Windows PowerShell 3.0: Step by Step – A huge guide to things you can do after you’ve found PowerShell – #bookreview

Windows PowerShell 3.0: Step by Step
Ed Wilson
(Microsoft Press – paperback, Kindle)


Wondering what the “Open Windows PowerShell” option does on your Windows 8 PC?

There’s a book for that: Windows PowerShell 3.0: Step by Step by Ed Wilson.

According to Wilson, “Windows PowerShell 3.0 is an essential management and automation tool that brings the simplicity of the command line to the next generation operating systems.” It is “included in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, and portable to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2” and “offers unprecedented power and flexibility to everyone from power users to enterprise network administrators and architects.”

Windows PowerShell is accessed as a command console that also offers a programming language. This means you can create files that will perform some automated actions using “cmdlets” (pronounced “command-lets”) at the PowerShell prompt. The cmdlets, Wilson writes, “are like executable programs, but they take advantage of the facilities built into Windows PowerShell, and therefore are easy to write.” cmdlets are not scripts, he adds, “because they are built using the services of a special .NET Framework namespace.”

In one basic, introductory example in Wilson’s book, you create a batch file — TroubleShoot.bat — that automatically enters four commands in sequence and pipes the results of each command to a text file:

ipconfig /all >C:\tshoot.txt
route print >>C:\tshoot.txt
hostname >>C:\tshoot.txt
net statistics workstation >>C:\tshoot.txt

Wilson’s book spans 666 pages, so there are many other features and uses for PowerShell that should please power users, technical staff, Windows network administrators, and Windows networking consultants. Some programmers also will relish its opportunities to write various types of PowerShell files and create functions, subroutines, modules, and other processes.

If you are studying to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) or Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), you may know this already: Windows PowerShell is considered “a key component of many Microsoft courses and certification exams.”

Windows PowerShell 3.0: Step by Step is well written, and it is solidly illustrated with code examples, screenshots, and other graphics. The author is a senior consultant at Microsoft and a well-known scripting expert. Readers are not expected to have “any background in programming, development, or scripting.” So, it is a good (albeit hefty)  how-to guide for PowerShell beginners and intermediate users.

Si Dunn

Windows 8: The Missing Manual – The reference guide you need to sort it all out – #bookreview

Windows 8: The Missing Manual
David Pogue
(O’Reilly – paperback, Kindle)

Okay, so Windows 8 is not exactly setting the digital world on fire these days. Many of us bought it anyway, because we have been using Windows machines at home and in office settings for a long, long time. And we like to keep up–if only out of curiosity and to hedge our digital bets. For example, I now have Windows 8 on one laptop, Windows 7 on another, and Windows XP on two other computers. And all versions have served me well, thus far. 

I have been using Windows since the days of IBM PC-XT clones in the early 1980s. Yet that doesn’t make me a Windows expert. I make good use of the features I need as a writer, editor, and occasional programmer. And I completely ignore the many other features, until I suddenly need details such as how to work with an ISO disk image or temporarily override a pop-up blocker or set up a remote desktop connection. 

That’s when I grab for a reference book. David Pogue’s new Windows 8: The Missing Manual now occupies a prominent spot on my reference shelf. At 905 pages and 3+ pounds, it’s hefty enough to double as a doorstop or workout weight. But I keep it within quick reach when I work with Windows 8. 

The book’s 28 chapters and three appendixes are divided into eight well-organized parts: 

  • Part One: TileWorld
  • Part Two: The Windows Desktop
  • Part Three: Windows Online
  • Part Four: Pictures & Music
  • Part Five: Hardware & Peripherals
  • Part Six: PC Health
  • Part Seven: The Windows Network
  • Part Eight: Appendixes 

“Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Windows 8 is two operating systems in one,” Pogue writes. “They have separate software programs, control panels, Help systems, Web browsers, application switchers–and separate ways of doing things.” Microsoft, he adds, strongly disagrees with that assessment and “certainly doesn’t use the term ‘TileWorld’….”

The familiar Windows desktop portion of Windows 8 “is basically Windows 7,” Pogue says. “It’s the familiar world of overlapping windows, the taskbar, and drop-down menus. It’s designed for use with a mouse and keyboard. In this environment, you can run any of the four million existing Windows programs…..”

Meanwhile, the TileWorld part of Windows 8 is, Pogue says, “a new environment for touchscreens, like tablets and touchscreen laptops. This environment looks completely different–and works completely differently. There’s no taskbar, windows don’t overlap, and there are no drop-down menus. For TileWorld, you have to buy and install a completely new kind of app.”

My Windows 8 PC does not have a touch screen, so I don’t make much use of TileWorld or its apps, yet. Sometimes I click on the Calendar app or tiles that bring up Google Chrome, Amazon, eBay, or the Kindle reader. Mostly, however, I just click on the tile that brings up the traditional desktop, where I feel much more at home. 

But once I am ready to venture deeper into TileWorld (and that day is coming soon), Windows 8: The Missing Manual  offers five full chapters of how-to information.

David Pogue’s new book covers all versions of Windows 8, including Windows RT. “There are no longer 17,278 versions of Windows, praise Ballmer,” he writes. “No more Starter, Home, Home Premium, Ultimate, blah blah blah. Basically, there are only two versions for sale to the public–Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro–and the differences are minor.” (He does note that a third version, Windows 8 Enterprise, is available to corporate buyers only.)

“And then,” he warns, “there’s Windows RT. Be careful.”

He explains: “Windows RT does not run on computers with Intel processors and does not run traditional Windows software (Photoshop, Quicken, iTunes, and so on. It’s designed for low-powered touchscreen gadgets like tablets–notably Microsoft’s own $500 Surface tablet–and maybe a few simple laptops.

“Basically,” he continues, “Windows RT is all TileWorld. It runs only TileWorld apps.” It has such traditional Windows apps as the Calculator and Control Panel. And the Surface tablet runs RT versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. “But otherwise,” Pogue cautions, “Windows RT doesn’t run ‘real’ Windows software.”

I download lots of stuff and run many programs, so my hard drives tend to get cluttered and fragmented fairly quickly. One of my favorite chapters of Windows 8: The Missing Manual focuses on “Maintenance, Speed Tweaks & Troubleshooting.” Among its tips are “Three Speed Tricks” that can help keep my Windows 8 PC forging ahead at reasonably full steam. There also are some cool tips in Appendix B, where I can have (dangerous) “Fun with the Registry” if I desire.

I have made a list of several chapters that I intend to revisit soon so I can spend some time hooking up and testing a few peripherals, updating some drivers, and making adjustments to some icons. Essentially, almost anything I want to know or need to know about using my Windows 8 PC appears to be covered in this well written, well illustrated, nicely organized book.

Everything, of course, except the recently leaked news of a Windows 8 upgrade called Windows Blue. (Yet Pogue does predict in his book: “Maybe Windows 8 is meant to be a transitional OS. Maybe the next one will be all TileWorld, all touchscreen, all the time.”)

Having experienced many run-ins over the decades with Microsoft’s legendary “blue screen of death,” I will not be quick to grab any Windows software product named Blue. Not as long as Windows 8, 7, and XP keep working well enough for what I do.

– Si Dunn 

Programming C# 5.0 – Excellent how-to guide for experienced developers ready to learn C# – #bookreview

Programming C# 5.0
Ian Griffiths
(O’Reilly, paperbackKindle)

Ian Griffiths’ new book is for “experienced developers,” not for beginners hoping to learn the basics of programming while also learning C#. The focus is “Building Windows 8, Web, and Desktop Applications for the .NET 4.5 Framework.”

Earlier editions in the Programming C# series have “explained some basic concepts such as classes, polymorphism, and collections,” Griffiths notes. But C# also keeps growing in power and size, which means the page counts of its how-to manuals must keep growing, too, to cover “everything.”

The paperback version of Programming C# 5.0 weighs in at 861 pages and more than three pounds. So Griffiths’ choice to sharpen the book’s focus is a smart one. Beginners can learn the basics of programming in other books and other ways before digging into this edition. And experienced developers will find that the author’s explanations and code examples now have space to go “into rather more detail” than would have been possible if chapters explaining the basics of programming had been packed in, as well.

If you have done some programming and know a class from an array, this book can be your well-structured guide to learning C#. The “basics” are gone, but you still are shown how to create a “Hello World” program—primarily so you can see how new C# projects are created in Visual Studio, Microsoft’s development environment.

C# has been around since 2000 and “can be used for many kinds of applications, including websites, desktop applications, games, phone apps, and command-line utilities,” Griffiths says.

“The most significant new feature in C# 5.0,” he emphasizes, “is support for asynchronous programming.” He notes that “.NET has always offered asynchronous APIs (i.e., ones that do not wait for the operation they perform to finish before returning). Asynchrony is particularly important with input/output(I/O) operations, which can take a long time and often don’t require any active involvement from the CPU except at the start and end of an operation. Simple, synchronous APIs that do not return until the operation completes can be inefficient. They tie up a thread while waiting, which can cause suboptimal performance in servers, and they’re also unhelpful in client-side code, where they can make a user interface unresponsive.”

In the past, however, “the more efficient and flexible asynchronous APIs” have been “considerably harder to use than their synchronous counterparts. But now,” Griffiths points out, “if an asynchronous API conforms to a certain pattern, you can write C# code that looks almost as simple as the synchronous alternative would.”

If you are an experienced programmer hoping to add C# to your language skills, Ian Griffiths’ new book covers much of what you need to know, including how to use XAML (pronounced “zammel”) “to create  applications of the [touch-screen] style introduced by Windows 8” but also applications for desktop computers and Windows Phone.

Yes, Microsoft created C#, but there are other ways to run it, too, Griffiths adds.

“The open source Mono project ( provides tools for building C# applications that run on Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android.”

Si Dunn

For more information:  paperback – Kindle

Understanding IPv6, 3rd Edition – Welcome to the new, improved & BIGGER Internet – #bookreview #microsoft #windows

Understanding IPv6, 3rd Edition
Joseph Davies
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $49.99; Kindle edition, list price $39.99)

The Internet can now expand into a much bigger realm than was possible before the worldwide launch of IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) on June 6, 2012.

The web most of us use has long relied on IPv4, the circa-1981 Internet Protocol built around 32-bit addresses. This scheme can accommodate approximately 4.3 billion unique addresses worldwide. On a planet where (1) the population now has surpassed 7 billion and (2) many of us now have multiple devices connected to the Web, Internet Protocol version 4 recently has been in dire danger of running out of unique addresses.

IPv6 will fix that problem and offer several important new enhancements, as long as we don’t find ways to expand the Internet to parallel universes or to the people on a few trillion distant planets. IPv6 uses a 128-bit addressing scheme that can accommodate more than 340 trillion trillion trillion unique addresses. So go ahead. Get online with that second iPad, third smart phone or fourth laptop.

IPv4 and IPv6 are now running in a dual stack that supports both addressing schemes. The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is not seamless, however. A lot of work remains to be done by major Internet service providers (ISPs), web companies, hardware manufacturers, network equipment providers and many others to enable IPv6 on their products and services.

Joseph Davies, author of Understanding IPv6, has been writing about IPv6 since 1999. His new 674-page third edition provides both a detailed overview of IPv6 and a detailed focus on how to implement it, within a limited range of Windows products.

“There are,” he notes, “different versions of the Microsoft IPv6 protocol for Windows….I have chosen to confine the discussion to the IPv6 implementation in Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.”

This well-written and well-organized book is not for beginners. Its intended audience includes:

  • Windows networking consultants and planners
  • Microsoft Windows network administrators
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSEs) and Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs)
  • General technical staff
  • Information technology students

Davies and Microsoft offer downloadable companion content for this book: Microsoft Network Monitor 3.4 (a network sniffer for capturing and viewing frames); and PowerPoint 2007 training slides that can be used along with the book to teach IPv6.

If you need a guide to best practices for using IPv6 in a Windows network, definitely consider getting Understanding IPv6, 3rd Edition.

Si Dunn