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In an age when paper qualifications and certificates of one description or another are touted as evidence of competence, it's refreshing to know that the top MySQL expert in Australia has only been officially certified on a version of the program which came out years ago.


Not that that makes him any less competent. Arjen Lentz, the man who was MySQL's 25th employee and its first in Australia, says that it really doesn't matter in the world in which he operates.

"I'm a MySQL expert and adding the MySQL label to that doesn't add to my stature in any way. I was employee number 25 and if a customer asks me about my credentials, I can mention that. I've never been asked if I am MySQL certified," he says.

Lentz is cut from slightly different cloth compared to the open source people one meets these days. While he is a specialist, he prefers to undertake a career that leaves him with the option of getting his fingers dirty with any task in which he is interested.

That's why, after nearly six years with MySQL, he decided to start his own business, rather than work for another company. "By the time I decided to move on (from MySQL), the company had changed to such a degree that one had to specialise. Really where do you go as a MySQL specialist? I have very diverse interests, and eventually you get hired as a MySQL specialist in a company, and get stuck with all the MySQL work - which I like. But I also like to be responsible for other things," is how he puts it.

Lentz has always been that way, never one-dimensional. He has no formal training in computer science, having dropped out of high school to mess around with computers. "I started (messing around) in 1980-81 when I was 10 or 11 years old. I used the DEC PDP-8 and Apple IIs, then I got my own Sinclair ZS-80. I messed around with MS-DOS quite a bit and before I moved to Australia in 2000, I ran my own software development company for quite a few years."

"I honestly don't remember the initial trigger (that got him messing around with computers). I was already playing with electric engineering and electronics (building/soldering my own little FM transmitters and such.

"Computers at that point (1981-ish) were pretty much a pile of electronics, rather than a black box. So I think it was a natural progression. I also built additional electronics to attach to my Acorn BBC computer, and even some internal things (like static RAM modules, etc)."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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