Weekend Scripter: Scripting Wife Grabs the Keyboard
Summary: The Scripting Wife reviews various community resources for learning Windows PowerShell. Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson, is here. It is the weekend and today we have a special guest blogger. She probably will not directly answer any specific questions about a script, nor will she solve a scripting scenario, but she does know who to go to for the answers. And, sometimes, that skill of knowing who to ask is just as important as knowing how to answer. I am talking, of course, about the lovely Scripting Wife. The floor is yours, Teresa. Happy Saturday, everyone. The last couple of months have been busy with vacations, conferences, user group meetings, and so on, and I have not had the pleasure to talk to you in a while. Today, I want to bend your ear on how easy it is to find resources to help you with your work and to find opportunities to help others, too. Opinions abound for whatever topic you choose and, like each person, opinions vary. I see the world and learn differently than anyone else, but my way of learning may be similar to someone else’s way of learning. Ed, for example, learns and teaches in an entirely different fashion. Ed jokes with me every time he hears me recommend Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, by Don Jones, to a true beginner. Ed says, “Hey, my step-by-step book is for beginners, too.” I just smile and say, “Yes, Ed, I know.” The next book I recommend is Ed’s book, Windows PowerShell 3.0 Step by Step. And when I get a chance, I also mention Ed’s book, Windows PowerShell 2.0 Best Practices. The point is we all learn in different ways. The same is true for how we each share our knowledge. I do not think I am a good teacher and don’t like being the trainer. I am happy to share what I know—I am just not that confident in my teaching abilities. We gather knowledge in different ways, too, and sometimes that depends on our physical location as well as the resources available to us. The bottom line is that a wide variety of resources is available, and it is up to you to utilize what you can reach.
First thing we will talk about is user groups
Let’s start with a person who works for a small company in a small town. Obviously, that person is not going to have access to enough local IT people to form a Windows PowerShell user group, but there are options. For example, the PowerShell Community Groups site has a Virtual User Group. Maybe you would want to sign up to be a member of that group because they broadcast a lot of different meetings. The Arizona PowerShell User Group (AZPOSH) is another good one because they usually broadcast their meetings and you can join in remotely. Keep your eyes tuned to Twitter as well (follow the @ScriptingWife and @ScriptingGuys on Twitter) because various Windows PowerShell user groups often tweet that they are getting ready to start a meeting and will tweet live meeting details. Another thing to think about is keeping an eye out for user group meetings while you are traveling. You never know what you might find. Again, you can check the PowerShell Community Groups site to locate cities that have user groups; you may get lucky and find a user group in a town where you are traveling to. Ed and I have been known to stop by meetings in cities we are traveling through on our way to another destination. We were just in Columbus, Ohio, on our way to Cleveland, and Ed made a presentation at the Central Ohio monthly meeting. To keep up with Ed’s appearances, check out the Script Center Community page. Also, because Ed rarely goes anywhere without me, on most occasions, I will also be present. Let me give you a couple of hints: We will be in Europe for three weeks, traveling by train and visiting five user groups plus a lot of Windows PowerShell friends, MVPs, and Microsoftees. We leave in about ten days—I can’t wait. The user groups where Ed will be making presentations are in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, the Netherlands, and Munich. I just covered the scenario for people who live in larger communities that have established user groups. Go on and join—even if you are an advanced scripter—it will be good for networking, and you will probably be able to help a beginner, too. If you live in an area that has enough people to support a user group and you want to start one, check out this post I wrote back in the summer about starting a user group.
Internet resources for learning Windows PowerShell
After you’ve tapped into user groups, I think the Internet is your next friend for resources. If you get stuck in your script writing, you can ask questions in a couple of forums. Remember these folks are all busy professionals volunteering their time to help you get your script working—they are not there to write scripts for you. These forums are for learning and not just for reaching out and having someone do the work for you. The two forums I am most familiar with are the Official Scripting Guys Forum and the forum at www.PowerShell.org. There is also the Script Center Repository and PoshCode, where many scripts are already written. You are welcome to use these scripts with no guarantees. Something relatively new is the Script Explorer that will automatically search the Script Center Repository and PoshCode for scripts. You can read about it at this Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog post. Another great resource is the multitude of blogs written by Windows PowerShell experts and community leaders. Of course, the number one Windows PowerShell blog is the Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog, written by the Scripting Guy. Right now, he is cranking out an incredible amount of content. He is writing daily PowerTips (short one-liners about simple things, or cool commands he has found) as well as the longer daily blog posts. Whenever I am trying to locate anything related to Windows PowerShell, I go to the Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog and use the search function to locate relevant posts in his blog. If I cannot find an answer there, I generally go ask Ed in person. Another Internet resource I am aware of is a blog by Jason Hofferle, guest blogger for Hey, Scripting Guy!, that lists free Windows PowerShell ebooks. If you find one not on his list, please let him know about it. I have also created a blog that lists all the resources I could think of, which includes much of the information in this blog post. If I have left out something, please let me know.
Working with the Windows PowerShell community
I enjoy hanging out with all the Windows PowerShell people and doing whatever I can to contribute. Some things you can do to help, without writing a single line of code, include the clerical and administrative work for some of the events. Besides keeping track of Ed and his commitments, I work with Windows PowerShell MVP Hal Rottenberg and Jonathan Walz as the booking agent for guests on the PowerScripting Podcast. I keep track of the schedule and add people in as the Thursdays come around. Join us for the live recording in the chatroom some Thursday evening at 9:30 PM EDT (-5 GMT). My newest project is working with www.PowerShell.org. I mainly spread the word about upcoming events, like the Windows PowerShell Summit in April 2013. I have my ticket purchased and am ready to go. It is exciting for me, as I love to be around people. When I look at the list of those already signed up I think, “Oh, I can’t wait to meet that person in real life,” or “I can’t wait to see this person again.” On a personal note, if you are around me for any length of time, you will see I am a big hugger of the people I really like. I will collect a bunch of hugs to hold on to until the next event. Speaking of meeting people in real life—thanks to Twitter and the PowerScripting Podcast chatroom—I have a lot of friends that I still need to meet in person. I am slowly working my way through the list. The good thing is I add people to it all the time. I use Facebook, but that is mostly family and friends from my hometown. I do not use it for my Windows PowerShell activities and posts. I have a few Windows PowerShell friends that are friends on Facebook, but not very many. You can follow me on Twitter @scriptingwife. Also, Twitter is a fantastic way to learn about what’s going on and to hear about new blog posts, and so on—just keep an eye on #powershell. I believe that is all I have to share; I hope I have not left off anything important. Have a Scriptastic Weekend. I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.
Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy