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The Chicago ALM User Group is Ready for the VS 2015 Launch. Are you?

by Angela 3. June 2015 10:59

Hey, did you hear that there is another version of Visual Studio coming out? There is already a supported Release Candidate (so go download it RIGHT NOW) and it’s going to be generally available soon. And no, I don’t know EXACTLY when and even if I did I would not tell you. Sorry. But believe me, the time to start getting ready for this one is now! Join the Chicago ALM user group this summer for a handful of sessions sure to get you as excited as we are about what the Visual Studio ALM product team has been doing. And of course the easiest way to see what’s coming is just to go setup a free VSO account today.

 

June Meeting: What’s New for Visual Studio 2015

========================================================

Visual Studio is a .Net Developer’s main life blood.  It’s where you live on a day to day basis, and it’s constantly evolving, changing, and growing; gaining new capabilities with every release!  Check in to see some of the hot/fun/cool/awesome features found in the latest version.  Some new enhancements like the Rosyln complier, and what that means for your daily activities, to updates to debugging experience, or enhancements to existing things like CodeLens.  Come see what’s up with the newest tools.

Speaker Bio: Jeff Przylucki is a consultant at Polaris Solutions. Jeff has primarily worked in Microsoft technologies since 1995, filling roles including Developer, Tech-lead, Lead Developer, and Architect working from VB4 through Classic ASP, and now .Net technologies.

Jeff is currently focusing on ALM tools with Microsoft TFS and Visual Studio, and is certified as MCSD – Application Lifecycle Management. You can find Jeff through his blog, and on Twitter.

Join Us Tuesday, June 30, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Location: Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

 

And yes, you DID see that correctly.  I have moved our meetings to Tuesdays for the time being. I am training for an 8K and a 10K and my training runs with my coach are on Mondays and Wednesdays, and it’s too expensive to blow off. So please make note and don’t show up on Wednesdays, unless you want to join me and my running group  Smile

Be sure to register soon, hope to see you June 30th! http://chicagoalmug.org/

Tags:

VS 2015 | TFS 2015 | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Team Foundation Server | VSOnline | Visual Studio

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It’s THAT Time Again! ThatConference Call for Speakers is Open for Just 2 Weeks

by Angela 31. March 2015 08:30

I can’t believe it is going to be our 4th year. Seriously. Craziness.

I still remember that fateful day almost 6 years ago. I was driving out to Detroit for a conference and I get a call from my buddy Clark. He’s telling me about this crazy idea to create a conference for everyone. It would have family stuff, include all kinds of technology, and it would be in a freaking water park in Wisconsin! What was not to love? And most importantly, did I want to help?? I had over a year at that point before the the kickoff of the inaugural ThatConference. It seemed like a lifetime away, and yet here we are. Every year I flop down on my bed after the last session and think GOD THAT WAS A LOT OF WORK, and then volunteer for next year because I can’t imagine NOT being involved in something this great. On to my point before I start getting all misty eyed. WHAT?

Call for speakers has just opened for ThatConference 2015. We’re going to be bigger, awesomer, geekier, and yes awesomer is a word because I said so! Smile We need great speakers. We need you. We need your KIDS to submit. I know, who knew? Last year we had an astounding number of geeklets presenting, leading open spaces, and coming up with some amazing ideas for this coming year. I am personally so stoked to see what the kids have ins store for US this year. No technology is off the table. No talk related to anything that anyone in the tech community would be interested in is off the table. Personally I plan to submit talks around not just TFS, and agile, but around fear and how many of us battle imposter syndrome. So be creative.

Next, please, check out our conference site, check out speakers and sessions from previous years, and then submit something that moves you. Here is a preview of our speaker submission “rules of the road”:

 

Tips for making your abstract epic:

  • Counselors have roughly 60 minutes to teach their fellow campers.
  • Descriptive and edgy titles are best. Bonus points for Summer Camp Geek references.
  • Make sure your abstract description contains enough detail so we know what you're going to talk about. Don’t worry if you make any mistakes we will have the opportunity to fix it later.
  • Try not to pull any switch-a-roos last minute and talk about something completely unrelated. Campers don't like that. If something changes, please work with That Conference.
  • We can't make too many promises but if there are issues with the final speaker schedule we will do our very best to accommodate you.

Do:

  • Be passionate about your chosen topic.
  • Feel free to submit more than one abstract. We have to maintain a balance across all of the tracks and their topics. It will just help us and potentially you.
  • Consider how your presentation is relevant to all technologists, but don’t feel constrained to avoiding a talk on one specific programming language, platform or technology.
  • Consider what discussions could be sparked by your presentation. That Conference is all about meeting people and discussing ideas; consider what people will talk about after your presentation.
  • Explain what benefit your presentation will bring to the audience.
  • Tell a story.
  • Show real world examples, especially your own experiences, to support your ideas. Show code samples or demonstrate product capabilities only where appropriate.
  • Make sure you can keep the documented session time limit.
  • Stay near the stage or podium after your presentation, encourage the audience to come up and discuss the presentation with you.
  • Please invite the audience to discuss your talk with you face to face rather than just at the end. Better yet, continue the conversation in our Open Spaces.
  • Respect our anti-harassment policy.

Don’t:

  • Use your presentation to specifically promote the superiority of one platform, language or technology over all others. Instead talk about pros and cons of the demonstrated subject, and invite the audience to share their own experiences related to your discussion.
  • See your presentation as a platform to market your company or product.
  • Include unnecessary animation or sound effects in your presentation that will distract from your content.

 

So seriously, don’t wait! Submit your talk, or talks, TODAY and don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of something truly awesome: https://www.thatconference.com/

Tags:

Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | personal growth | technology | development | Windows Phone | Visual Studio | ThatConference | Team Foundation Server | Scrum | SQL Server | Mobile development | Cloud Computing

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ALM User Groups Welcome Gary Pedretti Back as a Presenter Next Month

by Angela 26. March 2015 13:23

On April 8th, we’ll be welcoming Gary Pedretti back to the ALM user group! Trust me on this, Gary’s presentations are NEVER to be missed. I hope you can make this one. RSVP Now to Attend

 

Session details:

King Tut Architecture: Pyramids, Patterns, and Tests

Mike Cohn introduced the Testing Pyramid in his 2009 book, Succeeding with Agile, as a model for thinking about tests and test automation - focus, ROI, TCO, etc. - when developing a software product.  It’s been a powerful visual for guiding teams to craft test suites that are sustainable and effective, regardless of whether they automate or not.

But what if we thought about it as application design or architectural guidance? Building a product that is well covered by tests, in the ratios described in the Testing Pyramid, requires specific designs and architecture.

In this talk we'll cover modern techniques and patterns that allow for architecture and development to be guided by the Testing Pyramid. We’ll also address the “Am I only doing this for testability, not for value delivered?” question.  The audience will leave with new ways to think about the Testing Pyramid, new patterns for developing a well-tested application, and new ways for architects, testers, and coders to work in a cross-functional manner.

Speaker Bio

With over sixteen years of experience, Gary works closely with companies nationwide to help them achieve their goals in delivering business value through software. He is an agile software development trainer, coach, and practitioner, as well as a curriculum developer, application architect, and software craftsman.

Gary is a strong believer in the “see one, do one, teach one” road to craft and mastery, which led him to become a Professional Scrum Trainer for Scrum.org. Over the past five years he has trained thousands of students on Scrum - coders, testers, UX specialists, BAs, DBAs, PMs, managers, and C-suite executives - using experiential, immersive courses.

Gary's technical skills and experience include enterprise and application architecture, ALM, build and deployment automation, web development, database modeling and development, and test automation.

You can find Gary at www.GaryPedretti.com and on Twitter @GaryPedretti

 

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

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

You are not currently registered to attend. RSVP Now to Attend

Tags:

ALM | Agile | Application Lifecycle Management | Automated Testing | Scrum | Architecture

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DevOps with Chef and Azure Coming to the Chicago ALM User Group this Month

by Angela 4. February 2015 17:12

When: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Where:Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

What: Wouldn’t it be great to remove the “it works on my machine” scenario? Don’t you have better things to do with your time then manually configure systems? In this live, hands-on demonstration Matt will introduce you to the concepts of Infrastructure as Code and Automation; show you how we to use Chef  to develop and test system configuration locally, and then deploy them to a production environment in Microsoft Azure. Learn more about Chef on their blog, website, and Twitter!

Who: Matt Stratton is a solutions architect at Chef, where he demonstrates how Chef’s automation platform provides speed and flexibility to clients’ infrastructure. He is devoted to concepts like Continuous Delivery and Infrastructure as Code, and his license plate actually says “DevOps”. He is also a host of the Arrested DevOps (arresteddevops.com) podcast. It’s a great podcast, and I am not just saying that because I have been on it :)

Matt has over 15 years experience in IT operations, ranging from large financial institutions such as JPMorganChase and dot coms, including Apartments.com. He has given presentations at Microsoft-sponsored events, CAMP IT, and various local groups within the Chicagoland area.He lives in Chicago and has an unhealthy obsession with Doctor Who, Firefly, and Game of Thrones.

Agenda:6:30pm dinner 7:00pm Presentation

RSVP Now to Attend

Feel free to invite coworkers or friends who would be interested in this talk, just make sure they pre-register! Security requires it, and then I can order the right amount of food. 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 $10 parking a block away using their service.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | Cloud Computing | DevOps | development | Deployment | Deployment Planning | Continuous deployment | Chef | Continuous Delivery

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January 2015 ALM User Group with Uncle Bob

by Angela 2. January 2015 15:32

We ended 2014 on a high note by having none other than Doc Norton with us to talk about agile metrics. It was a fantastic thought and I’m sure many of you walked away with some great ideas of how to improve the way your team works together.

Well, we are also starting off 2015 with another great speaker, Uncle Bob! You may be familiar with his work on SOLID principals, or perhaps the Agile Manifesto, of which he was one of the original signers. I know right?!  So come chat with Uncle Bob about being a professional in today’s world of IT. I can imagine that this talk will be no less inspiring than last month’s talk. Here are the details for the Chicago ALM user group this month:

When: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

What: The time has come for software developers to define our profession, and to define ourselves as professionals. We must choose the disciplines, attitudes, and practices that comprise our profession, and then we must choose to live within those bounds. We must decide what standards we will keep, and we must pledge to say "No" when asked to breech those standards. In this talk Robert (Uncle Bob) Martin reviews this history that has led us to this culmination, and suggests a suite of disciplines, attitudes, and practices that follow from that history and may well become a definition of our profession.

Who: Robert "Uncle Bob" Martin is a software consultant and author. Martin has been a software professional since 1970 and an international software consultant since 1990. In 2001, he initiated the meeting of the group that created agile software development from extreme programming techniques. He is also a leading member of the software craftsmanship movement. He founded Object Mentor Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in training their clients in C++, Java, OOP, patterns, UML, agile methodologies, and extreme programming. From 1996 to 1999 he was the editor-in-chief of the C++ Report.

In 2002 he wrote Agile Software Development: Principles, Patterns, and Practices, which gives pragmatic advice on object-oriented design and development in an agile team. He has also published a number of popular books and articles on programming and software methodologies.

You can also keep up with Uncle Bob on his blog, and on Twitter.

Agenda:5:30pm dinner 6:00pm Presentation

 

As usual, please be sure to register to ensure that you are on the security list!

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | development | personal growth | Process Methodology

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Some highlights from Doc Norton’s talk at the ALM user group in December

by Angela 29. December 2014 17:10

From the very first time I saw Michael (Doc) Norton present “Let’s Start an Epidemic” at ThatConference, I knew I wanted to get him to come to Chicago to speak at my group. His overall messaging about community, teamwork, and influence was one that needed to be shared with my local community. Timing was on my side, and in December Doc Norton spoke at the Chicago ALM user group, and it was phenomenal! It was the week before Christmas and I had some SERIOUS piles of Microsoft and TFS swag at home to share as well. Including some great, re-sable Visual Studio shopping bags. Check it out, I was a busy elf!

WP_20141217_010

Now, on to the main event.  Doc’s talk was on agile metrics, and it was a FULL house. Even snapped a little selfie to prove it :)

WP_20141217_014

You might be thinking “Wait, AGILE metrics??” Did you just shudder in fear, because most agile metrics evoke feelings of big brother and bring back bad memories associated with “earned value management”, and pitting teams against each other. That was NOT what this talk was about. As a matter of fact, the title of his talk was “Velocity is NOT the goal” and I swear I heard a giant sigh of relief when that title went up!

WP_20141217_015

This also may have been one of the first meetings where I saw not a single person on email or YouTube the whole time. The only apps running were OneNote and notepad because people were taking down all kinds of tips and tricks on how to do agile metrics the right way. And this was no small mom and pop shop where you’d think to yourself “of COURSE it was easy for them!” You see, Doc works for Groupon, you may have heard of them. They have gone through exponential growth over their short lifespan, and Doc has been largely in charge of making sure they do not implode culturally along their journey. Some of my favorite ideas from this talk were the Hawthorn Effect/Goodwin’s Law connection,360 reviews, joy meters, and too much work in progress. 

The Hawthorn effect is pretty brilliant and absolutely true in my experience.  The idea is simple, once people know they are being measured based on a specific behavior, or on their improvement on a specific metric, they will do everything they can (for a time anyway) to continue performing in whatever way they need to in order to hit those measurements. Goodwin’s Law “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure”. Some might call this the “I’m going to code myself a minivan” effect.  In other words, metrics can often be gamed, so again, be careful what you wish for when it comes to metrics and reporting.

360 reviews is something we sort of did when I was at Microsoft.  Part of your end-of-year review process allowed you to request anonymous feedback from up to 10 people that you worked with throughout the past year, looking for overall ratings as well as personalized feedback. I honestly found it far more valuable to my professional and personal growth than all of the canned metrics we were graded on. 360s allow people to get feedback from a variety of angles, not ONLY from your boss. I also found that it made me feel more personally accountable for being a good team member, knowing that every year I’d be hearing back from my team as to whether or not I had a positive impact on them.

Joy meters provide even more interesting data, though that data can be tricky to collect.  essentially, you are asking people to give fairly regular feedback on the joy they receive from doing their job, whether it be team meetings, checking in code, running tests, whatever. Docs example was a bit easier to collect and “enforce”, because a joy rating was required with every code check-in. As a TFS user I can already picture ways of handling that for code check-ins, but collecting it for other types of activities is not as straightforward. As a start, I want to look at adding a joy meter check-in policy to our own internal TFS instance and start crunching numbers!

WP_20141217_017

And this last one is not only a great point, a really GREAT point, but it references one of my favorite “I love Lucy” episodes! But seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a standup near the end of the sprint, where every task is active and very few things are done. But everyone was productive and busy! And yet, the team rarely made it’s sprint goals and their velocity was all over the map.

image

So, don’t want to steal any more thunder, and Doc said it so much better than I could. If you’re completely kicking yourself for missing the talk, lucky for you it is posted on Vimeo and Doc was more than happy to share it with us.  Check it out, it’s well worth your time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:

Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Productivity | Metrics | ThatConference

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St Louis Day of .NET – Links to Blogs and Decks for all Polaris Speakers

by Angela 24. November 2014 15:22

This year was the second year that Polaris Solutions sponsored St. Louis Day of .NET.  In case you’re wondering why were sponsor a conference in St Louis, a) it’s a really great conference, and b) we have an office down there, a quickly growing one too! So if you missed it this year, stay tuned for STLDODN 2015! Outside of ThatConference, it is one of the most affordable, local conference that I have even been a part of. It was focused on Microsoft and .NET technologies, but also included a lot of talks around test automation, deployment and release management, and agile and scrum.

If you did attend, I wanted to make sure to point you at my slide decks, as well as the blogs and slide decks of some of our other presenters. If you missed them, I spoke on both TFS deployment and management as well as agile adoption, Josh did presentations on machine learning with Azure and ASP.NET identify framework, Clint did a really great presentation on Application Architecture and another on Advanced OOP, and Jeff talked about a topic near and dear to my hear as well – TFS Consolidation and migrations.  If you attended the pre-compiler sessions you may have even run across our newest Polarian – Alejandro Ramirez. Great stuff, all of them! Here is a roundup of how to find more information on those speakers, and to get their slides:

  • Angela Dugan: You’re already on my blog :) slides are here
  • Clint Edmonson: Blog and slides
  • Josh Gillespie: Blog and slides
  • Jeff Przylucki: Blog and slides to be posted soon, check back in a few days!
  • Alejandro Ramirez:Blog and slides

 

A couple of us even made it into the podcast line-up while there as well! I’ll be appearing on an upcoming edition of Technology and Friends, and both myself and Alejandro got a chance to sit down with the great team behind St Louis Tech Talks

Lastly, be sure to check out the STLDODN twitter feed (and search on #STLDODN) for some great tweets, links to the other great podcast episodes recorded live during the conference, as well as links to some of the other presentations.

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Join the Chicago ALM User Group Next Week for Application Insights 101!

by Angela 11. November 2014 19:05

So maybe you’ve been hearing some buzz around Microsoft's Application Insights technology.  Application Insights, in case you aren't familiar with it, is like Google Analytics on steroids. But like, get kicked out of MLB steroids :) Technically it is STILL in Preview, but if you’re running VS 2013 Update 3, you may have noticed a slight facelift in the tooling and dashboards. 

In this presentation, Angela is going to spend an hour or so walking you through the basics of setting up Application Insights on your web application and navigating some of the awesome data that it allows you to collect about your applications reliability, performance, and usage data.

When: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Where:Microsoft-Chicago 200 East Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

Who: Angela Dugan, ME!  

Agenda:6:30pm dinner 7:00pm Presentation

I hope to see you in Chicago next week. 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.

RSVP Now to Attend

Tags:

Application Insights | Application Lifecycle Management | Visual Studio 2013 | Visual Studio

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VS Live is Coming to a City Near You! We Can Save You $500 in Chicago and Vegas

by Angela 24. February 2014 10:13

 

Have you been considering attending VS Live this year?  They are really expanding their locations this year, holding events in Orlando, Redmond, Las Vegas, Chicago and even Washington DC. It’s a great event both to network with like minded technology geeks like yourself, as well as to get some great education around a HUGE number of topics.  Once again, the Chicago ALM User Group has secured a special discount code for members and friends for a couple of these events. So if you were wanting to attend, now we can even save you $500 with our exclusive discount codes: UGCH09 (Chicago) and UGLV10 (Las Vegas).

Topics will include:

➤ Windows Client

➤ JavaScript / HTML5 Client

➤ Azure / Cloud Computing

➤ Cross-Platform Mobile

➤ SharePoint

➤ SQL Server

➤ ASP.NET

➤ Visual Studio / .NET

➤ Windows Phone

 

$500 Discount off regular registration price for ALMUG friends and family using discount codes below.  Discount does not stack on top of early bird discounts. Prices range from $1,795 - $2,095 without the discount.

Your price: $1,595 after discount

 

Chicago Event Links

May 5-8, Chicago Hilton

VSLive Chicago homepage: http://bit.ly/UGCH09

VSLive Chicago registration page:  http://bit.ly/UGCH09Reg

Las Vegas Event Links

March 10 – 14th, Planet Hollywood

URL will direct to event home page: http://bit.ly/UGLV10

URL will direct to the registration page: http://bit.ly/UGLV10Reg

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Chicago ALM User Group Presents: Lab Management in the Cloud

by Angela 12. February 2014 11:22

So, you might have heard, but this cloud thing really isn’t just a fad. And if you’re a TFS user, you might have thought to yourself “Wow, Lab management is pretty rad, but I still don’t have the hardware of personnel required to manage all that infrastructure. It would be awesome if I could extend Lab Management into the cloud!” Sad trombone

We felt that way too here at Polaris.  So we rolled up our sleeves and worked through some of the challenges to make it happen.  Chris Taylor is going to be talking a lot more about it, and doing some demos, at the February edition of the Visual Studio ALM user group this month, at the Aon Center in Chicago.

Join Us Wednesday, February 26, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Be sure to sign up soon! http://chicagoalmug.org/ 

Description:

With the introduction of Lab Management in 2010, Team Foundation Server presented the opportunity to do automated build-test-deploy on Microsoft Hyper-V servers.  Although the tool was extremely powerful and cost of entry far less than any physical implementations it didn’t offer the flexibility of working with pre-existing physical labs as well as other virtualization platforms like VMWare or Parallels.  In Team Foundation Server 2012 Microsoft addressed this by introducing the “Standard Lab” environment in parallel with the “SCVMM Lab” environments.  This now allowed for any combination (virtual or physical) of machines to be added to a lab environment and provided nearly all the same functionality as provided in the SCVMM based environments.

At the same time, Microsoft had been working diligently on their Azure platform, all based in Windows Server 2012 and finally opened up the ability to both provision new virtual machines as well as exposed this functionality to other applications via the Windows Azure SDK. 

Polaris Solutions saw the opportunity to use Windows Azure as a virtualization platform to run automated tests and deployments and the tools necessary to accomplish it.  Come learn about some of the tooling that has been constructed to compliment an existing TFS infrastructure and create hybrid-cloud solutions to further lower infrastructure and  testing costs while creating a more quality product.

Speaker Bio:

Chris Taylor is a Senior Consultant at Polaris Solutions based in Chicago.  Prior to joining Polaris Solutions, Chris spent over 5 years in the Payment Card Industry developing applications for commercial and government credit card programs while extending TFS to integrate seamlessly with traditional enterprise software practices while allowing teams to be more agile/iterative within themselves.  Since joining Polaris, Chris has been focused on improving software quality and integration test automation using Microsoft Lab Management, CodedUI, Windows Azure, and Windows 2008/2012 Hyper-V. 

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