TechMentor Orlando 2010 Decks and Demos

I had a great time in Orlando at the TechMentor conference. The crowd was enthusiastic and asked good questions. As promised, here are my slide decks and demos. My sessions tend to be heavy on demonstration so I can’t promise you’ll get a ton of value from the decks alone.  You’ll simply have to attend the next TechMentor.

Scripting, Error Handling and Debugging in Windows PowerShell

Top Ten Command Line Tools Every Administrator Should Know

Take Back Your File Server (slides only as demos were live)

I owe the attendees of my error handling and debugging session some additional information since I ran short of time. Stay tuned for future posts on debugging PowerShell 2.0.  Cool stuff.

If you were in one of my sessions and have a follow up question, feel free to post a comment or email me directly: jhicks at  Thanks for all your support and enthusiasm.

What’s on Your 2010 Agenda?

00436310[1] I can’t figure out what happened to 2009. Now I have to start looking at 2010 and make plans for what I will be working on. Hopefully some of my projects will be things you are interested in and might even help me pay the bills. Here’s what I have planned, at least for the first part of the year.

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Putting the Squeeze on Files with PowerShell

My December Mr. Roboto column is now online This month’s tool is a PowerShell WinForm script that uses WMI to compress files. I used PrimalForms 2009 to build the graphical interface. The interface is essentially a wizard that lets you build a WMI query to find files and compress them. 


Results can be logged to a CSV file or you can merely list the files that match the search criteria. Here’s a code excerpt.

The script has (I think) a nice example of providing popup help. Download

Thanks to Wes Stahler for being such a willing lab rat.

5 Minute PowerShell

My October Mr. Roboto column is now available online. The article contains my suggestions for how someone completely new to PowerShell might spend their first 5 minutes. Perhaps not literally, since I expect most people will want to spend more than 60 seconds on my suggested steps. But overall I thought my proposal was a reasonable approach. I wanted a 5 minute experience that would gently introduce Windows PowerShell. I know the thought of working from a command line or having to learn a new way of managing Windows is off-putting for many administrators. I wanted someone who had never seen PowerShell or a command prompt before to realize this isn’t a scary or necessarily complicated tool and that you can accomplish a great deal with minimal effort. Sure, I want people to buy books, training videos, attend classes and conferences etc., but I also want them to realize how much they can learn on their own. In fact let me add a few more suggested “minutes”.

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Absolute Beginning PowerShell

powershell2xa4 I was looking at my current Mr. Roboto column “Polish Your Shell” on learning PowerShell by starting with 3 basic commands and noticed a lengthy and serious comment. I’ve always felt PowerShell is easy to use and learn, which was the point of my column.  However, the comments paint a different story and one that I feel is more pervasive.

I’m afraid the comment is representative of how PowerShell is perceived by many IT admins. They don’t have time to learn anything new or their hair is constantly on fire (to borrow a favorite Jeffrey Snover phrase). Even though the concepts of cmdlets, parameters and a pipeline seem easy and practically self-apparent, they are not. Especially for an administrator who has never had to open a command window before. Granted GUI-based admin tools might have been cumbersome, but at least you could make some educated guesses about how to use it. A command line is very different.

Many of us in the PowerShell community have been involved with PowerShell for so long that I think we forget, I know I do, sometimes what the experience is like the first time you see a PS prompt.  So what’s my point?

First, if you are a PowerShell professional, don’t forget what it was like the first time you saw a PS prompt. What can you do to help administrators learn, adopt and embrace PowerShell?

Second, how did you first approach using and learning PowerShell? Did you buy a book or take a class? Did you read the user guide? Did you even know there is a user guide? Do you have any newbie best practices?

Finally, I hope you’ll take a minute to read the original Mr. Roboto comments and let me know what you think.  Is he right? Do you agree? Disagree? Are there directions you think Microsoft should take for future PowerShell versions?

PowerShell is here to stay and is only going to spread further into your datacenter. How do we make this process as easy and painless as possible?