PowerShell Influencer of the Week – Mike F Robbins
Hello Readers, welcome to the first post of a new series “PowerShell Influencer of the Week“, where I’ll Interview one PowerShell Influencer, Microsoft Awarded MVP or a PowerShell Community Contributor and publish it every week! The format goes something like this… I’d be asking 10 questions total, wherein 7 Questions would be specific to PowerShell and related technologies, the next 3 questions would reflect individualism and personality of the influencer, something which we don’t usually see. I think it would be amazing to see the thought patterns and personalities of these wonderful set of people.
As we move on to publishing these interviews every week, I’m also very open to any suggestions or feedback, like if you can think of some better questions that you want me to ask to, feel free to tweet me @SinghPrateik . I’d love to hear them 🙂 and adapt the format accordingly.
This week I’m so excited to welcome my favorite blogger and Microsoft MVP ‘Mike F Robbins’ as our ‘PowerShell Influencer of the Week’.
Mike F Robbins is a 5 times Microsoft awarded MVP in ‘Cloud and Datacenter Management’ for Windows PowerShell, and creator of The PowerShell Conference Book . He is also the author of the book ‘ PowerShell 101: The No-Nonsense Beginner’s Guide to PowerShell ‘ and co-authored Windows PowerShell TFM 4th Edition and PowerShell Deep Dives . Mike is also the co-founded Mississippi PowerShell User Group where you can find him leading and sharing his knowledge through live demos and presentations. His blog has been recognized as one of the top blogs of the world not only in PowerShell but in System Administration space as well.
Twitter profile: @mikefrobbins
Github profile: https://github.com/mikefrobbins
Leanpub profile: https://leanpub.com/u/mikefrobbins
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikefrobbins/
Following are my questions along with Mike’s reply. You may see some inline comments from me in GREEN. Enjoy reading!
Why did you start learning PowerShell?
In 2007, I was working as a senior level engineer providing technical support for three companies who were all early adopters of Exchange Server 2007. A number of configuration settings and administrative tasks that needed to be performed on their Exchange Servers couldn’t be accomplished in the GUI and PowerShell was the only option.
Do you have any advice for people who don’t think they can speak at a conference?
Almost everyone is nervous and suffers from some type of anxiety when it comes to public speaking. While some people seem to be naturals and can think, type and talk all at the same time in front of an audience, I’ve found that it’s much easier to have all of your code already typed out so all you have to do is explain it.
Practice your presentation until you know your material backward and forwards. If possible, present your session internally to your company and ask for feedback, that way you’re not starting out in front of a group of strangers. Build yourself up to larger audiences by speaking remotely and for smaller user groups before tackling larger conferences.
[Prateek]: That is a great tip! I realize when I have all the code pre-written in VSCode during the demo, I can avoid typos and corrections during the presentation and also helps me stick to the topics without distracting from the main topic. You can also use Start-Demo.ps1 to easily give PowerShell demos, here is a write-up by Jeffery Snover himself on how to use it.
Which is your favorite PowerShell Module and why you like it?
My favorite PowerShell module is BetterCredentials ( written by Joel Bennett @jaykul ). I use the principle of least privilege when logging into my computer and running PowerShell. I elevate on a per command basis in PowerShell via the Credential parameter that many commands have. BetterCredentials allows your credentials to be stored in and retrieved from Windows Credential Manager.
What PowerShell projects you are working on now?
Lately, I’ve been working on a PowerShell module named MrModuleBuildTools. It’s used to convert non-monolithic PowerShell modules where each function is in a separate PS1 file to monolithic ones where all of the functions reside in the PSM1 script module file.
I plan to use a non-monolithic design for development and a monolithic one for production moving forward. More information about this can be found on my blog and the module itself along with my other open-source projects can be found on GitHub. While I know others already have modules that accomplish this task, I’ve learned numerous concepts such as working with the AST (Abstract Syntax Tree) by taking on this project myself.
What were you expecting when you wrote your first blog post?
When I first started blogging back in 2009, it was simply a way of creating documentation for myself of the solutions to reoccurring problems that I was seeing. Many of my first PowerShell related blog articles were a way for me to document my code and later find it easily since WordPress indexes the content. In my opinion, everyone who works in the technology sector should have a blog as it’s an extension to your resume to show potential employers what you’ve done over time.
[Prateek]: I totally agree here with Mike that your online engagements, open-source contributions and especially your blog is solid proof of your work, knowledge, and work delivery to potential employers and it has helped me out a lot personally in my career.
What do you think is the right approach to learn PowerShell scripting?
Learn the basics first (Get-Help, Get-Command, and Get-Member). Start with tasks that you already know how to accomplish in the GUI that can be accomplished in PowerShell with a one-liner. Practice in a test environment as not to create resume generating events and try to learn something new every day. Over time, you’ll advance from one-liners to writing scripts, functions, and modules. If nothing else, learn how to use a new PowerShell command by reading the help for a new command daily (Get-Command | Get-Random | Get-Help -Full).
[Prateek]: I really like the concept of learning something new every day. I personally used to prepare a notebook where I listed all the terms or keywords related to PowerShell that I came across during the day which I didn’t understand. Then daily I used to check off at least 2 items from that list after researching and doing hands-on on that topic. You don’t realize but with such a small habit gradually you will learn a lot.
Which are your favorite PowerShell blogs/websites?
One of my favorite PowerShell websites is ‘Planet PowerShell’ ( https://www.planetpowershell.com/ ) because it’s an aggregator for websites and blogs of PowerShell community members.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? like some interesting fact about you, your Hobbies, education etc.
I’m the Creator of the PowerShell Conference Book. Last year, I wanted to help others kickstart their careers by donating to the OnRamp scholarship program. I knew that there wasn’t much one person could do so I thought about ways to amplify myself. That’s when I came up with the idea for The PowerShell Conference Book. I invited the connections I’d made over the years who were experts in the industry to each write one chapter in a book that was designed to be like a conference in a book. All royalties (100%) were donated to the previously mentioned scholarship program. Needless to say, the project was a huge success and I want to thank all of the authors who contributed along with everyone who purchased a copy of the book.
[Prateek]: I feel so honored that I got an opportunity to contribute a chapter in this book, I gained so much writing this chapter as it was my first book. I later wrote my own book ‘PowerShell Guide to Python’ which is not only my individual growth but now help hundreds of readers worldwide, which couldn’t have possible without me observing and learning Mike and Jeff Hicks tips and knowledge through the Editorial process of the PowerShell Conference book. I want to thank Mike for first reaching out to me for this opportunity and second for all you have done for the community with this book. Great idea, well executed, with big impact!
What would you be doing if you weren’t the person we know today? Maybe a different career path?
I’d be working as a financial advisor because I enjoy helping others and I’m amazed at how much time people spend trying to make money and how little time and thought they put into managing their money.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
I’ve found that when I’m overwhelmed by a particular problem or feeling unfocused on what I’m trying to accomplish, the best thing for me to do is to walk away from it and take a break.
I find that sometimes the problem fixes itself and sometimes I’ll have one of those light bulb moments where out of the blue, I’ll think of the solution. Many times, the solution is relatively simple, but can’t be seen from the perspective of having tunnel vision due to having gone deep down a rabbit hole troubleshooting the problem.
Thank you so much Mike, for doing the interview! We as a community appreciate all the work you do.
~ Author of “PowerShell Guide to Python”