you duly can
    to be doted on and smiled at by even just one fan

    The EU said go away...China said come back another day, so now it's third world slumming for you while you pray
    that you don't end up in a pakistani jail where you'll get blown away. die bill die
  • 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 warpSpeed ( 67927 ) <> on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:00AM (#13071941) Homepage Journal
    A poem of bills life? Yikes! She is only 9, I guess she is not old enough to have grown a hard sarcastic shell yet.
  • 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.

  • by caudron ( 466327 ) on Friday July 15, 2005 @09:22AM (#13072129) Homepage
    Roses are red.
    Violets are blue.
    Your OS is shit.
    And so are you.

    Please, no applause, just throw money.
  • 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.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.