Journey into the Shell of Power…


So I’ve recently drank the kool-aid and I’m all in on PowerShell. After TechEd this year and speaking with lots of IT Pros & Industry folks, I knew it was time for me to get up to speed on PS or be left behind.

To this end, I have been working through Learn Windows PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches, 2nd Edition by Don Jones and Jeffery Hicks. This IS the place you should start if you are a PS newb like my self, or is the proper term PoSHnewb. Don and Jeff do a remarkable job of teaching PowerShell the way IT Pros work. For the most part, we are not programmers; we’re technicians, administrators , or architects, and that is how we need to use PowerShell; as a tool in which to perform singular or repetitive tasks, mostly from the CLI and sometimes as a script.

I like this book so much that I am having my 4th semester students go through the book to learn PowerShell in a way that will prepare them for the real world. They’ll need the help as I threw a curveball into the usual mix of work for my Windows Server Pro class. Normally, each student completes an individual case study where they build out an SMB windows network in VMs. This semester, I scaled back some of the case study tasks to reduce complexity of the overall network, and now I am requiring them to build the entire Windows Server 2012 network with PowerShell. How crazy is that???? I am doing the project along with them so I can hopefully catch and “gotchas” before they do.

So as I’m working my way through my PowerShell journey, I thought it would be cool to share code examples as they get created. Let me warn you…I can barely script my way out of a paper bag so scripts will be functional but probably could use some streamlining.

In any case, here’s the first useful script I wrote called DumpHistory.ps1. This script is a simple PS script to display and create a text file of all commands executed in the CLI during a specific session. The reason I came up with this was I teach my students to use get-history as a way to see what they have done, as well as keep track of their work. I wanted a way to easily create dumps of my history so I can review them at a later date as well as prep for demos. Again, I am sure someone else has done this, and probably cooler. That’s not the point. For me, it’s about thinking about process I do on a regular basis and seeing if I can create a tool to automate that process to some level.

##Create a text file containing history of PowerShell Commands based on input file name and current date
##Created by Michael Bender
##Created/Revised 10/9/2013
##Create variable for current date
##Get User Input for Name of File
$History=Read-Host “Enter Name for History file”
##Retrieve current CLI history and output to file
Get-History | Out-File C:\Users\mikeb\SkyDrive\Matc\Fall2013ServerPro\PowerShell\historyfiles\$History.$mo-$dy-$yr.txt

Note: I have the out-file location hard-coded since I use the same location all the time. If you needed to specify the location at each running, the script could be modified by creating a variable for the location with read-host.

A zipped copy of the file is located

If you have any suggestions on cleaning this up, please add in the comments.

Till next time…Mike

My Two Cents on TechNet Retirment

On Monday, I received a email (see below) from Microsoft telling me about the discontinuation of TechNet, even though I knew about this hours before via Twitter. As a long time TechNet subscriber/user, I have a lot of thoughts on this. Personally, I am disappointed as I believe this is a great tool for IT Pros to keep current. I have championed TechNet as a resource for many years to students and IT Pros I have engaged. While the new resources available are nice, I don’t believe there is a single product available know that fills the needs of IT Pros at an affordable price point.

My Thoughts…

  • Ed Bott wrote a great post breaking down this news. Check it out here.
  • As an MCT, MVP, and a faculty member at a school with MSDN-AA, I have access to everything I need to build & maintain a testing environment along with keeping my skills sharp. That is not the case for many of you…
  • I run no scenarios (at this time) in lab that a 90-180 day eval will not cover. That is not the case for many of you…
  • At $1199 intial subscription/$799 renewal, MSDN is not an acceptable substitute even with Azure credit. Office 365 Developer is not comparable to the Office 365 E3 trial available through TechNet.
  • My belief is much of this decision is driven by licensing and years of “not following the licensing rules” by many subscribers. I would guess many IT Pros have not purchased a copy of software for personal use in eons.
  • TechNet gives you no credit in Azure, which I never understood. You NEED to be testing out Azure as this is the future for many things we do as IT Pros. That…is a reality though we may not like it.
  • This further solidifies it’s really about developers at Microsoft. Also, it solidifies Microsoft’s long-term vision of an “A La Carte” world of IT.
  • My hope is that Microsoft hears the feedback on this and delivers an option that meets the needs of IT Pros at an affordable cost.

Want another option besides MSDN? Check out the Microsoft Action Pack for Microsoft Partners. Most of probably qualify as a Registered Partner. I had this for a number of years as an SMB consultant and found it quite useful. While not the “All you can eat buffet” of TechNet, it gives you internal use rights that many of you are looking for. I believe the cost is $400/yr. Also, being a partner gets you access to Cloud Essentials if you qualify.

If you really feel strongly and want to send Microsoft a message, you can sign this petition. It was started by Cody Skidmore.

In the end, it’s all about choices. I tell my students all the time that you have to invest in your careers, and sometimes that is more than sweat equity. What you choose to spend on your career is a personal choice. I believe a majority of what we do as IT Pros can be accomplished through the free resources available to us. However, for those with speciality scenarios, you may have to fork over some cash to get what you need. Cost of doing business in today’s IT world.

Till Next time…Mike

Email from TechNet Subscription Team:


As IT trends and business dynamics have evolved, so has Microsoft’s set of offerings for IT professionals who are looking to learn, evaluate and deploy Microsoft technologies and services. In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources. As a result, Microsoft has decided to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service and will discontinue sales on August 31, 2013. Additional Information:
More background on Microsoft’s decision to retire the TechNet Subscription service and the implications for current subscribers is available on the TechNet Subscriptions Retirement FAQ page.
Subscribers with active accounts may continue to access program benefits until their current subscription period concludes.We are committed to helping customers through this transition phase and will remain focused on providing IT professionals with free access to a broad set of TechNet assets that support the needs of IT professionals around the world.Improved Free Offerings for IT Professionals Include:

  • TechNet Evaluation Center: Free evaluation software with no feature limits, available for 30-180 days. Includes rich evaluation resources and TechNet Virtual Labs, which enable you to evaluate software without the need to install bits locally.
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy: Free online learning site, with over 200 expert-led technical training courses across more than 15 Microsoft technologies with more added weekly.
  • TechNet Forums: Free online forums where IT professionals can ask technical questions and receive rapid responses from members of the community.

Please note, MSDN Subscriptions provide a paid set of offerings that are also available for those who require access to evaluation software beyond what the above free offerings provide.

Thank you for your understanding as we increase focus on growing and investing in our free offerings to better meet the needs of the IT professional community.

Do not reply to this e-mail. This message was sent to you using an automated system. This e-mail alias is not monitored for replies.

- TechNet Subscription Team


#TheKrewe hat Order

Just in time for TechEd 2013…
The New #TheKrewe hat…Now in “Azure” Blue!
Note:Picture above has #IAMKREWE shown. We have modified the design and hats will come with #TheKrewe on the front.

The 2013 KREWE Hat is a high  quality FlexFit sized hat in Royal (aka Azure Blue). Please use the sizing below to determine your size. They use an elastic fit so we recommend going up a size if you are near 7 1/4″.

  • Size 1 – S/M fits lids 6 3/4″ – 7 1/4″
  • Size 2 – L/XL secures domes 7 1/8″ – 7 5/8″

The order deadline is Friday May 10, 2013 at 1:00pm. The Order will be placed later that afternoon. If you miss this order deadline, you will have to wait until next year

When Ordering, use the PayPal widget on Brian’s Blog Here. You’ll need to include  your size, (Size 1 or Size 2), and your Twitter Handle including the @ sign. (For example: @TheKrewe or @Brian_Bell )

Your Twitter Handle will be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet, so please double check before submitting your order.

As these hats are personalized, all sales are final and there are no refunds.

We will hand out Krewe Hats at #TheKREWE MEET-N-GREET Sunday night on June2, 2013. Brian Bell is handling the order and will contact everyone with specific instructions.

Should you want your Krewe Hat shipped, you will need to work directly with Brian. Because of time restrictions, we cannot guarantee your hat would arrive prior to the conference. We do not recommend having it shipped unless you will not be at the conference.

If you want your hat shipped or someone besides yourself will be picking up your hat, include that information in the order notes, or contact Brian directly.


Welcome to the SpringBoard Technical Expert Panel

Greeting True Believers,

Got some great news a few months ago while at the MVP Summit. I was invited to join the SpringBoard Technical Expert Panel by Stephen Rose. The panel is made up of  Windows experts from around the world. As described on the Springboard website, the “Springboard Series Technical Expert Panel (STEP) program delivers on our promise to launch and support new products at the community level. Because STEP members represent some of the top Windows IT experts, user group leaders, and evangelists in the world, they enable us to deliver quality live and virtual Windows events for IT professionals with greater frequency and quality than before”.

I’m pretty excited about this opportunity as it will give me access to some great content and resources as I begin working on more public speaking engagements as well as expand my network of Windows experts. Stephen and Tony have put together a phenomenal team of evangelist across the Windows spectrum, and I look forward to engaging with the team.

Thanks again Stephen and Tony Mann as well as the rest of the STEP team.


My thoughts on 70-410

Good Afternoon,

So it’s been a few weeks since we last talked. In that time, many of us have passed exams and moving towards our goal. For those that haven’t taken their first exam, it’s a good time to get it scheduled and on the books. Having the schedule exam creates a finite goal that will help motivate your progress.

So how about that 70-410 exam?

To be honest, I thought the 70-410 exam was well done. I believe Microsoft created a foundational exam that covered the objectives and focused on important skills IT Pros should know about Server 2012. Unlike previous exams I’ve taken from VMware, CompTIA, and Microsoft, this exam did not have anything I found to be the proverbial “needle in a haystack”.  In fact, there were a number of questions that covered the exact principles I teach my students every semester. That being the case, I told my classes this week that they should consider taking the 410 exam since I believe the knowledge they’ve learned provides a great base for  success on this exam WITH the proper study of Windows Server 2012.

The following are my tips for preparing for the 410 exam. As an MVP & MCT, I take the NDA very seriously so nothing listed here will be earth shattering or provide you deep insight into the specifics of specific questions. However, it should help you to prepare.

1.     I found the Craig Zacker Exam Prep to be a spot on guide. If you can learning the principles and tasked covered in the book, you should be successful on the exam.

2.     You need to know Hyper-V as a stand-alone virtualization host, and be able to create VMs through Hyper-V Manager. Also, you need to know how to configure new and existing VMs through the GUI and using PowerShell.

3.     You need to know how to perform all tasks related to the exam objectives in the GUI AND via command, whether that be PowerShell or other specific tools like dnscmd or dism.

4.     If your background is on a previous OS, I think you will find previous knowledge of AD, DNS, and DHCP will be a great benefit. Just make sure you know how to work with all three in Server 2012, as well as knowing new features in 2012.

5.     Spend as much time as you have available hands-on. When I work with students on preparing for exams and learning in general, I stress visualizing the environment. You should be able to visualize how you perform tasks in Server 2012 without having the environment in front of you.

6.     Run through every available wizard related to the exam objectives AND make sure you understand every option presented along the way. You can pick up a lot of insight from the wizards.

Well, I was off to prepare for 70-411. However, I had to reschedule and the only available time was after my scheduled time for 70-412 so I guess I will be studying for both exams in tandem. I’ll let everyone know how that goes.

Thanks for listening…Mike




More on Building Your Lab…

If you are reading this, you are an IT Pro or a developer in possibly the wrong place. Either way, you are a professional (like me) and need to understand what you are doing before you do it. There are concepts such as Boot from VHD which can leave your PC as a brick if not done correctly. I take no responsibility for you pooching your family computer, even in the name of education. If you have questions, ask before leaping. Always have a backup and don’t forget your towel!

Greetings True Believers,

I received a lot of questions and comments about my lab environment post so I figured I would expand upon some things to give some clarification. As always, feel free to leave a comment or tweet a question to @MichaelBender. Thanks to Rick Claus and Aidan Finn for fielding questions on Client Hyper-V.

I thought it would be a good idea to give you background of how I study and my lab methods. My hope is it will provide some insight into the different options and allow you to choose the best one for your situation.

At my college, we use VMware Workstation 9 for all of our OS classes as well as many programming classes. It is a flexible and scalable tool that meets all the scenario needs of our classes. Since I am accustomed to using it, it is second nature to spin up environments in it for labs & demos. Also, I work on several computers and don’t always have access to the Death Star so I need a lab environment that is portable as well.

Last and most important, I can run Hyper-V in a VM in VMware Workstation 9. So why would I want to do that? Because I want to be able to run almost all Hyper-V scenarios, not just some. If you want to perform client migrations (like Live Migration), you either need physical hardware (2 or more Hyper-V capable servers/computers) or you virtualize it with VMware. For me, it is a no brainer. I virtualize it in VMware.

I do a lot of “unscripted” lab environments. I spin stuff up to see if it will work because that is how I learn. It’s not for everyone. This is what I do for a living. I build lab activities and projects for my students on a weekly basis. I rebuild all of my projects every semester. For some people, the “computer inside a computer inside a computer” lab environment is challenging. I can tell you it takes the average student at our college 1-2 semesters using VMware Workstation virtualization to understand it.

If this type of lab sounds complicated, it is and you are probably not alone in thinking that. One thing I have learned in years of teaching is that if the tool to perform the lesson impedes the learning, you need to find a new tool. That’s why there are a number of other options for you. I listed many of them in the first blog, but here is a re-hash for you.

You first option is to use physical hardware. This will give you the true experience with the only limitations being your budget. I used to think it was cool having multiple computers in my house, then I discovered stuff like brewing beer and other things I’d rather spend my money on. If you have the money, buy some Hyper-V capable systems and go to town. It will make a great lab environment, and will replace a space heater if you need one of those.

The next option is to use Windows 7/8 Boot from VHD. This is probably the best option to get Windows Server 2012 running on your computer without blowing away your existing OS or doing arcane multi-partition multi-boots. Keith Mayer has a great post on this and you can check it out below. Also, Scott Hanselman has some great posts on Boot from VHD. These are how I learned to successfully navigate the Boot from VHD waters. One tool to have at your ready when working with this method is easyBCD. It is a graphical tool you install on Windows 7 and 8 that allows you to modify the BCD store easily, and without having to trudge through bcdedit on the command line. Another tool that looks promising is B2VHD. I haven’t tried it so YMMV.

Windows Azure offers a lot of opportunities for people without the hardware needed to do any of the above. You can get a free trial here. One thing to note with Azure is that the free trial is limited in the amount of resources you can use each month. If you spin up too much, your VMs will not be useable until the next billing cycle. Another option could be to just pay for what you use, but that could get expensive. Again, Keith Mayer posted great resources on using Azure. Note with Azure that you will not be able to work with things like client migration since your are just getting access to the VMs and not the Hypervisor. On the plus side, you are getting skills and training in how to deploy workloads in the cloud. I’ve heard from some people that might be important in the future.

Client Hyper-V is Windows 8 is a great addition. It provides a hosted hypervisor environment for running legacy applications, development environments, and it makes a great lab environment. Due to the way Hyper-V works, it has one limitation that does not make it the “Best of Breed” choice for a lab platform IMHO. You cannot install the Hyper-V role into a VM running on Client Hyper-V and created nested VMs. While this does not prevent you from using it as a lab platform, it will prevent you from covering all of the scenarios covered by the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 exams. For more background on running Hyper-V in Hyper-V, see Aidan Finn’s blog post here. For more information on Client Hyper-V, Thomas Maurer has a great blog posting on this.

While researching the Hyper-V question, I went to some experts. I emailed Aidan Finn, Microsoft MVP in Virtual Machine and all-around Hyper-V Guru, about his postregarding virtualizing Hyper-V and he had this to say about running the Hyper-V role inside a Hyper-V guest:

Hyper-V requires DEP and CPU assisted virtualization to be available to the host for WinServ Hyper-V to run. Full installs of WinServ will refuse to enable the Hyper-V role without them. A Core install doesn’t check when you enable the role but the hypervisor will fail to start. Hyper-V does not pass through those hardware features, therefore a Hyper-V hypervisor cannot run in a Hyper-V VM.” Aidan Finn

Check out Aidan’s blog,, for great post on Hyper-V and other topics

If you have any additional questions on lab environments, just let me know.

Good Luck!



Resource List:
Can you install Hyper-V in a VM? (Aidan Finn):

Windows  8 Client Hyper-V and boot from VHD (Thomas Maurer):

Build Your Lab on Windows Server 2012 (Keith Mayer):

Less Virtual, More Machine- Windows 7 and the magic of Boot to VHD (Scott Hanselman):

B2VHD Assistant from (Not Tested):


Building a Lab to Get Your Geek On!

Greetings True Believers,

So I wanted to take some time and talk about building a lab environment for learning Windows Server 2012 and preparing for MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification. As an IT Pro, I know that book knowledge is great, but it is the hands-on skills that get the job done. Getting time in a lab environment to learn new technology is critical to your success in “The Real World” as well as passing your certification exams.

For my lab environment, I want full control of the hardware I can see in the OS plus the flexibility to run multiple scenarios with ease. For that, I choose to do all of my studying in virtual environments. For that I built a custom system based recommendations from Jeff Guillet at Affectionately known as the Death Star by Squidulor, It has a Core i5 and 32GB of RAM. It is a low-cost (Under $1k) system that is fast and quiet. Jeff did a phenomenal job of determining the specs for this system. If you are looking for a lab system, this is the way to go. I built this last April so you may be able build it for less or increase the resources for the same amount of money. After the original build, I did upgrade the storage. I now have 2 SSDs and 2 SATA HDs in the rig. Performance is top notch and you can’t hear it at all. I had a full private cloud scenario running on the system and no noise. It’s great for a home office. Another set of specs to check out is from Jared Shockley from his blog at

Note: Jeff did an updated post on the lab server. Check it out here

The Death Star in Action

If you do not have TechNet or MSDN, you’ll need a copy of Windows Server 2012. Click here download an evaluation of Windows Server 2012. Note: it will prompt you to login with a Microsoft account.

While I am a Microsoft guy, I always want to use the best tool for the job. In that case, I use VMwareWorkstation 9.0.2 for my desktop virtualization platform. It allows me to virtualize Hyper-V servers on a single physical machine. Note, this is an unsupported scenario, but I’ve never had any issues with it. This cannot be done on Client Hyper-V in Windows 8 or Hyper-V on Server 2012. Also, I am a VCP-DV so I do a lot with vSphere. It can be virtualized as well in this environment. What I envision when I get to Private Cloud studies is being able to run ESXi hosts and Hyper-V hosts along with System Center 2012 to play with the integration of all the pieces. So what is the catch? VMware Workstation 9.0.2 is not free. Another option may be to use Virtual Boxbut you will need to test that on your own. I have no love for Oracle or the Java Malware Environment so I refuse to use the product even though it may be a great free option.

For the 70-410 exam, I simply have a small lab environment with two VMs running Windows Server 2012 Standard in each flavor: Server Core and Server with a GUI. This has allowed me to work through all of the hands-on activities in books, TechNet articles, and general goofing around. Since VMware Workstation allows you to add in lots of different hardware such as multiple virtual hard disks or network adapters, you can work with Storage Spaces, NIC Teaming and other features requiring additional hardware components. For the 411 and 412 exams, you will get into more complex scenarios requiring a number of VMs and virtual networks. I’d a little ways out from that scenario, but I’ll let everyone know what I’m doing when I get there. This is one of the reasons I put together the rig above.

So what are your options is you can’t put together the system above and/or have limited resources? Here’s a list of some options for you to check out. Some have limitations but all of them will give you hands-on experience that is helpful for exam prep.

·         Windows Azure: You can sign up for a free trial of Windows Azure and build out some VMs there. Microsoft Evangelist Keith Mayer wrote a great blog post on building a lab environment on Azure. He also has a ton of other great posts. Check out his blog here.

·         TechNet Virtual Labs: While limited in lab areas for Windows Server 2012, it is an option to run through the labs at TechNet.

·         Keith Mayer’s Lab Hours:  Keith Mayer host virtual lab hours every Friday afternoon. Check them out here.

·         Windows Server 2012 Early Experts Challenge:  I mentioned this challenge in my last blog post on born to learn. The resources can be found here.

·         Step-By-Step Guides: The step by step guides offer some more complex scenarios and are great for adding on after you have built your foundation of knowledge. Check the resources out here.

My biggest recommendation for lab environments is just build it and play. Whether you are using a whitepaper, some book, or just the integrated help screens, just start building stuff. Use your imagination and learn what Windows Server 2012 has to offer.

Do you have any other lab suggestions? Leave them in the comments below or on the Windows Server Study Group Forums.

Till next time…Mike

Note: I have created an addition blog post that goes along with this so make sure you read “More on Building Your Lab…”