QR codes and practical usage

Earlier this year I was lucky to attend the PowerShell Conference Europe [a.k.a. PSConfEU], which is easily the geek highlight of my year.

At the Opening ceremony, organizer and PowerShell GURU Dr. Tobias Weltner showed this gem that amazed me in it’s simplicity

I present you: the QRCodeGenerator

As the name implies, the QRCodeGenerator will generate various QR codes for you to use, all through the magic of PowerShell [and of course the QR generator solution in C# which this module uses].

Of course now we’ll want to play with it, so let’s get the module!

Let’s just assume by now you’ll have at least [Windows] PowerShell 5+, if you don’t, please get it ASAP [or get PowerShell Core instead]!

When searching the PowerShellGallery, you should be presented by the last version

Go ahead and install this module for yourself

or for everyone on your system [be sure to run PowerShell as Administrator]

Ok, so now what?

Let’s see what options we have available

So we can create a new

  • GeoLocation QR Code
  • vCard QR Code
  • Wifi Access QR Code

As expected, each of the provided cmdlets come with properly created help files, examples and all 3 cmdlets have similar input parameters, mainly

  • Width – height and width of the generated code [default is 100]
  • Show – open the generated code in default program
  • OutPath – path to generated png file. If left empty, a temporary file name will be used.

Practical applications

To be honest, the 2 main reasons I liked this are the Wifi Access and vCard codes.
While there might be some use for the GeoLocation one, I would think it’d mainly be in like print media, to display your company’s location information or such.

The New-QRCodeWifiAccess cmdlet can be used at home or at work provide access to your guest wifi network.
Simply generate the code, print and laminate it once and whenever people ask for access, just let them scan the code!

And tada!

As for the New-QRCodevCard cmdlet, it works just the same. In this case I would recommend using it on your business card to allow your contact to easily add you in her/her phone.

 

All in all, I thought this was thing to share, I hope you think so too!

Happy Scripting! 🙂

 

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Windows Server 2019 – System Insights

After a small hiatus on Twitter, I got back just in time to notice a Tweet about the following [sorry, was unable to find who created the original Tweet, but saved the link luckily]:

Getting started with System Insights in 10 minutes

This fit in perfectly with my recent post on the Windows Admin Center, and I’ve got 10 minutes to spare, so let’s go!

Installing System Insights

As you can imagine, this is simply a breeze

Where is it?

Ok, I’ve installed the Admin Center and enabled System Insights, but I still don’t see the option.

For me this was the case, even after closing my browser and reconnecting.

Once you’re in the Admin Center, go to the Settings gear icon in the top right and choose Extensions [under Gateway]

Select the Windows Server System Insights (Preview) extension and Install it

Using System Insights

Once installed, you will see System Insights added to the Tools section of the server that has it installed.

It comes predefined with 4 settings it will check up on:

  • CPU capacity forecasting
  • Network capacity forecasting
  • Total storage consumption forecasting
  • Volume consumption forecasting

You can simply select one and click on Invoke to actually generate the data required for the forecast.

Unfortunately, if you run this on a fairly new machine [<2 hours], there’s a big chance you’ll run into this ‘notification’

Be sure to check out the videos on what kind of data you can expect if you’re impatient

Isn’t this a PowerShell related blog?

Well, yes, mainly it is 🙂

So it turns out, you can full access all this data through your friendly neighbourhood automation swiss knife!

It’s good to see that the terminology used in the Windows Admin Center mimics the cmdlets used in PowerShell, so it’s easy to reproduce what you’re trying to accomplish.

will simply show you all of the currently available forecasts, while

will start the process.

Do note generating analytics can be a process intensive operation, so PowerShell will actually warn you about this

Also interesting to keep in mind that Invoking capabilities though the Windows Admin Center will generate a notification in the Notification area, doing so through PowerShell will NOT.

Here’s what I love

Now while this is all nice and dandy, my favourite option can be found under the Settings -> Actions option for each Capability:

You can link Actions in the form of PowerShell scripts to be performed depending on the returned prediction status.

For example:

On the Volume consumption forecasting capability, you can  have an Action set on Warning that the system should try to clear out log files in a certain directory, or perhaps clear the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder to quickly clear up some hard needed space.

Just imagine all the posibilities!

I want analytics, but I don’t want my to share my data

Now just in case you’re into tinfoil hats and are a little paranoid, you might wonder “where do they get all the data from to provide me with these analytics?”

Apparently it’s all local based analytics, so no sending data to evil cloud providers or Cambridge Analytica 😉 .
And even better, it’s fully operational through PowerShell, what more can I ask for?

 

Well, this might have been a little over 10 minutes, but I hope it’s been worth your while!

Play around with it, see what kind of cool things you can make and be sure to share them!

Happy Scripting! 🙂

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Windows Server 2019 – Windows Admin Center

After having played around a bit with Windows 2019 server, it was time to see what this “Project Honolulu” was all about.
Only to find out it’s no longer called that, it’s now been re-branded to it’s [hopefully] final name: Windows Admin Center

What IS the Windows Admin Center?

Well, according to Microsoft it’s simply this:

Windows Admin Center is a new, locally-deployed, browser-based management tool set that lets you manage your Windows Servers with no Azure or cloud dependency. Windows Admin Center gives you full control over all aspects of your server infrastructure and is particularly useful for managing servers on private networks that are not connected to the Internet.

Windows Admin Center is the modern evolution of “in-box” management tools, like Server Manager and MMC. It complements System Center – it’s not a replacement.

The quick definition for me would be a better version of the Server Manager, now accessible through your browser!

But enough talk, let’s take it for a spin!

Let’s prepare the prerequisites

Off we go, downloading the latest LTSC build for Windows Server 2019 [you will need that version if you want Desktop Experience] and while we’re at it, I’ll grab a copy of the new Windows Admin Center  🙂

Spinning up my test lab machine [Intel NUC6i5SYH in case you’re interested], I immediately create a new 2019 VM to see what’s what.

Literally 3 minutes after clicking on the install button I was looking at my logon screen 🙂

This is going to be a good night!

New toy time! Windows Admin Center

Ok, so we have our server up and running, let’s install the Windows Admin Center and see what we can do!

First we’ll need to copy the installation file from our lab to our VM:

Presto Chango, files are copied on to the VM [if you didn’t know about this before, you might want to look up something called PowerShell Direct]

I’m using all the defaults to install the Windows Admin Center, using default ports and a self signed certificate [usable for 60 days].
Of course in production you’d want to look into securing this, but this is still preview and test-lab, so knock yourself out 🙂

Ehm… what’s this?

Once Windows Admin Center’s installed, you want to start using it to see all the cool toys…
You open the browser and enter the URL https://<servername> , only to be greeted with the following error:

Turns out, you’re supposed to manage your severs from a management machine [preferably Windows 10 of course] and not on your server.
Since this is a quick test lab however, I’ll just install a decent browser and get along with the show!

Do note that due to the self signed SSL certificate, you will still get an error message, it’s just safe to proceed

 

Phew, that’s better!

After all those errors, it’s time to actually start up what we came here for [well, part of it]

You’ll first be greeted by the Tour window, but the contents are currently rather shabby

After that’s closed, you get to the actual heart of the Admin Center

Select the machine you want to manage and click Connect.
This will prompt you for the machine’s credentials [first time only] and will give you access to all the sexy tools it has to offer…

Now we’re talking!

Honorable mentions

Now I won’t go through ALL the features the Admin Center has to offer [although I’m really tempted], but I’ll throw in some features I thought were just AWESOME to be able to manage centrally:

  • Firewall settings
  • Network settings
  • PowerShell
  • RDP
  • Registry
  • Updates

They all just work IN THE BROWSER!!

Start playing around to see how it works, how FAST it actually is and be amazed at how user friendly it all is!

Have fun!

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