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Programming Prodigy Arfa Karim Passes Away At 16 536

quantr writes "Arfa Karim, child prodigy, youngest certified Microsoft Professional in the world and winner of the president’s Pride of Performance, breathed her last breath on Saturday night at the Combined Military Hospital in Lahore. Arfa had an epileptic attack on December 22 and had been in a coma since."
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Programming Prodigy Arfa Karim Passes Away At 16

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:24PM (#38708004) must be asshole day at /.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:32PM (#38708070) must be asshole day at /.


      Early comments are disgusting and bring shame to /.
      RIP Arfa.

    • by spyder-implee ( 864295 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:25PM (#38708538)
      I thought so too at first, but most of the tasteless comments have been modded down pretty quickly by the rest of the community. The asshole group isn't representative of the rest of us, they just post quick.
    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      As much as we feel motivated to say something about the sort of crap people will post about stuff like this ("all it takes for evil to succeed" etc), they already know they're assholes, the rest of us already know they're assholes, and the reactions you and I are giving them are exactly what they were aiming for when they did it. And to boot, most of the posts here are now about their comments rather than about TFA.

      In future, just moderate them down as appropriate and say nothing more on the matter.

  • by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:24PM (#38708006)

    Seriously, folks - what the hell is wrong with you?

    A young woman of tremendous promise and an incredibly positive outlook on life dies far before her time, and this is what you have to say?

    Some really sick folks. First time in a long time that I've actually been embarrassed of the folks here at /., despite some seriously differing opinions.

    • by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:37PM (#38708104)

      I concur. While many of us may not consider being an MCP 'worth' of anything, it's still something above and beyond what those arseholes who posted above could ever achieve, even at 39 rather than 9 (yes, thats how old she was when she got MCP), she even got certified to FLY at age 10.
      This is someone who was gifted at something. Yes, I'd call myself jealous of her talent, but that's no excuse to bad mouth anyone. Dead or not.

      • by beadfulthings ( 975812 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:05PM (#38708368) Journal

        Thank you. It took amazing intelligence and self-discipline for her to achieve the certification at so young an age. She was apparently also a promising programmer. That's especially true if you consider where she lived--surrounded by a culture where young girls are not normally valued for their intellectual gifts. Her death is doubly tragic--not only has a promising young life been extinguished, but a pattern and role model for other struggling girls has been lost. Her family deserves a lot of credit for encouraging her gifts and talents, and they also deserve our profound and deepest sympathy for their loss.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:43PM (#38708664)

        This is someone who was gifted at something.

        If she learned to fly at 10, she was presumably gifted a sizeable chunk of money.

        Admiral Farragut joined the Navy at nine and was given command of a prize ship at twelve. The idea that anyone under twenty can't actually do much other than play with dolls and watch cartoons is a recent invention.

      • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday January 16, 2012 @04:41AM (#38711556) Journal

        She is called a programming prodigy but no evidence is given, the only "evidence" is a MS certification on a site where MS certification is a gigantic red flag. Certification in general tends not to be popular and the ones from MS are often considered to have less value then the paper they were written upon if the paper was made of shit.

        The article writer probably knows this and also knows that controversy sells ad impressions.

        The simple fact is that a young person died who had some minor accomplishments that most on /, simply do not value since they know adults with the same who are the waste of IT. Maybe if the article poster had given some examples of actual code she had written? Something that would actually impress other developers? But the only links I seen so far are to software that is frankly not that impressive to people from a generation that had to create their own computer from scratch. Don't forget, there are REAL rocket scientists on Slashdot. People that built their own home computer before there were home computers are supposed to be all impressed with a kid that made a calculator in a modern development environment? Not even a very good calculator.

        It might be hard for a 9 year old to do that particular exam but so what? Coders judge other coders on code, not certificates.

        All this is to me is a young person who died who seems to have gotten some minor press attention for an achievement I do not value. Show me her 3D engine, new sorting algorithm, something that makes her a true child prodigy and not just a very boring kid who read a training manual cover to cover.

        Sad she died, but millions die each day. What makes her worthy of special attention? I just don't like fake emotion from people who shed tears over this but never made a donation to stop people from dying or to cure a disease. Slashdot doesn't need human interest stories.

    • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:39PM (#38708118) Homepage Journal
      Dark humor is a coping mechanism for dealing with the nasty, brutish, and short nature of life. I understand this because I've lost somebody close to me.

      Dostoevsky understands this too, because he lost his beloved youngest son to epilepsy, and if you've read his work it's not about unicorns shitting rainbows and roses.

      Finally, a joke - what do you do when an epileptic falls into your swimming pool? Throw in some detergent and your dirty laundry.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The real problem is the summary. Yes, it's all very sad that a bright young girl died. But having a "Microsoft Certified Professional" certificate is not what I would call a child prodigy. Judging entirely from the summary, this seems like the usual case of people putting a dead person on a pedastal and exaggerating about how good they were. Now, maybe she did do something worthwhile, but the summary was just stupid. I can list dozens of programmers who wrote really good, meaningful software before the

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rubycodez ( 864176 )
        she was certified to fly an airplane at age ten....
        • by sosume ( 680416 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:37PM (#38709074) Journal

          would you board a plane which was piloted by an epileptic 10-year old? how is that even legal..

      • by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:04PM (#38708364)

        To get a cert at 9 is pretty amazing. You may not think much of it, but honestly, that's an achievement.

        To get it in a nation like Pakistan, that's incredible, what with all the cultural impediments that must have stood in the way.

        And if you'd read the TFA, let alone listened to the interview at all, you'd know that her attitude was one that others might consider emulating.

        Regardless of this, it's still beyond belief that folks are being so incredibly mean spirited. Even jackals treat their dead better.

    • Lack of empathy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by formfeed ( 703859 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:18PM (#38708492)

      Lack of empathy is a clear social dysfunction and the only excuse is adolescence.

      I would not ridicule a 16yo for not understanding how others might feel or how things are for someone else. If you are still busy finding your own identity it is difficult to feel for others. But if you're 20+ and still posting things like the above comments, you are on the way of becoming a pathetic loser.

  • What a tragic loss (Score:4, Interesting)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:28PM (#38708044) Homepage Journal

    I had no idea epilepsy could be fatal.

    I know the years of blood vessel stress can lead a migraine sufferer like myself to suffer an aneurism -- a blood vessel in the brain "blowing out" and bleeding, causing stroke symptoms or even death. But the concept doesn't scare me, it's just a factual risk I live with.

    My heartfelt condolences to her family. She was so young and so gifted, with such a future ahead of her. :(

    • by pehrs ( 690959 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:03PM (#38708348)

      Epilepsy in it self is non-fatal. There are acute secondary dangers from epileptic seizures (falls, traffic accidents) and also some medical dangers (hypoxia from suspended breathing, heart problems).

      But primarily, epileptic seizures is a hint that something is _very_ wrong in the central nervous systems on a low level. There exists a large number of things known to trigger attacks, such as infections, brain injury, drugs, withdrawal from drugs and so on. What you want to do is typically to treat the underlying problem. People don't die of the epileptic attack, it's the underlying problem that kills them (or the secondary dangers).

      Oh, by the way, ruptured aneurysm have a surprisingly good prognosis, as long as you get to a hospital in time. If you are a risk group for ruptured aneurysm you really should learn the symptoms and inform your relatives about them as well. This is one of those cases where 2-3 hours makes the difference between "full recovery" and "vegetable".

  • The candle ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:29PM (#38708048)

    ... that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

  • by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:38PM (#38708108)
    I think it's about time /. gets rid of the AC policy. If you can't be bothered to make an account, why should you be able to constantly stink this place up with the sort of bile we see in the first few comments to this?
    • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:04PM (#38708362) Homepage Journal
      So you can ignore the fact that the world is full of assholes? AC posting restrictions is good enough to work for the most part. Buck up, be a man, and ignore those who are just trolling. Falling to grief means they win
  • Tragic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jargonburn ( 1950578 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:41PM (#38708138)
    A moment of silence for a bright little star winking out, no more to lend its brilliance to our future.
  • I am astounded (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:45PM (#38708172) Homepage Journal
    at the level of most of the comments here. Had I known this teenager ( I only learned of her existence through this post ), I would have seriously thought of how to make a full-blown engineer or computer scientist out of her.

    I know that, in the face of the appallingly low level of most of the comments here, it is easy to take the moral high ground. I know. But still - this is tremendously sad. We ( with "we" I mean both "humanity" and "we, the engineering community" ) lost something valuable here: a promising life.

  • Sad :( (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aquarajustin ( 1070708 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:48PM (#38708196)
    It's sad that she passed so early. She appeared truly gifted and it's a shame that she died too soon to learn how awful Microsoft products are. She could have become quite the *nix wiz.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:58PM (#38708296) Homepage

    To think that a [presumed] Muslim female, a child at that, could accomplish what she did is amazing on so many levels. I am with others on the presumption that her ability was possibly also part of her undoing. The brain is a tricky thing. Hers was likely wired in such a way that it contributed to its burning itself out.

    That said, those woman-oppressing Islamic fundamentalists out there can look upon her with all the anger they like. They can't deny what she was. She was female. She was extremely young. She was extremely accomplished and had extremely high potential. I doubt this is the type of symbol she would have wanted to be, but she is definitely a symbol of defiance against ridiculous religious ideals which seek to limit and oppress women into specific roles in life.

  • by ncmathsadist ( 842396 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:59PM (#38708302) Homepage
    Yes, epilepsy can be fatal. It can shut down the central nervous system, starve the brain and other vital organs of oxygen, causing death. That just happened here to a very promising young student here in North Carolina. I convey my condolences to the family. There is no crueler cut of life than having to bury a child.
    • There is no crueler cut of life than having to bury a child

      What surprised me, is that this is a scientifically proven fact.

      In one of his books, psychology researcher Martin Seligman reported on his findings how people deal with severe depression. Almost all his patients get better completely, except those that lost a child. Apparently, it's a blow that most parents just don't seem to recover from.

  • by Securityemo ( 1407943 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:20PM (#38708500) Journal
    Are you so attached to the idea of performance and computer skills that you'd even consider it a relevant subject of discussion when such a young person has passed away? You're all like Scrooge, but with computers chained to your souls instead of cash.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:25PM (#38708532)

    On one side we have the who cares, this is not the place to post this. The on the other side we have Its such a tragedy we lost such a great young mind! Then we have the people who probably agree with the first but are to afraid to comment for the karma loss inflicted by the second side.

    Lets be honest, it is a tragedy any time someone dies, even more so when that person had potential to change alot of peoples lives through their work, but let us remember we lose people everyday with more potential and intellect than this girl. She had the right combination to get to the point were she could excel, good parents that encouraged her that had money to make possible what she wanted to do. So I think on that point is a greater tragedy when we lose someone who tries to excel even though they have none of those things to help the process. Where is the press then? Where is microsoft to help them find the best medical care? Where is the overzealous out cry of mourners for those people?

    I think its time the second group of people step back and re-look at all the shit they are giving the first group of people, unless you can name every bright mind the world has lost in the last year and how that young kid who was working themselfs through college because his mother was a crack head and his farther was in jail has effected you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eyenot ( 102141 )

      I've been programming since I was eight years old and I'm homeless while I attend college. If I get sick I'm likely to get told to leave the hospital before I'm even treated, because I don't have insurance. So I didn't apply for certs, there wasn't any such fuckery until I was about 14. So this girl did -- the youngest to do so, ever. Of course the major person behind the certifications is going to play her up beyond all human recognition. There are probably numerous young girls and boys just like her who d

  • A very sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:00PM (#38708802)
    Being familiar with this girls story, I came here to say some kind words. I see that they have already been said.

    For those of you with unkind words all I can say is I have been on Slashdot since 1997 and I have never been so embarrassed and ashamed to call myself a part of this community.
  • by JohnnyMindcrime ( 2487092 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:11PM (#38708870)

    Here are the reasons why this is a news-worthy item here on Slashdot and why she should be credited for what she did:

    1. The girl was from Pakistan and therefore unlikely to have been afforded similar social & educational privileges than a 16-year old girl in the USA or Europe.

    2. Pakistan is a mainly Muslim country meaning that women have a lower status than men from the moment of birth. Therefore what she did was that little bit more harder for her than for a boy in Pakistan.

    3. It's good to occasionally get a new story from Pakistan where everyone isn't portrayed as either a Taliban terrorist in the mountains or a member of the Pakistan government hiding them.

    4. Maybe if a few more kids in our rich Western countries (I'm in the UK) took an interest in intellectual pursuits like programming, we wouldn't have so many of them dropping unwanted kids or getting addicted to drugs or alcohol. Maybe just one or two of those kids will read this story and take some inspiration from it, possibly change their own lives.

    So now kindly shut the fuck up if you cannot show some compassion.

  • Hypocrisy... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JohnnyMindcrime ( 2487092 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:39PM (#38709084) when you troll gleefully about the death of a teenage Pakistani girl who was a genius with Microsoft stuff but attacked anyone who trolled gleefully when Steve Jobs passed away.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @08:41PM (#38709500)

    The death is tragic, but there are no "programming geniuses", it does not work that way. You simply cannot even have the amount of experience to be very, very good at that age. The potential can be there, but not the actual skill. My deduction is that she had very good memory and was drilled to get through that test. Afterwards, my guess would be that she was used basically as a PR asset. Makes sense when you think about it. And in basically all cases like this, when you dig a bit, you find over-ambitious parents.

  • by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @11:34PM (#38710298)

    Never heard of her until she died. Sad. Perhaps her case will help promote health care generally in India. Would be nice if losing a clearly large potential helps put the focus on curing disease (especially the more exotic ones that the west doesn't focus much on).

    That said though I've heard that prodigies often fail to reach their potential. Ie do amazingly well and get into Harvard Law at 15 and than ... nothing. Their career is just like the rest of the Joe Smoes that got their degree when they were 25. I guess as two examples of ones that succeeded: Beethoven and Bobby Fischer. Any others? I guess what I'm saying is they have the intelligence of an adult extremely early but often they don't continue to develop. That is the nature of human development in general from what I understand. 0-4 or so really rapid development. Than more from 14-30 or so. In between and afterwards nothing that special. You learn but your reasoning doesn't improve at a great rate (might even decrease later on even not counting senility. So sad, but one good thing is she'll be remembered for what she was excellent at not as a 70 year old that had a hoo hum career and "oh yeah was the first MS MCP, you know that company from back in the 2010's?".

Forty two.