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ThatConference Game Night update! Boardlandia Returns

by Angela 28. June 2017 17:51

2016-08-08 20.45.10

As you may or may not know, I was one of the masterminds behind #ThatGameNight at ThatConference. My husband and I are huge fans of board games and it felt like a great way to get people together for a night of fun! It’s become an extremely popular event attended by hundreds of campers and their families every year, and to help us keep the momentum going we have established a partnership with a great, local board game shop. In case this is all news to you, a little background…

ThatGameNight is a free, social event open to all ThatConference attendees and their families on Monday night of the conference every year. ThatGameNight will be happening during and after the Monday night Happy Hour, so grab some refreshments and head on over to the gaming areas that night, we’ll have a lot of activities setup so you’ll have a blast even if board games are not your thing! The event begins at 6 pm and continues until midnight, and the schedule is flexible, so feel free to stop by at any point during the event and stay as long as you like.

Boardlandia is once again partnering up with That Conference to supply a free library of games for all ages to borrow and play while at That GameNight. As a special perk to all That Conference attendees, you can also go to their website to check out their full catalogue, and if you see something you like, they are offering an option to pre-purchase games and accept delivery at That GameNight – just use the "Free Pick up at That Conference 2017 Game Night" option when you place your order.  Pre-ordering will end on July 31st.

You can also bring your own games if you like, but be sure to take advantage of the Boardlandia game library if you can. It will be a great chance to discover new games, and meet new people!

We're also going to have a Pinewood Derby track set up at ThatGamenight. Come on out with your pre-built pinewood derby car and challenge your fellow campers to a race for bragging rights. Old and young alike can use the track, so use those engineering skills to build your best car and bring it out to trounce the competition!

Tags:

ThatConference | boardgames

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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!

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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:

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The amazing conference crew:

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Board game night!

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Our glorious stage (and leader!)

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Tags:

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

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Mark Your Calendars, and Buy Your Tickets! ThatConference is Coming

by Angela 19. May 2015 11:00

I’m excited. No, I’m absolutely PUMPED about ThatConference 2015! It’s now our 4th year. Some of us camp counselors are old salty dogs at this whole things by now, and we love every minute of it. Just ask.  Well, just don’t ask us on the last day, LOL.

We have an amazing family track, again.  We have more kid presenters than ever. SO AWESOME! We were overwhelmed and humbled by both the sheer amount and high quality of the submissions we got in response to our call for speakers.  I wish we had room for more sessions, and if you didn’t get picked keep in mind there are SO many more opportunities to share your experience and knowledge during networking events, happy hours, meal times, and of course during the Open Spaces.

Tickets go on sale TOMORROW May 20th at 8:10am CST, and we even have an early bird discount (save $100, whoa!) AND bulk discounts if your company is sending a small army. And for these prices, your company SHOULD send a small army. Use my referral link to register at the bottom of this post and you effectively buy me a beer at the first happy hour :)

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What better way to spend so little and get so much than sending an entire software team to an event where they can learn, collaborate, and have fun together! Speaking of fun, here are some of my favorite pics from last year including the badge decorating activities for the geeklets, a pic of my favorite and possibly youngest attendee, the PACKED game night, one of the family track sessions where kids learned about conductivity with play-doh, and of course the pig roast!

 

So be sure to hit up the registration site in the next few days, grab your ticket early, and start planning your sessions. We can’t wait to see you in August campers!

 

Don’t forget I run craft activities for the kids and board game night in addition to being on the conference committee and a camp counselor. Hit me up with questions, ideas, and anything else!

Tags:

ThatConference

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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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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!

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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 :)

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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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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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It’s THAT Time Again – ThatConference Call for Speakers is Open

by Angela 3. April 2014 12:00

So if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably already know about ThatConference? If you’re already a raving fan, skip ahead to the next paragraph. If not, well, let me tell you a little bit about it. There are a LOT of conferences going on if you’re in the Chicago area, but don’t think of this as just another conference. ThatConference kicked off in 2012, we had a lot of enthusiasm and an impressive turnout for a year 1 conference, it was definitely a success! In our second year, things really exploded. We had a lot more speakers, so many amazing sessions to pick from, and the family participation was out of this world. My own nephew, who lives in California, said that he couldn’t see why we wouldn’t just make ThatConference a family vacation every year. He had SO much fun, and really loved the kids programming classes.

So back to my original thought. ThatConference 2014 call for speakers is LIVE, and it’s already several days in which means you have just 11 more days to submit your talk! After April 14th, we have to start sorting, categorizing, and sifting through all of the amazing options to create a schedule that lives up to the ThatConference goal of offering a wide variety of interesting and in-depth topics that spark ideas, and will appeal to the community at large. We accept talks on any technology, platform, or language. We also love seeing talks on career development, user experience, quality assurance, it doesn’t have to be purely related to code! When you submit, please be detailed, be passionate, be unique, and be sure to follow the guidelines outlined on the submission site. We do not know who submits when voting on the talks that will make it into the agenda, we truly focus on CONTENT. And a word of advice, I can’t stress enough how important the quality of the submissions are. We get many HUNDREDS of submissions and we only have space for about 1/4 of them, so talks with vague descriptions or that cover really basic and common topics that a dozen other people are also submitting are less likely to stand out.

So hurry up! You DO have something valuable and interesting to share. And don’t worry, if you’re not the type of person who likes speaking in front of large crowds, but knows you have something to share, there are lots of opportunities to network and there are plenty of open spaces sessions too. Hope to see you at ThatConference this year!

Tags:

conference | ThatConference | technology | Azure | Open Source | Quality Assurance | Software Testing | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio | Windows 8 | Windows Phone | .NET | Application Lifecycle Management | C# | career

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So many conferences, so little time

by Angela 9. January 2014 10:17

So since it is the beginning of the year, I am re-evaluating my conference choices this year. I always assumed that after I left Microsoft I would attend LESS conferences, and do less public speaking, not more. Turns out I have more time to do fun things like that now :)  Here is what is on my radar for 2014:

ALM Forum: April 1-3, Seattle WA. This is a rebranding of the ALM Summit from year’s past.  Some great speakers lined up including Sam Gu and Ken Schwaber! I may be going to Agile 2014 instead of this one sadly, only so many conferences I can attend in one year. Reasonably pricey at about $1,400 for a conference pass with an extra fee for some of the pre and post conference workshops. But even at that price, it’s been well worth it every year I’ve gone.

QAI Quest: April 7-11 Baltimore, MD. A global quality engineered software based conference.  I’ve attended 4 of the 5 past conferences but this year I just have too many to also make it to this one. Mainly focus on Quality Assurance, and in the past year or two they have started adding a lot of agile talks as well.

Build: San Francisco CA. Sold out in record time, as usual. Glad I got to go to a PDC before I left Microsoft because this is one of the hardest tickets to get, second only to CodeMash which is going on right now!

NewCodeCamp: Northeast Wisconsin Code Camp (Formerly Fox Valley Day of .NET) March 22nd, This is an expansion of Fox Valley Day of .NET, and will encompass whatever sessions community members wish, not just Microsoft technologies. Still FREE!

CCC: Chicago Code Camp. April 26, Grays Lake IL. Always FREE! Always packed with great speakers, definitely not missing it this year.  Polaris Solutions is a Platinum Sponsor so look for our booth, and stop by and say hi while you’re there. I will be there!

ALM Chicago: May 1-2 Chicago IL. A Chicago conference run by a local consulting firm out of Wisconsin focusing on agile practices and tooling. Cost is between $249 and $499 depending on when you register. So register before the end of this month, before the price doubles. I will be there!

VSLive Chicago: May 5-8 Chicago IL. $1800 early bird. I attended one once, about 8 years ago. I remember it being pretty valuable as long as you weren’t focusing on bleeding edge stuff. Great speakers and topics, but not as wide a range as what you get at events like Build and TechEd.

TechEd NA: May 11-14, Houston TX. I’ve actually never been to a TechEd, can you believe it? I’ve always heard there was some amazing content and speakers at this one too.

Microsoft WPC: July 13-17, Washington DC. This is for Microsoft Partners, so not sure how many of you would really be interested in this one. Lots of great content and networking opportunities for sure. Also, last year I finally got to meet Mary Jo Foley in person :)

Agile 2014: July 28 – Aug 1, Orlando FL. I’ve never been to this one, but I always know when it’s happening because my twitter feed lights up with exciting chatter about all of the awesome things people are learning. Hoping to attend, and maybe present there this year. A bit pricey at $2400 but it’s 5 days long!

ThatConference: August 11-13, Wisconsin Dells WI.  I admit, I am biased, but I love this conference! Organized and run by a bunch of techies like yourself (including me!), it’s for the nerds, by the nerds. Also, inexpensive (~$400 for a full conference pass) and super family friendly.

MVP Summit: Novemberish, Redmond WA. Only for MVPs, so if you’re not an MVP and you’re a passionate Microsoft technologist this is something to work towards. I went last year, and the access to product team people, industry experts, and other MVPs was priceless. Hoping I earn another pass this year.

STLDODN: mid-Novemberish, St Louis MO. Attended last year for the first time and it was a blast! Great people, awesome sessions, pre-compilers for some deeply technical hands on learning experience. Another really inexpensive one too, coming in at about $300 for a pass, with the pre-compilers being just a little bit extra.

 

Are there any big ones that I have missed? What are you planning to attend this year?

Tags:

Agile | conference | ThatConference | Microsoft | technology | Quality Assurance | Quest | Chicago Code Camp

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