Ideas and Inspiration

brainideaI received an email the other day from someone who is looking to expand their professional identity and brand. Of course one way to accomplish that is by writing and publishing or sharing your work with others. But this begs the natural question, “How do you know what to write about?” Or as I have often been asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Since my email pal put these questions to me I thought I’d take a few minutes today to share my thoughts (see what I’m doing?). Continue reading

More Power is on the way

P50For the past several months, I’ve been debating about what to do for the next iteration of my Hyper-V network.  I rely on it heavily for my writing, course-ware development, and training.  For awhile now I’ve been traveling with a Yoga 2 Pro which runs a few virtual machines, and a Gigabyte Brix unit with 16GB of RAM and an i7 CPU for everything else.  Because of the two units I also tend to travel with a small 4 port switch plus all the necessary power  supplies and cabling. Even though the Yoga 2 is really light, by the time I pack everything up, as they say, “not so much.”

I also have realized that there are a few more virtual machines I’d like to add to my running network which meant I needed to expand my Hyper-V setup. I was torn between building a mini-ITX solution with this motherboard which could have supported up to 128GB of RAM. I thought that if I needed to travel with it, a mini-ITX wouldn’t be that much of a burden.

Or, I could stick with a laptop. I knew that Lenovo was coming out with a new line of ThinkPad workstations.  So I kept waiting. And waiting. The ThinkPad P50 and the ThinkPad P70 promised to be beasts. At least the specs I wanted. For my purposes, what was most tantalizing was the ability to get a Xeon CPU in a laptop that would support up to 64GB of RAM. Yeah, the unit would be a bit bigger than what I had now at 5.6 lbs but if I maxed out the memory (and why wouldn’t you!), I would only have to deal with a single item at conferences and classes. So I did.

I put in an order for a P50 (the P70 is a 17″ version which was bigger than I really needed).  Even though Lenovo, like most vendors, offers plenty of upgrades, I opted to keep this unit as base as possible. I did get the Xeon CPU and upgraded to Windows 10 Pro (even though I eventually plan to run Windows Server 2016 on it). I also opted for a 2 year warranty with accidental damage  to hedge my bets. Not that I’m expecting any issues but I travel and things happen.  I decided to do my own memory and drive upgrades so save a little money. Right now I’ve invested about $2100 including tax.  I think the memory will be about another $400.  I have a spare drive I’m hoping will work in the P50.

My plan is to set it up as a Hyper-V server in my test domain. When I need to go to a conference, I’ll replicate the VMs I need and go.  The schedule is tight, but I’m hoping to bring it with me to Techmentor so if you will be in Las Vegas and want a P50 tour, be sure to find me.  If nothing else, it should be joining me at the PowerShell Summit.

I’ll be posting pictures, impressions and notes on upgrades as they happen. Much more to come.

A PowerShell New Year


First off, let me thank all of you for your support and interest in my work this past year. Without it I’d be another old man sitting in his bathrobe talking to himself. I hope I can keep your interest in 2016.

To wrap up the year and to bring in the new, i have a final PowerShell gift for you.  I’ve started to use GitHub to host the scripts and projects I share on my blog.  Although you can also copy and paste the code from here.

Normally, I would post a screen shot but that will take away all of the fun. Hopefully you trust me. Save the script, open a PowerShell prompt in the console (not the ISE) and run it.

I hope you, your family, friends and colleagues have a wonderful 2016.


Prompting for the Holidays

This should wait for a Friday Fun post but since it is December 1st I decided not to wait. It is that time of year again and my PowerShell prompt is colorful and sparkly.

My holiday themed PowerShell prompt (Image Credit: Jeff Hicks)

In my profile I have this code to use a new Prompt function.

I’ve posted the custom prompt before but now that I’m using GitHub a bit more, I’ve posted it as a Gist which you can find at

You can’t really pass parameters to a Prompt function so if you want to customize it you need to edit the file. One things I’ve thought of is changing the text so that instead of “Christmas in…” it might say “Santa Comes”

Santa Prompt
Santa Prompt (Image Credit: Jeff Hicks)

Or maybe this:

Another holiday promptAnother holiday prompt (Image Credit: Jeff Hicks)

And it doesn’t take much effort to support other holidays.

A Hanukkah versionA Hanukkah version (Image Credit: Jeff Hicks)

You can find this version of the prompt function at

Whatever your sentiment I hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Update 2 December: It appears that some of the special characters I was using aren’t supported in Windows 10. [CHAR]14 is supposed to be a musical note and [CHAR]15 is like a snowflake. In Windows 10 they don’t display. You can select any other character you want, or none at all.

A Spooky PowerShell Halloween

I shared some code yesterday on Twitter and Facebook, but you may have missed it and I wanted to have a more permanent record so this is it. In the spirit of the holiday I thought it would spooky to have a little fun with the PowerShell ISE.

A spooky Halloween theme for the ISEA spooky Halloween theme for the ISE (Image Credit: Jeff Hicks)

How did I get this? Well first, I recommend you save your existing settings. Run this command in the PowerShell ISE.

This will save current values for settings you are about to change to a CSV file. Then run these commands to change ISE options.

Scary easy, right? These settings will remain even if you restart the PowerShell ISE. To restore your original settings and sanity you can import the saved CSV:

Or go to Tools – Options – Manage Themes and select the default, or whatever you are using.

Restoring the ISE themeRestoring the ISE theme (Image Credit: Jeff Hicks)

Happy Trick or Treating!