Coders Have Russia To Thank For A Thankless Programmers' Day

Well, Friday the 13th came and passed uneventfully this year. Internationally, there were no earth-shaking calamities. In fact, quite the contrary. Russia, America's on-again-off-again ally was instrumental in sealing the day for chemical disarmament in Syria. And unbeknownst to a lot of us folks, Russia is the only country in the world to officially recognize "Programmers Day." 

As early as 2002, Valentin Balt and Michael Cherviakov, employees of Parallel Technologies, a web design company, were the first to gather signatures to petition the Russian government to recognize this day as an official holiday for the country. But it wasn't until July 24, 2009 that the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media actually issued an executive order to make Programmers' Day official. On September 11, 2009, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev signed the decree.

Today, many people celebrate the Coders' holiday on the 256th day of year, usually falling on September 13 or September 12, in the case of a leap year. According to Wikipedia, the significance of the number 256 is somewhat convoluted for the layman:

The number 256 was chosen because it is the number of distinct values that can be represented with an eight-bit byte, a value well-known to programmers. 256 is also the highest power of two that is less than 365, the number of days in a common year.

So with all the thought and effort having gone into making this special day, well ... ehr special, do our hard-working coders indeed get the respect they deserve? Well, aside from the fact that hardly anyone knows the holiday exists, outside of Russia, you would have been hard pressed to find one single blog entry on Google News this week.

The Twitter hashtag #programmerday (note the singular) was attracting a smattering of tweets per minute - but it did not trend all day, so the tweets seemed perfunctory, bordering on an obligatory nod if you or someone you knew were working in the space.

The website, even seemed saddened by the lack of enthusiasm displayed for their holiday, noting that while "the history of Programmers Day is longer than the life of the site . . .  unfortunately a lack of comments and poor documentation have obfuscated that history." David Knight who's apparently the webmaster for the site, puts a plea out to sponsors for funding that will "help with site costs and improvements." Hopefully some of his fellow programmers will respond to this need?

On their Q&A page, Knight also explains the Programmer Day logo which again is as clear as mud to the layman:

Q: 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 and off by one error.

So, in an effort to break this endles thankless cycle, I would like to extend a genuine thankyou to Tawki's programming team headed up by Gagan Kohli who are hard-working souls based in Dehardun, India (located north of New Delhi) - a Gagan KohliGagan KohliSilicon Valley of sorts specializing in software development. The start-up is currently in a fund-raiser mode anxiously waiting to achieve its fundraising goal, so this programming team can transition into their beta phase to create a very exciting new DIY video and animation production service and social network.

And for any other programmer and coders out there who think their hard work goes unnoticed or unacknowledged, may we wish you the best of days ahead, on Programmers Day as well as the other 364 days of the year. Bazinga!