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ChicagosNext Hackathon is May 2nd and 3rd –Get Ready to Rock

by Angela 2. April 2015 10:20

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Have you been seeing the buzz about Chicagos Next Hackathon?  It’s a fantastic way to rub elbows with some amazing local community leaders, to collaborate with some of the most talented folks in Redmond, and to team up with other passionate techies from the area to do something good. No, something great! 

You see, ChicagoNext is a Not For Profit. And they are looking for you, whether your passion is U/X, development, QA, DevOps, your help is needed! So join the fun, roll up your sleeves, and build something awesome in just a single weekend with a fantastic group of technologists. This is also the weekend before the Microsoft Ignite conference (May 2nd/3rd), so you may already be in town if you’re not a local!

 

More details from the site:

Get your skills, apps and ideas in front of serial entrepreneurs with ChicagosNext while helping our community.

ChicagosNext is a Non Profit technology hackathon event that brings together a diverse group of local, regional, national and international (yes, international) tech talent with an entrepreneurial spirit. The goal is to build the next app that creatively solves issues within our local neighborhood using Azure and supporting Microsoft Technologies. Local Chicago Community Leaders (several other NFP, education and community organizations) will be sharing their issues and struggles that you can solve with technology.

At the end of it all, one team will be chosen to have their idea presented at the Finalist Pitch.

Interested in learning more? Check out our podcasts! Check out our Schedule! 

You can also follow @ChiNextHack on Twitter for more news!

Tags:

ASP.NET | Azure | Cloud Computing | DevOps | Microsoft

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My First Clumsy Attempt With Application Insights

by Angela 9. November 2014 22:42

So maybe you’ve been hearing some buzz around Application Insights (referred to as AI after this because I’m lazy).  I first heard of it a year or so ago when it was in Preview. Well, technically it is STILL in Preview, but if you’re running VS 2013 Update 3 or newer you may have noticed a slight facelift in the tooling. I wanted to get my hands into it so I could experience it for myself, and my experience was so awesome I figured I’d share. So if you’ve stuck with me this far and are wondering, “what the heck IS AI anyway?”, it’s like Google Analytics on steroids. But like, get kicked out of MLB steroids.

So to get started you’ll need Visual Studio 2013, the VS 2013 add-ons that support AI, and either access to a web application that you can deploy with the AI telemetry installed, or an MSDN subscription or a personal Azure account so you can easily create and publish your own web app. If like me you are NOT a developer, but still want to see what AI can do for your organization with a super simple web application, I also included a link to a How To article for getting a web app up and running in Azure really quickly.

Getting started with Azure and ASP.NET

How to: Migrate and Publish a Web Application to an Azure Cloud Service from Visual Studio

Application Insights Tools for VS

At this point I had my super simple ASP.NET web application deployed to an Azure website, and can even monitor the Azure website from within Visual Studio in the Server Explorer. Nice, right? I know.

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And right now it’s FREE to host my website on Azure too.  I have a really simple site that doesn’t require a lot of resources, so that may not always be the case, but if you’re just evaluating Azure and/or AI this is a really nice way to get there! More pricing can be found here on azure websites if you’re interested in learning more.

Now, before I move on I want to make something clear, it doesn’t matter where your application code is, or where it is hosted. There is a common misconception that you can only leverage AI if you are using VSOnline for your application development and SCM. And I don’t want to imply from my example that hosting in Azure is required either. Azure was just the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way for me to publish my web application, and heck, as a bonus I got some experience publishing to Azure. My source code is stored in an on-premise TFS server, but it could be anywhere.  What is important is that the telemetry data is configured to send information to the AI dashboards, which are currently available through the VSOnline portal. So at a minimum you will need access to a VSOnline instance.

Even before adding any telemetry to your application in VS, you can setup a new Application Insights dashboard against any existing website and start getting some limited data points back. Just look for the link on your VSOnline Homepage under Recent Dashboards, create a new dashboard, and add the application URLs to be monitored.

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Perhaps starting at the dashboard was a bit backwards, I’ll admit to often charging ahead on new tools to figure it out as I go rather than reading the instructions first, but luckily the AI tools do a great job of walking you through everything you need to do to “light up” the different sections. In some cases, it requires adding small snippets of code the the HTML of the web pages you wish to monitor, for other metrics you may be required to install the MMA tool on your server (assuming you have the ability to do this). 

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So without all the fancy telemetry tools deployed with your app, there is not much on your dashboard yet. But without any additional configuration, it will at least start pinging your website on regular intervals to ensure it is up and running and to pull back some response time data. Pretty neat huh? But I want more data!

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You also may have noticed that so far I’ve actually been leveraging the OLD AI dashboard experience instead of leveraging the Azure portal experience. For now, regardless of which portal you use to set up your AI dashboard, it will be available in both the old and new portals. I personally found it easier to start in the old experience, and once the basics were configured I then jumped into the new portal to dig into the data.  You may also find that you need the old portal if you are testing one of the few application types not yet supported by the new AI, more details here.

Given how much ground we covered in this session, I wanted to let all of this marinate before diving deeper into AI capabilities, and walking through some of the detailed metrics that can be pulled from your application. Truth be told, I’m still tweaking my configuration, processing data, and figuring out what it all means. Seriously, check out some of the awesome data I am able to dig through in the new AI portal:

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So, stay tuned for my next post, where we really get deep into the data weeds using Application Insights!

Tags:

ALM | ASP.NET | Azure | Microsoft | MSDN | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | Visual Studio | Application Insights

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What Conference? Yeah ThatConference

by Angela 15. May 2014 08:49

With so many conferences, it’s easy for one to get lost in the noise. But don’t let that happen with ThatConference. I know, “but Angela you’re on the conference committee, of course you think I should go”. It’s true, for several years now I’ve been working with the ThatConference gang to keep this thing growing and thriving, but it’s because I believe in it. We don’t get paid, we get nothing out of being on the committee other than knowing we got to help provide this awesome event to the community we are so proud to be a part of. OK, now I’m getting all sappy so let’s move on. The point is, this conference is literally organized by a bunch of us techies and geeks like you, not huge corporations or software vendors with an agenda or licenses to sell.  We strive to make the conference fun, educational, and family-friendly. So I mean it when I say this conference is FOR YOU.

Tickets went on sale today, and you may have noticed a slight uptick in prices. Yeah, things get more expensive every year, that’s life, but is STILL an incredible value at $399. That includes 3 full days of amazing sessions (125+ to choose from!) AND lots of networking opportunities AND a pig roast AND a private water park party just for ThatConference attendees AND a Bacon bar AND multiple social events AND a game night (I might be biased as I am running this one, but seriously, BOARD GAMES!!). That was a lot of ANDs for your money. And if you buy soon you can get an Early Bird discount of $25 making the conference just $374.99. You also get a discounted nightly rate at the water park resort if you’re not a local, which gets you some nice additional perks (last year we got free passes to the Ducks and Tommy Bartlett show with our room). That’s an incredibly inexpensive conference that you can combine with a great family summer vacation in the Wisconsin Dells! The topics being covered this year are incredibly diverse, I’d need a few paragraphs more just to cover them all and no one wants to read that much so check out the full conference schedule here. And don’t be afraid to ask your boss to sponsor your ticket, and maybe send a few of your coworkers too!  If they have any budget set aside for training, I can’t think of a better way to use it.  You’ll get exposed to a far wider range of topics and our food is WAY better too ;)

As you might know if you are a returning camper, we also have a great program for the families, so bring the significant others and kids if you have them. It’s a last hurrah before school at a water park and indoor amusement park. You’ll be a HERO and you still get to go geek out at a tech conference! If you purchase family tickets along with your conference ticket, family members are just $39.99 per person, or $29.99 if purchased before 5/22. That means the entire family can join us at ThatConference social events, the pig roast, game night, a craft night that I organize just for the kids, and of course an entire track devoted to family friendly geekery. And trust me when I say the family sessions will blow their minds! Last year my 10 year old nephew was introduced to programming for the first time (he even used Visual Studio for one session!), and ended up stealing my laptop so he could play around with it some more. How cool is that?!  This year we even have a couple of session being run by kid campers from last year! There’s even a session on writing Minecraft Mods. I know right? The family schedule is here, and it’s REALLY good so look it over, show it to your kids, then sign them up!

Hope to see you In August! Now go sign up, seriously right now, go do it.

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Free Training When You’re Snowed In, What’s Not To Love

by Angela 2. January 2014 12:15

So it’s been snowing in Chicago, a LOT. I am in Oak Park, specifically, and holy moly did we ever get dumped on. Here, in case you think I’m being a big baby, this was my back deck at 7am this morning and it’s STILL snowing quite hard. There’s almost 10 inches of snow on those chairs right now, and there’s a pergola over them!

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Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is that I get to work from home this week, thank goodness, and ran across a great set of training classes on Microsoft Virtual Academy to fill some time. It’s free, yes FREE, and there are a LOT of technologies to choose from including ALM.  Although I’ll admit the ALM stuff is pretty light and scarce, and mostly focuses on 2012, so I’ll be nagging some folks about that soon. But there are also classes on Azure, HTML 5, even licensing!

Here is the current list of tools and technologies covered:

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Clicking on Visual Studio I find a lot of great classes to get me up to speed on Windows development, HTML 5, you name it! What you see below is just the first few that came up, it’s a LONG list.

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Best part is you can build up a nice little wish list since you may not have time to take everything today. So build a training plan, or several, and save the classes you like and take them at your own pace. Easy!  I already had one started from a while ago, but need to go back through and update it with some new classes, obviously :-P

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So dig in by starting here. And get some of those Microsoft certifications knocked out while you’re trapped in your house by snowmageddon.

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Going to ThatConference? You SHOULD be!

by Angela 12. July 2013 12:36

This year is the second ThatConference and it is going to ROCK. Not only can you spend 3 days in the Wisconsin Dells hanging out with your peers learning about .NET, Java, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ruby, PHP, agile, Azute, TypeScript, JavaScript, Node JS, Angular JS - has your head exploded yet? And that’s not all that’s being covered, I just got tired of typing in technologies. It’s quite mind-blowing. So pretty much anyone interested in tech will get a lot out of this conference.  Why pay thousands to go to a conference focusing on just one specific language, vendor, or platform? ThatConference is for the community, by the community. And we mean that.

Best part, it’s only $349 and that includes all sessions, keynotes, food, and a heck of a pig roast at the waterpark. You even get s discounted rate for the Kalahari both during the conference and the weekend before in case you want to make a vacation out of it.  I know I am!  Also, did I mention it is at an amazing water park?  With go-karts, laser tag, a climbing wall, a ferris wheel, need I say more? AND, as if that was not awesome enough, for a very small amount (just $39 total) you can even add your family to the fun.  We now have a kids’ track. The Family schedule can be found here: http://www.thatconference.com/Schedule/FamilySchedule 

Check out the session list here: http://www.thatconference.com/sessions. Note: MY session is Monday morning, so hope to see you there! Smile

Here are the specifics (you need to go to registration to see this, so maybe I can save you some clicks):

Attendee $349

The 2013 attendee ticket. Full access to over 125 sessions, keynotes, food and one epic water park. But be careful, water and electronics don’t play together. Ziploc bags not included.

Family Ticket $39

That Conference is a family friendly conference and this year we continue to improve on our family experience. This year we have a dedicated family schedule that includes 2 family sessions each day. Your family will have the opportunity to meet a few animals from the local zoo, to learning how to build some awesome robots with Lego. But that isn’t all! This year families will get their own badges, join us at our daily happy hour, beat another geek during game night and of course join us for a spectacular dinner at our signature pig roast and more. All that fun does come at a very small cost. For just 39.00 per family, you’re helping That Conference bring such epic fun to all.

GiveCamp & The Humanitarian Toolbox (Sat & Sun)  $0 – Heck yeah, it is FREE

On August 10th and 11th, That Conference will host the 2013 Midwest GiveCamp. This year, Midwest GiveCamp and That Conference will team up with the Humanitarian Toolbox in a quest to help build software in support of disaster relief. This is a free event and food will be provided.

Coderetreat ( Sun ) $0 – Heck yeah, it is FREE

On ** Sunday August 11th from 11AM - 7PM** That Conference will host a free Coderetreat. Coderetreat is a day-long, intensive practice event, focusing on the fundamentals of software development and design. By providing developers the opportunity to take part in focused practice, away from the pressures of 'getting things done', the coderetreat format has proven itself to be a highly effective means of skill improvement. Practicing the basic principles of modular and object-oriented design, developers can improve their ability to write code that minimizes the cost of change over time. More information found here: http://coderetreat.org/

Tags:

.NET 4.5 | ALM | ASP.NET | Agile | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | Cloud Computing | HTML5 | MSDN | Mobile development | SDLC | TFS 2012 | Team Foundation Server | U/X | User Experience | Visual Studio | Windows 8 | iOS | JavaScript

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VS Live is Coming to Chicago this May! Special Discount for ALM User Group & Friends

by Angela 1. March 2013 10:27

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So in case you haven’t noticed, Visual Studio Live is coming back to Chicago after many, many years of not being here.  This makes me very happy because a) I don’t have to pay for a flight and hotel in L.A. or Seattle, and b) well, see a) because cost is one factor that makes attending great conferences like this so hard to do for some of us.  Regular price of admission is $1,995 for the full 4 days, which isn’t bad when you think of all the awesome content you get.  Early bird registration ends soon and saves you a paltry $200 but wait, I can get you a MUCH better deal than that.

In case you did not make it out to the last Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group you may have missed out on the discount code that I was able to get for all of you.  Sign up right now using the links in this email (or the code UGCH1) and you’ll save $500 off of the $1995 registration too, so it would be only $1495 for the full 4 day pass! This discount only applies to the “Best Value” package including all pre-conference workshops. So no travel costs, no hotel stay, AND save 25%. How can you NOT go? 

 

Visual Studio Live! Chicago tracks include:

  • ASP.NET
  • Azure / Cloud Computing
  • Cross-Platform Mobile
  • Data Management
  • HTML5 / JavaScript
  • SharePoint / Office
  • Windows 8 / WinRT
  • WPF / Silverlight
  • Visual Studio 2012 / .NET 4.5

 

Hope to see you at our next meeting, and at VS Live Chicago this May!

Tags:

.NET 4.5 | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | ASP.NET | Azure | Cloud Computing | git | HTML5 | Microsoft Office | MSDN | SharePoint | Silverlight | Team Foundation Server | TFS | TFS 2012 | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2012 | VS Live | Windows 8 | WinRT

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