The seven-year pursuit as a programmer

Xiao Lin dropped out of school at the age of 13 and started learning computer language since then. He was formerly an Internet administrator working for InfoHighway and now serves as a network engineer of at the age of 20.


Lin Xinglu’s parents moved to Shenzhen in 1979 and gave birth to him in 1980. His parents had to send him back to hometown Lufeng for schooling as they couldn’t afford high tuition fees in Shenzhen.

Bullying started for Lin in his middle school. Those boys mocked and bullied him for one reason, seeing you are not pleasing to their eyes. Lin finally fought back hard on the boys after keeping silent for a while. His father brought Xiaolin back to Shenzhen and gave him to choices, either going to a local school or studying computer at home by himself. Xiaolin chose the later for fears of school.


Xiaolin learned by himself at home with a computer and a DOS guide after dropping out of school. As a beginner, he used to reload the computer system frequently. After finishing learning DOS course, he found himself long to be programmer as there were fewer software available at that time. He desired to develop software with his name popping out each time in using it.

Xiaolin dropped out of middle school at the first grade, therefore he only knows a very basics of English. However, he managed to learn C programing language by looking up English dictionary and later translation software. Reading technical documents and terminology is a piece of cake for him.

Pronunciation is another difficulty. When he found a good software, he would call his friend, who speaks English fluently, to help him announce the right words.

Electronics market in Shenzhen

Xiaolin wrote a small program to play MIDI in 1995. It was popular in Shenzhen back then for people to exchange software with each other. By doing this, Xiaolin got to know a few professional software developers, who are 10 years elder and more experienced than Xiaolin. Xiaolin learned a lot from them.

Xiaolin had only student friends if he were still at school at age of 15. Mingling with professional developers, Xiaolin absorbed information and acquired interpersonal skills quickly. Lin said, “There seems existing a generation gap between students and teachers at school but for me it is much easier to talk with my older friends.”

InfoHighway company

In 1997 InfoHighway business began operating across China and its Shenzhen branch office was located near Saige Electronics market across the street. Xiaolin was surprised to find Internet an instant hit. He couldn’t wait to find out what’s going on with InfoHighway. On January 1, 1997, Xiaolin created an InfoHighway account and started surfing on Internet. “It’s a complete new thing to me. Technical persons helped me to solve all these problems and I got acquittanced with them over time.” Li said.

Xiaolin uploaded the music player software online. Unexpectedly, he received praise from Song Yi, then General Manger of InfoHighway Shenzhen branch office. Mr. Song happened to know Xiaolin had been seeking a job. On his invitation, Xiaolin joined InfoHighway by coincidence. He served at the reception desk and shifted to customer service division a month later. “I learned a lot working there. You never know there is a problem if you don’t try it by yourself. I grew into my job through constant practicing and reflecting.” Li said.

After three or four months working in customer service division, Xiaolin felt it would be better serving as a network administrator. He obtained CNE certificate and eventually joined the operation division as a network administrator.

Xiaolin’s regulator work is to register Internet information feedback from customers, log records, and virtual host installation, making sure the server secured and preventing hacker break-in. Xiaolin continued to study software programming during his spare time.

In March, 1999, a dozen of InfoHighway management personnel resigned in a body. Xiaolin found a new job in Chinamotion as a technical developer. “There are three sections shown in the homepage of Chinamotion. The first section with three buttons on top of it was written by one of colleagues, and the community section was written by another person. Excluding those two parts, I wrote the rest of the entire homepage.”

Although Xiaolin rarely had traditional Chinese schooling, he is gifted at understanding and learning computer science. “I am extremely interested in and well equipped with programming. However, management is my weak spot. I could have down better if I had some knowledge of math and physics.” Lin said.

I read books and search online to solve difficult questions. It would triple the effect if I had enough traditional schooling, but you could still make it through hard working if you are determined to be a programmer.

From: Southern Weekly (May 12, 2000)

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