Will I see you at St Louis Days of .NET this year?

by Angela 9. November 2015 14:19

St Louis Days of.NET is definitely a favorite of mine. This will be my third year both attending and speaking at the conference, Polaris Solutions is also sponsoring the conference again! Everyone involved is so passionate about the community and great to work with, I’m excited that my company can be a part of it. And for the money, it’s hard to beat these speakers and sessions! Speaking of, I hope you have your ticket because they are SOLD OUT!

Be sure to stop by the Polaris Solutions booth and chat with one of us about ALM, TFS, agile/scrum, and any number of other topics. You can also keep up with all of the STLDODN news and announcements on their website,on Facebook, and of course Twitter. Many of us at Polaris will also be speaking at the event, and posting regular updates on twitter as well. Hope to see you there and on Twitter! Smile

My Sessions:

Friday, 8am in Discovery C

I know it’s early but I’m super energetic so I’ll do my best to kick off the conference in an awesome way for you!

How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile world!

If you’ve been using Team Foundation Server for a while, you know it can do everything short of making you a latte as you walk into your morning scrum. TFS has come a long way in the last 10 years, and with the release of TFS 2015 and all of the features being released to VSO at break-neck speed, it’s hard to know why you should consider upgrading or even adopting in the first place. With the release of TFS 2015, Microsoft has laid down some SERIOUS awesomeness with a reboot of Team Build, a ton of new agile based team planning features that will melt even the saltiest scrum master’s heart, and easy integration into collaboration tools like Slack, Hipchat, and Trello with service hooks. And lastly, there are some cool new testing capabilities, some which are open to people with no licensing, yeah, FREE STUFF. Join me for a tour of the best of TFS 2015, IMHO anyway.


Saturday, 12:30pm in Discovery D

Yikes, right after lunch! Again, I think my energy will come in handy, have to keep everyone awake, ha!

Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

With so many process frameworks and methodologies out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. And just when everyone seems to be warming up to agile, here comes SCALED agile. But how is SAFe really different than agile? When is it appropriate? Does using the SAFe framework prevent a company from having scrum teams? How big or complex do you need to be for SAFe to make sense? Isn’t SAFe just a glorified version of waterfall that companies adopt when they can’t handle “real” agile? I found myself overwhelmed with choices, and confused by all of the conflicting articles out there on what SAFe was, and how and when to consider using it. I decided the best solution was to go through the training and spend some time practicing it in the field. Since becoming an SPC, I have coached a number of clients on improving their processes leveraging techniques from SAFe. In this session I plan to walk through the tenets of SAFe and help you to understand how SAFe can benefit your team!


Find the full detail with speakers and rooms here.


Follow us, we’re nice,and we’re on twitter!

Polaris twitter account: https://twitter.com/teampolaris

Angela’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/OakParkGirl

Alejandro’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/alejandrormz

Josh’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/jcgillespie

Chris’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/cbkadel

Clint’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/ClintEd



All Polaris Sessions

Alejandro Ramirez - Specflow for Agile Teams

Angela Dugan

  • Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework
  • How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile World!

Brian Yuan - How to Climb the AngularJS Learning Curve

Chris Kadel

  • Introduction to Dev-Ops: 2+2=5
  • Team Foundation Server Building Extravaganza 2015

Clint Edmonson

  • Agile Metrics that Matter
  • Application Architecture Jumpstart

Josh Gillespie - Discover PowerShell DSC

Nathan Gomez - Entity Framework for Non-Sadists


ALM User Group Digs Deep into Powershell and Octopus Deploy in November

by Angela 26. October 2015 17:46


Octopus works with your build server to deploy applications and services into test, staging, and production environments, whether they are in the cloud or on-premises. 

Are you using automated deployment tools yet? No? Why the heck not?!

Are you evaluating all of the deployment tools options and just aren’t sure which one is the best fit? Learn from Ian’s experiences and ask those burning questions you might have!

You may be thinking, “didn’t we already see this one”"?”.  It’s true, but it’s been well over a year since Ian last talked to us about all of the features that Octopus Deploy has to offer, so don’t miss this chance to get caught up on the latest and greatest. The world of DevOps moves fast and the tools are evolving quickly, don’t let it leave you in the dust!

We hope to see you in Downers Grove next week for this one. 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!

Speaker Bio: Ian is an ASP.NET MVC C# programmer with Avanade. A nocturnal programmer by nature, he’s often working on his own .NET projects in the twilight hours.  He’s often advocating Octopus Deploy. For more information on Octopus Deploy and other related ramblings, you can visit his blog at http://ianpaullin.com or twitter feed at @ianpaullin.

Date: Tuesday November 3rd, 2015

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

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

RSVP Now to Attend


Release Management | DevOps | Deployment | Deployment Planning | Application Lifecycle Management | ALM


Chicago Visual Studio 2015 Launch Event with Brian Harry–Register before it fills up

by Angela 5. October 2015 09:35

First off let me say that I am so bummed I’ll be traveling for work. it’s not too often that Brian is in town and we get an opportunity to “learn from the master”. Normally the Chicago ALM user group would be meeting this month to celebrate as well, but as previously mentioned I will be traveling and so we will not be meeting in October. While I will not be able to attend this exciting event, I wanted to make sure that all of my followers were aware of this awesome opportunity! Now, onto the important stuff – details!!



Microsoft will be hosting an educational event in Chicago this month that will provide you with an opportunity to learn, experience, and see the new Visual Studio 2015 in action! This impactful event begins with an executive keynote from Brian Harry, Visual Studio Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and hear howVisual Studio with MSDN enables development teams of all sizes to turn ideas into high-quality, scalable business applications and modern enterprise solutions quickly. 

Experience first-hand from Microsoft Experts about the state-of-the art tools and services companies are leveraging to achieve enterprise scale, manage complexity and streamline integration between development and operations teams.

Seating is limited, so reserve your seat soon!


Wednesday, October 21st 

9:00am to 4:00pm (Registration starts @ 8:30am)

Complimentary Lunch & Social Mixer


Microsoft Corporation
200 E Randolph St | Suite 200 | Chicago Illinois 60601

Event Agenda:  Click Here

Immediately following the event from 4:00pm – 6:00pm, join us for a complimentary social event where you can mix/mingle with your community peers and local Microsoft team.


Seriously, GO TO THIS EVENT. I’m bummed that I cannot so I expect to see some live tweeting of the event and maybe even some selfies with Brian posted to my twitter feed Smile


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


Chicago ALM Meetup - Stopping a Slow Motion Trainwreck: A guide to project recovery with JC Grubbs

by Angela 24. September 2015 09:59

Fall is here already, if you can believe that! Leaves are turning, pumpkin spice is flowing, and soon Christmas decorations will be singing to us mercilessly from the aisles of every store.  Wait, that started happening weeks ago Smile with tongue out  I already have a long list of great speakers slated for the Chicago ALM meetup to finish up the year, and I’m really excited about out September speaker and his topic.

Next week we get to hear from someone I have known and admired for many years, JC Grubbs of DevMynd (and now DevWrx!) software. His blog posts are always timely, honest, and full of awesome little nuggets of business wisdom. I was lucky enough to be able to get into his session at ThatConference, and was taking notes like my hands were on fire. He covered a lot of situations that I had found myself in, and had some great advice that I have already been following with success. I immediately invited him to give the talk at the ALM meetup, so I hope you can join us! JC is going to be talking about the dreaded train wreck projects that we all find ourselves living through, and some things we can do to prevent them in the future.

Below are some additional details about the event:

Description: Even in healthy organizations and on functional teams, projects can fail. It could be a lack of visibility, poorly-managed process, integration missteps, or any of a hundred other things. We’re all familiar with the immediate repercussions of failing software projects: lost revenue, delayed schedules, technical debt, etc. But, there are also less understood downstream issues which hamper or prevent full organizational and cultural recovery, even after individual project issues are addressed.

However, with some careful study, it’s possible to identify and prevent many of these cascading failures. We'll examine the entire lifetime of a failing project: we’ll look at the leading indicators of danger so we can identify them sooner, we’ll discuss common root causes and mitigation strategies so we can deal with them more effectively, and we’ll propose some follow up strategies, so we can recover from organizational, technical, and cultural damage as soon as possible.

What will people learn from this presentation?

  • - Ways to detect when software projects are heading towards danger.
  • - Mitigation strategies to prevent and minimize tough situations.
  • - What to do when a project is already in disarray.
  • - What are some of the lingering organizational, technical, and cultural issues that may accompany a failure.

Speaker Bio: JC Grubbs has been designing and writing software for over 15 years. He's worked in tiny consulting shops up to large multi-national conglomerates. Today he leads the team at DevMynd, an agile software studio in Chicago working with JavaScript, Ruby, Clojure, and Node. He is passionate about delivering high quality solutions to customers and doing it with a team that loves what they do and the people they work with.

You can find him on twitter, LinkedIn, GitHub, and at the DevMynd blog. (seriously, subscribe to his blog!)

When: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Where:Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

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

Be sure to register as this event has limited seating!




Special thanks goes out to our October sponsor TaskTop for keeping the ALM meetup going! They have some really great tools for integrating your ALM solutions, including tools like Team Foundation Server, HP ALM, and the IBM Rational suite - so check them out.


Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | soft skills | personal growth


SOLVED (Mostly): MTM Hangs When Opening a Shared Step in the Desktop Client

by Angela 1. September 2015 09:57

This was a real head scratcher, and like many others who have run into this, I spent MANY hours digging through trace logs, event logs, dump files trying to figure out what the heck was going on. It ended up being a really obscure issue with Text Display size.

Anyway, let’s back up. The issue I am describing is one where from within the Microsoft Test Manager client you attempt to open a Shared Step – either from a test case or from the Shared Steps Manger. In either scenario, the shared step opens and before the actual steps load MTM greys out, you see the spinning blue circle of doom, and see the dreaded (Not Responding) message in the title bar:


Somewhere in the distance, a sad trombone plays softly…   I was seeing this issue across multiple versions of MTM, multiple operating systems, and against multiple TFS instances. But not everyone was seeing it. Only certain people with a wide variety of versions, update levels, and OSs. So I dig through the event log, looked at MTM trace logs, dump files from the Task Manager, repair MTM, clear cache files, etc. No change.

Then I turned to the MSDN forums.  After about 45 minutes of reading unrelated posts about various ways to hang up MTM, I finally ran across this. I though “No way! It couldn’t be something that obscure”. But I tried it, and lo and behold MTM stopped hanging. Truth be told I don’t even remember changing the text size, but I must have.  It’s so weird that this is the only thing it seemed to have hosed for me.

In case you’re seeing something similar and like me could not remember where the heck to make that change, right click the desktop and choose Screen Resolution then go to Make Text and Other items Larger or Smaller:

Make sure you choose smaller - 100%, and perhaps buy some bifocals because now we are going to go blind trying to read tiny, tiny font. Be sure to log off and then log back in like the operating system tells you to.

Now everything works as expected. I worked from home the next day, and CANNOT reproduce the issue. Making me wonder if it is because at home I do not have a second monitor. But other people running in second monitors cannot repro. Oy.

I have been working with the MTM product team to try to figure out the root cause, as this has been hard to pin down. I have a number of people who have different OS, MTM, and TFS versions, some of whom also run MTM in a second monitor – and ability to repro is inconsistent ::HEAD DESK::  If you feel like trying to reproduce this issue, leave me a comment and let me know what happened for you, and your OS/MTM/TFS version, if your text size is 100% or not, and if you are using a second monitor. Would love some more data points to throw at the debugging efforts.


ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Microsoft Test Manager | MTM | TFS | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013 | TFS 2012 | TFS 2010 | Test Case Management


Milwaukee Code Camp Kicks off this Fall!

by Angela 28. August 2015 10:55

Hey Midwest geeks, did you know that there is going to be a Milwaukee Code Camp this year? Milwaukee Code Camp is a free software development conference put on by local developers for the Milwaukee community. A Code Camp is always free, for developers by developers, no sales pitches and during non-working hours. Every development, design, test and craftmanship stack welcome!

I have a soft spot for these kids of events. They are for the community, and by the community, which means they need YOU.  They need you to register, to submit a talk or two if you’re so inclined, to volunteer to help out if you can, and most importantly - to tell your friends! Maybe you work for or know a company that might be interested in getting involved by sponsoring? If so, help them out. They are only free because local companies offer their support by funding the venue, food, prizes, all the things you love about these events.

Visit http://www.milwaukeeCodeCamp.com, check out their facebook page, and follow them on twitter for more information.

The Call for Speakers is open and you can submit sessions to milwaukeeCodeCamp@milwaukeeCodeCamp.com

And again - tickets are free!

When: Saturday, October 24, 2015 from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM (CDT)

Where: UWM Engineering and Mathematical Sciences Bldg - 3200 N Cramer St Milwaukee, WI 53211


P.S. If you see Greg Levenhagan, be sure to give him a high five, or maybe even a hug, for kickstarting this effort in Milwaukee! Organizing conferences are a LOT of freaking work!



Slick and Easy Integration of TFS with Slack

by Angela 26. August 2015 20:42

Maybe you’ve been lamenting the lack of robust chat functionality in TFS, or maybe you’re just already in love with the chat tools you have, and would love to have a way to make it a more integral part of your TFS experience. With the latest release of TFS, this is easier than you think! If you’ve been using VSO, or if you upgraded to 2015, you can do just that! Now while you can get super fancy and do some integration acrobatics programmatically, you can also do some quick integrations right through the TFS web UI. And I’m all about quick and easy integrations when I can get them.

In my case, I wanted to setup TFS and Slack so that I could receive important notifications from TFS right in my active chat window. It’s not hard, but there was quite a bit of bouncing around so I wanted to share the basic steps and hopefully lead you quickly down the right path to get it set up.  So fire up your TFS instance and follow along, or just grab a cup of tea and take a peek at just how simple it is to get these two great tools talkin’.

Start right here in the TFS admin tools, in the Service Hooks tab:


When you add a new hook, there are actually quite a few options including Campfire, Jenkins, Slack, and a host of others.Once you select the service, just choose the event that you want to subscribe to, and specify any other filters or options based on the service event you are subscribing to.

Currently you can setup subscriptions for a number of events including:

build completed

code pushed (for Git team projects)

pull request create or updated (for Git team projects)

code checked in (TFVC team projects)

work item created, updated, or commented on

message posted to a team room

In this example, I am just keeping it simple and asking to be notified any time a new work item is created in the team project, at any level. I *could* have narrowed it by work item type, or even area path.


Next you’ll need to set up an Incoming WebHook for whatever tool you are looking to send messages to from TFS. In Slack, you would go to the Configure Integrations menu to start this process:


Assuming this is your first integration into Slack, you’d need to setup a channel to post to next. If you do have existing channels, you may select one of them assuming you don’t mind merging multiple streams of information.


Channels give you a way to tap into a feed of messages within Slack, rather than have information from many sources all jumbled up into a single flow of data. Since it’s super simple to switch between channels in Slack, I just created a separate one for this new stream. 


Once you have your channel setup, add the incoming WebHooks integration by grabbing the URL that will be used to send the JSON payload to Slack, and paste it into the Service Hooks dialog back in TFS.


Make sure to hit the TEST button to ensure that everything is working as expected.


You should see a notification from Slack about the test message (if you’ve enabled notifications), as well as in the Slack channel feed. Rinse and repeat until you’ve setup all the types of integrations you want. It’s that easy!


Now whenever any of those configured events are triggered, you’ll get notified in Slack!


Hopefully that quick walkthrough gave you a good idea of the kinds of integrations you can setup between TFS and some other great automation and collaboration tools using just the TFS ServiceHooks available right in the TFS web console.

Have fun and happy integrating!


Exposing My Imposter Syndrome, One Conference at a Time

by Angela 18. August 2015 17:38

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that while I tend towards posting about community events, all things TFS, and agile, I sometimes get introspective. Maybe it’s my age.The older I get, the more navel-gazey I get. And at 41, well, that’s a LOT of introspection.

About a year ago, I wrote two posts that were really difficult but necessary to share: a post on fear and vulnerability, and a post on giving yourself (and others) permission to fail. Both had been inspired by a combination of recent experiences and a few really great books I’d read. And I’ll admit, I was terrified to hit submit on each of them, and the feedback was both dramatic and positive. I don’t know if it is cognitive bias, or if the industry is turning a corner, but talks about these kinds of topics seem to be more and more prevalent at the professional conferences I’ve been going to over the past year. Entire tracks devoted to things like fostering a healthy corporate culture, work-life balance, and effective leadership are cropping up everywhere and I love it! Not that sessions on the hottest new JavaScript libraries or ALM tools isn’t also fun, but having a positive and supportive environment to work in is just as critical as the tools that you use to do your job.

As conference season approached this year, I decided to add a soft skills talk of my own – on imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is something I’ve struggled with for all of my adult life, and most of my adolescence. Being a woman in a field like IT certainly doesn’t make it any easier either. Most people are shocked to find out this is something I experience, given how readily I’ll volunteer to speak at large events or even guest host a podcast. But keep in mind, Imposter Syndrome doesn’t mean I can’t do awesome things, it just means I refuse to believe I am ever really good enough or smart enough to DESERVE any of the success I achieve. Or that even if I do them and do them well, people are just being nice when I am praised, and they don’t REALLY mean it. Confused? It’s complicated. Luckily I have a presentation on it that you can look at on SlideShare. The animations do not display perfectly, but you’ll get the idea. My plan is to eventually record it, and post it someplace public like YouTube, but this was a big enough first step and I don’t think I’m ready for live video just yet.

What initially gave me the chutzpah to make the leap and submit the topic was a post by someone I worked with at Microsoft, a geek celebrity of sorts, who also struggles with imposter syndrome from time to time. Somehow I missed Scott Hanselman’s awesome post on imposter syndrome when he first shared it, but ran across it again while researching my talk. In that post, he also admits to feeling like a phony and seriously, THAT guy? I reached out to him about my talk, and you know what he said?


Yeah, that got favorited for like all freaking time Smile  And it was a nice reminder that many of us feel this way, and just MAYBE if someone were brave enough to get up there and say it, we could all breathe a sigh of relief and start learning to live with it, and thrive with it. I decided I’d be that person, around Chicago anyway. Now, just creating the slide deck made me feel like vomiting, and with every new slide I added to it I kept thinking “why would anyone listen to ME? Who am I? People are going to think I am full of CRAP!”. It’s funny trying to write a talk on imposter syndrome when you struggle with it, but honestly who else could give it right?

Anyway, fast forward and now I have given it at both  Chicago Code Camp and ThatConference, and trust me, it was TERRIFYING for me. And these are my people! My plan is to continue sharing this presentation, giving this talk at conferences and user groups, and hopefully making a difference for some of the folks out there who have always felt this way and didn’t understand why. I’ve had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, and a lot of private messages and emails from people who were so very thankful that I had the courage to give the talk. And you know what? I still feel like a phony sometimes, and it’s ok.


Imposter syndrome | career growth | soft skills


Remote Desktop Connection Manager – Making this TFS Admin Smile Every Day

by Angela 3. August 2015 12:49

So I regularly have a handful of RDC sessions open to administer the various servers that make up TFS on-premises instances including the application tier, data tier, build server, test controller, agents, etc. Doing this with the build in Remote Desktop Manager can be a bit cumbersome when you need to have quick and easy access to multiple servers at once. Sure there are lots of little tricks you can do with saved profiles and desktop shortcuts, but I needed something better. A coworker of mine turned me onto a free Microsoft tool called Remote Desktop Connection Manager. Maybe you already knew about it, if so keep reading anyway because I’ve discovered a few configuration settings that were totally necessary for making the tool really useful, particularly with multiple monitors where you can run into wacky issues with resolution.

First thing I did was create a profile, only this profile can save all of the settings for all of the servers you need to connect to for a given client. Need to switch clients, no problem, just choose a new profile and suddenly the view refreshes and the tree view has a whole new set of servers at your fingertips. Below is an example of my current client environment, complete with AT/DT, build, test controllers, and both automated and manual lab environment machines.


Each server has its own settings including things like logon credentials, display settings, encryption, etc. Your best bet is to set most of these things at the root level, which then applies those same settings to all servers beneath it. HUGE for things like AD credentials where *generally* you are always logging in as you. Nice thing is, there’s a checkbox on every settings tab where you can turn inheritance on or off, in the cases where you may want to save a server profile with alternate credentials.

This does happen to me when I am troubleshooting controllers and agents, and need to login with a different level of permissions. In that case, I may have the same server in the tree multiple times, but each one uses different credentials to connect. And my alternate login profile will NOT inherit Login Credentials from the root. Super convenient, just double-click and you’re in!


A few other handy things that I recently learned are how to get it to ACTUALLY full screen. Again I set this at the root and inherit because I want all of my servers to act the same. Because I have a second monitor that is unfortunately not capable of the same resolution as my laptop, with the default settings I can’t really ever full screen mode the remote server, AND if I drag the remote viewer from one monitor to the other it freaks out. To prevent this, and keep the server window docked at full screen in whatever monitor it is in, setup your Display Settings like the following (the first two settings need to be checked):


The other thing I was constantly struggling with was navigating Servers running Win 8.0clients + or Server 2012. I use a track pad, and getting those charms to pop up and switching between the desktop and the tiles when you can’t just use the native keyboard windows key or charms menu could be really frustrating. If you want to make your life easier, make sure keystrokes are always sent to the remote computer. So in this case go to Local Resources, and make sure that Windows Key combos is set to “on the remote computer”.


I need to bring some donuts to my friendly local sysadmin for that nugget. I’m sure it’s well documented somewhere, but I had missed this one and it made a big difference for me!


That’s it. Hope that makes your life easier, whether you are a TFS admin or not Smile


Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | TFS | TFS 2008 | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS 2013 | TFS 2015 | TFS Administration | Team Foundation Server | Productivity


Time’s Running To Register for ThatConference and Book Your Room

by Angela 14. July 2015 15:15

Early bird discount pricing ended earlier this month, but even at the $499 rate it’s an amazing deal! We have an incredible line-up of speakers and more sessions than your brain can shake a very big stick at! I’m particularly jazzed about uncle Bob’s talk on the future of software. And don’t forget about the 3 FREE events leading up to the conference:

  • GiveCamp and The Humanitarian Toolbox - 8/8 - 8/9
  • Kids' Coding Dojo - 8/9/15
  • That CodeRetreat - 8/9/15

Haven’t bought your ticket? Or maybe got your ticket but not you’re room? What are you waiting for?

Due to awesome demand, the Kalahari room block has filled, but don’t worry, there is another option. Great Wolf Lodge, right across the street (and walkable, I’ve done it) from the Kalahari Resort, has created a block of discount rooms ($159 a night) just for our campers that they're holding open until July 19. To make a reservation, call 1-800-559-9653, or make reservations online at the website: www.greatwolf.com. Be sure to mention our room block to get the discount: "1508THAT".  Complimentary shuttle service will be available on a limited schedule during the conference to help you get back and forth.

Rooms are selling out fast, so get in on our discounted room rates while they are still available! And be sure to use my referral link when grabbing your ticket! Sunday is my birthday, so your ticket can earn me $5 to pay for a cocktail that night Smile


Once you get your tickets, kick back, relax, and start favoriting the sessions you want to see while you’re in the Dells next month!


personal growth | technology | development | conference | career

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