It's Programmer Day! ... (Is that the best you can do?)

Programmer Day is the Rodney Dangerfield of made-up holidays

Programmer Day

As made-up holidays go, today's - Programmer Day - doesn't get the publicity or respect of, say, SysAdmin Day or Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Unless you happen to live in Russia, where Programmer Day is "officially recognized" (whatever that means), according to Wikipedia, and is referred to in the plural possessive, Programmers' Day, apparently in deference to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has never written a line of code, near as I can tell.

(What online news looked like on 9/11)

Programmer Day has been celebrated on the 256th day of the year since ... well, that isn't quite clear, but this appears to be at least the third.

From Wikipedia:

The number 256 was chosen because it is the number of distinct values that can be represented with an eight-bit byte-a number that is typically very well known to programmers.[3] Starting from zero, the 256th value represented by a sequential permutation of 8 bits is unsigned integer 255 or hexadecimal 0xff or binary 0b11111111. 256 is the highest power of two that is less than 365, the number of days in a common year.

This site, which pops up first on a standard Google search, has all the Programmer Day info you'll need (and contributed the logo you see above). The site's proprietor also alludes to the difficulty Programmer Day has had in gaining its rightful place in the pantheon of made-up holidays:

Thank You Programmers!

Programmer Day is a day to celebrate Programmers and thank them for all that they do. was created to promote and provide a home for the day. The history of Programmer Day is longer than the 2 year life of this site, but unfortunately a lack of comments and poor documentation have obfuscated that history.

There's even a whiff of controversy on the FAQ page:

Your logo has 1111 1111 that's 255, not 256, right?

A: While 1111 1111 = 255 as a direct conversion, it's the 256th value so it is correct. January 1st is 0000 0000 so if you celebrate Programmer Day on the 255th day you're guilty of an off by one error.

I'll leave it to you programmers to settle that one among yourselves.

I did receive one lonely vendor pitch hyping Programmer Day, and it includes the requisite YouTube and photo competitions that are all the rage in the marketing world. Go ahead and give it a shot. I'm guessing entries will be sparse.

The Twitter hashtag for today's celebration is #programmerday and is attracting a smattering of tweets per minute. They seem perfunctory, bordering on sad.

I'm sure that the pace and enthusiasm will pick up as everyone gets to their workplaces.

C'mon, people, it's Programmer Day.

(Update: It occurs to me that I wrote this post without once even thinking of my brother, Brian, the programmer. Happy Programmer Day, Brian.)

(Update 2: Indifference toward and controversy around Programmer Day dates back to at least 2006, according to this blog post, which makes note of an attempt on the part of someone to banish the event's Wikipedia page. Now that's cold.)

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