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Chicago Code Camp returns to IIT in Chicago in 2015

by Angela 3. March 2015 17:42

So did you hear that Chicago Code Camp is returning to IIT in Chicago?! Very exciting news. And a much shorter commute for me Smile 

What is Chicago Code Camp? Really?! I hope that isn’t a serious question. It’s a fantastic 1-day event! Here is the blurb from the website, because I don’t know that I can sum it up much better than this:

Chicago Code Camp is a community event where developers learn from fellow developers. The one day polyglot code camp's goals are for developer to share ideas, learn from one another, and then develop upon topics of interests that were discovered during events. Our topics from previous years included development (and/or trending practices) in .net, java, open sourced frameworks, web, mobile, cloud, robotics, testing, soft skills, agile and scrum practices, and more.

Sessions range from informal talks and panel discussions to formal presentations. There will be a mix of presenters – some experienced speakers with years in the industry, some that may be speaking in public for the first time, as well as students and first time developers. We are expecting to see people from throughout Midwest region and beyond.

2015 will be our 7th year of Chicago Code Camp and we are happy to return to the City of Chicago and to the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Call for speakers is OPEN so be sure to submit your best ideas! And keep in mind that we do get a lot of submissions, and voting is blind, so bonus points for very detailed submissions and creative content.

 

Lastly, and most importantly because this is a community supported event, there are also sponsorship opportunities. If you are looking to support the community, maybe even use the opportunity to do some networking, advertising, and recruiting of some great local talent, this is a great one to consider! Sponsorship opportunities start at just $500. Find out more on the Sponsors page.

 

 

***********UPDATE**********

Registration is now open, and the event is, as it always has been, completely FREE!

Tags:

.NET | Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | C# | Chicago Code Camp | Cloud Computing | DevOps | Mobile | Mobile development | Release Management | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | Testing | TFS 2013 | Visual Studio | VS 2013

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Polaris Solutions Holding an ALM Lunch and Learn on Agile Testing Success in St Louis Next Month

by Angela 24. February 2015 14:39

    Our St Louis office is holding a Lunch n Learn at the local Microsoft office in March. Agile testing is a challenge for most software teams, especially larger organizations with well-established QA groups and processes. Learn from one of our resident agile testing experts at the free event!

    More details:

    Description: If you are either planning to or are already practicing agile software development, Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Microsoft Test Manager (MTM) offer you a powerful platform to successfully plan, manage and execute agile testing.

    During this free lunch session we will cover in detail the different testing capabilities offered by TFS 2013 and MTM for Scrum and Agile methodologies, and will also share what we have learned from helping our clients as they implemented and matured their agile testing practices.

    Key Experiences:

    • The evolved role of testing in Agile Projects

    • Iteration test planning techniques

    • Test tracking with TFS and MTM

    • Different approaches to bug management

    • Test automation Do’s and Don’ts

    • Testing metrics that are worth measuring

    • Exploratory testing strategies

    • Best practices & lessons learned in the field

      Complimentary lunch will be provided to registered attendees.

      Presenter: Alejandro Ramirez is a Software Quality professional and Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions. He has over 17 years of experience working in software in development, testing, and IT governance. His experiences range from small businesses, startups and non-profits, to Fortune 500 corporations in a variety of fields. He is certified in ITIL and Lean. He is also a blogger, speaker, mobility champion, and helps companies incorporate ALM strategies to continuously deliver valuable software.

      When: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM (CDT)

      Where: Microsoft Corporation, 3 Cityplace Drive Suite 1100 Creve Coeur, MO 63141

       

      Register for this Polaris Solutions event today!

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      Join Polaris for a TFS Release Management Webinar in February

      by Angela 22. January 2015 16:29

      So in case you have not heard, the licensing for Release management just got CRAZY inexpensive, if you have MSDN anyway. More about licensing can be found on MSDN.

      Wondering what Release Management is? Well I don’t want to steal Zaneta’s thunder, so I’ll sum it up. Imagine a TFS extension that allowed you to easily deploy an application across a host of environments, including approval workflows for release to each environment, with the click of a button. If you’re an agile shop looking to achieve continuous deployment across a number of environments, this is a must have! 

      Join us in February to learn more from one of our RM experts! Register Now

      Continuous Delivery with Release Management

      DevOps is an increasingly important part of application lifecycle management and is a growing area of interest as businesses need to develop and deploy quality applications at a faster pace. Release Management for Visual Studio is a continuous delivery solution that automates the release process through various environments all the way to production.

      With Release Management in Visual Studio you can configure, approve and deploy your applications for any environment. Create automated deployment orchestrations for each environment no matter how complex the configuration. Delivering your software more frequently and easily to an environment allows your testers to get to work validating your system and keeps your stakeholders involved in giving feedback.

      Please join us for this free online webinar to learn more about this powerful ALM toolset.

      Key Experiences:

      · Overview of Release Management

      · Installation and Setup

      · TFS integration

      · Approval workflows overview

      · Release Template creation

      · Authoring and maintaining releases

       

      Event Info: Thursday, February 12,2015 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT

      Presenter: Żaneta Surdel has been developing software for the last 10 years. She has worked on a variety of projects utilizing various Microsoft technologies and filled a number of roles – programmer, (human) release manager, ALM consultant. She holds a MCSD ALM certification and is a certified Scrum Master. For the last 4 years, she’s been a Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions.

      Register Now

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      Chicago ALM User Group - Christmas 2014 Edition with Doc Norton

      by Angela 5. December 2014 16:44

      Join us on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM for this very special event!

      December is always a special meeting for us!  We will have great food, lots of great giveaways, and I'm excited to say that we have an amazing speaker flying in from California for this event - Doc Norton.  You may already follow him on Twitter, read his blog, or maybe you have seen him speaking at one of many conferences.  If not, I highly recommend checking out his blog, and then be sure to sign up for our December event so you can hear him in person.

      In December, Doc will be tackling effective metrics.Velocity is one of the most common metrics used-and one of the most commonly misused-on agile projects. Velocity is simply a measurement of speed in a given direction-the rate at which a team is delivering toward a product release. As with a vehicle en route to a particular destination, increasing the speed may appear to ensure a timely arrival. However, that assumption is dangerous because it ignores the risks with higher speeds. And while it’s easy to increase a vehicle’s speed, where exactly is the accelerator on a software team? Michael “Doc" Norton walks us through the Hawthorne Effect and Goodhart’s Law to explain why setting goals for velocity can actually hurt a project's chances. Take a look at what can negatively impact velocity, ways to stabilize fluctuating velocity, and methods to improve velocity without the risks. Leave with a toolkit of additional metrics that, coupled with velocity, give a better view of the project's overall health.

      Speaker Bio: Doc is Global Director of Engineering Culture at Groupon. Once a dedicated code slinger, Doc has turned his energy toward helping teams, departments, and companies work better together in the pursuit of better software. An agile practitioner and coach since 1999, Doc's 20-plus years of software development experience have provided him with exposure to a wide range of topics. Doc declares expertise in no single language or methodology and is immediately suspicious of anyone who declares such expertise. A frequent speaker, Doc is passionate about helping others become better developers, working with teams to improve delivery, and building great organizations.

      Location:Microsoft-Chicago 200 East Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

      Register here: http://chicagoalmug.org/

      As always, please be sure to register soon so I can order the right amount of food and so that the security folks will let you in! You can park in the Aon center for a discounted rate after 6pm, but your best bet may be SpotHero if you choose to drive. I’ve seen $8 parking ½ block away using their service.

      Tags:

      ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | development | SDLC | Culture | Metrics

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      September 25th, 2013 Edition of the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group: Visual Studio ALM 2013

      by Angela 17. September 2013 09:29

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      Well, with all the excitement of ThatConference, I skipped having an August meeting but we’re back! 

      With the upcoming release of Visual Studio ALM 2013 tools, it seemed necessary to spend some time digging in! Jim and I will be spending this meeting talking about what's new and cool. We are still arm wrestling over who gets to demo what features, so for now just know it will be awesome! :)

      And don't forget to get your fresh downloads of TFS and VS 2013 RC today. MSDN subscribers will also find everything they need through their Subscription site.  If you’re interested in participating in the virtual launch event on November 13th, be sure to check out the VS 2013 Launch Site and sign up soon!

      Meeting Date: Wednesday September 25th

      Agenda:6:30 - Dinner, 7:00 Presentation

      Location:Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

      Registration:      http://chicagoalmug.org/ 

      PLEASE NOTE: Security has gotten tighter at the Downers Grove building.  You MUST register as building security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered.  Their rules, not mine.

       

       

      Speaker Bio:

      Angela Dugan is the Polaris Solutions ALM Practice Manager. She focuses on TFS implementation and customization in the real world, Visual Studio related training and mentoring, and helping organizations to adopt Agile/Scrum methodologies. Angela had spent the previous 14 years as a custom application developer with a small consulting firm in Chicago, as well as did 5 years at Microsoft as an ALM evangelist. Catch up with her adventures on her blog.

      Outside of wrangling TFS, Angela is an avid board gamer, an aspiring runner (up to 2.3 miles without vomiting!), and a Twitter addict. She lives in a 102 year old house in Oak Park that she is constantly working on with her husband David.

      Jim Szubryt manages the application architecture team for the Enterprise Workforce at Accenture in Chicago. This responsibility includes managing the TFS Team that supports 2,500 developers in the global development centers. He has worked with the global teams on implementing ALM practices and his team is in the process of piloting TFS 2013.

      He is also a Microsoft ALM MVP and a Microsoft Visual Studio ALM Ranger. He was project lead on the disaster recovery planning guidance that was published in March. Currently he is the Project Lead on the Ranger’s guidance for reporting with TFS 2012. Prior to becoming a project Lead he has written parts of the TFS 2012 upgrade guidance and the TFS Server guidance that are found on CodePlex.  His blog can be found here.

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      A Continuation of My Ruminations on the Human Factor of ALM

      by Angela 2. August 2013 12:41

      Part 1: In the beginning

      In my “And Now For Something Completely Different” series, I wax philosophical, almost literally, on human behavior. Now I’m hearing that Bjork song in my head. Anyone else? No? Just me? Ok then, moving on.

      Now, before anyone thinks I’m some kind of behavioral science genius, I had quite a few of these realizations while reading “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates us” by Daniel Pink. Earlier this year at the ALM Summit, it seemed like every other speaker that I went to see recommended that book. And so I gave in and ordered it, hard to argue being that it was around $10 on Amazon. I also then spelunked into a deep rabbit hole of Wikipedia articles, scientific studies, and other related digital publications to see what the real experts had to say. And while nothing I read was specifically aimed at ALM, or even technology per se (except for the use of OSS to disprove money as a primary motivator), I found so many ideas that were EXTREMELY relevant to what I was doing in my day to day job. So this post will focus on the first major point of many that I dog-eared in the book.

      Favorite quote #1: The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. (and ditch the stupid contests!)

      Intrinsic motivation. This is one of those things that you KNOW to be true, but you can’t quite put your finger on the why of it. I know I had that reaction whenever contests and incentives were announced at my previous job. I immediately groaned, rolled my eyes, and tried to think of the fastest way to produce the results they wanted while still doing all of the work that I saw as actually being valuable. You know, the stuff I am “graded” on during my end of year review.  Turns out, everyone felt that way too. And we never got the type of results from those silly contests that management was hoping for. It also felt like a form of punishment, as in, if you need to incentivize me with $500 do this, it must REALLY suck! Imagine our enthusiasm to take on that challenge? At the end of the day, money and rewards only get you so far, and too many bonuses and rewards can actually backfire and decrease motivation. People have to be internally motivated to WANT to do something for a strategy to realize long term success. Now I’m not a volunteer, mind you, I get paid very well at my new job, but I did leave a higher paying job to realign my career path with my passions. At the end of the day, the challenge of solving customers’ problems and making their lives better was driving my behavior. My passion is ignited and sustained by fresh, new problems and by having at least a little freedom to be creative in how I do my job. I should note that in most cases, I am speaking specifically from the perspective of a person working in IT so if you are in a vastly different line of work, you may not agree with all of my observations.

      So back on track, my first thought was that this is yet another example of where agile is just a natural fit for software development. People enjoy challenge, and novelty, and need an environment that fosters that. Not that Waterfall based environments cannot provide freedom, novelty, and challenge (don’t laugh), but I have yet to find one that provided freedom, let alone the RIGHT kinds of novelty and challenge to promote a motivational environment. For instance, working 80 hour weeks for a month to make a deadline because of poorly planned milestones that you had no early visibility or input into is NOT a motivating challenge. And when the next 6 – 12 months of your life are scheduled, collated, and written in stone well, there goes freedom and creativity. Your focus now is on making dates, at any cost.

      Because Agile and Scrum-based processes focus on self-direction, introspection, and continuous improvement, people get opportunities to constantly evolve and find new and more efficient ways to solve problems. Now that’s FUN. I’ve met few software engineers who don’t respond to that kind of motivation in a VERY positive way. After all, software development is as much of an art as a science. Despite all of the misleading comparisons to building a house, building software requires FAR more creativity and flexibility than framing a McMansion in the suburbs. And making software is HARD. The first time a Scrum instructor (Richard Hundhausen to be specific) uttered those words out loud, I kind of laughed, but then realized just how significant that statement was. Say it out loud with me and really think about it, “software development is HARD”. Sure there are hundreds of frameworks and software patterns out there to help you do it, but at the end of the day knowing how and when to use them, or even when to stray from them, is a really tough skill to master and requires constant recalibration.

      Any artist will tell you that being confined by strict rules, and working under a heavily structured rewards and punishment system, stifles their creativity and narrows their focus. Working without freedom and with stifled creativity results in an inferior product, and an unhappy artist. It’s no different for software craftsman. At first I bristled a little at that term, “software craftsman”, but have come to embrace it as being a FAR more accurate label for what we do. Software is not churned out using repetitive and unchanging patterns like a Whopper. It relies as much on the right-brain as it does the left, and if it doesn’t for you, you might be doing it wrong.

      Next we’ll talk about metrics. Hairs on the back of your next standing up? Did you get a little chill just then? I did.

      Tags:

      Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | Collaboration | Process Methodology | SDLC | development | Scrum

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      And Now For Something Completely Different

      by Angela 12. July 2013 09:15

      So, I feel like most (if not all) of my posts have largely revolved around ALM events and specific features of the Visual Studio product line. After quite a few conversations with customers frustrated with the non-bits and bytes aspects of ALM, I wanted to write down some thoughts on some things I am seeing out in “the real world”. You see, we always talk about how ALM is about people, process, and tools. And 9 times out of 10 (maybe more like 49 out of 50 in reality) any ALM talk I go to focuses only on process and/or tooling. Why? Because solving the people problem is HARD. Nay, that implies people are a problem, and that it is one that can be solved. In a lot of cases, the best you can hope to do is recognize the challenges, address the low hanging fruit in the short term, and in the long term support people’s evolution to a more agile way of thinking in any way that you can. But like me, you may have Microsoft certifications, or even Scrum.org certifications, but you certainly don’t have a degree in psychology.

      You can educate people on the principals of agile but you can’t MAKE people truly embrace them, and it can be incredibly frustrating if you’ve seen the mountains of evidence, and maybe even have personal success stories of your own proving it is the right direction for a team. Kind of like me knowing that if I went to the gym regularly and started paying attention to what I ate, I would be a much healthier and physically fit person, but I can’t seem to convince myself to make the 1.5 block walk to the local gym to do it. Sad, I know. But I’m working on it, kinda. The roadblock I see even more often is that while the team wants to give it a go, management’s attitude is that “agile couldn’t possibly work for MY organization”. It is always followed by reasons like “’we’re too big”, “we’re too small”, “we’re too heavily regulated”, or my favorite “I couldn’t possibly TRUST my developers enough to give them that kind of freedom”. This is where I try not to look completely horrified in front of the person who just said that. I’m a professional after all J

      I joke about wanting to go back to school for a degree in psychology sometimes when I find myself in these situations. Honestly, I’m only kind of joking. Being an ALM practitioner is not just about knowing how to configure a build server, or create a new work item type, or even migrate a massive organization to the awesomeness that is the Visual Studio ALM toolset (or any other ALM tool for that matter, I happen to be Microsoft focused). Those things help, a lot. But it’s also about leading organizations through cultural transformations, whether those be massive agile transformations, or simply getting teams to have a more healthy, open, and collaborative relationship on the simplest of terms. They will need mentoring, maybe even hand-holding to get through some of the roadblocks of a massive change. This is true in ANY walk of life, but for now I am focusing on the software development world.

      I apologize that this is a bit of a teaser, but people tend to get bored pretty quickly so I’ll leave you here and promise to dive into something even deeper in my next post. And as always, I’d love to hear about your own experiences, or be linked to some particularly helpful advice you’ve come across. I am a passionate evangelist and agilista, but I’m by no means an expert, yet. That will take many, many more years, and even more grey hair (that you will never see!).

      Tags:

      Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Agile | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio | Process Methodology

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      ThatConference – Mark Your Calendars and Call for Speakers is OPEN

      by Angela 1. April 2013 16:43

      So as a Midwesterner I often feel like we get screwed when it comes to big, cool tech conferences.  ALM Summit is always in Redmond, TechEd is always in Vegas or L.A. (blech), and there are a large number of other big tech conferences that are primarily only held on the West Coast (Mix, VS Live, etc.). So this big news so far this year has been that VS Live is coming to Chicago in May, for one. I’m pretty excited about that, especially with the sweet discount I was able to get for it (see the blog post I linked to above for a $500 discount code to VS Live Chicago). 

      Now don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of great, smaller conferences, for instance Chicago Code Camp in a few weeks, and Deeper in .NET in Milwaukee next weekend, are both very good conferences and are both FREE to boot. But another awesome conference you may have missed out on last year was ThatConference. What conference? ThatConference. Yeah, I know, the name is clever, and sometimes confusing, but mostly clever.  It is the next big thing in my opinion, because not only is it owned by, organized by, and delivered by people you know from your local community, but the range of topics is pretty amazing too.  .NET, Ruby, Java, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Tablet, Surface, iPad, you name a technology/platform and it is probably going to be represented there.

      As an added bonus, it is a VERY family friendly conference being held at an awesome water park in the Wisconsin Dells, just 3.5 hours from Chicago if you live in my neck of the woods.  Kalahari Resort also has go-karts, laser tag, a large arcade, an indoor ferris wheel, a number of great restaurants and bars, and even a salon and spa if you need a little R&R with your tech!  Stay a few extra days, the room rates are amazing and last year we also got some pretty nice perks (a.k.a. free stuff) from the resort because we were attending the conference.

      Call for speakers just opened today and is only open for 2 weeks so hurry up and get your submissions in! Don’t worry if you think your topic is too broad, too niche, too whatever, just get it in there.  There is a great submission guide available on the session submission site too so check it out! The range of topics being accepted is pretty large, as we hope to provide a really well rounded set of options for attendees.  If you have more questions, or would like some help creating your session write-up, join us every Wednesday at noon CST for Q&A on G+.

       

      Hope to see you, and your sessions, at ThatConference this summer!

      August 12th - 14th, 2013

      Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI

       

      ThatConference is also on facebook, or Google Groups if you have questions or comments for the world at large.

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      Chicago Code Camp 2013–It’s Awesome and it’s FREE

      by Angela 22. March 2013 12:54
      What is Chicago Code Camp? Well, it’s in its fifth year of awesomeness and if you haven’t checked it out, go do it now.  CCC is a free, community-driven developer conference. Over 350 people have already registered so far! This year, they’ve even adding a full day of Windows Azure boot camp.

       

      So if you’ve been to CCC before, go ahead and stop reading because you’ve already registered and know what an amazing free event this is, right?  If you’ve never been, well, it is worth the trip up North (or South if you are in Wisconsin)!  Chicago Code Camp is free, and covers a WIDE variety of great tech topics.  As someone clearly passionate about ALM, I was particularly happy to see the number of ALM related topics at CCC this year, and as usual the speakers are really great too. 

      So mark your calendars (April 27th to be specific) and register right now!

       

      Here is just a sampling of the ALM sessions:

      - Introduction to Git and Github - [Joshua Gall, Aurora Healthcare]

      - This *IS* Agile Development - [Gary Pedretti, Centare]

      - Version control TFS 2012 - [Prasanna Ramkumar, Magenic]

      - ALM with Visual Studio 2012 - [Raj Krishnan, Microsoft]

      - TFS 2012 - [James Szubryt, Accenture]

       

      More great sessions and speakers are outlined here: http://www.chicagocodecamp.com/Public/Schedule.  Stoked yet? You should be.  Did I mention this is also FREE?

       

      Click here to register for Chicago Code Camp 2013

       

      19351 W Washington Street Grayslake, IL 60030

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      Tags:

      .NET 4.5 | ALM | ASP.NET | Agile | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | Cloud Computing | HTML5 | MSDN | SDLC | TFS 2012 | Powershell | Productivity | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Testing | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | Windows 8 | development | git

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      Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group - Holiday Party on Dec 12th 2012

      by Angela 1. December 2012 12:48

      Are you a regular attendee? Someone who hasn’t been to a meeting in a while? Someone who has never been and has been looking for the perfect topic? Well, c’mon down! Next week is our annual holiday meeting. In the past few months there has been a release of Visual Studio as well as an update, and not just any update but a MASSIVE update with lots of good new functionality. So go download it today!

      We'll have fun giveaways for everyone who attends, but some particularly awesome giveaways for people who are willing to get up and demo their favorite VS 2012 (so anything related to VS, MTM or TFS) feature! It doesn't have to be a long or complicated demo, but it does need to highlight something about the latest release or the update that you find particularly useful or cool. Shoot me an email at Angela.Dugan@PolarisSolutions.com with the feature you want to highlight so I can ensure we don't end up with duplicates. Everyone that does a demo gets an additional gift, but we will also vote for one or two big winners to receive something extra cool! More details to come...  We will have many speakers that night, hopefully including you!

      So far we have the following presenters and topics:

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      When: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
      Location: Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

      Agenda:6:00PM Food, drinks and prizes. 7:00PM VS 2012 Demo contest. 8:00PM Grand prizes awarded

      Register here: http://chicagoalmug.org/

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