Getting Started with Powershell

For the last 1.5 years my work life has been dedicated to supporting Windows Desktops in an Enterprise environment. In this time I’ve been very successful at my job because of a few skills. One of the most important of these being able to utilize the command land as much as possible so as to create as little user disruption as possible.

For a long time my tool of choice was the SysInternals tool PSExec. It allowed me to do a huge amount of troubleshooting, repairing and configuring. Last fall after becoming MCSA certified for WIndows 7, I decided that along with studying for the Server 2012 R2 MCSA I’d also like to improve my Powershell skills.

A kind co-worker pointed me to a great Microsoft Virtual Academy course and since then it has become my most used and favorite tool in my arsenal. Powershell is extremely easy to get started in once you know a few basics. I can’t recommend the “Getting Started with Powershell 3.0 Jump Start” course at MVA enough. It’s free and it does an amazing job of teaching you how to get your feet wet really quickly and start doing useful things almost immediately.

MVA Getting Started with Powershell 3.0 Jump Start:

Once I started to get going my co-worker then pointed me to a great HOWTO he wrote about working with version control with Powershell, PowerGUI and SVN.

HOWTO: Implement Source Version Control for Powershell Scripts with PowerGUI:

I’m no expert yet but things are coming together in my head now and I’m actually starting to write some scripts and modules that are actually very useful for me in my work environment.

Where Has The Time Gone?

Wow. I can’t believe it has been so long. Long story short: We sold the condo finally in May for less than we’d hoped but we bought a far nicer and larger place than we expected for a lot less than it should have cost us.

Owning my own house is great. I have a nice computer room and room for my drums, turntables and other music gear. My cat loves having all this room to run around in.

Life is good.

Adventures with OpenSuSE 12.1

After installing OpenSuSE 11.4 (which was completely flawless) I decided to give the OpenSuSE 12.1 upgrade a try. From what I’ve determined 12.1 is nowhere near the polished state that 11.4 was (perhaps this is intentional or something, maybe 11.4 was a LTS-type release I’m not entirely sure).

The first time booting the installation DVD, things started off normal, I was greeted with a boot menu with the option to Install. After choosing to install, the Kernel loaded and then shortly after that my screen distorted and that was where the first attempt stalled. I waited 5 minutes or so just to be sure but things never returned to normal.

*reset button*

This time I tried booting the installation DVD with the ACPI=off kernel option and this time the installer finished loading after loading the kernel. I’m not sure what changed between 11.4 and 12.1 but that issue was a little annoying, and probably bad enough to turn off anyone who’s not experienced with Linux. Perhaps OpenSuSE isn’t intended for the Linux ‘n00b’ though, it does have some very nice Enterprise features these days.

The rest of my Upgrade went extremely smoothly, all the new packages installed properly. After the upgrade, things went south rather quickly. The installer closed and I was left at a command prompt (was expecting a GUI login screen). I assumed it was just a glitch and rebooted.

Again after rebooting I was left at a CLI login prompt. This is when I remembered that when I installed the proprietary Nvidia drivers, in order to get my TwinView settings to persist I had to write then to the xorg.conf file. Again this would probably stump a non-experienced user, renaming my xorg.conf file was easy enough for me to do and soon I was back at a GUI login screen.

I logged in and immediate opened my browser to go and re-install the Nvidia drivers and I notice right away Firefox is really slow with the DNS lookup. Open up a terminal and quickly discover I can’t even ping other addresses on my own network. I open YAST and much around with the Network settings (turned off DHCP6 for example) and that seemed to fix things. After that I was able to easily install the Nvidia drivers again.

Reboot and everything looks food from the start. OpenSuSE 12.1 even properly detects my second monitor and configured Dual monitors for me (nice little improvement over 12.1). But once again the networking is messed up.

Every time I reboot OpenSuSE 12.1 my networking doesn’t work until I go into YAST and go through the network configuration. I haven’t had time to really dig into this and find where the problem is yet though I noticed on the forums I’m not alone. Still trying to figure out if its the network configuration itself or something to do with the firewall settings.

Once again, the network issues would be a huge show-stopper for inexperienced users and for a long-time Linux user like myself makes me wonder if I woke up in 1999 or something. I’m going to keep working with OpenSuSE a little longer and see if I can get things to improve or not. Still not sure what distro I’ll attempt to install next.

Keeping It Up

The condo has been on the market for a while now and unfortunately still no viewings. This is not unexpected. It’s a buyer’s market and we’ve heard about condos that have been on the market for a year now without even a single showing. While this is a little depressing we’re trying to focus on the positive aspects. And it only takes one person to fall in love and buy our place.

I think the best part of this experience so far is the habits I’ve been forming. I’ve never been particularly neat nor organized. I wish I had listened to my parents and developed these habits while I was young but it just didn’t happen that way. There’s no time like the present I’ve heard.

We’ve gotten a nice routine for ourselves. We put things away before we go to bed. And in the mornings we make the bed, make sure the house is tidy, the bathrooms are clean and pack up and take out the garbage on our way out. Our goal is to have the place in a non-embarrassing state whenever we’re not home just in case someone wants to view the place. We’re not perfect and I get yelled at all the time for not doing a good enough job but hopefully it’ll be worth all the stress in the end.

Now all we need is a viewing.

My Adventures in Real Estate

It’s time. It’s time for a new chapter in my life. I’ve lived in my apartment-style condo for the last 6 years and while there’s things that have bothered me from time to time I have really liked living there. I have a great view and few responsibilities beyond my financial responsibilities. While I enjoy the location and the way of life things change. I’ve changed.

About 4 years ago my lovely girlfriend moved in with me. At the time it was quite a big change for me. Suddenly what was enough room and space for one person was not enough for two people. My first major purge ensued. Again, over time we accumulated more things. We’ve been quite creative in finding places to store everything but in the end we had to face the truth. We need more space.

We need more space not only for our belongings and future belongings but in order to do things like have company over or to start a family (no plans yet though, haha!). So once again a purge had to happen. In August we rented ourselves a small storage unit close to our condo unit and for the last month we’ve spent our evenings and weekends packing, moving, cleaning and painting. We visited my banker who gave us great news as to what we qualify for for a mortgage. We called a family friend who is a Real Estate Agent (and now our Real Estate Agent) and I met with him on Friday and his assistant was over Sunday night to take final measurements and photos. We’re all set right?

Four years ago we probably would have been laughing by now. The markets were great, the condo units in my building were selling for more than twice what we paid for them! Today things are a lot different. If I’m lucky I’ll sell my condo for slightly more than what I originally paid for it. I’m trying to stay positive and hope for the best.

It’s Day 2.

My adventure begins…

Vancouver Opening Up!

Rejoice all you Canadian Open Source fans for Vancouver is making great strides! In a motion that was passed on Thursday May 21, 2009, “Vancouver city council has endorsed the principles of making its data open and accessible to everyone where possible, adopting open standards for that data and considering open source software when replacing existing applications.” — Quoted from

The motion was brought forth by Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer and brings benefits that include improved transparency, lower costs and allows both private and commercial innovation by those using the data which will be made available. Reimer also noted that since the tax payers paid for this data, they should be given access to it (Wow, there’s a novel concept that governments around the world should consider!)

Next, try not to fall off your chair when you read this, Reimer says that some immediate changes are likely! Like any government body, change takes time. Policies have to be put in place, approved, ammended, re-approved, budgeted, blah, blah, blah…. Some things can likely be done much sooner. One example is videos which come from Vancouver city hall: as it stands now, you can only view them from the City of Vancouver website using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your browser.

Some might take this as just being a push to change over to open source applications which sometimes can be more difficult to use and whatnot but this doesn’t appear to be the case. This is more about the data not pushing a software philosophy. When the data is available to everyone, in a form that everyone can read a person isn’t limited to just using Microsoft or Linux. That is what makes this move so exciting!

The motion itself suggests that the Vancouver city manager so the following:

  • Identify immediate opportunities to distribute more of its data.
  • Index, publish and syndicate its data to the internet using prevailing open standards, interfaces and formats.
  • Develop a plan to digitize and distribute archival data to the public.
  • Ensure that data supplied to the city by third parties such as developers, contractors and consultants are unlicensed, in a prevailing open standard format, and not copyrighted except if otherwise prevented by legal considerations.
  • License any software applications developed by the City of Vancouver such that they may be used by other municipalities, businesses and the public without restriction.

That last point is huge! Imagine a world where governments developed software that could not only be audited by other governments but also businesses and individuals! This wouldn’t be limited to audits either, these other parties could extend the software for their individual needs! Not only could this help make government more efficient, it could save money for taxpayers around the world!

Vancouver may be one of, if not the first city in Canada to make such a move but slowly this sort of thing has been happening around the world. For years now Brazil has been using Linux and other Open Source within their governments. Many places in Europe have also made moves to support Open Source. Recently, Hungary modified its government procurement rules to not only “… allow consideration of Open Source software, but to earmark for Open Source software an equal amount of money to that earmarked for proprietary purchases.” — Linux Journal

In France, their police force has also successfully made a push to Open Source to save money. you can read more about it here. Or how about Germany? not only have all levels of German government started to embrace Open Source, they have also deployed Linux workstations in embassies around the world!

So, what could be done where I live? Surprisingly Medicine Hat is rather progressive when it comes to technology. Our website is very current and boasts a number of ‘eServices’ including some for paying Property Taxes and utility bills! We have an iMap which allows you to look up addresses and legal descriptions around the city. The iMap also lets you easily locate major facilities in the area. The website has a news room with all the public notices released from city hall even! Considering what the website could be like there’s not a lot to complain about!

There are however, a few things that we could do a little better. The iMap is great, but I can’t really use it from my mobile phone. It would be EXTREMELY useful to have this information available on something like Google Maps or perhaps even the Open Street Map project.

The News Center only posts notices in PDF format which again, not easy to read on a mobile device. Postings in something a little more manageable like plain text or even HTML would be a great improvement.

With the current Twitter/microblogging revolution happening, it would also be nice to have small announcements posted. Perhaps if a water main breaks and roads are closed in a certain section of the city, a quick post to one of these services would be extremely useful to motorists. Or along the same lines, if there is an accident, it would be nice to know so I can avoid that road and give the police more room to do their work.

Again, Medicine Hat is a great city to live in, and the current city council has tried to improve transparency (and I believe they have done so in some areas) but things can always be better. I think that by openning the data we too as a city can improve. Everyone has different ideas and perspectives and opening up data to the tax payers of the city could open us up to innovations and progress we haven’t even imagined yet. So if you are a fan of open source or even like the idea of open data you might consider sending a message to one, or all of our city councillors in the hopes that things will continue to change and progress for the better in our fine city.

My Home Network

So, I thought I should really start this blog off by explaining more about myself which will hopefully give me some geek credit out there! This post is going to be about my network and systems I have running on it at home. I’m going to post this before it’s finished. But since no one reads this blog anyways, no one will actually care…

Desktop systems:

1. Main / gaming rig.
Name: kramer
CPU: Intel Core2Quad Q6600
Optical Drives: Samsung SATA DVD-R
Hard drives: 2 * 500 GB SATA
OS: Dual boot – Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit and Ubuntu 8.10 (amd64)

2. Messaging / MythTV rig.
Name: bender
CPU: Athlon64 4000+
Optical Drives: 1 LG 16X DVD-R, 1 LG 12X DVD-R (Both IDE)
Hard drives: 300GB IDE, 500GB SATA (just for PVR recordings)
OS: Ubuntu 8.10 (amd64)


1. Main server (being replaced by #2)
Name: boomhauer
CPU: 2 * Pentium3 450 MHz
Hard drives: 30GB, 2 * 80GB (all IDE)
OS: Gentoo Linux (been alive since 2003 or 2004 easily…)

2. New server (Replacing #1 when I get around to finishing it…)
Name: mulder
CPU: AthlonXP 2500
Hard drives: I think… 80GB, 200GB and 300GB? (I think will have to check that for sure later.
OS: CentOS 5.2

3. Slave DNS server
Name: gakkun
CPU: Pentium3 (not sure the speed, its an old Toshiba Tecra notebook though)
RAM: 256MB
Hard drives: 20GB
OS: OpenBSD 4.3

4. Firewall (I now use this for wireless also, thanks to a few cheep cards I threw into there and the ease of OpenBSD and Packet Filter)
CPU: Pentium3 450MHz
Hard drives: 30GB
OS: OpenBSD 4.4

Misc. hardware

1. Linksys WRT54GS v 2.1 – Running DD-WRT 2.4 SP1, sitting in front of my Slave DNS.

2. Linksys WRT54GL – Running DD-WRT 2.4 SP1, separate from the rest of my network, on its own IP.

3. D-Link GamerLounge – Not modded at all, but using Mixed mode with WEP, only used for my Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS.

Remembering the Password

Doing my morning reading this morning, I stumbled upon a great blog post talking about a recent compromise of the website and password database. Now of course a lot of people, when registering for a message board like know they aren’t logging into a sensitive site like their bank website and therefore, it’s likely they don’t put as much care into the passwords they choose. Regardless of this, it’s always good to be reminded about what the most common passwords, and therefore easiest to crack passwords are so we can save ourselves the trouble of dealing with such a problem in the future.

According to Robert Graham’s post, 65% of’s passwords were found in the English dictionary and 94% were in a “hacker’s” dictionary file. Another way to say this is: 94% of the accounts out there could have been hacked anyways!

16% of the passwords matched a person’s first name! 14% were patterns on the keyboard such as: 123456, qwerty, 159357, etc. There are a lot more of these listed in the original article so I won’t rehash them, you should go check out the full article yourself. But what I will post below are the top 20 passwords used:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. phpbb
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 12345678
  7. letmein
  8. 1234
  9. test
  10. 123
  11. trustno1
  12. dragon
  13. abc123
  14. 123456789
  15. 111111
  16. hello
  17. monkey
  18. master
  19. killer
  20. 123123

So you can be sure of one thing, if you use ANY of the above passwords for anything, you should probably change it, even for those low-priority sites.

The Wrong Name

So I was browsing reddit this morning, and happened upon a post about Upon searching my own name, I was impressed with the information the search engine came up with. I think every mailing list post I’ve ever made was found.

But I found something very unexpected. An article about someone with the EXACT same name as me who is a real dirt-bag! He was sentenced to 2 years in prison for shaking a baby! I don’t plan on having to search for a job anytime soon, but it worries me that someone could do a search on my name and this article might show up associating me with such a terrible crime!

What also tends to bother me is that the newspaper did not use the middle name of the person. Any advice out there interweb?