The World’s Youngest Computer Specialist

How old do you need to be to pass one of the Microsoft Certification exams? Well I passed mine many years ago at the age of 22, which I was quite pleased about.  Well my achievement has been rather overtaken by Ayan Qureshi who has passed the “Supporting Windows 8.1” assessment at the age of 5 years and 11 months.

Little Ayan has just started primary school and was introduced to computers at the age of 3 by his father. It was he who realised that the young boy had a natural aptitude for computers and technology.   His father is also an IT consultant and build his son a computer lab at their home and started him on the route for the Microsoft exams.

It all paid off as he took and passed the two hour exam in September, with apparently some time to spare.

fiveyearold

It made me think about a conversation I had with my son, some weeks earlier where he was interested in doing something similar.  I suggested he was a little too young at  the age of 14, perhaps a stance I should revisit.

However having worked in IT myself for most of my working life, and now finding it rather dreary I wonder if pushing children on this sort of path this early is a good idea.   Computers can obviously provide a good career choice for any children wherever they are from, it’s also an industry where ongoing education is fairly essential.  I have been taking exams and certifications well into my forties – so Ayan has a few decades to go taking exams.

I’m sure it won’t do any harm though to Ayan as long as he doesn’t keep trying to brainwash himself down the Microsoft Certification route – after all an MCP at 6 is surely good enough for now.

You can read the reviews and get more information on the UK media sites, specifically the Telegraph and Daily Mail.   There is also a brief interview which at time of writing was being aired on BBC via their iPlayer application.  For those outside the UK, you might need an application to change you IP address to a British one using a proxy – like this.

Jane Simpson

Writes on technology, lifestyle and eco awareness blogs.

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Are You Hidden Online?

The news in the UK are frequently filled with stories and reports of legal cases concerning blogs, tweets and comments made online.  It seems that many people make these remarks often under the misapprehension that they are made under the cover of anonymity.  However the idea that you can do anything online anonymously is fairly far from the truth.

This of course becomes very obvious when the individuals find themselves in court or in the media, however many young people still seem to fail to learn this lesson.   The reality is that just as in real life, anything you say online is ultimately traceable to an individual – sure it can take some effort and there can be some exceptions.  But overall it is important to act online in a similar way as you would act in real life.

The reason is that everyone who connects to the internet is assigned an IP address which is linked to the device they are using.   If you access to the internet at home, then tracing this ip address is a trivial matter – it is linked directly to  your name and address via your ISP (Internet Service Provider).   Tracking any web visit, email or message sent whilst using your home computer is very straight forward indeed.

Even messages sent from an unmanaged internet connection using a smart phone or  tablet can usually be traced.  This is normally not directly through the internet address you’re using at the time but through connections related to those accounts.  So is it possible to have any anonymity at all online?

It is possible, although it does take some effort – have a look at this video for example.

As you can see it is possible to make it very difficult indeed to track people online, but without taking these steps you should presume that everything you do can in fact be traced back to an individual.  Of course the debate on anonymity/privacy online is often quite a heated one with strong arguments on each side.

Some people think that everything should be attributable to an individual indeed social networking sites like Facebook insist on people using real names to interact.   Others point to the potential for abuse of this sort of data, and with the Snowden revelations which showed how the various security services routinely track and harvest our data – it’s difficult to argue with this.

Whichever side of the debate you side with, one things for sure – young people should be aware of the fact that they have a digital identity and it can usually be linked with there real life.   It is probably not appropriate to encourage the use of all these tools which hide and anonymize your connection without stressing their responsibilities.