Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches (3rd Edition)

Author: Donald W. Jones & Jeffrey D. Hicks
Publisher: Manning Publications
Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-1617294167
Print: 1617294160
Audience: Admins and devs
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Ian Stirk

This book aims to teach you PowerShell in around 25 hours, how does it fare?

PowerShell is a tool that allows you to automate and explore many administration tasks on various systems (e.g. Windows Server, SQL Server, Network server etc). Automation provides consistency, reduces errors, and saves time – all good reasons for investigating PowerShell. Additionally, many jobs are asking for PowerShell, typically as an adjunct to other skills.

The publisher Manning Press has a series of “…in a Month of Lunches” books, with the aim of introducing you to a topic using your lunch hour, by completing all the chapters within a month. Below is an overview of the book’s content.


The book opens with a look at why you should learn PowerShell, primarily it allows the automation of many underlying system administration tasks. The structure of the chapters is outlined (i.e. code examples, practical labs, common problems etc). Installing and setting up the PowerShell environment is explained. Each chapter contains practical exercises together with their solutions.

The initial chapters look at the PowerShell work environment (both the console window and the Integrated Scripting Environment [ISE]), and then explains how to use the comprehensive Help system – which allows you to explore PowerShell commands with little previous learning (and without reverting to Google searches). Next, some example common PowerShell commands are discussed together with their outputs.

If you have experience of a LINUX/UNIX environment, you’ll have a head start, since you’ll already know about using pipelines (where the output of one command is used as the input to the next command). Various inbuilt output formats are described (e.g. CSV, XML, table etc). The –whatif parameter is particularly useful, it allows you to see the effect of you running a command, without executing it (a useful check for when you’re making updates etc).

After looking at the basics, the middle chapters look at some of the more intermediate-level topics, including using Objects, more about the pipeline, together with formatting, filtering, and sorting output.

Chapter 12 provides a useful interlude, where exercises pull together all the things learnt in the previous chapters.

The later chapters look at how to extend the reach of PowerShell via remoting, and multitasking.

Chapter 17 provides an interesting look at PowerShell security. It may not be what you might expect. Essentially, in PowerShell, if you have the underlying permissions (e.g. to servers, file system etc), you should be able to just run the PowerShell commands i.e. there is very little specific to PowerShell security.

The next chapters discuss topics that relate to scripting and ‘programming’. It assumes the reader is not a programmer or has only limited programming experience (e.g. using/creating batch files). Everything is explained in a structured and gradated manner, which should prove useful to those administrators that shy away from programming.

The last chapters look at some general PowerShell tricks and tips (e.g. string manipulation). There’s a useful chapter on “where to go next”, providing some very helpful pointers to allow you to extend your PowerShell knowledge.


This is a very hands-on book, providing a gentle and gradated introduction to using PowerShell to explore and automate various administration tasks. All the topics are explained very clearly, with practical examples, and common misunderstandings. The book is based on the authors’ courses, which might explain its insightful manner.

If you have some programming experience (none is needed), you’ll have a head start in reading this book. Similarly, a little Linux/Unix experience may also be an advantage.

This book is a great starting point for learning PowerShell, providing useful practical content, and helpful pointers for further information. Highly recommended.

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Learn Python 3 the Hard Way

Author: Zed Shaw
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0134692883
Print: 0134692888
Kindle: B07378P8W6
Audience: Would-be Python programmers
Rating: 1
Reviewer: Alex Armstrong

Personally I'd prefer the easy and fun way but can hard be better?

Machine Learning in Python

Author:  Michael Bowles 
Publisher: Wiley
Pages: 360
ISBN: 978-1118961742
Print: 1118961749
Kindle: B00VOY1I98
Audience: Python programmers with data to analyze
Rating: 3.5
Reviewer:  Mike James 

Python is a good language to use to implement machine learning, but what exactly [ ... ]

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 December 2019 )