AMA: How do I make time to learn?

Ryan asks:

How would you recommend one “makes time” to learn powershell? I own your 2 “lunch” books but I’ve never really made any progress. By the time I get home from work and deal with “life” I’m not really ‘excited’ to sit down and study. I’ve slowly started forcing myself to use PoSH but I’m doing “one-liners” but I know I could become much more versatile. I guess my question would be, how do I get motivated!

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AMA: Am I “Doing” DevOps?

Luis asks:

Long time fan here, first time writer :). Over the last 10 years I’ve learned a lot of Powershell and have increasingly used it more and more at my place of employment. It’s more or less now 80% of my job (which I love!). However, I know that simply working on automation and scripting alone is not necessarily a “DevOps Lifestyle”. I know it’s more about treating the infrastructure like “cows” instead of pets. I think we’re moving in that direction, but there’s still a terrifying amount of “state” in my infrastructure servers that I really can’t do a whole lot about.

I assume this is probably true for most IT professionals in the Enterprise vs those who are lucky enough to work for the unicorn companies. I assume there’s always going to be some “pets” here and there. I’m working hard to apply DevOps principles in my day to day work, but I can’t tell if I’m just getting better at scripting now or if I could fit into a “DevOps” organization.

When do I know that I’m functioning in a DevOps fashion? Or is that just a thing that happens when your job title includes the word “DevOps” in it?

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AMA: A Plethora of Career Advice

Verne checks in with a bevy of questions:

1. What do you really think of Microsoft’s new direction? They’ve essentially told their loyal SysAds that there days are numbered and it’s all about the DEVS!

2. Have you yourself really switched to PowerShell 6 and or Visual Studio code? Or are you old school?

3. Your new job seems to have you doing more than just PowerShell and I see a new focus on your general writing skills. Is Don Jones branching out from PowerShell?

4. Do you worry about your career? I do mine and I still have a few years to go yet. PS I think a guy like you will be fine.

5. I saw your answer to the Exchange admin, I did Exchange for a while too but I diversified as a Sys Admin and tried to stay sharp in all of it, (Networking, WEB, Hardware, Database etc. .) are you saying I’m still screwed?

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AMA: What’s the DSC “Tipping Point?”

Jeremy writes:

I’m curious what the DSC “tipping point” is… I’m currently rebuilding / updating our Microsoft Server infrastructure, and am very interested in DSC. A few years ago I began working with Powershell very frequently, and DSC aligns much better with the way I think, and the way I want our infrastructure to look. I would much rather type “code” than click my way through wizards. I’m used to working with networking gear (mostly Cisco) and being able to “show running-config” and get the whole story is a major advantage.
I was going through the motions of learning how to “DSC-ify” my infrastructure. I picked up The DSC Book, and was struck by the statement under “Cattle, Not Pets” that “DSC is meant for scale. If you’re managing five servers, DSC is going to be irritating. DSC is useful when you need to manage a hundred servers”. Right now, I only have a five or ten servers, but that could grow to fifteen or twenty by the time we’re done with this update cycle. I’m sure we will need more as we continue to grow.
Clearly I don’t have the hundreds or thousands of servers mentioned in the book, and doubt I’ll ever manage hundreds at my current company. However, I would much rather make the DSC conversion now than have to redo this work later.
Finally, the question. In your expert opinion, am I actually going to be irritated with DSC if I do this now? Am I going to kick myself later for not jumping in now? Should I continue using Powershell and RSAT and keep my finger on the pulse of DSC in case it becomes necessary in the future?
I wish I had a crystal ball, but I haven’t found the module for that yet.

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AMA: Conference Speaking

Svilen writes:

First of all thanks for all the work you do in the PS world. I love your books. However, I do have a question, which is not that technical. You are a speaker on a lot of conferences and in front of many people? How did that start for you? Did you ever have a scene fright? Or fear that you’ll deliver a so bad presentation, that you will not have a desire to do it anymore?

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AMA: Why Ditch the GUI?

JC writes:

One item that hasn’t been quite clear to me: Why after all of the time spent focusing on mouse-based navigation and visual controls did Microsoft choose to go back to a text-based interface?

Don’t get me wrong, I love PowerShell but I already loved scripting so for me it was just the new language. However, I recall several horror stories where some poor tech typed in the wrong switch, chose the wrong name or did something in the wrong order and ended up in the middle of a J.E.E. or C.E.E. as a result. In fact, I just finished walking someone through importing a new module who couldn’t get it loaded (spending 10 minutes before coming to me) because of a typo.

What’s the real benefit in going back to typing (other than the benefits of scripting in general)?

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AMA: DSC, DevOps… is This Right?

Stephen asks:

When I worked for a huge leading IT company, I was often tasked with writing “quick n dirty” scripts to collect data reports. These problem areas would be fixed with either new scripts or GPOs. Along side this, some of these reports lead into compliance reports for external auditing.

Now I have a bit of time on my hands, I’d like to make a master dev ops tool. The problem with what I did before, we would end up with several reports in CSV format floating about / edited / not deleted on various file stores / emails etc.

I’ve heard a little about DSC and wonder what are your thoughts about when you should / shouldn’t use DSC?

I want to develop a tool which scrapes / presents the data into a database / with a front web interface. I’ll have the web tool, scrape AD for server objects and add it into a database. From here, I want to contact these servers and then collect further information eg, what Drives / space there are. What local groups and accounts exist. What password policies are in place. What event logging settings are etc. What GPOs are applied etc and what AV is in place. As well as many other useful bits of data. I’d like to store these findings in the database, so I can run queries against to produce web based results — this then can be used by the rest of the team … eg, which servers don’t have AV installed, which servers aren’t password compliant etc.

So before I start converting my scripts into advanced functions or DSC … what would you consider?

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