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Chicago ALM Meetup Welcomes Back Doc Norton this December to to talk about the Technical Debt Trap

by Angela 2. December 2015 16:01

 

Doc Norton is a great local technologist whose talks are always captivating and relevant given the non-technical challenges that we all often face while building software. If you saw him when he spoke at the group last December, or if you’ve seen any of his other talks, you know this is not to be missed!  This time around, I had a LOT of really excellent talks of his to choose from, but we landed on a talk around Technical Debt, something I know we all struggle with managing and knocking out. I hope you can make it to this one! Our holiday meetings are always a lot of fun Smile

 

The Technical Debt Trap

Technical Debt has become a catch-all phrase for any code that needs to be re-worked. Much like Refactoring has become a catch-all phrase for any activity that involves changing code. These fundamental misunderstandings and comfortable yet mis-applied metaphors have resulted in a plethora of poor decisions. What is technical debt? What is not technical debt? Why should we care? What is the cost of misunderstanding? What do we do about it? Doc discusses the origins of the metaphor, what it means today, and how we properly identify and manage technical debt.

About Doc: A consultant, coach, and trainer with CTO2, Doc is passionate about working with teams to improve delivery and building great organizations. 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. Working with a wide range of companies such as Groupon, Nationwide Insurance, and Belly Card, Doc has applied tenants of agile, lean, systems thinking, and servant leadership to develop highly effective cultures and drastically improve their ability to deliver valuable software and products.

Date and Time: Tuesday December 15th, Festivities begin at 6pm!

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 $10 parking ½ block away using their service.

Tags:

development | Application Lifecycle Management | ALM

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Still Running TFS 2010? It’s Aging Out of Support Next Month. Polaris Solutions Can Help You Upgrade Quickly

by Angela 4. June 2015 12:04

You heard me correctly, mainstream support for TFS 2010 ends on July 14th, less than 6 weeks from today! So if you’re thinking “it still WORKS, why should I upgrade?” Consider these points…

  • Any issues arising with your server will NOT be patched or serviced by Microsoft support, and it will be harder and harder to find experienced people to work on it (well, who WANT to work on it)
  • Your infrastructure team may be chomping at the bit to stop supporting the old operating systems and SQL Server versions that TFS is running on
  • You’re missing out on some amazing new capabilities that it would take me hours to cover and that I promise will revolutionize the way you develop and deliver software
  • You attract great new talent by offering robust and modern development environments, trust me on this
  • I can tell you from a LOT of personal experience, that the longer you wait to upgrade, the harder and more time consuming it is!

The good news is that you may qualify for up to $5,000 worth of free services to help you plan and prepare for your upgrade through the Microsoft Deployment Planning Services program (DTDPS)! Wondering what that is? Below is a quick FAQ that I created to explain the program:

Now what exactly IS DTDPS? Well first of all it’s a Microsoft offering, so expect MANY acronyms to follow. DTDPS stands for Developer Tools Deployment Planning Services. Specifically, the development tools that these services are meant to be used in conjunction with are the Microsoft Visual Studio ALM platform - Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Test Manager (TFS, VS, and MTM for good measure). 

So what does this really do for me? While most people are already very familiar with Visual Studio from a .NET development perspective, many people who own the other tools within the TFS platform are not taking full advantage of them. DTDPS is the solution to this problem, connecting customers with the right partners to make sure they are getting the full value of their ALM investment. Software that sits on the shelf is a huge waste of money.  And from Microsoft’s perspective is something you’re not likely to buy again, so it is of course in their interest to offer such a program.

What kinds of services are included in DTDPS? Currently there are 4 DTDPS offerings available: TFS deployment planning assessment, Visual Studio Quality Tools assessment, Visual Studio Agile Deployment Assessment, and Visual Studio DevOps Deployment Assessment. You’ll notice a theme here, the word “planning”. These engagements are not meant to be used to implement the tools. Instead, they are short, fixed-length (3 and 5 days) engagements for gathering data and analyzing your current environment and needs in order for us to help you build a plan for implementation and adoption of Visual Studio and TFS ALM tooling. It’s a great kickstart and will drastically accelerate your ALM initiatives.

But what if I don’t need one of those services, but need other assistance with TFS? Well, it depends. I know, I know, typical consulting answer. These programs can be expanded upon to assist customers with other ALM related concerns, so drop me a line at the email I provide below, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you in more detail. 

Who delivers the engagement? DTDPS is a program delivered through certified and experienced ALM partners like Polaris Solutions to help customers with SA (Software Assurance) benefits to take full advantage of the tools they own.  We have delivered dozens of these engagements over the past few years and every customer we have worked with has been extremely happy with the valuable roadmaps that we delivered. You will benefit from a wealth of relevant experience and proven ALM practices that only comes from us having deployed and leveraged the tools in a large number of different environments and business verticals.

OK, I’m intrigued, but how expensive is it? It is FREE. Seriously, and absolutely.  This benefit is available to customers who purchase Microsoft products with SA, think of it as a rewards program. In fact, you may have DTDPS credits without knowing it!  Many of the customers I work with did not know they had DTDPS credits available until I turned them onto the program.

I want in! How do I sign up?  Start at the DTDPS site. Here you can peruse the various services available and see which ones are right for you and your organization.  Then check out the DTDPS QuickStart guide which walks you through the steps of accessing your benefits.  Then you just pick a partner to work with, like us, and you’re on your way to a better way of doing ALM!

 

If you are interested in learning more about DTDPS, or if you would like to find out more about getting a free quick assessment of the effort required to upgrade and the benefits that your team would enjoy, please contact me at Angela@PolarisSolutions.com. And if you know anyone still using an older version of TFS (anyone running TFS 2013 or earlier qualifies) help them out and point them to this blog!

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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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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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CNUG 2.0 Presents The Task Asynchronous Programming Model on Feb 5th at DevMynd Studios

by Angela 3. February 2014 12:40

So I had heard a rumor that there was a Chicago chapter of the Chicago .NET User Group.  As in, actually in the Chicago city limits. So if you’re a city-dweller and cannot normally get out to the meetings that have been held at Downers Grove for so long, there is hope! My buddies at DevMynd Studios are graciously hosting this group once a month in their swanky new offices.  Parking and other transportation information is on their site.

More info:

Supporting asynchronous programming means more than sprinkling the async and await keywords throughout your code. Understanding and adhering to the Task Asynchronous Programming (TAP) Model makes it easier to compose asynchronous operations, and to achieve the greatest benefit from the async features added to C# 5.
In this session, you'll learn the rules for the TAP model. You'll see the benefits of adhering to the TAP model, how to compose TAP based methods, and how to ensure that the async methods you write adhere to the TAP model. You, and other developers that use your code will benefit from following the TAP model.

Presentation by Bill Wagner, author of Effective C#

Find out more about Bill:
http://www.thebillwagner.com
https://twitter.com/billwagner

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 6:30 PM

DevMynd Studios 2035 W. Wabansia Ave. 2nd Floor / Enter the Black Door, Chicago, IL (map)

Register here: http://www.meetup.com/chicago-net-user-group/events/160797432/

Tags:

development | CNUG | C# | TAP | Task Asynchronous Programming | .NET | asynchronous programming

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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!

WP_20140102_07_54_12_Pro

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:

image

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.

image

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

image 

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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Trying Something new with the ALM User Group in December

by Angela 3. December 2013 13:50

So it’s time again for the annual Christmas Edition of the ALM user group. Normally we do the normal “dinner and a movie” approach, maybe having a special guest speaker or some kind of presentation contest. This month I wanted to do something different.  In December, we’ll be doing an Open Spaces concept. So Open Spaces is sort of an “unconference” thing, where you enter into it with no formal agenda and let the attendees decide what is important and/or interesting to talk about. So think of a topic you’d be willing to lead, or a topic you would like someone else to lead. A few I’d be interested in talking about are transforming organizations to Agile, upgrading legacy systems to TFS 2013, and agile testing.  We will write them on a board, pick some locations for people to gather, and then you vote with your feet, bouncing around if need be.

As an added bonus, if you’ve been attending the ALM user group for a while, you know that December is “Angela cleans out her SWAG closet” month.  So I’ll have lots of fun giveaways including pens, stickers, mouse pads and LOTS of books. I’ll even have special prizes for people who lead an Open Spaces discussion during the meeting (think XBox/Kinect games, Arc mouse, T-Shirts).

So I hope to see you in Downers Grove next week.  I always enjoy our December meetings, and not just because of the cookies :)

Be sure to register soon so I can order the right amount of food!

 

 

Join Us Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Location:  Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Speaker Bio: You, me, anyone who is interested in speaking!

Agenda:6:30pm dinner 7:00pm Open Spaces Kickoff

RSVP Now to Attend

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Building Software, One Room at a Time

by Angela 30. November 2013 21:33

Comparing software development to “building a house” is one of those analogies that sets my teeth on edge. It oversimplifies everything that goes into designing and building a good product, and it also creates some unrealistic expectations in terms of estimation and effort, both for development and testing. I heard it yet again recently, and it just shocked me that it’s still being bandied about these days. C'mon, don’t act so shocked, you probably have said it yourself or heard it said at some point. I know I have, on both accounts. And you know what, it's OK, I’m not here to judge you. Unless you are still saying it, then I will judge you quite harshly :)

There was a time when this was far more true of an analogy than it is today. As someone whose original passion was "architecture", as in, creating blueprints for houses, it made a lot of sense.  Plans are good, and who doesn't like structure and rules? You see, there was a time when software was created by pouring over designs for the right "feel", sometimes for days or weeks to establish a solid foundation. Remember when SOA and OOP were the hot new things?  Before a single line of code was written we had UML diagrams and if we were really fancy stubbed out methods for the developers. And sure, when building a house every angle is inspected, measured and re-measured, the location and size of every supporting wall is verified, every window placement is compared to housing codes, all before a single piece of wood was sawn or hammer was swung. Then contractors are set loose with the specs to build the house according to a well laid out plans. Except what if by the time it was delivered, the homeowners didn’t want to actually live in the house they asked for in painful detail without some major rehab? The colors are all wrong, the yard is too small, the garage is too narrow, there aren’t enough bedrooms. Could you imagine?! In home construction, nobody sane would do that, and yet it happens all the time with software. Well, there you have it, the analogy is already somewhat blown. But there's more.

You know you've been on THAT project. You know the one - late, way over budget, customers are screaming that it isn't what they asked for even though you have signed requirements specs that say it is. Heck, even if you are just NOW getting into software development you're probably going to experience this still at some point. Particularly if you work someplace that is still stuck in a Project Plan driven mentality, a.k.a. "Waterfall" ::cue dramatic music::  Who just let out a little shudder? Now don't misunderstand, I'm not a hater, waterfall-based methodologies can work well in some scenarios, but generally even waterfall enthusiasts are not following a strictly traditional waterfall approach. And to be fair, even "real" waterfall, as I learned it back in college in the late 90's, dictated iterative practices. But often that little nugget gets lost in translation in favor of forever marching forward through a seemingly unending tunnel of quality gates, attempting to hit arbitrarily established milestones. So back to my original point. Building software is not just like building a house, or maybe the more correct way of conveying my thoughts is that building software SHOULD not be like building a house. And if it is at your company, I do not want to work there. Unless you're looking for me to facilitate an intervention of sorts. Let me explain...

Imagine you want to have a custom house built. And let's say you already know more or less what you want. Tudor style, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, eat-in kitchen, with a detached 2 car garage. Maybe you even have an existing blueprint because plenty of houses like that already exist, so why re-invent the wheel right? Work begins, and the house starts becoming real. But even after several weeks of work, while things may start to look like a solid shell of a structure, you cannot live in it.  Well, not legally anyway. There is probably no plumbing yet, certainly no electricity, perhaps the roof is not even yet in place. You also cannot decide you now want something more Spanish style, single storied and sprawling, with an attached garage and a courtyard garden in the center. Well, technically you COULD decide to do that but it would require MASSIVE structural rework, new permits, perhaps a different construction crew, and of course SIGNIFICANTLY more time and funding to complete. OK, so I suppose this is one parallel you can draw to software development, but again this is more of an issue in waterfall shops, particularly if you are already deep into development before someone realizes a much earlier decision was a poor one. Many thousands of man-hours will get wasted, people may lose their jobs, customers will be unhappy, and you likely will end up with a Spanish tiled, Tudor style home with a semi-attached 2 car garage that has a courtyard in the center of it. So with building a house, you will not realize the value of the product and be able to use it until the last finishing nails are hammered into the last room, and major feature change requests will almost always be unfeasible to honor even early on in the construction process without MASSIVE negative consequences. Do you want to build or pay for software that is built that way? I certainly don't. 

I don't see housing contractors ever building homes one fully functional room at a time, allowing the home owners to live in it long before it is finished. I do not see them redesigning the blue prints and only ordering enough supplies for each room about to be built to incorporate changing design trends, evolving safety codes, nor do I see them accommodating the ever-changing whims of the owners.  "Oh. You've decided you want an open floor plan instead of separate kitchen and dining rooms? No problem, we're just finishing the main bathroom and haven't even framed the rest of the first floor yet..." Yeah, no. I also do not see those contractors getting the homeowner's signoff on each finished component before moving on to the next one, incorporating feedback and change requests, continuing this iterative process until the house is complete. Maybe you're thinking, "well, we don't have the ability to do any of those things today when we design, code, test, and deliver software either". I'm sorry to hear that. We should talk, there's a 12 step program to help you, and you've already admitted you have a problem which is the first step to recovery. Well, there ISN'T a program, sadly, but I often joke that there *should* be.

Now this is an easier problem to solve in software. Software teams CAN be flexible, adapting to changing needs of end users. Software can be delivered in small, working, usable pieces to deliver value as soon as a few weeks after the project begins. And it doesn't have to cost more. It can actually cost FAR less if you do it right. This is part of the reason I am such a proponent of Agile and Scrum. But honestly that is another topic and this post is already long enough so we'll defer that conversation for now.

So here is one place where building a house and building software ARE remarkably similar.  Estimates. Regardless of what a contractor tells you, no one knows for sure exactly how long building a house (or software) will take. Sure we can ballpark it, but every job is different. People will sometimes push back and call that a copout consulting answer, but it's the truth, and I try not to make a habit of lying to the people paying me to work for them. And if you demand exact delivery dates, are unwilling to compromise on features (maybe the rotating shoe rack in the closet really isn't NECESSARY), and have immovable end dates, well, you may want to refer back to the 12-step program that I mentioned earlier. No one can account for bad weather, people getting sick, catastrophic hardware failures, or that the latest version of the .NET framework that was just released has added complexities that cause even the most experienced programmers to take 50% longer to get things done for a few weeks. Should you go so far as to expect the team to commit to dates, deliverables, AND cost - to the point they take a hit if any of those things slip - well, prepare yourself for a sandbag big enough to hold back a hurricane, or to have people eventually seek alternate employment. NO ONE wins. And yet these kinds of unrealistic expectations reoccur everywhere I turn in the tech world. Maybe someday more software teams will be able to hold stakeholders and end users accountable for the quality of requirements, and refuse to take on change requests after work has begun without serious concessions, seems logical and fair. Ahhh, dare to dream :)

So now can we stop comparing software to building houses? Please and thank you.

Tags:

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

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Visual Studio 2013 Launch Event Coming to Chicago

by Angela 4. November 2013 15:18

So in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Microsoft released a new version of its Visual Studio ALM Tools including Team Foundation Server, Microsoft Test Manager, and Visual Studio. I know! Feels like 2012 just launched doesn’t it? With their new release cadence, if you blink you could miss a new version, or at least a few updates. It’s pretty amazing actually.

While there is an official BIG launch party happening on November 13th in NYC, you can also logon for the virtual launch that day if you can’t get away to the Big Apple on such short notice.  Although right now you don’t appear to be able to actually register for the virtual launch – DOH!  For now you can at least add it to your calendar, hopefully they will fix that soon.

I also just heard that there are also some smaller in-person launch events around the U.S, possibly hitting a city near you.  Sadly I will miss the Chicago launch event on November 20th, I’ll be at the MVP summit in Bellevue Washington. Not a bad trade-off though ;)  But if you’re in town, check out the Chicago event details and register quick before it fills up! And check back with the events site often because more cities will be opening up soon.

Agenda

image

Location

Drury Lane Convention Center

100 Drury Ln
Oakbrook Terrace Illinois 60181
United States

image

 

Some events are not listed on the events site yet, so here are some other cities coming on-line and a link to get registered:

12/3

Boston, MA

12/3

Nashville, TN

12/3

Bellevue, WA

12/4

Washington, DC

12/4

Philadelphia, PA

12/4

Miami, FL

12/5

Phoenix, AZ

12/10

Atlanta, GA

12/10

Denver, CO

12/11

Concord, CA

12/11

Harrisburg, PA

12/12

Sandy, UT

1/15

Los Angeles, CA

1/21

Mountain View, CA

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October 30th, 2013 Edition of the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group: More Visual Studio ALM 2013 Goodness

by Angela 16. October 2013 14:34

http://www.tfswhisperer.com/image.axd?picture=image_60.png

If you attended the September meeting, this is not *quite* a redux.  I’ll be talking about a variety of ALM features, some that I covered at the Downers Grove meeting last month.  BUT this time around I will also be joined by 2 of my smarty-pants colleagues from Polaris.  Landan Rotter will be talking about the new integrated deployment tool, InRelease, and will be doing a hands-on demo for your enjoyment.  Chris Taylor will also do a deep dive on data driven CodedUI testing as well as an awesome walk-through of setting up Lab Management to support automated test execution! 

Visual Studio ALM 2013 tools are going to release THIS FRIDAY, October 18th, ahem, THIS THURSDAY October 17th, and the big launch is November 13th. 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!  And in the mean time, get ready for what coming by learning more about what's new and cool. And if you can’t wait until RTM, you can still get downloads of TFS and VS 2013 RC today.

Parking downtown is a bit costly, but Aon parking is pretty reasonable if you get there after 4:30pm and leave by 10pm. Check out www.SpotHero.com, they might just save you some serious cash.

 

Meeting Date:  Wednesday October 30th

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

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

Registration:      http://chicagoalmug.org/

 

PLEASE NOTE: Security is strict at the Aon center.  You MUST register as building security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered.  Their rules, not mine.

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