From her Facebook, September 2009:
"If you don't know already, I've created an iPhone app! I've been working really hard on this and have had lots of fun taking pictures of myself and my friends. Oh, what it does is gives everyone in the picture a HOT or COLD rating. The app is called ruHOT and is available for download for the iPhone and Android phones. Check it out!"
So yeah, highly doubt this is truly her first rodeo. Cool project(s) nonetheless and impressive dedication.
Interesting sleuthing. Maybe it's just exceptionally well targeted self-advertising. I know I'll get creamed by playing the gender card, but if this were a guy, would we be so coy to call them out on the fact that 'this ain't your first time'.
I think if anything this kind of misinformation regarding 'the possible output for a beginner' is actually discouraging to beginning developers. I do think this experiment it self-serving.
I have been doing web for around 10 years and it would be no cakewalk (albeit not impossible, if I had the time) to come up with a new novel idea every day for 180 days, and certainly as a beginner this kind of output is the most improbable thing I have ever seen (I have taught a few smart people how to get started and it takes a long time).
So, do we play along and misinform all the other true beginners or do we call out this Red Herring?
If we want more women to be welcome in tech they have to be held to the same kind of standards (honesty and ability). We can't let one individual get away with this kind of dishonesty because of gender.
And if you don't think this kind of manipulation exists, you should go read Reddit sometime (it's full of stuff like this, you can turn a picture of a random puppy into massive attention by saying 'look at who I adopted from an abusive home! I will love him for ever!').
Think about it people!
EDIT: The projects Jen has done are cool and interesting, no doubt. And the 'just f'ing do it' idea is even better. But can't possibly be programming beginner.
EDIT 2: I probably shouldn't be such a bastard, but anyway. Good job. Just be honest where you are coming from and you'll get deeper respect, I think is my point.
I created a game in Actionscript 2.0 back in 2009.
I started to program in around November of 2011.
Being able to cobble together an app or what-have-you is very different from programming, I think. I would not call what I did back then programming.
I even wrote a couple of follow-up games which used a tile-based map system and pathfinding but didn't store nodes on the map as variables - the game calculated the location of the nodes each time they were to be used. That's hideous.
I'd also point out that the vastness of the internet's resources should not be underestimated. I could create something awesome in 10 hours using Codecademy as a reference and generic tutorials I found using Google.
The problem for me would be finding 10 hours to do this in.
I do not think that this is a deliberate attempt to deceive as much as it is a sense the person feels that the person is 'not a proper programmer'. Hell, if I created a similar project now, after completing coursera/proglang and coursera/algorithm-design-and-analysis and working with web design for about a year and a half, I would still call it "teaching myself to code", because there is so much to learn I'm barely dipping my toe in the water.