Are you participating in Hack Week? That's Novell's open invitation to the world for suggestions on how to improve its openSuse Linux distro running through this Friday, Aug. 29. And you might just even win a prize.

Calls for porting Tomboy to Windows (and maybe even Mac OS X), adding geocode filtering to RSS and fully supporting Amazon's Elastic Cloud 2 are just a few of the ideas put forth in this year's annual Hack Week. Among last year's 10 winning ideas were a build service project that recompiles Debian packages, a service that can run automated tests as part of a build, and Giver, which discovers peers on a local network and allows desktop file transfers via simple drag-and-drop.

Ideas will be judged in the following categories, as described on the Hack Week Web site. Best Overall Project will be awarded to "the most outstanding project, either for being an exceptional piece of engineering work, for being stunningly beautiful, or for being a simple, elegant and useful solution to a common problem, or simply for awing the jury." The First Penguin Award "goes to the project that went out on a limb to try something difficult and risky… and probably failed. Named in honor of the first penguin to jump into the water when there may be predators swimming below." And the Best Cross-Pollination Team award goes to "the team that really wouldn't have been working together if it weren't for hack week." This recognized people from different areas of interest coming together.

In related news, Microsoft poured another US$100 million into Novell support vouchers, adding to the $240 million it pledged in 2006. As of May, Microsoft customers had redeemed about $157 million worth of vouchers, reported Eric Lai in a ComputerWorld story.

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I am Technical Editor of the [url=http://www.crn.com]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=http://crn.com]www.crn.com[/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

Between '06 and '09 I was editor of [URL=http://stpmag.com]ST&P[/URL], a software testing trade magazine. I also wrote a software [URL=http://www.sdtimes.com/content/testqa.aspx]Test & QA [/URL]newsletter, and was chairman of the [url=http://stpcon.com/]Software Test & Performance conference[/url].