System Center, Technology

7 SCCM Task Sequence Tips

I purposely left out “OSD” in the title, because I see a significant increase in non-OSD tasks being performed with Task Sequences. This includes application deployments, complex configuration sequences, and so on. Whether those could be done more efficiently/effectively using other tools is a topic for another beer-infused, knife-slinging, baseball bat-swinging discussion. Just let me know early-on, so I can sneak out the back door.

Anyhow, this is just a short list of “tips” I find to be useful when it comes to planning, designing, building, testing, deploying and maintaining Task Sequences in a production environment. Why 7? Because it’s supposed to be lucky.

Disclaimer

Are you sitting down? Good. This might be a big shock to you, but I am *not* the world’s foremost expert on Task Sequences, or Configuration Manager. And some (maybe all) of these “tips” may be eye-rolling old news to you. But hopefully, some of this will be helpful to you.

Start Simple!

So often, I see someone jump in and start piling everything into a new Task Sequence at once, and THEN trying it out. This can make the troubleshooting process much more painful and time-consuming than it needs to be. Start with what developers call a “scaffold”, and gradually build on that.

I usually start with the primary task at hand: such as “install Windows 10 bare metal“, test that with only the absolute bare minimum steps required to get a successful deployment. Then add the next-most-important steps in layers and continue on.

However you decide to start, just be sure to test each change before adding the next. It might feel tedious and time-wasting, but it can save you 10 times the hassle later on.

Divide and Conquer

Don’t forget that the latest few builds of ConfigMgr (and MDT btw) support “child”, or nested, Task Sequences. In situations where you have multiple Task Sequences which share common steps, or groups of steps, consider pulling those out to a dedicated Task Sequence and link it where needed. Much MUCH easier to maintain when changes are needed.

Some common examples where this has been effective (there are many more I assure you) include Application Installations, Drivers, Conditional blocks of steps (group has a condition, which controls sub-level steps within it, etc.), and setup steps (detection steps with task sequence variable assignments at the very top of the sequence, etc.)

I’m also surprised how many people are not aware that you can open two Task Sequence editors at the same time, side-by-side, and copy/paste between them. No need to re-create things, when you can simply copy them.

Organize and Label

If you are going to have multiple phases for build/test/deploy for your Task Sequences, it may help to do one (or both) of the following:

  • Use console folders to organize them by phase (e.g. Dev, Test, Prod, and so on)
  • Use a consistent naming convention which clearly identifies the state of the Task Sequence (e.g. “… – Prod – 1.2”)

This is especially helpful with team environments where communications aren’t always optimal (multiple locations, language barriers, time zones, etc.)

Establish a policy and communicate it to everyone, then let the process manage itself. For example: “All you drunken idiots, listen up! From now on, only use Task Sequences with ‘Prod’ in the name, unless you know it’s for internal testing only! Any exceptions to this require you eating a can of bug spray.”

Documentation

Wherever you can use a comment, description, or note, field in anything, you should. This applies to more than ConfigMgr as well. Group Policy Objects and GP settings are rife with not having any explanation about why the setting exists or who created it. Don’t let this mine field creep into your ConfigMgr environment too.

Shameless plug: For help with identifying GPOs and settings (including preferences) which do or don’t have comments, take a look at the GpoDoc PowerShell module, available in the PowerShell Gallery, and wherever crackheads can be found.

The examples below show some common places that seem to be left blank in many (most) organizations I run across.

Other places where documentation (comments) can be helpful are the “Scripts” items, especially the Approval comment box.

Side note: You can query the SQL database view vSMS_Scripts, and check the “Comment” column values to determine what approval comments have been added to each item (or not). Then use the “Approver” column values to identify who to terminate.

Access Control

This is aimed at larger ConfigMgr teams. I’ve seen environments with a dozen “admins” working in the console, all with Full Administrator rights. If you can’t reign that wild-west show in a bit, at least sit down and agree who will maintain Task Sequences. Everyone else should stay out of them!

This is especially important if the team is not co-located. One customer I know was going through a merger (M&A) and, apparently, one group in another country, didn’t like some of the steps in their Windows 10 task sequence, so they deleted the steps. No notifications were sent. It was discovered when the first group started hearing about things missing from newly-imaged devices.

In that case, the things needed were (A) better communications between the two groups, and (B) proper security controls. After a few meetings it was agreed that the steps in question would get some condition tests to control where and when they were enabled.

Make Backups!!!!

Holy cow, do I see a lot of environments where the Backup site maintenance task isn’t enabled. That’s like walking into a biker bar wearing a “Bikers are all sissies!” t-shirt. You’re just asking for trouble.

Besides a (highly recommended) site backup, however, it often pays dividends to make what I call “tactical backups”. This includes such SUPER-BASIC things as:

  • Make a copy of your production task sequences (in the console) – This is often crucial for reverting a bunch of changes that somehow jacks-up your task sequence and you could spend hours/days figuring out which change caused it. Having a copy makes it really easy (and fast) to recover and avoid lengthy impact to production
  • Export your product task sequences – Whether this is part of a change management process (vaulting, etc.) or just as a CYA step, it can also make it easy to recover a broken Task Sequence quickly.

Either of these are usually much less painful than pulling from a site backup.

As a double-added precaution, I highly/strongly recommend that anytime you intend to make a change to a production task sequence, that you make a copy of it first. Then if your edits don’t work, instead of spending hours troubleshooting why a revert attempt isn’t actually reverting, you can *really* revert back to a working version.

Don’t Overdo It

One finally piece of advice is this: Just because you get comfortable using a particular hammer, don’t let this fool you into thinking everything is a nail. Task Sequences are great, and often incredibly useful, but they’re not always the optimal solution to ever challenge. Sometimes it’s best to stick with a very basic approach, like a Package, Application, or even a Script.

I’ve worked with customers who prefer to do *everything* via a Task Sequence. Even when it was obvious that it wasn’t necessary. The reason given was that it was what they were most familiar with at the time. They have since relaxed that default a bit, and saved themselves quite a bit of time. That said, Task Sequences are nice and should always be on your short list of options to solve a deployment need.

Summary

I hope this was helpful. If not, you can also print this out, and use it as a toilet bombing target. Just be sure to load up on a good Mexican lunch before you do. Cheers!

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Uncategorized

Things I actually like

Because I hear that I’m normally dissatisfied with schlocky half-assed semi-passionate stuff, I decided to make a list of things I actually, really do like. These are in no particular order.

  • My wife and kids (okay, and their spouses too)
  • Good food
  • Good beer and wine
  • More good beer and wine
  • Windows 10
  • Good Coffee
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • Cute baby animals
  • Water. Because it’s hard to make beer and coffee without it
  • Movies
  • News about stupid people being eaten by beasts they were taunting
  • 24 hours without hearing any mention of politics
  • Good BBQ. Really really good BBQ
  • Podcasts
  • Sunny warm weather
  • Flowers
  • The Home Depot
  • Cool techy stuff
  • Tesla
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Drawing (when I’m in the mood)
  • Playing drums
  • Telling the same story over and over until it induces vomiting in others
  • Trying to figure out custom vehicle license plates
  • Flip flops
  • Ear buds (can’t travel without them!)
  • Frank Zappa (and Dweezil) (okay, and most of the people who have ever passed through the band at one point)
  • A nice smartphone
  • More coffee or beer
  • Hamburgers
  • Tacos
  • Indian food
  • Cholulah Sauce
  • Thai food
  • Bangladeshi food
  • Glennfiddich
  • People who read this far into my silly lists
  • Twitter!
  • Netflix
  • Wegman’s grocery
  • Fry’s
  • Dove Micelar bath soap
  • In-n-Out
  • Mountains
  • That incredible air freshener stuff they spray in most Hilton lobbies
  • Beaches
  • Cops pulling idiots over after they just flipped me off
  • Helping homeless people who don’t ask for it
  • Laughter (gut-busting, face down, smack the table kind)
  • Telling everyone who hasn’t seen Avengers Endgame yet how Thanos turns out to be Samuel L. Jackson at the very end
  • More coffee
Uncategorized

No Answers Yet. Just Questions

So, I’m running into a technical snag and not having much luck solving it, yet. Hence, why I’m posting this here: in the hopes you might see this and respond with an answer. So far, the best (hopeful) solution offered is to run the process as a service (thanks Tony!), which I have not yet tried.

The Challenge

I need to schedule a PowerShell script (shown below) to run daily, using either a service account, or the local ‘SYSTEM’ account (I’ve tried both). This script needs to invoke functions from the PowerShell module ‘dbatools’, and produce output to a log file. Keep in mind that this is a ‘test’ script, and the actual script is far more eye-destructive ugliness than I can share here.

The platforms I’ve tested on (two so far) are the same:

  • Windows Server 2016 (domain-joined member server, entirely different forests/domains)
  • SQL Server 2017
  • PowerShell 5.1 (standard, built-in)
  • dbatools version 0.9.818

The Testing

Here is the script (below). When I run it in an interactive PowerShell console, it works fine. Even when I launch the console using “psexec.exe -i -s powershell -NoProfile” it works absolutely fine.

[CmdletBinding()]
param (
[string] $server = $env:COMPUTERNAME,
[string] $database = "MyDatabase",
[string] $tablename = "table123"
)
Start-Transcript -OutputDirectory "x:\scripts"
try {
Write-Output "importing module: dbatools"
Import-Module dbatools
Write-Output "version: $((Get-Module dbatools).Version -join '.')"
Write-Output "verifying table"
if (Get-DbaDbTable -SqlInstance $server -Database $database -Table $tablename -ErrorAction Stop) {
Write-Output "found it!"
}
else {
Write-Output "not found"
}
}
catch {
Write-Output "error: $($Error[0].Exception.Message)"
}
finally {
Stop-Transcript
}

The Scheduled Task

The Scheduled Task is set to run with the following configuration:

NamePS Test
TriggerDaily at 10:00 am
Actionpowershell -ExecutionPolicy ByPass -NoProfile -File x:\scripts\dbtest.ps1
RunAsNT Authority\System (aka “SYSTEM”)
OtherHighest privileges: enabled (checked)

The Problem

So far, no matter how I configure the task, it skips dbatools entirely and ends. Run it in an interactive console and it works perfectly. Here’s an example transcript from an interactive console invocation:

 Windows PowerShell transcript start
Start time: 20190430105649
Username: SKATTERBRAINZ\SYSTEM
RunAs User: SKATTERBRAINZ\SYSTEM
Machine: CM01 (Microsoft Windows NT 10.0.14393.0)
Host Application: powershell.exe -NoProfile
Process ID: 7300
PSVersion: 5.1.14393.2248
PSEdition: Desktop
PSCompatibleVersions: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 5.1.14393.2248
BuildVersion: 10.0.14393.2248
CLRVersion: 4.0.30319.42000
WSManStackVersion: 3.0
PSRemotingProtocolVersion: 2.3
SerializationVersion: 1.1.0.1
*************************
Transcript started, output file is x:\scripts\PowerShell_transcript.CM01.ycN6+GrS.20190430105649.txt
importing module: dbatools
version: 0.9.818
verifying table
found it!
*************************
Windows PowerShell transcript end
End time: 20190430105649
*************************

And an example from running via a Scheduled Task as local ‘SYSTEM’ account…

 Windows PowerShell transcript start
Start time: 20190430103137
Username: SKATTERBRAINZ\SYSTEM
RunAs User: SKATTERBRAINZ\SYSTEM
Machine: CM01 (Microsoft Windows NT 10.0.14393.0)
Host Application: C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.EXE -ExecutionPolicy ByPass -NoProfile -File x:\SCRIPTS\dbtest.ps1
Process ID: 8312
PSVersion: 5.1.14393.2248
PSEdition: Desktop
PSCompatibleVersions: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 5.1.14393.2248
BuildVersion: 10.0.14393.2248
CLRVersion: 4.0.30319.42000
WSManStackVersion: 3.0
PSRemotingProtocolVersion: 2.3
SerializationVersion: 1.1.0.1
*************************
importing module: dbatools
*************************
Windows PowerShell transcript end
End time: 20190430103142
*************************

It just stops at the import-module step and skips over to the “finally{}” block. No error is returned via “catch{}” which seems odd to me.

UPDATE: 04/30/2019

I added the following line just above the Import-Module for dbatools…

Write-Output "importing module: dbatools" 
#Import-Module dbatools
#Write-Output "version: $((Get-Module dbatools).Version -join '.')"
Write-Output "verifying database"
if (Get-SqlDatabase -ServerInstance "." -Name $database -ErrorAction Stop) {
Write-Output "database found!"
}
else {
Write-Output "database not found"
}

Here’s the updated transcript output…

importing module: dbatools
verifying database
database found!
verifying table
WARNING: SQLPS or SqlServer was previously imported during this session. If you encounter weird issues with dbatools, please restart PowerShell, then import dbatools without loading SQLPS or SqlServer first.
WARNING: To disable this message, type: Set-DbatoolsConfig -Name Import.SqlpsCheck -Value $false -PassThru | Register-DbatoolsConfig
found it!

Very weird results (to me, anyway).

UPDATE: 04/30/19 NO. 2 (The Electric Boogaloo)

Apparently, PowerShell 5.1 transcript features are what I was relying on to determine output/results (success/fail), which isn’t reliable. So, modifying my code (per suggestion of Shawn Melton, Slack “Sqlcommunity” channel) to use Out-File instead, seems to work!

# bad kitty!
Start-Transcript -OutputFolder "x:\scripts"
Write-Output "this works sometimes"

# good kitty!
$logfile = (Join-Path $pwd "logfile.log")
"$(get-date -format "yyyy-MM-dd hh:mm:ss") try this!" | Out-File $lotfile -Append
Cloud, Scripting

Microsoft Teams and PowerShell

I just started playing around with the MicrosoftTeams PowerShell module (available in the PowerShell Gallery, use Find-Module MicrosoftTeams for more information). Here’s a quick sample of how you can get started using it…

$conn = Connect-MicrosoftTeams

# list all Teams
Get-Team

# get a specific Team
$team = Get-Team -DisplayName "Benefits"

# create a new Team
$team = New-Team -DisplayName "TechSupport" -Description "Technical Support" -Owner "dave@contoso.com"

# add a few channels to the new Team
New-TeamChannel -GroupId $team.GroupId -DisplayName "Forms Library" -Description "Forms and Templates"
New-TeamChannel -GroupId $team.GroupId -DisplayName "Customers" -Description "Information for customers"
New-TeamChannel -GroupId $team.GroupId -DisplayName "Development" -Description "Applications and DevOps teams"

# dump properties for one Team channel
$channelId = Get-TeamChannel -GroupId $team.GroupId |
Where-Object {$_.DisplayName -eq 'Development'} |
Select-Object -ExpandProperty Id

# add a user to a Team
Add-TeamUser -GroupId $team.GroupId -User "dory@contoso.com" -Role Member

Here’s a splatted form of the above example, in case it renders better on some displays…

$conn = Connect-MicrosoftTeams

# list all Teams
Get-Team

# get a specific Team
$team = Get-Team -DisplayName "Benefits"

# create a new Team
$params = @{
DisplayName = "TechSupport"
Description = "Technical Support"
Owner = "dave@contoso.com"
}
$team = New-Team @params

# add a few channels to the new Team
# NOTE: You could form an array to iterate more efficiently
$params = @{
GroupId = $team.GroupId
DisplayName = "Forms Library"
Description = "Forms and Templates"
}
New-TeamChannel @params

$params = @{
GroupId = $team.GroupId
DisplayName = "Customers"
Description = "Information for customers"
}
New-TeamChannel @params

$params = @{
GroupId = $team.GroupId
DisplayName = "Development"
Description = "Applications and DevOps teams"
}
New-TeamChannel @params

# dump properties for one Team channel
$channelId = Get-TeamChannel -GroupId $team.GroupId |
Where-Object {$_.DisplayName -eq 'Development'} |
Select-Object -ExpandProperty Id

# add a user to a Team
$params = @{
GroupId = $team.GroupId
User = "dory@contoso.com"
Role = 'Member'
}
Add-TeamUser @params

humor, Uncategorized

Random thoughts

sir_shower_cat

A short list of things I’ve learned in my fifty-five years on this planet, which has been sitting in my drafts bin for 2 years.

  1. Not everyone who wanders is lost.
  2. Assuming everyone who wanders is lost could mean that you’re lost.
  3. If you hate Coke, it does not automatically mean you love Pepsi.
  4. Newer is not automatically better.
  5. If there’s a salesperson involved, it’s because it needed selling.
  6. Work is never really eliminated.  It’s just moved around.
  7. You can’t truly appreciate something until you’ve worked for it.
  8. The more legs a creature has, the more love it has.  Except when it gets past 8 legs, then it’s scarry.
  9. Most people complain most often about things they know the least about.
  10. The best programming language hasn’t been invented yet.
  11. Every generation wants the next to think that they had all the fun.
  12. Every generation thinks they had to work harder than the next.
  13. If it doesn’t cut expenses, or increase revenue, it’s probably junk.
  14. Fixing bugs is not refactoring.
  15. Chances are good that a reboot will fix it.

Uncategorized

Some Dimented Dimensions of ConfigMgr Data

So, over the past few weeks, like most of the rest of the incredible people on our team, I’ve been working multiple projects for different customers around SCCM and other things. My biggest struggle is not only keeping names and details aligned with whomever I’m speaking with online, but keeping each of their respective constraints and obstacles aligned as well.

Disclaimer: This article just might almost possibly kind of make sense, so please: read to the end, before you print it out, ball it up, and light it on fire. In all seriousness, this is just ONE way to approach one challenge. I’m sure you may have a better way.

In my case, for example, in customer environment “A”, the SCCM admins have full access to the SQL instance which underpins their site, while customer environment “B” has to rely on DBA generosity to get anything, unless it’s available from the SSRS reports, or SCCM Queries.

For customer A (the first one), my tried-and-true cheezy-wheezy SQL-via-PowerShell pipeline happy meal kit works great. This is basically where I drop a library of deep-fried .sql files with a small fry, sugary drink and kids toy all in a nice box, then shoot those through a dbatools PowerShell paintball gun to get a pipeline-capable data pump, which they can do things with (see stupid diagram number 1 below).

Stupid Diagram 1

For customer B (the latter), this happy meal doesn’t work because it’s not gluten-free and doesn’t have the vegan solar-powered kids toy in the box. So that requires a somewhat less robust approach: WQL. SQL (T-SQL actually) is much much faster to process (in general) than squeezing a data cow through a WMI provider wormhole, but you work with what you have.

Stupid Diagram 2

So, to pull the same logical dataset “join” with WQL that the SQL option allows, requires some really arcane backflips with two wooden legs and a pogo stick. Why? I don’t know, but it seems like they didn’t have lunch with the SQL team and instead got high on gasoline fumes or something.

Maybe I’m being short-sighted, but to me, WQL is the JRE of SQL. Actually, that’s not fair, because WQL is at least useful. I know you can make WQL do joins by smoking MOF files in a kiln, but I’m too lazy for that. But I digress.

Anyhow, why do I prefer SQL over WQL for PowerShell automation? Mainly because SQL is easier to do joins, and it provides better performance (CPU, memory, etc.) on average than the WMI provider. It also requires more of the data shaping to be done by PowerShell after the source data is returned, and PowerShell isn’t as fast at performing dataset operations as a relational database. The more shaping you can do within SQL the better.

PowerShell SQL Query – Example 1

#forest gump example...

$sys = Invoke-DbaQuery -SqlInstance "CM01" -Database "CM_P01" -Query "select distinct name0 from v_r_system"

#forest gump the ping pong player example, or using a native join...

$clients = Invoke-DbaQuery -SqlInstance "CM01" -Database "CM_P01" -Query "select distinct sys.name0, cs.model0 from v_r_system sys inner join v_gs_computer_system cs on sys.ResourceID = cs.ResourceID"
# results example...
name0 model0
----- ------
CM01 Virtual Machine
DC01 Virtual Machine
FS01 Virtual Machine
WEB01 Virtual Machine
WS01 Virtual Machine
WS02 Virtual Machine

The downside to this is that the PowerShell code can easily (and quickly) get bloated, and you end up with two languages in one file, which can become a pain to test and troubleshoot over time.

Better yet, separate the two so that the PowerShell script and SQL query statements are in separate files. The SQL queries can be easily opened and tested in SQL Server Management Studio, making things much less painful.

PowerShell SQL Query – Example 2

First, the super-bloated SQL query file example…

SELECT DISTINCT 
dbo.v_R_System.Name0 AS ComputerName,
dbo.v_R_System.AD_Site_Name0 AS ADSiteName,
dbo.v_R_System.Client_Version0 AS ClientVersion,
dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK.DeviceID0 AS DiskID,
(dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK.Size0 / 1024.0) AS DiskSize,
(dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK.FreeSpace0 / 1024.0) AS DiskFree,
ROUND( (dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK.FreeSpace0 * 1.0 / dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK.Size0), 2) AS DiskUsed,
dbo.v_GS_NETWORK_ADAPTER_CONFIGURATION.IPEnabled0 AS IPEnabled,
dbo.v_GS_NETWORK_ADAPTER_CONFIGURATION.IPAddress0 AS IPAddress,
dbo.v_GS_NETWORK_ADAPTER_CONFIGURATION.MACAddress0 AS MACAddress,
dbo.v_GS_NETWORK_ADAPTER_CONFIGURATION.DefaultIPGateway0 AS IPGateway,
dbo.v_GS_PROCESSOR.Name0 AS Processor,
dbo.v_GS_X86_PC_MEMORY.TotalPhysicalMemory0 as Memory,
dbo.vWorkstationStatus.OperatingSystem,
dbo.v_GS_OPERATING_SYSTEM.BuildNumber0 as OSBuild,
dbo.v_GS_SYSTEM_ENCLOSURE.SerialNumber0 as SerialNum,
dbo.vWorkstationStatus.LastHardwareScan,
dbo.vWorkstationStatus.LastPolicyRequest,
dbo.vWorkstationStatus.LastMPServerName
FROM
dbo.v_R_System INNER JOIN
dbo.vWorkstationStatus ON
dbo.v_R_System.ResourceID = dbo.vWorkstationStatus.ResourceID LEFT OUTER JOIN
dbo.v_GS_PROCESSOR ON
dbo.v_R_System.ResourceID = dbo.v_GS_PROCESSOR.ResourceID LEFT OUTER JOIN
dbo.v_GS_NETWORK_ADAPTER_CONFIGURATION ON
dbo.v_R_System.ResourceID = dbo.v_GS_NETWORK_ADAPTER_CONFIGURATION.ResourceID LEFT OUTER JOIN
dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK ON
dbo.v_R_System.ResourceID = dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK.ResourceID LEFT OUTER JOIN
dbo.v_GS_OPERATING_SYSTEM ON
dbo.v_R_System.ResourceID = dbo.v_GS_OPERATING_SYSTEM.ResourceID LEFT OUTER JOIN
dbo.v_GS_X86_PC_MEMORY ON
dbo.v_R_System.ResourceID = dbo.v_GS_X86_PC_MEMORY.ResourceID LEFT OUTER JOIN
dbo.v_GS_SYSTEM_ENCLOSURE ON
dbo.v_R_System.ResourceID = dbo.v_GS_SYSTEM_ENCLOSURE.ResourceID
WHERE
(dbo.v_GS_LOGICAL_DISK.DeviceID0 = N'C:')
AND
(dbo.v_GS_NETWORK_ADAPTER_CONFIGURATION.IPEnabled0 = 1)
ORDER BY ComputerName

I told you it was bloated. Almost dead-fish-in-a-hot-summer-dumpster bloated. So, I save this carcass into a file named “cm_clients.sql”. This example was actually created in SSMS and saved, but you could use Visual Studio or whatever you prefer to SQL development and testing.

Now let’s hook up the electrodes to the PowerShell beast and get moving…

$rows = Invoke-DbaQuery -SqlInstance "CM01" -Database "CM_P01" -File "c:\queries\cm_clients.sql"

That’s it. One line of PowerShell, while the SQL logic is hiding in separate files. The output looks something like this…

Sidenote: I blogged about this already, but you can populate a folder with a library of .sql files, and use (get-childitem) and pipe it to Out-GrideView to make a handy and cheap GUI menu selector to impress your non-scripting coworkers. Something like this…

$QPath = "\\servername\sharename\folder"
$qfiles = Get-ChildItem -Path $QPath -Filter "*.sql" | Sort-Object Name
if ($qfiles.count -lt 1) {
Write-Warning "$qpath contains no .sql files"
break
}
$qfile = $qfiles | Select -ExpandProperty Name | Out-GridView -Title "Select Query to Run" -OutputMode Single
if ($qfile) {
$filepath = Join-Path $QPath $qfile
Invoke-DbaQuery ... you get the idea...
}

PowerShell WMI Query – Example 3

function Get-CmObjectCollection {
[CmdletBinding()]
param (
[parameter(Mandatory=$True, HelpMessage="SMS Provider Name")]
[ValidateNotNullOrEmpty()]
[string] $Computer,
[parameter(Mandatory=$True, HelpMessage="Site Code")]
[ValidateLength(3,3)]
[string] $SiteCode,
[parameter(Mandatory=$True, HelpMessage="WMI Class Name")]
[ValidateNotNullOrEmpty()]
[string] $ClassName,
[parameter(Mandatory=$False, HelpMessage="Credentials")]
[System.Management.Automation.PSCredential] $Credential
)
$Namespace = "ROOT\SMS\site_$SiteCode"
try {
if ($Credential) {
$result = @(Get-WmiObject -Class $ClassName -ComputerName $Computer -Namespace $Namespace -Credential $Credential -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)
}
else {
$result = @(Get-WmiObject -Class $ClassName -ComputerName $Computer -Namespace $Namespace -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)
}
return $result | Select-Object * -ExcludeProperty PSComputerName, Scope, Path, Options, ClassPath,
Properties, SystemProperties, Qualifiers, Site, Container, __GENUS, __CLASS, __SUPERCLASS,
__DYNASTY, __RELPATH, __PROPERTY_COUNT, __DERIVATION, __SERVER, __NAMESPACE, __PATH
}
catch {
Write-Error $Error[0].Exception.Message
}
}

Without trying to shoehorn the entire set of SQL joins above into a WQL variation, which would look horrific without a ton of refactoring on Adderal and an ice bath, you can see with just two (2) datasets how this doesn’t scale very well…

$sys = Get-CmObjectCollection -Computer "CM01" -SiteCode "P01" -ClassName "SMS_R_System"
$cs = Get-CmObjectCollection -Computer "CM01" -SiteCode "P01" -ClassName "SMS_G_System_Computer_System"
$sys | % {
$resID = $_.ResourceID
$name = $_.Name
$model = $cs | ? {$_.ResourceID -eq $resID} | Select -ExpandProperty Model
$props = [ordered]@{
Name = $name
Model = $model
}
New-Object PSObject -Property $props
}

I suppose with enough brain juice, you could separate the query and processing logic with the WQL approach as well, but I’ll let you do that if you want.

Regardless of which approach you choose (or have chosen for you), the main thing to focus on is the data. With PowerShell you get the capability of pulling objects, which means you can filter and sort and do almost anything to shape the data you want to do what you need.

Conclusion

If you have the option, always use SQL. If you don’t, WQL can work, it’s just not as fun. Kind of like comparing Motley Crue with Lawrence Welk.

Brain is fried. Kirk out. Bed time.

Uncategorized

The User Desktop Experience Support Expert’s Guide to Expert Support Guidance and Support for User Desktop Experience (or UDESEGESGSUDE for short)

Introduction

There are many great blog posts, articles, whitepapers, videos and podcasts, that cover the plethora of angles involved with customizing the desktop “user experience” for users of Microsoft Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus. While they are often well-written and detailed, they often miss one fundamental question of “can” and “should”. This is what this blog post is about. It’s been a year since I used “plethora” in a sentence, so I’m celebrating with this blog post.

The Windows 10 Start Menu

Challenge: Customer/User/whiner insists they “need” to customize the Start Menu and/or Taskbar, to put application and web shortcuts directly in their faces. They cannot find and pin their own shortcuts. It is just completely impossible.

Solution: No. Tell them to pin their own damned shortcuts. You’ve got more important things to do.

User Profile Data

Challenge: Customer/User/Glue-sniffer wants to back-up and restore user profile data whenever a device is re-imaged, or replaced.

Solution: No they don’t. Cloud drives for everyone. Teach them how to back up their own stuff. If they sign your paycheck, then give them some help, anyone else: teach them.

Device Naming

Challenge: Like, OMG, your technicians are totally dependent on naming devices after the assigned users. Otherwise, it is “impossible” to identify their precious cat-hair covered laptop when they call for help.

Solution: Automatically name using serial numbers, and go find something more productive to do with your time.

Drivers and Imaging woes

Challenge: You spend countless hours finding, downloading, pruning, preparing, basting, seasoning, rubbing, basting, and package drivers for new models.

Solutions: (plural) [1] Use some automation tools like Driver Automation Tool (free plug), and [2] lean on your lazy-ass vendor reps to bring you the latest stuff. [3] Use AutoPilot, if possible, and stop reinventing the OS wheel everytime a new already-imaged device comes in the door.

Java Runtime

Challenge: You knew this was going to show up somewhere on my list, right? So, technicians are constantly dealing with multiple versions, and configurations, of the wonderful JRE for the 1990’s applications that users insist are critical to the organization.

Solutions: JRE sucks. Using JRE sucks. People talking about JRE sucks. People talking about using JRE sucks. Everything with JRE in it sucks. I hate JRE. Die die die!

Configuration Management

Challenge: You have 24 models to support, and new ones coming in all the time. Users have local administrator rights, and install an insane variety of products and versions. You don’t even know what you own.

Solution: One person with purchase authority and a (very) short list of supported models. Done. Move on. (Admin rights is next)

Local Admin Rights

Challenge: Users insist they need local admin rights, or they can’t do anything at work besides sit around complaining about not having local admin rights.

Solution: Give them some virtual machines and let them play. But the base OS is off-limits. It might help to state this officially as, “The base OS is off-limits, bitch.”

Password Maintenance

Challenge: Users keep forgetting their passwords. You have to maintain a scheduled process with a script, which sends email reminders to users about passwords about to expire.

Solution: Implement password self-reset. Turn off the scheduled 1990’s job. Then, go back to surfing Twitter and Facebook.

Software Packaging

Challenge: You find it more difficult to keep up with packaging new versions of software to maintain your environment.

Solution: Stop repackaging everything just because you’ve always repackaged everything. Sometimes a basic install is just fine. If it’s a pain in the ass installer, pick up the phone and rip a new hole in the vendor’s ass, to provide a better install experience, or you’ll “find a new piece of shit product to replace your piece of shit!!” Excessive caffeine prior to making that call, will often help.

Option 2 – Use the carrot approach: Explain to the vendor that by making their product easier to deploy and maintain, it will not only save your company time and money, but you may even give them a glowing endorsement of their cancer-curing world-peace-creating product. (you’d be surprised how often that actually works, btw.)

In-House App Dev

Challenge: You have a team of “developers” (glue-sniffing monkeys beating on keyboards) who make applications and dump them on your team to deploy. Only they’re not fully “packaged” for silent deployment.

Solution: Gluten-free Baseball bats.

Spearphishing/Spearfishing

Challenge: Users keep clicking on links in strange emails promising penis extensions, wads of free cash, and photos of naked entertainers. Virus infections are on the rise.

Solution: Implement something like ATA/ATP to mitigate the unwanted spam. Educate users on how to spot, and avoid, obvious links like “Gooogle.co”, “Click here to extend your penis, even if you don’t have one!” or “You won’t believe what Betty White’s vagina looks like now!” Not to mention, comparing the text links vs. the popups with the actual URL.

Summary

Basically, your job as an IT professional, is to work towards having as little work to do as possible. Automate everything. Shift the user-decision-making to the users. Be like the gas station attendant, who surfs Facebook all day whilst customers pump their own gas and buy lottery tickets from the vending machine.

If you can’t tell by now, I have strong belief in teaching users to deal with problems that they should be dealing with, and let IT worry about the complicated stuff. Backing up .mp3 and .docx files, is not complicated enough to assign highly-paid engineer to spend hours/days/weeks babysitting.

And, if you “sell it” properly to the users, it’s a win-win, because they see it as being trained and enabled. Most people like to feel enabled. So enable f*** out of them, and go focus on cool automation stuff. Every single time I’ve seen this put in motion correctly, it has paid off for everyone involved. Users are happier (and more capable), IT has less stupid crap on their plate, and more work gets done. Happy – happy – happy – happy – payday!