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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 15 May 2011
Don Jones is a well-known PowerShell MVP, trainer, author and blogger. This is his latest book on PowerShell. It sets out to teach a complete new comer to PowerShell how to use the language and commands to get stuff done. That is an important point - the book is about learning PowerShell so that you can use it to automate your administrative tasks.
The book is not an abstract look at PowerShell as a language but treats it as a tool you want to learn. It assumes you will be reading the chapters in order (which I would strongly recommend) and that you will be performing the exercises and running the code examples. Please make sure you do as it's the only way you will get the maximum benefit from the book.
As I have stated in other reviews I have three main criteria for judging a book:
* Is it technically accurate?
* Does deliver the material it claims to deliver?
* Is worth the cost of purchase and the time I spend reading it?
The first one is easy to deal with. Yes it is technically accurate. Don is an expert on the subject of PowerShell and more importantly for a book of this sort he is an expert on how to teach it. The book has been reviewed by a number of PowerShell experts and I performed the final technical review. It's as accurate as it can be!
The book has the following chapters:
1. Before you begin
2. Running commands
3. Using the help system
4. The pipeline: connecting commands
5. Adding commands
6. Objects: just data by another name
7. The pipeline, deeper
8. Formatting--and why it's done on the right
9. Filtering and comparisons
10. Remote control: one to one, and one to many
11. Tackling Windows Management Instrumentation
12. Multitasking with background jobs
13. Working with bunches of objects, one at a time
14. Security alert!
15. Variables: a place to store your stuff
16. Input and output
17. You call this scripting?
18. Sessions: remote control, with less work
19. From command to script to function
20. Adding logic and loops
21. Creating your own "cmdlets" and modules
22. Trapping and handling errors
23. Debugging techniques
24. Additional random tips, tricks, and techniques
25. Final exam: tackling an administrative task from scratch
26. Beyond the operating system: taking PowerShell further
27. Never the end
28. PowerShell cheat sheet
Each chapter is designed to be read, and the exercises performed, in an approximately one hour lunch break. They are short, concise and very much to the point. Don has a very easy writing style that stops the topics being dry. The humour comes through in places to liven things up.
This is a book about doing. If we look at chapter 17 for instance - this is where scripting is introduced as the previous chapters show what you can do with PowerShell just from the command line. The chapter has 7 solid examples plus a lab. There are two callouts urging you to try the code and a list of ideas to try at the end of the chapter. All of this in 12 pages!
As well as the basics of the PowerShell language the book covers what might be considered more advanced topics such as remoting and PowerShell jobs.
In a nutshell this book teaches you how to use PowerShell. If you work through the chapters and labs you can't fail to learn how to use PowerShell. Will it make you an overnight expert? No it won't but it will provide a very solid foundation for you to progress and discover more about PowerShell yourself.
Don is a teacher and that comes through the way the book is written and constructed. In terms of my last two questions:
* Does it deliver the material it claims - YES. There were a couple of points in the book that made me think about me assumptions about PowerShell.
* Is it worth the money to buy and the time to read - YES.
On the back cover there's a quote of mine "The book I wish I'd had when I started PowerShell". That sums it up for me. It's an excellent introduction to PowerShell itself and achieves exactly what it states it will do.
If you are new to PowerShell, or want to get started with it I can't recommend this book strongly enough. Buy it. Read it. Use it.
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on 2 September 2011
I wrote my first Powershell (powercli) script to interrogate vSphere last year but it was a very hit and miss affair, copying snippets of code from other people until I got something which did near enough what I needed. With my firm moving towards the latest MS technologies (Exchange 2011, SCCM, etc) I decided it was now time to learn PS properly and so bought this book.

So what can I say? Well I've read literally scores of technical books, everything from "Understanding IP6" to "The Suse Linux bible", but this text is by far and away the most enjoyable read out of the lot of them. It's not a tombstone of a book so immediately you feel that for once you might actually finish it, and that it wont be relegated to "reference manual" status.

The composition of the book is also excellent, with each chapter including practice examples designed to take about an hour each. The author is concise in his writing style but is still humorous, keeping the read enjoyable and relevant.

I've never before picked up a technical book and had trouble putting it down, but this book has changed all that. If you need or want to learn PowerShell and finally understand exactly what those scripts do in full, then this is the book for you!
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on 16 June 2012
I've always been known as a bit of a scripter in work, but it's mainly been the odd for loop from the command line and learning all the command line inputs for lots of different products etc. (csvde, ldife, psexec, putty, adsi etc.) With these skills it's been a bit like the adage about sausages and laws. (You don't want to know how they're made, just enjoy the end results.) A lot of what I've done has been from the culmination of running say a few batch files one after the other but getting there in the end. I guess what I'm trying to say is I was a frustrated scripter.

I've counted up all the books I've bought whereby I've 'tried' to teach myself scripting methods, vbscript, perl, wmi, etc however I kind of glazed over, gave up the ghost or just went back to doing it the 'old faithful' way as I didn't have time to keep working through the learning curve. Like most of us, I'm busy enough in work keeping all the plates spinning that the last thing I needed to do was put up another plate!

Anyway, I've also 'played' with powershell quite a bit, starting back when it first came out and the snapins for VMWare came back in version 1.0. I got so much out of reporting on the Virtual Center etc that I'm told they still use a lot of the scripts I originally wrote. (And like most other people out there I guess, a lot of what I wrote came from stuff I'd found online that was excellent and freely available.) It got to the stage where I was just holding myself back with powershell so I looked around and actually bought a few other books but they joined the pile of other books gathering dust (I've counted them and I've spent over £150 on them since 2003!), I saw the good reviews on here, googled the author started following him on twitter and eventually bought the book.

Boy do I wish I'd bought it as soon as it came out. Instantly I was eager to get to the next chapter and learn more, he gets you to do things sometimes in a roundabout way that helps you understand why and what's even better is there are videos freely available from the <...> website that really nail the chapters.

In the end I of course encountered some difficulties (the problem has always been between the keyboard and the chair! ;o) and I remembered reading that the author was available on the forums so I posted my question and it was answered almost immediately. It was like actually being in a classroom. What's more, it's eminently he's got the skills to back up his teaching which is something I usually find find lacking in 'trainers' that merely present powerpoint slides. He knew almost to a keystroke what I had done wrong and put me back on the right path. I've since gone on to nearly finishing the book (I'm on Chapter 21), I was going to wait until I had but not reviewing how good this is isn't fair on anyone else that's thinking about developing or learning powershell skills. Plus, it's like Don Jones says, you can either learn Powershell or learn to ask 'Would you like fries with that?' :o)

A few top tips I've learnt is take your time and study the errors when they occur (and they will), don't be embarrassed at mistakes, we all make them and there's a whole community of people out there who are just as passionate about this tool who are more than willing to help out. In the end, it doesn't matter how it's done, it matters that it gets done. It'll start looking 'nicer' the more that you do and I intend on doing it a lot from now on. If you do it more than once, script it!

Seriously, the concepts and methods this book teaches you in just a few weeks will have your knowledge up to intermediate if not advance.

Finally, as has been mentioned on here, you get access to the ebook with this book as well. Details are in the book. This is certainly a book for reading from cover to cover, not one for jumping in perusing an individual chapter, although you could do that if you needed to. One of the best things I like is that there is a 'new' version of this book coming out to support powershell 3 (It's coming with Windows 8 and Server 2012, but to be honest that's not going to be in 'production' environments for quite some time so I recommend this book if your a busy admin like me.) I caught a tweet from author about this new book and asked him what he suggested I do. Instead of trying to cream me to buy this 'new improved' book he told me to wait until his advanced book about "PowerShell Scripting and Toolmaking in a Month of Lunches" comes out as that would be a natural progression for me. Where do you get that kind of counsel these days?

As if you couldn't tell, I'm sold, both on the authors method of delivery but also on the book range.
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on 22 June 2013
There are people who are smart and those who can teach, people should not write tech to show how clever they are but to help others to learn. This Book is written by someone who knows how to teach without that person already knowing the subject.

No there is no scripting in this book, but it really does teach you how to use the Powershell and is quite clear on that. There is a 2nd book that tackles the scripting elements. It is a good book if you want to make a start on Powershell.
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2013
This is an excellent book for beginners. It starts of really easy and gets to the more complicated stuff as you go along. The author really pushes you to go through the help files to find what you're looking for. The chapters are quite short, so you don't really get bored half way through and you should be able to finish most of them within 30 minutes. Every few chapters there's a review test which covers all the chapters which you're gone through to test your knowledge. If you're struggling with a few of these questions, you should probably go back before moving onto the next chapter. If you're already using PowerShell this might not be the book for you as you'll probably skip through half straight away. I definitely recommend this book for all PowerShell beginners.

NOTE: you should ideally have access to a virtual PC running either windows server 2012 or windows 8 to be able to complete all tasks & examples. If you do not have access to either of those, you can still work on windows 7 however you will need to install PowerShell 3 and unfortunately you will not be able to complete all tasks/examples. Some of the chapters require you to have 2 PCs and even a windows server 2012 domain controller; however you should again be able to accomplish this with virtual PCs. If you're unable to set up and environment with 2 virtual PCs you can always use localhost twice.

The author has also done video lessons for the entire book which are available through CBT Nuggets for this book (link available at morelunches.com) . I found that it's sometimes easier to grasp the concepts when reading the book and the watching the video chapter (or vice versa) while this is not necessary, it might make it easier for you to get working with PowerShell
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on 16 November 2011
An easy to read, informative, and worthwhile book with the added benefit of having a soft copy download available so you can cut/paste the text into your Powershell window.
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on 5 April 2013
I came to PowerShell after years of scripting in either Bash or C shells. I therefore found the first couple of days work to be a little simple, However as you go through the book you are introduced to some of the deeper aspects of PowerShell.

As an aside I am very impressed with what Microsoft have done with the new version of PowerShell. All the commands retain a uniform and predictable feel, unlike most of what I am used to in Unix and Unix-like operating systems which feels like they were designed by a committee which never met.
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on 23 May 2012
This was one of the first books I bought on Powershell, and still one that I go back to regularly. Not only is the content well organised, the "Month of Lunches" concept is great. It allows the reader to digest the information in manageable size chunks without having to put the book down part way through a chapter or principle.

Each chapter contains a good explanation of a topic, generally with plenty of examples for you to follow along with, and finishes with lab exercises which not only reinforce what you had read about, but stretch your knowledge of the topic as you go along.

I don't five stars to every book, but this book deserves them. Don't be put off by the bland cover!
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on 5 August 2012
Scripting is an essential part of my job and each day it becomes more crucial, but I can't program, and I have no formal training in scripting. So my VBscript was not much better than a complicated batch file.

Powershell is the latest tool for scripting and by far the best. I needed to learn how to use it quickly and without complicated programing concepts or non-enterprise applications. Of that which I learned in each chapter, I used straight-away and I hope that I am now on the path to more complicated scripts. This is the book for you if you are like me and need a solid foundation for your powershell scripting needs. This book helped me tremendously!
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on 10 June 2014
This book is certainly aimed at beginners who are new to PS. I had used it a little bit, but often came up against errors which then put me off investigating further. PS is the way forward with the command line so getting a good foothold with it is really needed. The book sets the scene of PS and gives the reader the basics. It then builds the complexity of what it can be used for. Being able to access the in-built help system and use that has massively helped me! A good purchase for those starting out with PS or filling in the gaps as there are loads of tips.
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