Coming to ThatConference Game Night? We have exciting news to share

by Angela 4. August 2016 13:42

Hope you have all of your gear charged, packed, and ready to go to ThatConference next week! I’m packing the family truckster up with supplies for blinging out your badge, badge ribbons including some awesome new designs that I was able to find at Name Badge Productions, and a handful of board games.  “What now, just a FEW board games? Are you feeling OK?” you ask…  Well, let’s reminisce a bit.

Remember our very first board game night. Awwww, the library was so petite and manageable, and we had maybe 8 or 9 tables of people playing games.

WP_000528  WP_000519


Over the years, word spread, more and more people contributed their own games to the cause, and by our 5th year our crowdsourced library had grown quite a bit and managing it became a full time job (mostly for my super sweet husband who tracked everything in his homegrown board game checkout system). And you guys loved game night so much that we had to bring in half a dozen EXTRA tables. I loved it. But I knew now that we needed some serious help!

WP_20150810_043 WP_20150810_050


SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN ANGELA????  Have no fear, board game night is still on!!  C’mon I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that. But this year the Dugans are not bringing their entire board game library. I found an awesome local board game store located in beautiful Appleton Wisconsin called Boardlandia. The awesome folks at Boardlandia generously offered to sponsor board game night by supplying and running the board game library! So now David and I can spend more time playing games and hanging out with all of you, and you get more games to choose from to boot! I hear they’ll also have some great games for purchase if you play anything that you really want to take home. They carry hard to find games, kids games, family games, and they even sell used games!  Please be sure to stop by Game Night on Monday after the first day’s sessions end.  Meet Boardlandia, and have a chance to play some great games with your family, friends, and maybe some fellow campers you haven’t had a chance to meet yet!

We’ll certainly bring a few favorites so feel free to bring a few yourself because EVERY night can be game night at ThatConference. Can’t wait to see you all at the Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells next week Smile


About Boardlandia

Boardlandia’s mission is to make great games accessible and affordable for everyone. They have thousands of board games to choose from with new titles coming out every month. At Boardlandia, they pride themselves on cultivating a collection that has well-reviewed titles, exciting new games, and a sprinkle of some old favorites. Their store is located in Downtown Appleton, inside the City Center Plaza on the first floor.


Breaking news!!! Boardlandia will deliver web orders that night too, so check out what they have in stock and place your orders today for Monday delivery during the conference. How cool is that?!



Navigating the Scaled Agile Framework–FREE Lunch and Learn With Polaris Solutions

by Angela 24. June 2016 15:15

With so many agile-based process frameworks and methodologies out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. And just when everyone seems to be warming up to agile, here comes SCALED agile, there are even multiple scaled agile frameworks!

But how is SAFe different than agile? When is it appropriate to start looking at SAFe strategies and practices for your team and your organization? Does using the SAFe framework prevent a company from having effective scrum teams? How big or complex do you need to be for SAFe to make sense? Isn’t SAFe just a glorified version of waterfall that companies adopt when they can’t handle “real” agile? I run across all of these questions when talking to clients, coworkers, and other technologists.

We have found that SAFe leverages the best pieces of a number of different agile frameworks, including Lean, Kanban, and scrum. SAFe is certainly intended for large, enterprise customers delivering extremely complex and interdependent systems, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take away some great practices and strategies for even smaller organizations with just a handful of teams. Since becoming a SAFe program consultant, Zaneta and I have coached a number of our customers on improving their software development and delivery processes leveraging practices and techniques from SAFe.

In this interactive session, we plan to quickly walk through the tenets of SAFe, share some of our learnings with you, and help you to understand when and how SAFe can benefit your team! We will also walk through how VSTS and TFS can support SAFe processes with its newer process templates and customizable experiences!

When: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM (CDT)
Where: Microsoft Midwest District - 200 East Randolph Street #200, Chicago, IL 60601 - View Map


Seating is VERY limited so sign up today! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/navigating-the-scaled-agile-framework-lunch-and-learn-with-polaris-solutions-tickets-18210911326 


Polaris Solutions is custom application development, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), and DevOps consulting firm. We specialize in helping teams to continuously deliver high value software through technical leadership, process improvement, and software development expertise.

Find out more about us at: http://polarissolutions.com/



Chicago Coder Conference is Next Week! Hope to see you there

by Angela 1. June 2016 16:41

There are a lot of conferences in Chicago this summer, well I suppose technically it’s still spring but from these temps you’d never know it! Anyway, I was invited to speak at Chicago Coder Conference this year (not to be confused with the awesome CCC = Chicago Code Camp conference), and I’d never really considered it before.  With all of the other conferences I am involved in and speaking at, it just hadn’t made the cut. I recently checked out their session list and holy cow are there some great people speaking, including a few of my coworkers. There is even a full day of hands-on sessions where you can dig in deep. It’s an seriously action-lacked 3 days. A few of the bigger names you might recognize are Doc Norton, Uncle Bob Martin, and Joel Tosi.

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the great topics being presented by some of the folks at Polaris Solutions, including yours truly:


Steven Contos

June 7, 2016 - Session 1 – Coding the Most Complex “Hello World” Program Ever Written and More Hyperbole

Room 600 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 AM

Florin Ciobanu

June 6, 2016 - Session 1 – Xamarin! The Babel Fish in the Developer’s Guide to the Mobile Apps

Room 621 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 PM

Kevin Fitzpatrick

June 6, 2016 - Session 4 – Dear Coder: The Problem is Over Here!

Room 600 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

Angela Dugan

June 7, 2016 - Lunch & Learn – Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen!

Room 621 from 12:15 PM  -  1:15 PM

June 7, 2016  - Session 4 – Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

Room 404 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM


It’s not too late to sign up, and I may still have some discount codes I can share if you want to get in on it.  If you are interested, hit me up through the contact link on my blog for more info!

And while you’re in the mood to check out AMAZING local conferences, be sure to check out ThatConference!  I wrote a blog post about it here, including a great overview and some pictures. Check it out.  Hope to see you at Chicago Coder Conference next week, and at ThatConference in August!


Chicago Code Camp 2016–A Recap

by Angela 12. May 2016 20:03

If you made it out to Chicago Code Camp 2016 then I don’t have to tell you that it was an AWESOME day! It may have been rainy and cold outside, but inside it was action packed and full of surprises. 2 of our local community members brought their HoloLens devices, and I even got to try one out. A friend of mine even shot a short video of my keynote, including the proverbial “elephant in the room” – Imposter Syndrome. I saw lots of friendly faces from years past, made some new connections, and had a lot of really great conversations in the halls, at the booth, and even via Twitter.

Polaris is proud to support a great conference like Chicago Code Camp, and it was great to have the opportunity to chat with so many awesome local technologists! Whether or not you realize it, we really do enjoy when people stop by the Polaris Solutions booth to chat with us, allowing us to share our experiences and maybe even do a bit of quick problem solving! So thank you for making our day that much more fun. If you didn’t quite have enough time to ask us your burning questions, or if you thought of something you’d like to ask us about our company, job openings, or consulting services, please drop me a line any time.

I also wanted to say thank you to everyone who made the day a great one – the attended, speakers, volunteers, organizers, and all of the other sponsors too.


Below are links to the talks that were given by our folks at Chicago Code Camp. So even if weren’t able to come see us speak, you might be interested in seeing what you missed Smile

Keynote talk on Imposter Syndrome by Angela Dugan – http://www.slideshare.net/angelabinkowski/chicago-code-camp-2016-keynote-fear-and-selfloathing-in-it

Improving Your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen by Angela Dugan – http://www.slideshare.net/angelabinkowski/chicao-code-camp-2016-improve-your-retrospectives-with-agile-kaizen

Xamarin! The Babel Fish in the Developer’s Guide to the Mobile Apps by Florin Ciobanu – https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=AC52CB313CD13EBC!677&authkey=!AEbVYnbvFx8ayNk&ithint=folder%2cpptx

Coding the most complex “Hello World” program ever written and more Hyperbole by Steven Contos - http://www.slideshare.net/StevenContos/polaris-presentation-chicago-code-camp-2016


2016-04-30 09.50.09

*Alas when we took this I couldn’t track down Zaneta, maybe someone could Photoshop her in here!

Hope to see you at next year’s Chicago Code Conference!



POWERFUL Beyond Measure–Free Workshop in Chicago on May 12th hosted by IAMCP WIT

by Angela 25. April 2016 19:17

A little background in case you’re thinking “oh god, ANOTHER freaking workshop for women on networking and empowerment” ::cue an eye roll that could cause a tidal wave::  This one is different, no really. Why do *I* know this? Because the woman running it is my career/life coach. And I was SUPER skeptical about seeing a life coach until the opportunity to try out a session for free fell into my lap at a conference. I had an intense first session with her, then never looked back! You see, I’ve been struggling with a lot of my own inner demons lately, a good number self-summoned, a similar number not. And in just a few months I’ve managed to find a lot more joy in my work, and a lot more courage to do the things I really want to do. So I know this lady means business.  She has made a huge difference in how I live my life and how I manage my career, and I am betting that in just this short time she’ll start you off on a similar path. I really hope you can make it!



You are a beautiful, brave, powerful woman. You are. You may not feel it today, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And, when you unleash your power (in a self-supportive way – not the dominating others  kind of power), you will feel surprisingly more in charge of your life and future. It can feel like people and circumstances stand in the way of getting what you want. Have you ever said, thought or felt any of these:

  • If X would happen, then things would be better (examples of X include lose weight, get promoted, make more money, get married, kids go to bed on time, co-workers pull their weight, etc.)
  • Because I have to
  • My boss doesn’t understand me
  • That’s just the way it is
  • He never does his part, and I have to do it or cover for him
  • I didn’t get picked for the good project
  • Why her and not me
  • If I were in charge...
  • I wish someone would ask what I think


If your answer is yes, then (a) congratulations on being human; and (b) all of these are statements that give away power. As women, we notoriously give our power away, which creates this vicious cycle of feeling less empowered,  giving more power away, feeling even less empowered and so on. Let’s stop this cycle and take our power back!

  • While I will facilitate, you are going to find out about you …
    Why and how you give power away
  • What you can do to keep your power
  • How to start using your power right away
  • We are going to learn, practice and grow together


REGISTER AT http://bit.ly/1SqTf5g

Date: Thursday, May 12th

Time: 8:30am-11:00am CST

· 8:30-9:00am – Breakfast and Networking

· 9:00-10:30am – Presentation/Workshop

· 10:30-11:00am – Q&A and Networking

Location: Microsoft AON Center | 200 E. Randolph St. Suite 200, Chicago IL 60601


SPEAKER BIO: Laura Weber is a leadership coach and consultant, working with various industries, teams  and individuals. She roots her  technique in authenticity and  courage, and views transformation  as a set of practices – something we approach and make decisions about each day. Since courage is a hallmark practice for her, she never asks her clients to do something she hasn’t already done or is willing to do herself.



Parking is pricey in the city so please don't overpay for it. SpotHero has some great parking very near to the Aon Center for as little as $10, I use them and I love the service!




Chicago DevOps Community Roadshow–April 2016 Recap

by Angela 22. April 2016 09:41

Last week myself and some of my favorite community leaders and MVPs were able to deliver a free community event focusing on DevOps practices and tools thanks to the generosity of Microsoft. Not only did Microsoft provide the great venue for free, but they also supplied the funding that covered a great hot breakfast, beverages, and a Microsoft Band 2 for the raffle!

2016-04-15 07.26.31

We had over 100 people register, and people started trickling in early. We had a surprising number of enthusiastic attendees already seated and ready for Jim’s 8:30am keynote!

2016-04-15 08.37.10

Next we had some great talks by Landan, Erik, Chris, Min, and Greg. Topics included continuous integration with Visual Studio and TFS 2015, environment provisioning and DSC with Azure, release management with TFS RM and Octopus Deploy, and metrics and monitoring with Application Insights and SonarQube.

2016-04-15 08.50.042016-04-15 09.43.392016-04-15 10.54.122016-04-15 11.22.08


There was a lot of great discussion, some awesome demos, and everyone had a great time. Thanks again to my rock star team - Eric Boyd, Landan Rotter, Angela Dugan, Greg Levenhagen, Chris Taylor, Jim Szubryt, and Min Maung - who seems to not really like any of us enough to stand next to us Smile

2016-04-15 12.57.28-1

Slides from the event are still being uploaded, but you’ll be able to access everything here. Thanks again for attending, and if you didn’t make it and would like to learn more about any of these topics, shout at me on email (via the link at the bottom of this blog post) or twitter and I’ll connect you with the right people!


Preliminary Chicago Code Camp Schedule is Up!

by Angela 14. April 2016 08:01

Hey campers, I hope you’re registered for Chicago Code Camp on April 30th. If not, get on over there and sign up for a great day of tech! It’s free, it’s fun, and we’d love to see you there.

Remember last year when you tried to get into that one SUPER popular session and there were people out the door? And then you went to that other session (like one of mine) and it was in an enormous room but only 20 or so people were there? Yeah, it happens because we were trying to guess how many people would show up for certain sessions, and we were close but didn’t get them all right.  We want to do better this year!

Once you get registered, be sure to review all of the great speakers and sessions and start thinking about what you might want to go see that day, then click the star next to your favorites  In case you missed my blog post about marking your favorite sessions, we still need your help planning out the day. We’ve started playing calendar Tetris to find the best possible time slots for each session, and we’re basing what times and which rooms each session will land in based on how many people hope to attend it. So while we have posted a preliminary schedule, we will keep using your votes to make changes to make sure that you can attend as many of your favorite sessions as possible. . Of course, we can’t help it if you want to attend multiple sessions in the same slot, we don’t have THAT kind of technology yet, but Min and Lwin are probably working on it Smile

OK, now stop reading and go register for CCC 2016 and favorite some sessions!


Chicago Code Camp | community


What Conference? ThatConference! That Joke is Getting Old But I Love It

by Angela 11. April 2016 13:02

Feels like just yesterday I was packing up and moving down another career path, and talking about this awesome conference with a funny name that was having it’s very first year. Can you believe it’s been almost 5 years?!  Well, here we are about to have our 5th ThatConference, and the call for speakers was a whirlwind, and we were blown away with the wide range of topics and subjects that people submit and voted on. This year is going to be so AWESOME! I know, I say that every year, but every year it’s true.

The speaker and session list includes an incredibly diverse range of topics. There are over 40 female speakers, and at least a dozen kid speakers so far - and the list of young campers speaking at the conference is still growing! You know, it’s one thing to be part of a successful conference, that feels really good. But it’s another to have a conference that incites such excitement that you have dozens of kids willing to roll up their sleeves and teach us all some great new skills. I just cannot get over that. I had neither the chutzpah nor the opportunity for something like that growing up, so I love that we can do that at ThatConference. If you missed the call for speakers, and you or your little ones are interested in speaking, keep in mind that we will have Open Spaces sessions to allow for spur of the moment talks.

Needless to say I am so proud to be a part of something like this, and am so grateful to be part of such a passionate and dedicated conference team – especially Clark and Carrie Sell. None of us knew what we were signing on to back in 2010 when the idea was born, including them I imagine Smile

Haven’t heard of ThatConference? Well, get on over to the conference website because I probably can’t do it justice. I hope you, and your family can make it this year! Early bird pricing is in effect, so be sure to grab your tickets and your rooms soon.  They won’t last – trust me on this!

Below are some fun pics from last year that I wanted to share as well, maybe you’ll see yourself in here Smile

Some fun times decorating badges:



The amazing conference crew:



Board game night!


Our glorious stage (and leader!)



ThatConference | community | Cloud Computing | Azure | Mobile | Mobile development | Agile | Scrum | SDLC | web development


Help us Make Chicago Code Camp 2016 Awesome by Marking Sessions You Plan to Attend

by Angela 4. April 2016 16:41

Hopefully you’ve already signed up for Chicago Code Camp 2016!  If not, get on over to the site, check it out, and get signed up! Sure, you can register the day of, but we get a LOT of people first thing in the morning and there could be lines. So trust me and don’t wait if you know you are coming anyway. Registering ahead of time also helps us to plan better! CCC 2016 requires a lot of planning for food, logistics, seating, T-shirt orders, and if we know ahead of time how many people are coming, what you are eating, and what sessions you want to go to, well we are far more able to be ready for you!

Once you are registered, head on over to the Session page and start favoriting the things you think you might attend. And we know, it’s hard to pick sometimes, and maybe you want to go to all of them, because we do have some amazing sessions this year!  That’s ok, pick everything that you like and we’ll sort out the rest. You can unmark the items later if you change your mind, or when inevitably two really good talks are happening at the same time and you can’t be at both. We just want to avoid sessions with larger audiences from being in tiny rooms, and more niche topics with a more focused audience getting the auditorium.

And marking an item as a favorite it easy! Look for the star to the left of the title on the General Sessions page, and click the star to highlight (if the star is yellow it’s a favorite!). Click again to unmark.



Same process from the session detail page, but now the star is in the lower right:



All of us volunteers who work hard to make Chicago Code Camp a success appreciate your help with this!  See you on April 30th!!



FREE CQAA Webinar April 6th: Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen

by Angela 4. April 2016 07:56

I am doing a quick lunch-time webinar for CQAA this week Wednesday on how to improve your software team’s retrospectives with the Kaizen process. Check it out if you’re free!  And check out CQAA (Chicago Quality Assurance Association) as well, it is a great local organization focused on software quality and testing.


Continuous self-improvement of software teams is traditionally accomplished through retrospectives, a form of post-mortem held at the completion of an iteration. More often than not, retrospectives begin to fade and the list of action items keeps growing until teams simply succumb to business-as-usual practices. In some cases, teams eventually abandon retrospectives altogether because they feel like a waste of time!

  • Do you feel like your retrospectives are a death march where no one is actively participating?
  • Do the same problems seem to resurface repeatedly in the team's retrospectives?
  • Are your retrospectives ending prematurely or being cancelled in favor of "getting more real work done"?
  • Or maybe you feel great about your agile retrospectives, but just want to learn more about Kaizen...

Join Angela as she explains how you can use Kaizen to analyze and improve your retrospectives, regardless of your team’s process. She will begin with a brief review of what a retrospective is and walk through some examples of both healthy and unhealthy retrospective scenarios she has experienced herself. Angela will then explain the concept of Kaizen, the Kaizen process, and how you can leverage a Kaizen process to turn your retrospectives back into the effective continuous improvement tools they are meant to be!

Key Learning Objectives

Determining if your current agile retrospectives are effective

Learn Kaizen Burst techniques

Using Kaizen in agile retrospectives

About the Speaker (Hint: it’s ME! Smile)

Angela Dugan is the ALM Practice Manager for Polaris Solutions, a small technology consulting firm based out of Chicago and St. Louis. She has been in software development since 1999, including 5 years as an ALM Tools evangelist with Microsoft. Angela also runs the Chicago Visual Studio ALM user group, is an active organizer and speaker at several local conferences, is a Microsoft ALM MVP, and is both a Certified Scrum master and SAFe Program Consultant. Outside of wrangling TFS, Angela is an avid board gamer, an aspiring runner, and a Twitter addict. She lives in a 1910 house in Oak Park, Illinois that she is constantly working on/cursing at with her husband David.

Register now for this webinar!


The Chicago Quality Assurance Association, the Chicago Chapter of the QAI Global Institute is a nonprofit professional organization that was established in 1984 to promote quality principles and practices within Chicago-area companies. CQAA provides a forum for information professionals to present and discuss quality and process management within information systems, technology, and services.


Application Lifecycle Management | Scrum | retrospectives | Agile

Powered by BlogEngine.NET
Original Design by Laptop Geek, Adapted by onesoft