Disappearing Drives in WMF 5.0 Preview

§ April 21, 2015 17:04 by beefarino |

Just a quick note about something I uncovered in the WMF 5.0 preview.  This one’s been frustrating me for a few weeks as I’ve prepped demos for the PowerShell Summit.

If you create a new PowerShell drive in your session that has a single-letter name, the drive will be forcibly removed  unless it’s backed by the FileSystemProvider.

To see this in action, run the following script in PowerShell 5 preview:

new-psdrive z -psp filesystem -root 'c:\'
new-psdrive y -psp registry -root 'hkcu:\'
sleep -second 5


You’ll notice that the FileSystemProvider z: drive sticks around, where the RegistryProvider y: drive disappears.

Now that I’ve figured out what’s happening, I feel better about pushing the new version of Simplex to the gallery!

A Dirt Simple PowerShell Hosting Example

§ October 15, 2014 13:40 by beefarino |

Earlier today I responded to a shout for help from twitter friend and fellow PowerShell hacker Tim Meers:


After sending Tim some code showing how to host simple PowerShell scripts in your application, I’ve received several requests from others for the same.  I figured it was worth a quick blog post.

The annotated code is below.  This host accepts an item path as input, and uses PowerShell to fetch and format the item as text.

using System;
using System.Linq;

// you'll need to add a reference to System.Management.Automation
using System.Management.Automation;
using System.Management.Automation.Runspaces;

namespace HostSample
    class Program
        // to run this application, specify a path to an item
        //  e.g.:
        //      c:\
        //      env:/computername
        //      hkcu:/software
        static void Main(string[] args)
            // create a RUNSPACE - this is used to maintain state between pipelines.
            //  e.g., variables, function definitions, etc
            using (var runspace = RunspaceFactory.CreateRunspace())
                // open the runspace before you use it

                // set the default runspace for the process;
                //  this is necessary for some features and cmdlets to work properly
                Runspace.DefaultRunspace = runspace;
                // create a POWERSHELL pipeline
                using (var powershell = PowerShell.Create())
                    // assign the runspace to the pipeline
                    powershell.Runspace = runspace;

                    // build up the pipeline
                        .AddParameter("path", args[0])
                        .AddCommand( "out-string");

                    // execute the pipeline
                    var results = powershell.Invoke();

                    // output the results
                    Console.WriteLine( results.FirstOrDefault() );

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments.


Rocket Science

§ October 14, 2014 15:01 by beefarino |

So, funny story in honor of Ada Lovelace day.

My first job was pretty amazing.  I worked with a bunch of really smart people doing really smart things.  Space things.  And optics things.  Now my role on this team was fairly meager – I basically helped the documentation team try and capture all of the smart things the other smarter people were doing – but it was still amazing to be around that stuff.  Space telescopes, satellites, cell phones, automotive components, this team helped design all sorts of useful and interesting crap.

Anyway, one woman on the engineering team – we shall call her Mary although that’s not her name – had a very sharp sense of humor and keen hearing, both of which come into play in this tale.  One evening we were out celebrating …. something – a release perhaps?  maybe a project wrap-up?  There was drinking and nogoodnicking.  One of my outside-of-work friends from my previous stint in grad school was there – let’s call him Joe.  This evening Joe happened to be hitting on Mary.  Hard.  I watched from my bar stool several meters away while he strutted about her like a peacock with a spare ego.  Mary was unimpressed and Joe eventually took the hint.

So Joe politely adjourns from Mary and joins me at the bar.  I asked him, “So, what do you think of Mary?  She’s kind of awesome, right?”

Joe sighed and said, “Yeah, she’s cute.  But she’s no rocket scientist.”

I started laughing.  That loud obnoxious laugh you may know.  Joe wanted to know why.  So I turned around and shouted, “Hey Mary, what is it you do for a living?”

She finished her beer, slammed the stein on the table, stood up to look Joe square in the eye and as she was leaving, she said:

I’m a fucking rocket scientist.

And the best part?  It was true.  100% honest.  She did rockets for a living.  A literal rocket scientist that sends things into space.  Ego Joe never stood a chance.


So originally this post was a bit different.  It wasn’t a story, it was a rant.  I didn’t like the rant so I wanted to turn it into something positive. 

Here’s the thing – Ada Lovelace is important, and I’ve told my girls about her because I want them to know that women have had a profound impact on society.  Having that history is vital for them I think – I do believe the technical contributions from women are under-celebrated and often deliberately downplayed.  So I want them to know about Ada and what she contributed, and that we can literally thank her for my career and our family’s happiness.

But I know that won’t do anything real for them.  I mean, why should I expect stories of Ada to have a significant impact on my girls, when similar stories about C.S. Babbage had fairly milquetoast effects on me when I was their age.  Interesting, perhaps necessary, but it won’t light their fuse.

Which is why I spend so much time finding Marys.  Living people my girls can see doing real and amazing things, people they can talk to about wonders and interests.  Sure I want them to know that “once upon a time there was Ada,” but I think knowing that there is Mary right here, right now, doing really amazing stuff, is far more important to their mindset.

My biggest fear for my daughters is that they will come to believe that they can’t do something because of their gender or sex.  My biggest tool to counteract that fear, is to show them someone who can – someone like Mary.

Changes. I have them.

§ October 10, 2014 12:02 by beefarino |

As many of you know by now, I’ve accepted a position at Pluralsight as Curriculum Director. I can say honestly that I’ve never been more excited about taking a new position, and I’m really looking forward to being able to make a positive contribution at a fantastic organization. 

This represents yet another career shift for me.  Instead of slinging code day-to-day, I’ll be working to help others teach how to do so effectively.  As different as this will be, I feel like this position is the appropriate destination for my crooked and wandering career path.  My professional background didn’t start in technology; rather, it was cognitive psychology – specifically researching human perception and learning.  During that phase of my life, I came to love both learning and teaching. 

As I entered a technology career, I carried this with me; the opportunities to mentor for someone with no experience were limited of course.  It took years before I was comfortable sharing what I was doing with others, but I got there.  I started speaking at user groups, publishing open-source software, and eventually, I reached out to Pluralsight to see if they would be interested in having be as an author.

I didn’t end up producing a lot of content – all said and done, I will have four courses in the library.  And nothing terribly popular – but that’s not why I did it.  I missed teaching.  I wanted to get back into it somehow, the royalty model Pluralsight offers made that a reasonable avenue to follow, and frankly it was fun.  Thing is, as I worked through my courses, I noticed that I really enjoyed working with everyone on the Pluralsight side.  Every interaction with them was positive – even when they were turning down a course idea or pointing out my use of …. “sailor words.”  They seemed to appreciate the effort I put in too – eventually they folded me in as one of their peer reviewers, and for about two years I’ve been providing feedback on other courses as my schedule will allow.

Making the change from working for myself to working for someone else is something I honestly thought I would never choose to do.  I love the independent lifestyle, but there are some hard choices to make there.  Code Owls exists, in a nutshell, to allow me to manage my own time.  I want to be home for my kids to hear about their days, help with their schoolwork, and be their dad.  This new job doesn’t take me away from that – I still work primarily from home, my schedule is very flexible, and the company has a strong cultural focus on living a balanced life.  Moreover, growing a business by yourself is really hard.  I believe I could keep paying myself through Code Owls indefinitely, but I don’t think I could ever expect a raise unless I hired on, which is a hassle I don’t want and, frankly, can’t find the financial gain in doing so in today’s climate.  This shift represents a huge growth opportunity for me – one that would only be possible as part of an established organization.  That said I’m not closing Code Owls – I still plan to do things through this entity…

So what does this mean for the dozen or so open source projects I’ve pushed out there?  Honestly I think it means I will have more time and mental energy to devote to this area.  With clients consuming my tolerance for code, the production you see on my github page represents what is left over.  I fully expect to keep maintaining and growing StudioShell, and producing random PowerShell modules that only a few of you will actually use (wink-wink).  I also plan to keep speaking, after all, my love of teaching landed me this new amazing new gig, so why mess with that?

My official start date is November 17, 2014.  Until then, I’ll be putting bows on clients and projects in situ.

Oh, and before I forget – let me say THANK YOU to those of you who mentored me through this decision.  You know who you are.  And also a shout out to everyone for the well-wishes and kudos – the response to my initial announcement was overwhelming and I can’t respond to everyone individually.  Y’all have humbled me once again…