Running Scripts On Remote PCs

I often have situations where I want to run some commands on a remote PC in the environment, or even on a series of PCs.  There is a fairly straightforward method to run script remotely by reading a list of computers from a text file and supplying Admin credentials.  It took me a bit to piece these together so I thought I would share.

Let’s say we want to install a number of programs on some existing machines and we don’t have something cool like SCCM available.  I will post the script and then describe what the pieces do.

Install_Script

Shameless Self Promotion and then The Good Stuff

##Top of Script
###################################################################
# Written by Roberto Henriquez http://www.itbuki.com #
###################################################################

# This will prompt for credentials when the script is run. Generally these will be admin credentials that have admin rights on the target machines
$credential = Get-Credential

#This will read the list of target computers from a text file. One computer per line, please.
$YourFile = Get-Content ‘C:\scripts\computer_targets.txt’

# This establishes variables for a file share to run the installs from using the credentials entered
$psdrive = @{
Name = “PSDrive”
PSProvider = “FileSystem”
Root = “\\FILESERVER\FileShare”
Credential = $credential
}

# This runs through each computer list in the text file. One computer per line, please.
foreach ($computer in $YourFile)
{

# This will print the target computer name on the screen
write-host “${computer}”

# This will attempt to start the Windows Remote Management service. This service MUST be running for this to work. If you have WinRM running automatically, you can eliminate this step.
Get-Service -Name WinRM -ComputerName $computer | Set-Service -Status Running

# Here’s the magic sauce. This will run everything inside the brackets like you are sitting at a PowerShell window on the remote computer
Invoke-Command -ComputerName $computer -ScriptBlock {

# This section uninstalls software. You can use this to search for any number of products simply by changing what’s inside the single quotes after Name.
$p = gwmi -Class win32_Product -Filter “Name =’OpenOffice 4.1.5′”
$p.Uninstall()

# This section creates a drive within the remote context to copy files from
New-PSDrive @using:psdrive

# This section installs programs. The Wait switch at the end makes sure that install has finished BEFORE moving on to the next install.
Start-Process -FilePath ‘\\FILESERVER\FileShare\Some Amazing Program\SAP.msi’ -ArgumentList ‘/quiet’,’/qn’,’/norestart’ -Wait
Start-Process “msiexec.exe” -ArgumentList “/i \\FILESERVER\FileShare\DeepBlueSea\DeepBlueSea.2.8.583m.msi /quiet” -Wait

# This is an example of copying a directory and it’s contents to the target system and then running the install from the local location
Copy-Item -Path \\FILESERVER\FileShare\SomeBigProgram -Recurse -Destination c:\temp\ -container
Start-Process c:\temp\SomeBigProgram\install.bat -Wait

# This command runs an MSP file to update an existing installed program
Start-Process “msiexec.exe” -ArgumentList “/update \\FILESERVER\FileShare\BobsProgram\BobsProgram_Patch7.msp /qn” -Wait

# This shows some more switches that sometimes need to be used.
Start-Process -FilePath ‘\\FILESERVER\FileShare\Nonesense Components\BNware\Windows\BNware-Client-4.3.0-24601.exe’ -ArgumentList ‘/s’,’/v’,’/qn REBOOT=ReallySupress’ -Wait

# Very Important to make sure and remove the drive mounting before ending the script. If you do not, rerunning the script will frequently fail till the target machine is rebooted.
Remove-PSDrive psdrive
}
}

FIN

There are several ways to tackle problems, but this is the way I have had much luck with. I hope you find this useful.  Please comment and let me know how this works for you.

Roberto

The names and places have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty). No electrons were harmed during this explanation.

Computer Security

Computer security is the most important aspect of responsible computing and often the least executed.  There are a number of parts to security, but I’m going to discuss three areas: Backups, Passwords, and Anti-X.

Backups

This is the single most important area especially in a business environment. Your security preparations are only as strong as your most recent USABLE backup. Why do I emphasize the word usable? Because backups aren’t worth anything if they aren’t successful or if the backup includes the infected files.  It is important to have a backup rotation that gives you a week or two at least to discover a problem and restore a good file. Backups should be tested periodically by restoring a file or two and then opening those files to make sure they are readable. I have spent hours going through customer backup files only to find that they weren’t able to be restored.

Passwords

Use strong passwords! I cannot emphasize this enough. Sports teams, people’s names, animals, words with simple number replacements are all VERY easy to hack with something called a dictionary attack. A dictionary attack uses a file that contains common passwords and basic variations to try and log into someone’s account. Let’s say you love the Bengals (sorry for your delusion) and you say, hey, I’ll be clever and make the ‘e’ a 3 and the ‘a’ an @ sign giving you B3ng@ls. Don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly. This is a very common replacement scheme and one that is covered in nearly every dictionary attack.  I personally use a program called Keeper Security which can be found here. I love this program. I use a relatively complex password for this program and then I allow the program to generate really complex passwords for all my other sites. The nice thing is that I can access this from any computer via the website and I can also access it on my mobile devices via apps for Apple and Android operating systems.  There are browser plug ins for both IE and Chrome that make it easy to use Keeper on the go and save the complex passwords. I highly recommend using something like this for your passwords.

Finally, let’s look at anti-x software. This is used to include the array of anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spam, etc. software that is available out there. In today’s world, it is imperative that you have some type of decent anti-x software installed. Microsoft, Symantec, TrendMicro, and McAfee all make high quality anti-x products that are suitable for both the home and business user. These software packages will check your device to make sure it doesn’t have any viruses on it at that moment. You can then enable some type of active monitoring that will check files, email, websites, etc. as you are working to try and prevent infection from occurring in the first place. Make sure the virus signatures are set to update at least once a day. I typically set mine to 11pm and 11am (every 12 hours). This helps make sure I’m as up to date as possible.  If you hear of a new virus variant coming out, please check one of the vendors websites mentioned here to verify if it is a real issue, or just spam email. If it is a real virus that is new (generally these are referred to as ‘zero day’ viruses the day they are publicized) be extra cautions of anything even remotely suspicious that you get until your anti-x vendor provides updated signatures to handle the zero-day virus.

I hope you find these comments useful and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

WebQuests

WebQuests

This week we looked at WebQuests. These are kind of like online treasure hunts where students are given a situation and task to complete using online resources.  I think these are great. Not only does it build content knowledge, it also teaches online searching skills which is critical in today’s society.  The WebQuest I found online that I really liked was a Small Business WebQuest at http://imet.csus.edu/imet1/peaty/webquest/

I think this WQ does an excellent job of laying out the situation and providing an interesting topic to research.  It provides examples of other small businesses and really walks students through the process.  The scoring guidelines are clear and easy to understand.  I think this could be made better by tying in to a segment of the TV show Shark Tank to show how pitching a business and understanding the business can really make a difference in getting funding.

The WebQuest that I created for this class can be found at http://zunal.com/webquest.php?w=253034

This WQ is about creating effective fliers using MS Word. There are several things that I look for the students to get out of this lesson. First off, I want them to understand what goes into making a good flier to catch people’s attention. That’s the obvious one. Next, I want them to learn some MS Word skills that they may not already have, like adjusting margins. Then, one of the most important skills, knowing how to search for information on the web and then finding that credible information. Too often I work with students and adults who have no real idea how to word their search queries to return what they are really looking for. I remember as a child going to the library so the librarian could show us how to use the library to research information. These days, so much of that has been replaced by the internet.

Zunal is a great tool for creating WebQuests. It walks you through the creation process as well as providing a really useful set of tools to embed content and make the WebQuest interface much more interesting for the students.

Online Communication Tools

1. What did I learn that was totally new to me?

This is a tough question given my depth of technology background. I’m not really sure that I learned anything totally new to me. Online communication is critical to todays education systems. Both synchronous (i.e. chat, video conference) as well as asynchronous (i.e. e-mail, blogs, YouTube) are valuable for education. Educators should not lean on only one area, but be sure to utilize both types of communication.

2. How can you use this information to inform your instructional strategies with your own students? 

I really enjoyed learning a bit more about the importance of communication tools for interacting with students. I think it will be important in the future to integrate multiple communication strategies into my instructional design.  I personally tend to shy away from direct communication styles like phone conversations. I prefer email and chat communication. One of the big reasons is that this leaves a record of what was discussed that can be referenced at a later date. I often forget parts of verbal conversations, particularly when I’m on the phone. I think this may be because the phone provides no visual linkage to what’s being said. Without some type of visual linkage, I find it difficult to recall information.  It is strange that someone who spends so much time on computers would have this type of issue, but typing words helps provide the visual link for me that is simply not there on the phone.

Presentation Programs

This weeks lesson was about presentations. I think many people misunderstand the purpose of a digital presentation. It is not meant as a set of on screen notes to be read or copied down. It is meant as a visual tool to help pull your audience into your presentation and to enhance the information. Too often I have sat through presentations where the presenter has read slides to us. This does nearly nothing to enhance the presentation or engage the audience.

I have personally created and used many digital presentations to classes. Even with my experience and knowledge, I find myself falling into this trap. After completing a presentation, It’s good to go back through it with a critical eye and ask yourself what is it adding.

I find myself doing this after nearly every presentation, just like I do after nearly every lesson. Do a quick ‘post mortem’. Ask what went well, what could have gone better, how can I improve. Figure out what students reacted well to and what seemed to leave them cold. You could even conduct a quick survey. I’m always looking for continuous improvement.

We also spent time this week looking at the TED website. I am a fan of TED and have been for quite awhile. There are LOTS of topics and information on this site that I love to contemplate. I think it can be excellent jumping off points for student lessons and projects.

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 11

ComicLife

1. Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
This is a really interesting way to engage students. This site allows you to take pictures and a story to create a comic book/graphic novel for telling your story.  Seems to be really flexible and usable. Allows author to create their script and then helps walk them through creating the pages to go with the script.
2. How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I think it would be great for students to use something like this to present their findings from a lesson. Love the creativity aspect of something much more engaging than just writing a report.
3. Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
Seems to be relatively easy to use. It does cost $29.95 and requires Windows 7 or Windows 8. It seems like a really good tool to me and I would recommend it.

 

iSpeech

1. Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
This is another text to speech utility. This one seems to do a better job of sounding more natural. You can translate small text quickly or entire documents to speech. These speech files can also be connected with animated avatars. This increases the interest level for students.
2. How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I think this could be used by both educators and students. Educators could use this for enhancing their own presentations and in creating differentiated instruction for students with special needs.
3. Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
This seems like a really interesting tool. There is a free version that provides some basic functionality and is pretty easy to use. There are paid versions that provide more features. I was not able to find pricing for these additional features and functionality.

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 12

VoiceThread

1. Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.

2. How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.

3. Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 13

Storybird

1. Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.

2. How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.

3. Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?

Scribblar


1. Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.

2. How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.

3. Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 14

Kidblog.org

1. Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.

2. How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.

3. Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?

Word Processing and Desktop Publishing

This week’s readings were focused on Word Processing and Desktop Publishing software and use in class.  I use MS Word on a daily basis for everything from quick notes to formal reports. When I was a teacher, I would use it to create formal letters to send home to parents for communication. Much of the letter writing use has now switched to email, but there are still occasions where the printed letter is needed.  Most businesses these days use some type of word processing software in the day-to-day work of the office.  It is critical that students understand how to use the software and to format things properly. I know many students come into class having played with word processing, but don’t understand how to really make the program work for them and how to format items properly.

Desktop publishing is great for creating visual impact elements like fliers and posters and brochures.  Again, there are basic concepts to creating items like this that include font size, type, white space, graphics etc. Many students have played with this, but don’t understand the basics of layout and such. Using classroom content assignments combined with these concepts is a great way to help them get prepared.

The most interesting thing I got out of this week’s assignments were some of the assistive technologies and resources.  Of particular interest were http://www.4teachers.org/tools and http://readthewords.com. 4 Teachers contains some EXCELLENT resources that are quick and easy to incorporate to the classroom. I used Rubistar when I was teaching and loved it for creating all my rubrics.  I really liked Read The Words for a text to speech program. It’s ability to submit entire word documents to be converted is great for those who have large libraries of information in .doc or .pdf format.

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 7

Assistive Technologies

 Georgia Project for Assistive Technology

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
This resource provides a lot of background making the case for assistive technologies and what the legal support is for them in the classroom. Once you get past the definitions and legal info, there is some really useful examples of securing and implementing assistive technologies. There are some really outstanding presentations as well as a great list of resources.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
This would be a great website to help an educator looking to effectively implement AT into their district and/or classroom. There is material on securing funding, assessing, implementing and tracking AT.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
I think this is an outstanding resource that is rich with information. It takes a bit to wade through the legal background bits, but this may be necessary in some situations to make a case for AT. It is FREE, which is always a bonus.

 

Zoho

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
I’m a bit confused as to why this is in the AT section. Zoho has collaboration applications, business applications and productivity applications. It appears that some of the apps are free for basic use. Finding pricing is NOT easy.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
Using the collaboration tools with classes and on projects would help those who might not be able to make it to class all the time. The productivity tools might be a good alternative if the school system didn’t already have productivity tools.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
I don’t know if I’d really recommend this site. Pricing is really hard to find so it is hard to know if it’s affordable on a larger scale or not. Because of the integration with Google Apps, this might be more appropriate for a school that already uses Google Apps to consider.

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 8

Online Tools for Teachers

4Teachers – Rubistar

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
Rubistar is a great website for creating grading rubrics for many types of assignments. They have a number of examples and rubric templates. Rubics are critical for quality assessment of students.  It clearly defines what is to be graded and how it is to be graded.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I have used this resource before to create rubrics for class projects. One project in particular was a web search project where the students researched information on tsunami and then used that information into a Word document.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
I highly recommend this resource. It makes rubric creation very easy. It is FREE! Teachers can also save their rubrics for future use.

 

4Teachers – PBL Checklist

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
This site contains customizable checklists targeted at project based learning. Often, one of them most difficult things for students working on projects is getting organized and staying on track. The use of a checklist is a great visual tool for helping students in this very thing. The checklists are divided by grade levels as well as subject areas.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I would use this for class projects over the course of the year. I would start off with a high level of detail helping the students organize and stay on task, then start moving to lower levels of detail to allow the students greater freedom to use their own knowledge. (Scaffolding)
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
This is another great site. I wish I had known about this site when I was teaching. The site is free and has a great breakdown of lists for different grade levels as well as different content areas. They are also available in both English and Spanish. I highly recommend this site.

 

4Teachers – Equity Index

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
Equity Index provides a website that leads to resources focused on diversity, differentiation and inclusion. It is divided by type of inclusion and then by the resources available. They target RubiStar, TrackStar and Web links. These targets are specific to that area of inclusion. This includes Special Needs, Multicultural, Disabilities, Assistive Technology and others.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I would use this for differentiation in the classroom assignments as well as for specific lessons on multicultural topics. For example, The links lead to a RubiStar rubric that involves creating a Database-supported lesson on famous Hispanics.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
This is another highly recommended site for me. The site is FREE! It is very intuitive to use and provides a wealth of resources quite quickly.

 

4Teachers – Dimio

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
Dimio is a group of utilities that include basic file handling up to a speech recognition/generation software. It can read written text with a customizable voice that can be manipulated to represent a dialog between multiple people.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I think this could be highly useful when studying a play script or in language classes. I could also see this as an assistive technology for those who need written and audio support for comprehension.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
I think this sounds like a very interesting tool, but it is somewhat complex to use and takes a fair investment of time. It is something I would suggest getting used to over the summer for use in class rather than some of the other resources here that can be utilized within minutes. It is FREE!

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 9

FullMeasure

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
FullMeasure is an open source program project targeted at accessibility programs. There are three programs they offer currently. PowerTalk which reads PowerPoint presentations automatically. TouchCD which allows someone to use a single button to control CD playback. Finally, ClipTalk which converts text to speech as it is copied to the clipboard. The playback quality is ok, but pronunciation is rough. I found some sounds were dropped and words with different pronunciations (record) were only  pronounced one way.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I think this could be useful with students who have dyslexia or other disability where audio is needed for support. I could see typing up the class notes in PowerPoint and providing this to the student.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
It is FREE! That’s always good. I think it is OK, but the vocal quality is rough. It is pretty easy to use, so that makes a positive. I think it’s a decent starting place and would give a qualified recommendation. If you need this occasionally, then great. If text to speech is a regular need for you and your classes/students, then I would look into something more sophisticated.

 

Technology Exploration Assignment 10

WebQuest/ReadtheWords

 

WebQuest

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
WebQuests are discovery learning activities where the students are given a question, premise or topic and then assigned a task to accomplish. The task requires researching internet resources and processing that information to provide some type of result (report, video, website, etc.) based on that information. There are MANY WebQuests out there that have been shared.  The site also provides a structure for creating new WebQuests.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I would use this much like a rubric for providing the guidelines for a project and identifying what is being graded, but the structure is more supportive and detailed than a simple rubric. Could use this to assign each person of a group project on program development to a different position and then direct them to research what that position does and how it works together with the other members of the development team.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
It is FREE! I would recommend this source. It is fairly intuitive and it is easy to find a WebQuest related to your content area and grade level quickly.

 

Read the Words

Describe what you learned from exploring this resource.  Be thorough in your response.
This is a text to speech online utility. It has the ability to choose multiple voices. You can type in text or convert entire documents and emails to speech. Not only can your convert the text, you can also save it as MP3 file. Along with that you can create a video or an avatar.
How could you use this resource in a school setting?  It does not matter if it is in your field or level, you need to understand how the resource might be used in educational settings.
I would use this for those who need audio support for understanding and learning. I think I would use it where I have long documents already created or wanted to create a multivoice dialogue as in a play or language lesson.
Would you recommend this resource to other educators? Like/Dislike; Ease of use, fee or not, and so forth.  Why or Why not?
There is a basic trial that is free, but to really get use of the utility requires a subscription that ranges from $40/year to $100/year. I would recommend this for converting large numbers of existing documents to text. But I think recording of the teachers actual voice is more comfortable.