As well as being Friday the 13th, today is also Programmer Day. Instead of regarding it as a lighthearted joke, or an opportunity to have some fun, perhaps we should take it more seriously.
The first problem with Programmer Day is that not many programmers seem to know about it. This is most likely because the well-known greetings card manufacturers haven't spotted an opportunity to make some extra income - and what does that tell you about the idea of a day to celebrate programming? You might as well suggest a day for keeping pet spiders than programming - no wait that probably has more chance of catching on.
A day dedicated to programmers seems to have started out with something odd happening in Russia where Programmer Day is officially recognized. Just what that means isn't clear, but in 2009 Dmitry Medvedev, who was President of Russia at the time, signed a decree to say that it was a professional holiday.
It's celebrated on the 0x100th day of the year, or the 256th day in common currency, and this makes it September 13th if it isn't a leap year, and September 12th if it is. This year it also happens to be Friday the 13th which in many parts of the world is regarded as a very unlucky day.
Given that 11111111 is the maximum value an eight-bit number can hold is 255 not 256, why wasn't 255th day of the year chosen? The reason is, of course, that we programmers, in line with the mathematicians, count from zero, so we want to celebrate the 255th day starting from January 1st, which is day zero.
The world does seem to recognize that programmer's day exists. If you type it into Google search you are rewarded by:
So what should we do on our day?
Last year I Programmer suggested that we should do the greetings card manufacturers a favor and invent short verses to commemorate the occasion. But, given the ongoing debate about getting the general public to code and learn some computer science, perhaps we could make use of it to get some programming ideas into the wider world. Perhaps the commercialization of Programmer Day by a greeting card company would be a good idea - as long as the cards contained some nugget of programming or computer science.
Yes, this is an opportunity we are letting slip by.
What are your suggestions for using Programmer day to get people involved and to improve our image?
If you don't feel like being serious on this most joyous of days then we would certainly like to hear your jokes and if you have any plans you wish to share do let us know, or Tweet with #programmerday.