Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/29/leap_year_babies_attack_ballmer/

7000 Leap Year Babies attack Steve Ballmer

After choking imaginary giraffe

By Cade Metz

Posted in Applications, 29th February 2008 07:02 GMT

Seven thousand leap year day babies have revolted against the Toys R Us giraffe, skewering Steve Ballmer along the way.

Peeved that Geoffrey the Giraffe never sends birthday cards to kiddies born on February 29, the international Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies recently unsheathed free software capable of destroying the web's dreaded "Invalid birth date" bug.

The long-ignored bug makes life ridiculously difficult for anyone born on Leap Year Day - including Peter Brouwer, a tech-savvy spokesman for the Society. "You visit a website and you try to register and they asked for your birth date," he explains. "So you put in February 29 and a little pop-up appears that says something like 'Please enter a valid birth date' or 'You've entered an invalid birth date.'"

Citing first-hand experience, Brouwer says the bug wreaks havoc on gazillions of sites across the net. "It's something that all people born on February 29 encounter, and frankly, we're tired of it."

Recently, Brouwer and his fellow babies took the fight to the world's most popular video sharer. "YouTube would completely swallow your registration," Brouwer says. "If you entered February 29, they assumed that you were some kind of bot that was pilfering users' accounts and they would completely ignore you. But this doesn't happen anymore, because we complained."

And now that the latest Leap Year Day has arrived, the 7000-baby-strong Society has aimed a free date-bug-killing perl script at all the web developers who still don't realize the latest Leap Year Day has arrived. And that includes the IT staff at Toys R Us.

Toys R US claims that any attention-starved kiddie can sign up to receive an annual birthday card from Geoffrey the Giraffe. But according to the international Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, Geoffrey has a habit of ignoring kiddies born on February 29.

"How do you explain to a five-year-old, that they won't receive a birthday card from Geoffrey over at Toys R Us this year, because the Toys R Us computer has no way to recognize their birthday?" asks Society spokeswoman Raenell Dawn.

In announcing its new perl script, the Society also took a swipe at Microsoft Excel. The world's most popular spreadsheet still fails to realize that 1900 is not a leap year. "That bug has been around for 20 years," Brouwer says. "Microsoft has always claimed that it's there to provide backwards compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3.

"But I've spoken to Mitch Kapor, who built Lotus 1-2-3, and he said 'Oh no, we never had a bug like that.'"

It should be said that Microsoft recently committed to fixing this bug. But Brouwer is still annoyed. "Microsoft tried to squeeze their bug into the OOXML standard, and IBM said 'You can't put that in here.' And Microsoft said 'But that bug has been in our software for 20 years, it has to be in the standard.'"

All that said, Brouwer and the rest of the international Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies "would be very proud" if Microsoft used its perl script to finally put an end to Excel's egregious leap-year-that-isn't.

If you're reading, Steve, you can find the software here. ®