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Happy Friday the 13th! It's Programmers' Day

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If your code monkeys aren't answering their emails today, it may not be the curse of Friday the 13th, but instead because they've taken a day of rest to celebrate Programmers' Day.

Programmers' Day is celebrated on the 256th day of the year, representing the maximum number of values in a byte – and 256 is also the largest power of two that comes to less than the 365 days found in a regular year. This means the holiday falls on September 13 most of the time and September 12 in leap years.

Pedants might note that the binary representation of 1111 1111 is actually 255, making Programmers' Day 24 hours too late. But as any good programmer knows, this ignores the use of zero as a value.

Programmers' Day might sound like something that's been made up as a way to get coders out early for the weekend, but it is an officially recognized holiday in Russia. The then-President Dmitry Medvedev formally signed off on that country's holiday decree in 2009 – presumably after he'd OKed it with his boss Vladimir Putin.

The holiday is also celebrated in some firms around the world, and is beginning to be used for marketing. This year Texas software house Xojo is offering programmers a 30 per cent discount on new licenses for those using the coupon code DEVDAY.

"It has been a pretty popular sale," Dana Brown, director of marketing at Xojo, told El Reg. "We love the idea of calling attention to Programmers' Day."

Other firms, such as Swedish code house Seavus, celebrate the day internally. Last year the firm marked Programmers' Day with a "hug a programmer" campaign, although it appears from the video that it still made sure its code monkeys were in the office pounding and pecking their keyboards in between snuggling.

So if you know a programmer slaving away, take the time to wish them well and maybe buy them a pint or three. It's only once a year – and without programmers we'd all be somewhat stymied. ®

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