Messing Around With PowerShell 6

Starting with PowerShell 6, the whole language is open source. You’ve probably heard about that already. But if you don’t think of yourself as a “developer”, then it’s possible that the most you’ve ever taken advantage of that fact is creating a GitHub issue or commenting on a PR. Today, follow along with me, and we’ll change that.

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Learn PowerShell With PSKoans

If you’ve found your way to this blog, you probably already have a reasonable understanding of basic PowerShell concepts (or maybe that’s a foolish assumption). But, how about all your coworkers? And for you, you’re probably not done learning yet. There are plenty of ways to learn PowerShell - books, online courses, stealing code from blogs - but in my opinion, the best way to learn PowerShell is by writing PowerShell.

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The Six Commands You NEED To Know To Work With Git

So let me say first, there are WAY more than 6 git commands you should know if you’re working with a project that uses git. However, when you’re first getting started, there are 6 git commands that you can’t get away without knowing. Here they are.

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PowerHour - PowerShell Lightning Demos

If you haven’t been to the PowerShell & DevOps Global Summit, let me tell you that the lightning demos are an ultra fun and informative part of the conference. It’s so cool to see what other people are doing with PowerShell that you’d never think of because it’s not what you’re used to working on. I love the fact that PowerShell is so many places, with so much flexibility, that it creates countless opportunities for interesting, meaningful projects.

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Find Me At Techmentor For A Free Sticker

Are you going to be at Techmentor Redmond next week? I will be! You can catch me at my workshop on Monday and learn some Master Powershell tricks, or at my session on Tuesday to learn to write code that doesn’t suck. I’ll also be hanging around the rest of the conference, dinner events, and other people’s sessions.

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Working With Azure Automation From The PowerShell AzureRM CLI

Back in March, I had the opportunity to link up with Microsoft Cloud Advocate Damian Brady and record an episode of The DevOps Lab. We chatted a little bit about the MVP Summit and being an MVP (which I am no longer, since I’ve joined Microsoft as an employee), and then get down to business administering Azure Automation purely through the AzureRM PowerShell module.

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I was re-awarded as a Microsoft MVP, but I'm leaving the program

On July 1, I was notified that I was I was re-awarded as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)! Being an MVP is an enormous privilege, and has been a huge benefit to me professionally. If you’re not familiar with the MVP Program, it’s basically an award given to independent technologists who share technical knowledge with the community. That might mean blogging, public speaking, creating videos, being active on social media, answering questions on technical forums, or lots of other things.

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Quick Tip - See All The Tab-Completion Options At Once In The PowerShell Console

If you’re used to working in VS Code or the PowerShell ISE, you’ve undoubtedly enjoyed intellisense which is the feature that shows you all the tab completion options at once. That functionality is really handy, but what if you’re in the PowerShell console? The little overlayed windows don’t pop up there with your completion options. You can still tab through until you find what you want, but it’s not the same.

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A Year Of Weekly Blog Posts - Lessons Learned

With this post, I’ve got a new post up on this blog every Wednesday morning for a year. I’m pretty proud of that! There are certainly more prolific bloggers out there, especially in this space, but for me, this is quite the accomplishment. This is weekly consecutive blog post number 53.

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New in PowerShell 6 - Positive And Negative Parameter Validation

If you’ve written at least a couple of advanced PowerShell functions, you’re probably no stranger to parameter validation. These are the attributes you attach to parameters to make sure that they match a certain regular expression using [ValidatePattern()], or that when they are plugged into a certain script, that it evaluates to true using [ValidateScript({})]. You’ve probably also used [ValidateRange()] to make sure a number falls between a min and a max value that you specified.

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Display All The Claims For A User Visiting Your .NET Core Azure Web App

Regular visitors of this blog are used to seeing PowerShell and DevOps content, and this is a little bit of a divergence since it’s written in C#, and it’s a .NET Core MVC Azure Web App, but if it found itself on my plate, maybe it will find itself on yours. I was tasked with writing an Azure Web App that users would visit, sign into using their Azure Active Directory (ie: “Work or School”) account, to test if their Conditional Access and MFA was configured properly. Once logged in, a little information about the user is displayed.

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Script Share - Disable Azure AD MFA Without Wiping User Options

How’s this for a niche topic? If you want to move to Azure AD P2 Conditional Access and have users who are on P1 MFA, then in order to move them over, you have to disable and re-enable MFA on their account - or at least that’s what one PFE told me. The problem is, when you do that, you lose their options like if they prefer to enter a code from the app, receive a text, etc. by default. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could keep that stuff?

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A Crash Course In Building Your Own PSScriptAnalyzer Rules - My PowerShell & DevOps Global Summit Session Recording

I had the pleasure of presenting a session at the PowerShell and DevOps Global Summit in Bellevue in April 2018 and the session recordings went live last week. My session was titled A Crash Course in Building Your Own PSScriptAnalyzer Rules and it’s a pretty fast 45 minutes. I’ve been getting lots of wonderful feedback on it, so if this is something you might be into, please give the recording a watch! It’s easier than you might think.

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Writing Your Own Custom VSCode Snippets

If you’ve seen any of the recent talks from Microsoft employees and MVPs about PowerShell, it’s hard to miss that Visual Studio Code (VS Code/VSCode) is the new hot place to be writing your PowerShell code. VSCode with the PowerShell extension is the current Microsoft-recommended coding environment, whereas it used to be PowerShell ISE. ISE isn’t dead (there are lots of posts on that), it’s just considered to be complete, and all current development effort is focused on VSCode.

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Lean Coffee

I’ve just got back from the PowerShell and DevOps Global Summit in Bellevue, WA where I had the great pleasure of attending tons of excellent sessions on a bunch of PowerShell and DevOps topics. The main tracks were all recorded (hopefully uploaded soon, will update with link) but the side sessions were not.

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Quick Tip - Re-Run The Last Command

Sometimes, while you’re poking around in the console, you want to re-run the last command. Sure, you can hit the up arrow and enter, but PowerShell always gives you multiple ways to do things.

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Quick Tip - PowerShell Supports Partial Parameter Names

Did you know that PowerShell supports the usage of partial parameter names? This isn’t such a big deal since tab completion is a thing… and if you’re writing code, you want to use the full parameter name to provide clarity and readability… but sometimes this is handy. Whether it’s for code golf, or just noodling around in the console, you don’t have to specify the full name of a parameter, just enough for it to be unique.

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PowerShell Tip - Another Take On Progress Reporting

Normally in PowerShell if you want to report progress on a long running task, you’d use a progress bar using the Write-Progress cmdlet. That’s definitely the right way to do this, but what if you wanted a different way… for some reason? In the PowerShell Slack (invite yourself: slack.poshcode.org), I recently answered this question: “I want to write out ‘There are 3 seconds remaining. There are 2 seconds remaining.’ etc. until there are no seconds remaining and then keep going, but I don’t want them all to appear on the different lines. I basically just want the number to update.”

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Quick Tip - Update a Tag on an Azure Resource

Working with Azure resources can be a bit of an adventure sometimes. Say you want to update a tag on an Azure resource. Not remove it, but change its value. If you try to add a tag with the same name but different value, you’ll get an error that the tag already exists. Some of the ways you have available to get rid of a tag involve dropping all the other tags assigned to a resource. So, what do you do?

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Regex Example - Strip Out HTML Tags

First and foremost, HTML is not regex friendly. You should not try to parse HTML in PowerShell, or using regular expressions unless you’ve lost some kind of bet or want to punish yourself for something. PowerShell has things like ConvertTo-HTML that will make that kind of thing way less migraine inducing.

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Quick Tip - Did the last command work or not?

In PowerShell, there is usually at least a few ways to do most tasks and detecting if the last command resulted in an error or if it worked is no exception. You could wrap code in a try/catch block, but sometimes that’s overkill. Regardless of your reason for wanting to get the work/borked status of the last command, here are a couple simple ways of doing it.

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Looking for someone to do a session on PowerShell (or DevOps or IT strategy or cloud architecture)? I'm your guy.

Are you a user group leader or event organizer who’s looking for speakers? I’d love to connect. I do my best to keep my eye out for CFPs and other speaker solicitations, but it doesn’t hurt to advertise my availability. Most of the dates I’m available to travel for speaking events in 2018 are taken, but I still have a bunch of dates I’m available to do virtual and remote events.

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DevOps Story Time - Get Out Of Your Own Way

Starting now, I’m experimenting with new post formats on my blog. Instead of just technical posts describing code, I’m going to begin posting some more free-form articles. Like this one, where I’m going to share a story with you that has some moral relating back to IT.

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PowerShell Regex Example - Incrementing Matches

In the PowerShell Slack, I recently answered a question along these lines. Say you have a string that reads “first thing {} second thing {}” and you want to get to “first thing {0} second thing {1}” so that you can use the -f  operator to insert values into those spots. For instance…

"first thing {0} second thing {1}" -f $(get-date -format yyyy-MM-dd), $(get-random)
# Will return "first thing 2018-01-10 second thing <a random number>"

The question is: how can you replace the {}’s in the string to {<current number>}?

[regex]::replace($string, “{}”, {“{$($i)}”; $i++}) [regex]::replace($string, “{}”, {“{$($global:i)}”; $global:i++})

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HackTheBox.eu Walkthrough - Apocalyst

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I mostly post about PowerShell, Microsoft related automation, and that sort of thing. In a previous life, however, I thought I wanted to make a career out of infosec - particularly penetration testing and red team type of stuff. I’m super happy with where my career went instead, but from time to time, I enjoy attempting to knock some of the rust off my ethical hacking/pentesting skills (what little of them there are), and trying my hand at some vulnerable by design boxes. Since it’s the holiday season, I decided to switch things up a little bit for the last couple blog posts.

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HackTheBox.eu Walkthrough - Blocky

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I mostly post about PowerShell, Microsoft related automation, and that sort of thing. In a previous life, however, I thought I wanted to make a career out of infosec - particularly penetration testing and red team type of stuff. I’m super happy with where my career went instead, but from time to time, I enjoy attempting to knock some of the rust off my ethical hacking/pentesting skills (what little of them there are), and trying my hand at some vulnerable by design boxes. Since it’s the holiday season, I decided to switch things up a little bit for the next couple blog posts.

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HackTheBox.eu Walkthrough - Europa

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I mostly post about PowerShell, Microsoft related automation, and that sort of thing. In a previous life, however, I thought I wanted to make a career out of infosec - particularly penetration testing and red team type of stuff. I’m super happy with where my career went instead, but from time to time, I enjoy attempting to knock some of the rust off my ethical hacking/pentesting skills (what little of them there are), and trying my hand at some vulnerable by design boxes. Since it’s the holiday season, I decided to switch things up a little bit for the next couple blog posts.

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Azure Resource Manager PowerShell Module Quirk

If you’ve used the Azure Resource Manager (AzureRM) PowerShell module much, you may have noticed it may sometimes behave strangely. In this post, I’m going to share one that had me stuck for longer than I care to admit…

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Working With The PowerShell ActiveDirectory Module As A Non-Privileged User

As a best practice, as an administrator you should have separate accounts for your normal activities (emails, IM, normal stuff) and your administrative activities (resetting passwords, creating new mailboxes, etc.). It’s obviously best not to log into your normal workstation as your administrative user. You’re also absolutely not supposed to remote desktop into a domain controller (or another server) just to launch a PowerShell console, import the ActiveDirectory module, and run your commands. Here’s  better way.

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Using PowerShell To Split A String Without Losing The Character You Split On

Last week, I wrote a post on the difference between .split() and -split in PowerShell. This week, we’re going to keep splitting strings, but we’re going to try to retain the character that we’re splitting on. Whether you use .split() or -split, when you split a string, it takes that character and essentially turns it into the separation of the two items on either side of it. But, what if I want to keep that character instead of losing it to the split?

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What's the difference between -split and .split() in PowerShell?

Here’s a question I see over and over and over again: “I have a string and I’m trying to split it on this part, but it’s jumbling it into a big mess. What’s going on?” Well, there’s splitting a string in PowerShell, and then there’s splitting a string in PowerShell. Confused? Let me explain.

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PowerShell Rules For Format-Table And Format-List

In PowerShell, when outputting data to the console, it’s typically either organized into a table or a list. You can force output to take either of these forms using the Format-Table and the Format-List cmdlets, and people who write PowerShell cmdlets and modules can take special steps to make sure their output is formatted as they desire. But, when no developer has specifically asked for a formatted output (for example, by using a .format.ps1xml file to define how an object is formatted), how does PowerShell choose to display a table or a list?

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The Difference Between Get-Member and .GetType() in PowerShell

Recently, I was helping someone in a forum who was trying to figure out what kind of object their command was returning. They knew about the standard cmdlets people suggest when you’re getting started (Get-HelpGet-Member, and Get-Command), but couldn’t figure out what was coming back from a specific command.

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Dynamically Create Pester Tests For PowerShell

The Pester people don’t really recommend this, but, I find it can be really helpful sometimes. What I’m talking about is dynamically creating assertions inside of a Pester test using PowerShell. While I think you should strive to follow best practices, sometimes what’s best for you isn’t always a best practice, and as long as you know what you’re doing, I think you can get away with bending the rules sometimes. Don’t tell anyone I said that.

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Piping PowerShell Output Into Bash

With Windows 10, you can install Bash on Windows. Cool, right? Having Bash on Windows goes a long way towards making Windows a more developer-friendly environment and opens a ton of doors. The one I’m going to show you today is more of a novelty than anything else, but maybe you’ll find something neat to do with it.

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Get A ServiceNow User Using PowerShell

ServiceNow is a cloud computing company whose software is used for IT Service Management based on ITIL standards. They’ve got a bunch of different modules for managing problems and incidents, operations management, performance analytics, and more. You there some custom development you can do to modify their solutions or build your own. It’s pretty flexible, and we use it where I work.

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Add A Column To A CSV Using PowerShell

Say you have a CSV file full of awesome, super great, amazing information. It’s perfect, except it’s missing a column. Luckily, you can use Select-Object along with the other CSV cmdlets to add a column.

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Quick Tip - Diagnosing Slow PowerShell Load Times

I could write an entire book on “why does my PowerShell console take so long to load?” but I don’t want to write that book. Instead, here’s a way to make sure the reason your console is loading slowly isn’t because of something dumb.

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Calculated Properties in PowerShell

Most of the time, a PowerShell cmdlet will return all the information you need to work with it later in the pipeline. Sometimes, though, there’s some assembly required. What I mean, is maybe the cmdlet returned the information you need, but not in the format you want, or you wish you had some property multiplied by some other property. Let’s explore.

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Using Select-Object to Explore Objects

When you’re first getting started with PowerShell, you may not be aware that sometimes when you run a command to get data, the information returned to the screen is not ALL the information that the command actually returned.

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Can PowerShell Parameters Belong To Multiple Parameter Sets?

Say you’ve got a function that takes three parameters: Username, ComputerName and SessionName, but you don’t want someone to use ComputerName and SessionName at once. You decide to put them in separate parameter sets. Awesome, except you want Username to be a part of both parameter sets and it doesn’t look like you can specify more than one.

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Connecting to Exchange Online Using Multi-Factor Authentication via PowerShell

Using PowerShell to manage your Microsoft cloud services like Exchange Online is awesome. Using multi-factor authentication (MFA) is also awesome. For some reason, using the two together is not awesome. Many of the Microsoft docs on this seem to suggest you just perform all your administrative tasks from a shell that you launch entirely separately from a normal PowerShell console. I would rather be able to connect to Exchange Online using MFA via PowerShell through a normal console, or as part of another tool. Let me show you how.

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Quick Tip - Copy The Output Of The Last PowerShell Command To Clipboard

I recently found myself poking around in PowerShell and going “oh, good now I want to copy and paste that output into an email/dialog box/tweet/notepad/another script/complaint box” and either trying to copy and paste it out of PowerShell or hitting the up arrow and piping whatever the last command was into Set-Clipboard. What a hassle.

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Using PowerShell To Add Groups To "AcceptMessagesOnlyFromDLMembers" Exchange Attribute

Here’s a bit of an obscure task. In Exchange you can configure the AcceptMessagesOnlyFromDLMembers attribute which does what it sounds like it does: it only allows the mail recipient to accept messages from members of specific distribution lists. The problem is, there’s no built in method for appending a distribution list (DL) to an existing list of DLs. If you set AcceptMessagesOnlyFromDLMembers equal to a value, it overwrites what was there before. So, I wrote a quick script to append a value instead of overwriting it. You’ll need a remote Exchange Management Shell and the AD management module for this.

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Easily Restore A Deleted Active Directory User

If you have a modern version of Active Directory, you have the opportunity to enable the Active Directory Recycle Bin. Once enabled, you have a chance to recover a deleted item once it has been removed from Active Directory.

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Getting Large Exchange Mailbox Folders With PowerShell

I’ve been continuing my quest to identify users who have large Exchange mailboxes. I wrote a function in my last post to find large Exchange mailboxes, but, I wanted to take this a step further and identify the large folders within user mailboxes that could stand to be cleaned out. For instance, maybe I want to find all the users who have a large Deleted Items folder or Sent Items or Calendar. You get the idea. It’s made to be run from a Remote Exchange Management Shell connection instead of by logging into an Exchange server via remote desktop and running such a shell manually. Remote administration is the future (just like my last post)!

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Get All The Members Of The Distributions Lists That A User Is A Member Of

This is kind of a weird script tip but I bumped into a need for this kind of script so I thought I’d share it. In this post, I have a user and I want to get all the members of all the distribution lists that the user is a member of. That is to say, if the user is a member of DL1, DL2 and DL3 distribution lists, I want to get all the other members of all those distribution lists. You’re going to need a remote Exchange shell for this.

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Just Enough Administration (JEA) First Look

If you’re reading this, it means that Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 is released (currently available on MSDN) and one of the new features that’s available is Just Enough Administration (JEA)! Until now, you could use DSC to play with JEA but now it’s baked into Windows Server 2016.

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Quick Tip - Create New LPR Printers Using PowerShell

There are a bunch of overloads for Add-Printer and Add-PrinterPort to accommodate different kinds of printers and ports. I found it tough, however, to find real examples of how to use these cmdlets to add LPR printers and ports. Not TCP/IP, not TCPLPR, not local ports. I figured it out, though, and now here’s how I did it.

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Sharing MVPDays YEG Presentation Material

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking twice at MVPDays in Edmonton. I did two sessions. The first was titled “PowerShell 5.0 - A Brave New World” where Sean Kearney and I introduced the tip of the iceberg that is all the new stuff in PowerShell 5.0. The other session I did was on my own, titled “Going From PowerShell Newbie to PowerShell Ninja”. In the latter session, I promised to share some things today, and I’m here to deliver.

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Quick Script Share - Tell Me Everyone With Access To This Directory

Trying something new. Here’s a quick script I threw together to satisfy a request along the lines of “tell me all the users who have access to this directory”. It’s easy to see all the groups that have access just by right-clicking a directory and going to the Security tab but it’s a pain to get all the users who belong to those groups – especially if there are nested groups (within nested groups, within nested groups). Hence, this script. In addition to the ActiveDirectory PowerShell module, you of course need to be able to read the ACL on the directory you are interested in so use your admin account.

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How Do You Tell If Two Directories Have The Same Permissions?

The title of this post is a bit funny. The answer is obviously “You can pop both folders open in Windows Explorer, right click, Properties and compare the security tab!” right? Well, you can, but what about folders that have a lot of complicated permissions? What if you want to compare 100 folders? I don’t know about you but I’m not opening 100 folders and comparing the permissions on them all manually. If only PowerShell could help us! Well it can.

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Get Random Lines From A File (Or Random Files From A Directory... Or Random Item From Any Collection)

Don’t ask me why but I recently had a need to get a random line from a text file. There’s a small piece of strange behavior that I came across with the cmdlet I chose to use: Get-RandomGet-Random does what it sounds like. It’s commonly used for getting random numbers (see this post I wrote a while ago about a gotcha with this behavior) but you can also pass it an input object.

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How's your Windows Server 2003 migration going? Does that question scare you?

Remember 2003? 2003 was a good year. Camera phones got popular, XBox took off, and I was a 14 year old in 9th grade. 2003 was also, obviously, the year that Microsoft released Windows Server 2003. Are you still running it? You shouldn’t be, but I bet lots of you are. That should scare you because in less than six weeks from the time of this post, on July 14, 2015, Microsoft is ending support for Windows Server 2003. If you’re not done your Windows Server 2003 migration to newer operating systems (Windows Server 2012 R2 is an excellent choice), or worse - not even started, you could face some very serious consequences. Let’s answer a few questions you might have about that.

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New Stuff - Get-Clipboard And Set-Clipboard - New In PowerShell 5.0

Predictably, there are lots of new cmdlets coming in PowerShell/Windows Management Framework 5.0. Two of them that just came out in build 10105 are the Get-Clipboard and Set-Clipboard cmdlets. The help docs aren’t all written at the time I’m writing this post but I wanted to introduce them and highlight a couple neat use cases I immediately thought of.

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Bypassing PowerShell Execution Policy

Let me be absolutely clear about this post. I do not in any way encourage or support people who wish to use the below information to circumvent the controls put in place by companies and administrators. This post is strictly for academic purposes and for the sake of sharing information.

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Find All Certificates Issued Of A Specific Template

As part of another PowerShell script I’m writing, I needed to get an array of all of the certificates issued in my Enterprise PKI environment by a specific Issuing Certificate Authority (CA) that are of a certain Certificate Template.That doesn’t sound like such a tall order. You can launch MMC.exe, add the Certification Authority module, browse the issued certificates and see for yourself the different issued certs and their template.

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Tricky PowerShell Pipeline Tricks - Playing With WMI

Here’s a quick task: Get the WMI object win32_bios for a computer. Using PowerShell, that’s really easy. You just run Get-WMIObject win32_bios. Now what if you wanted all the extended properties of the object (not just the five that it normally returns) and ONLY to return the properties that actually have a value assigned?

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Opening A Remote Exchange Management Shell

Here’s a function I stuck in my PowerShell profile. I found myself making lots of remote connections to my Exchange 2013 environment so I put together a quick function to create the connection for me. It’s far from perfect but it saves me time every single time I use it so check it out.

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Renewing Exchange 2013 Certificates SHA-256 Style

I recently ran into an issue that I think is actually pretty funny. It was time to renew the publicly trusted certificate that we install on our Exchange 2013 servers that gets tied to SMTP, OWA and some other IIS services like autodiscover. Since SHA-1 is on the road to deprecation, our cert vendor pushed pretty hard to get something with a hashing algorithm of SHA-2 (or SHA-256, it’s the same thing). Sounds reasonable, right?

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SMA Runbook Daily Report On SMA Runbook Failures

The sad reality of using Service Management Automation is that it can be a little iffy in the stability department. That being so, I decided to put together an SMA runbook that would report on all the other SMA runbook failures of the last 24 hours. Yes, I realize the irony in using SMA to report on its own runbook failures. One must have faith in one’s infrastructure and this particular runbook.

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SMA Runbooks And UTC Time

I don’t know about you but I hate dealing with systems that use UTC time. I have SMA runbooks that work with Exchange 2013, Exchange Online Protection and other services that annoyingly return results in UTC instead of my local timezone. I wrote an SMA runbook that can be called from other SMA runbooks to do the conversion for me.

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Print Everything In A Folder To A Specific Printer

For one reason or another, I found myself in a situation this week where I needed to print all the contents of a directory on an hourly basis. Not only did I need to print the contents, I needed the jobs to go to a specific printer, too.

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Open File Dialog Box In PowerShell

Here’s a neat little PowerShell function you can throw into your scripts. Lots of times I want to specify a CSV or TXT or some other file in a script. It’s easy to do this:

$inputfile = read-host "Enter the path of the file"
$inputdata = get-content $inputfile

But that means you have to type the whole absolute or relative path to the file. What a pain. I know what you’re thinking… There must be a better way!

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Report On Expiring Certs From A Powered Down Certificate Authority

Let’s hypothetically say I have an old Windows Server 2003 Intermediate Certificate Authority. Let’s also hypothetically say that I already replaced my antiquated Windows Server 2003 PKI infrastructure with a Windows Server 2012 PKI infrastructure and I am only keeping the 2003 stuff around so it can publish a CRL and to run a monthly script that tells me which certs are going to expire within 60 days. It’s good to know which certs will expire within 60 days so you can remember to renew them or confirm that they don’t need renewal.

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First Post

Everybody knows that the first post on a blog isn’t supposed to have any real content or be super helpful. Let’s just get it out of the way, then.

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