Quick Guide – Setting up Remote Management of your child’s PC

MANAGING YOUR

With everyone working remote now, it’s really helpful to have a method to remote control your kid’s computers, especially if they are hard to keep on task like mine.

So I wrote this short guide to help you get a handle. This guide expects you to have two computers, one for you, one for your kids to use.

Whoa I need a computer for the kids?

This guide is only going to cover PCs, not tablets.  Sorry.

If you need to buy one, this is what I’m now recommending.  Walmart has a new in-store brand of computers which is surprisingly great for the money, called their Motile line. It can do light to moderate gaming like Minecraft and Fortnite, and also handle video editing if you’ve got a budding YouTuber, as well as programming. And the best point? It’s user upgradable so you can add more RAM or get a bigger hard drive down the road.

walmartMotile

Motile 14″ AMD Laptop with Radeon 3 Graphics, 128 GB SSD and 4GB RAM

Linus Tech Tips did a great and funny video on this laptop too if you’re interested. 

/\ The above are not my affiliate links.

Note: a word about Remote Management

This method will setup Remote Viewing and control of your child’s computer

It is imperative that you treat your children with maturity, allow them breaks and make sure they know you can remote into their PC.

You don’t want to be stuck at home with kids who feel you’ve abused their trust by spying on them.  Only use these powers for good.

If you disagree with this, I don’t care so please keep that perspective to yourself. Continue reading

YouTube Video Metadata Scraping with PowerShell

Trigger Warning : I discuss eating disorders and my opinions pro-eating disorder media briefly in this post. If this content is difficult for some, I recommend scrolling past The Background and resuming at The Project instead.

Background

I ❤ YouTube. I have learned so much about development from folks like I am Tim Curry, or from the amazing Microsoft Virtual Academy courses from Jeffrey Snover and Jason Helmick (original link ).

Most days I catch the repeats from Stephen Colbert, and then jam out to synthwave or chillhop. In fact, I listened to one particular mix so many times while learning c# that I still get flashbacks when I hear the songs on it again…sleepness nights trying to uncover everything I don’t know. I even have my own Intro to PowerShell Video that I think my mom watched 70,000 times.

My kids grew up singing songs from Dave and Eva, Little Baby Bum, Super Simple Songs and now Rachel and the TreeSchoolers, and it was one of the first services I signed up for and still pay for today (aside from NetFlix, and that one stint where I got CDs through the mail, yeah…)

But a few months ago I heard that YouTube will recommend videos which are pro eating-restriction and bulimia within four videos of the sorts of content targeted at young children. I have a history with people who experience these disorders and want to be sure we face it head on in my family, but that doesn’t mean I will allow impressionable minds to be exposed to content which presents this issue in a positive light.

If YouTube is not going to be safe for the type of stuff my children want to watch, I needed to know.  Unfortunately the person who told me of this can not remember their source, nor could I find any decent articles on the topic, but I thought that this smelled like a project in the making. Continue reading

ConfigMgr Tech Preview Install Guide

Hey all,
After seeing Adam Gross’ very interesting content on CM TechPreview’s new AdminService feature, I immediately started to wonder how I could go about using it in place of remote WMI Operations.
So I connected to my stale Tech Preview Environment (it was TP 1806, lol!) and found it had expired 😢.
After googling for 14 seconds, I found no one had made a completely slap-dash guide to deploying the current version of CM Tech preview complete with all of the links you’ll need, so I decided to do that here.
note: I am assuming you’ve installed ConfigMgr **a lot of times** before this, so I won’t go too in-depth into what you need to do for each step.  Where relevant I provide a link to a post with the exact step you need to do, in case you’re not sure.

Have an AD domain

You must have a domain to setup ConfigMgr.  Womp womp.  If you need a domain controller, make a new Server 2019 VM and follow this blog post for a one-click domain controller install.

Make a Service Account

You don’t want to be stuck doing this when you get to the SQL Install step so do it now.  Make a new account and set it to never expire and give it limited perms.
Do not place it in Domain Admins or Enterprise Admins

Continue reading

Progressive Automation: Part I

Progressive automation - real world automation in increasing complexity

In this series, I thought it’d be fun to walk through the common phases of an automation initiative and specifically show how I love to handle this sort of situation when it arises today.

We’ll walk through recognizing a good opportunity to move a manual task to automation covering these three main steps, over the next few posts here:

  • Begin with something terrible and manual and ease the pain by adding a simple script
  • Increase the sophistication and take it to the next level by adding a User Interface
  • Migrate our Automation from a PowerShell UI to a simple and easy asp.net portal which calls a script to run the task

Depending on the amount of steam I have left, we may even go one step further and make our dotnet site more advanced, if you all are interested ☺

Our goal is to go from ‘hey it actually worked’ to ‘It works pretty well now’, to ‘hey it actually still works!’

Tell me where it hurts

You should always start your automation by finding the biggest pain points or wastes of time and starting there.  Ideal cases are things that:

  • Require your specific manual intervention (+3 points)
  • Have to happen in an off hour or over the weekend (+5 points)
  • Are hard to do, or repetitive  (+5 points)
  • Have a nasty penalty if you get them wrong (+5 points)

Add them up and if you’re over 10 then you should think about automating it. Hell, if it’s over 6, you should automate it. Continue reading

PowerShell – Testing endpoints that perform Anti-forgery verification

First off, big thanks go to 🐦Ryan Ephgrave, an incredibly talented and easy to work with PowerShell and dotnet god I have the pleasure to learn from over at #BigBank™ (its a great thing LinkedIn doesn’t exist…)

We had a situation arise recently where we needed to create some Integration tests in Pester to validate a long list of web pages to be sure they responded after a deployment.  I started out manually writing a litany of Pester tests by hand like this:


Context 'Post Deployment Validation' {
    It 'Website #1 should be accessible' {
        $url = 'https://someserver:someport/someEndpoint'
        $results = Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $url -UseDefaultCredentials
        $results.StatusCode | should be 200
    }

    It 'Website #2 should be accessible' {
        $url = 'https://someOtherserver:someport/someEndpoint'
        $results = Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $url -UseDefaultCredentials
        $results.StatusCode | should be 200
    }[...]
}

I spoke with the team about what I was doing and Ryan drew my attention to the very neat TestCases of Pester, which you can read more about here.

With a bit of work, I converted my long list of tests (which I typed by hand…why?  Because I finally got a PS4 and I stayed up too late playing Sekiro!) into a JSON file like this.

[
    {
        "SiteName" : "Our Home Page",
        "Url" : "https://someserver:someport/someEndpoint"        
    },
    {
        "SiteName" : "Our WebApp #1",
        "Url" : "https://someOtherserver:someport/someEndpoint"        
    }
]

Then to hook this up to our Pester test from before and… Continue reading