Last year, we held the first annual SpamExperts Hack Week. It’s a popular type of event held by tech companies across the world – basically, all the developers take a break from their regular scheduled work to build something fun & amazing.
Hack Weeks are a great opportunity for team members to show off what they can do, to learn or experiment with a new technology, or to explore an area of development that isn’t yet urgent enough to make it into the core development timeline. Sometimes people are scratching their own itches, or building projects that they’re convinced clients will really want, and, every now and then, they’re just trying to do anything they can to win the crown.
Projects might end up featuring in existing products, or be released as open source tools. Releasing as full fledged products isn’t out of the question either. However, this doesn’t exclude the possibility that they can be built just for the fun of it all.
Participants are free to use whatever existing code or tools they wish, as long as they are open about that, so that we can be awed by what they have done in the 168 hours they have available – little to no sleep is the underlying characteristic of the winner.
The 2016 Hack Week will start today, running from the 1st until the 7th of June. We have people taking part in Russia, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, and the Netherlands – considering that the SpamExperts HQ is in Amsterdam, the race officially starts and ends at midnight NL time.
We have 9 members of the developer and QA teams taking part. Generally, everyone keeps quiet about what they are working on until the end of the week, when they present it to the whole company. Everyone then gets to vote for their favorite projects in three categories: most interesting/fun, most impressive technically, and best overall.
The winner is bathed in glory and admired by everyone for the following year (and gets a prize as well).
In 2015, the “most fun” award went to an Android 2D Shooter Game where “Dreas the Destroyer” needs to laser-blast waves of incoming spam and viruses. One of the two projects created by the “most impressive technically” and “best overall” winner was implementing a two-factor authentication plug-in for Trac, where we handle ticket tracking, and is in active use every day now across the development team.
We also had developers build an Android app for managing a user’s quarantine, some visualisation tools, and a screenshot-based automated QA tool, with a few of these proceeding further internally.
We hope that this year’s projects will surpass what we’ve seen in 2015. We are looking forward to the exciting Hack Week ahead. Stay tuned, we’ll announce the winners next week in a new blog post.