Sunday 13 September 2015

Day of the Programmer

<nerd>Whoop whoop, nerd alert.
As I told you before, every year I try to remember Tin [50th element] Day on the 19th February, the 50th day of the year.  But, I'm usually still recovering from a massive Darwinday [12th Feb, hissonours birthday] bender the week before. OTOH I don't pay any attention to Pi Day on 14th March because the clever-clogness only works if you're a yankee-dog: 3/14 is sort of like π=3.14 especially if you do something special just before 2pm - 3/14:1:59.  For Europeans there is π-approximation day 22/7 on 22nd July.  In the realm of fiction, h2g2 fans are quietly respectful on Towel Day 25th May. Other SciFi buffs have a Star Wars knees-up on May the 4th . . . be with you. For similar reasons, I refer to 2:30 as Chinese dentist time [say it].

Today is the 100th day of the year in hexadecimal 16^2 = 256 = 2^8. 256 hold special place for computer historians because the original computers had an 8-bit byte which meant that only 256 different characters could be represented by a single byte.  Which was fine for English+math but the divil-a-bit of use for folks who had accents or wrote in Cyrillic or katakana. This 256 fact was noted by Valentin Balt and Michael Cherviakov [definitely not for the first time, you may be sure] a couple of Russian programmers. They started up a petition to have the day formally recognised by the Russian Govt.

Now, I'm a programmer. I've made computers do my bidding through, at least, Fortran, Basic, PL/1, Pascal, C and Perl. I don't think this talent deserves particular respect, except that you might say "Happy Programmer's Day" if you meet me today. And the same greeting will be appreciated by any other chaps whom you know to be able to string three lines of code together. "Счастливый День программиста" might work in Moscow.</nerd>

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