Category: Windows Terminal

Presenting and Creating Great Tech Demos

How to Create Great Tech Demos and Presentations

I didn’t keep track of the exact number, but I did many presentations at different conferences around the world. Since I am doing a lot of tech presentations and demos, I am always looking at how I can improve and get better. I start to realize that there are a lot of things you need to consider when delivering tech demos during presentations, to make it better for the audience. I started to work on my demos a lot, and I realized that these things also work when you are recording demo videos or screencasts. That is why I came up with the idea to write this blog post with tips and tricks on how you can create great tech demos and presentations.

Create and tell a story, make sure people can see the result 🎬

People have a short attention span, so if you are switching to your tech demo, and in the first couple of seconds, your audience is already lost because they cannot read what is on the screen or they have no context at all, you lost them for good. You need to make sure you create and tell a story, and you show them how to solve a specific challenge. A tech demo is not just good if you can show how you address a particular challenge, but people need to understand it. For example, I have seen many tech demos, that tell you here is the problem, here is the setting to solve it, and done. They didn’t complete the full demo and showed that it is now working. Yes, of course, sometimes showing the setting is enough, but a lot of times you want to show here is the challenge, it is not working now, I do this, and now you can see it is working. This gives attendees a way better experience and understanding of your demo.

Create video recordings of your demos 📽

Live demos are great, but sometimes it is just not possible, or the experience of the attendees isn’t great. For example, if you start a task that takes 5-10 minutes to complete, you don’t want to wait for it to complete as your time is limited in a session. Which leaves you with three options. The first option, you prepare an already finished scenario to jump on like they do in cooking shows. Secondly, you show something else and let the task complete in the background, and jump back to it once it’s done. And the third one, you cut a video before and use your video editing skills to make the waiting time shorter. While option one and two, often work, I realized that jumping away from a specific scenario or using another object which already completed, may confuse people, they lose context and doesn’t give them a great experience. Recording a video can help with that. For example, one of my demos is replicating a virtual machine named VM1, and these can take 30mins to even a couple of hours. I could have prepared a VM2, which would have been already replicated and move on with that one. However, during a lot of presentations, I realized it makes it easier to follow for people if I can use the exact same VM name, during the whole demo.

Creating videos also has an advantage when you run into issues. This can be due to lousy conference Wi-Fi or something just broke out of your control. Even if you plan to do the demo live, it is always great to have a backup, especially if you are doing a demo-heavy presentation, where things build on top of each other.

Resolution and Scaling 💻

You can have the most fabulous demo of all time, but if people can’t see it, it doesn’t matter at all. Rule number one, if you have to ask if people can read it, people can’t read it. So make sure that you are 100% sure that people can see what is going on. My recommendation is, please set your screen resolution to whatever the projector supports. Most of the time, this will be Full HD 1080p (1920×1080) resolution.

Presentation Demo Screen Resolution and Scaling

Presentation Demo Screen Resolution and Scaling

Early in the days, we didn’t have scaling in Windows, so people were using lower resolutions to make everything appear bigger. Guess what, Windows 10 supports scaling, so I usually use Full HD (1920×1080) and 150% scaling, this makes an excellent size to see what is going on the screen but also makes the picture sharp and not blurry. Most of the applications can handle it, and most of the web portals also work the ways they should. That said, I know that not all applications and scenario scale very well. Depending on what you are showing, you need to decide how you want to present it.

Use ZoomIT, and use it wisely 🔎

One of the most excellent tools for presentations is Sysinternals ZoomIT by Mark Russinovich (not PowerShell this time, sorry Jeffrey 😉). ZoomIT is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations, and as the name says, it lets you zoom. This helps you not just to make things more readable, but also to highlight a specific part of the screen, to show people where they need to focus on.

ZoomIt is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations. ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image. I wrote ZoomIt to fit my specific needs and use it in all my presentations.

ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows and you can use pen input for ZoomIt drawing on tablet PCs.

ZoomIt

ZoomIt

While ZoomIT is excellent, you need to know how to use it right. Place the mouse where you want to zoom and then zoom in, don’t move the mouse too much after you have zoomed in, you don’t want people to become sick 😵. As you can see, ZoomIT also allows you to do screen annotations, to mark specific things on the screen. Again, use this feature wisely before you start painting on the screen. The great thing about it, you can also use a pen, like the Surface Pen, to draw on your screen.

Font Size and Editor Light Theme 🔠

Okay, one of the many problems I see with many tech presentations is happening when people show code. Coming back to what I said earlier, if you have to ask the audience if they can read it, they can’t read it, so please use a font size they can easily read. Even in Notepad and Terminal, you can easily zoom these days with CTRL + Mousewheel.

Notepad Zoom

Notepad Zoom

If you are showing code in an editor or even in a web portal, a dark theme makes you look cool. However, it is horrible to read. So please help the audience and use a light theme in your editor like Visual Studio Code or in the Azure portal.

Light Theme Editor

Light Theme Editor

By the way, I am not saying that you only should use light PowerPoint slides. Dark PowerPoint slides can be a very powerful tool if they are used right. However, for editors, it is just very simple and way better to view if you are using a light theme. One of my favorite Visual Studio Code themes to present is the PowerShell ISE theme. This theme gives you a simple and light theme, with great color options for syntax highlighting.

Clean up 🧹

You want to make sure that people in your presentation and during your demonstration are focusing on the right thing and don’t get distracted by any clutter. So before your presentation, make sure you clean up:

Close all unnecessary applications

Especially any messengers like Microsoft Teams or Slack, you don’t want to receive any notifications at all during your presentation (Except you are showing Microsoft Teams demos 😉). By shutting down all these applications, you also make sure that you have enough resources like Memory available.

Turn off notifications

Focus assist

Focus assist

In Windows 10, you have a feature called Focus assist, and this allows you to pause all notifications on your PC.

Hide all icons from your desktop

Hide Desktop Icons

Hide Desktop Icons

Yes, there is an option for that! Right-click on your desktop -> View -> Show Desktop Icons.

Browser

Browser

Browser

If you are doing a demo using a browser, make sure your browser is also cleaned up, hide your Favorites Bar, and any additional browser extensions, which might take the focus away.

Taskbar

Keep your taskbar clean, you don’t want people to focus on all the icons there and the program you have installed. You want to make sure there is as little distraction as possible.

Hide System Icons and Time

Windows 10 Turn system icons off

Windows 10 Turn system icons off

This might not always be needed, but if you want to make it cleaner and especially during video recordings, you can also hide the system icons and time. If you are opening the settings app and search for system icons, you can go and hide them.

Full screen

This is a simple one, but if you do a presentation, you don’t want your windows overlapping each other and be confusing, so run your applications in full screen. Exception for this is when you want to show two things in comparison to each other.

Use the Azure Mask browser extension for your Azure demos

If you are doing demos in the Microsoft Azure Portal, you want to have a look at the Azure Mask browser extension. This is a browser extension that will mask GUIDs (such as Subscription IDs), email addresses, keys, and connection strings with a blur. The extension intends to make it easier to do screen recordings without revealing sensitive personal account information that may show up on the screen. It will only run and apply against Azure portal URLs. It’s available in Chrome, Firefox, and also works with the new Microsoft Edge (Chromium).

Virtual Desktops to switch to your tech demo 💻

I am a huge fan of the Virtual Desktop feature in Windows 10. This basically gives you unlimited desktops on your Windows 10 PC, which is excellent for productivity. But I am also using Virtual Desktops during presentations, for example, for switching between the PowerPoint deck to a demo. One the first desktop, I keep my PowerPoint presentation in full screen open, and with CONTROL + WINDOWS + ARROW RIGHT/LEFT, I can switch to other desktops where I, for example, already have my demos ready. You can create new Virtual Desktops by pressing WINDOWS + TAB. This makes switching between PowerPoint and demonstrations, less messy.

Virtual Desktop

Virtual Desktop

If you are presenting somewhere, where you can plug in two devices, you can also use the display switch to switch from your presentation machine to your secondary demo machine, which will have a similar effect. However, a lot of smaller events, don’t have that setup. By using the Virtual Desktops feature, you can clean up the process of switching to different technical demonstrations.

Change Desktop Backgrounds and console colors 🎨

Use different Colors

Use different Colors

If you do a presentation with multiple systems or consoles, you want to make sure people can follow on which system you are working. For example, if you have two different systems deployed to servers, you want to make sure people can easily identify which server runs which application. For example, you can change the color of the terminal or desktop background of VM1 to blue and the one of VM2 to red. If you are working with Windows, you might also use Sysinternals BgInfo, to write the name of the system on the desktop wallpaper.

The mighty Mouse pointer 🖱

Mouse Pointer

Mouse Pointer

If you want to explain something and point to something on the screen, the mouse cursor is a natural option. However, you can also do a lot of damage by using it wrong. First, make sure people can see the mouse pointer. In Windows 10, you can change the size and color of the mouse pointer, so people can easily identify it on the screen. Next, don’t move it fast and don’t go crazy. Move the mouse cursor slow and don’t try to circle things or jump around the screen with it; people will go nuts.

In many cases, it is better to use a tool like ZoomIT, to annotate on the screen.

Laser pointer in PowerPoint 👉

PowerPoint Laser Pointer

PowerPoint Laser Pointer

Many people use PowerPoint for their presentations. However, not many people know that PowerPoint can be an excellent presentation tool. It comes with a lot of features people don’t even know about, and with many of them, it is with any tool in the world; if you are using it wrong, it will not help you at all. One of the tools I want to highlight is the laser point feature in PowerPoint. If you are a presenter, you might have these remote presenters with a laser pointer on it, where you can point on a wall or projected screen. However, in many cases, that is not a good idea. Often the laser pointer is too small for people to see it or in some locations, you have multiple projectors, and you can’t point at all of them at once. PowerPoint can help you with that. You can use a simple on-screen laser pointer to highlight parts of your slides. This comes handy when you show a large technical diagram, which we often try to avoid, but in some cases, it is necessary.

Get prepared 🔧

To deliver great demos, you will need to practice them. First of all, you need to make sure that they actually work, but also that the timing is right. No one wants to wait and watch at the screen for five minutes until something has completed. I usually run through the demo at least twice before my presentations, to make sure that the demo also works multiple times. I usually also run through it a couple of minutes or hours before I go on stage. Especially with demos running in the cloud, I want to make sure that they are still working. It is not just about cloud technologies that can change fast; for example, I also saw software and container images expire.

What if something goes wrong? 👻

Even if you did prepare like crazy, there can always something go wrong. Don’t worry, people understand that things can break. As long as you are prepared, handle it the right way and have a backup plan, you will be fine. If something doesn’t work, you can try to troubleshoot it quickly. But don’t spend too much time on it and move on to the next one, because the audience doesn’t want to see you troubleshooting for minutes. In some cases, the audience can’t even see or doesn’t even realize that the demo didn’t work. In that case, don’t point it out, just move on if the demo is not essential to your presentation.

Conclusion to create Tech Demos and Presentations 😎

I hope you enjoyed my tips on how you can create great technical (tech) demonstrations (demos) and presentations. Let me know what your favorite tips and tricks for great tech demos are!



Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

As you know Windows Admin Center enables you to not just manage Windows Server machines with a web-based user interface, but also to easily connect Azure Hybrid services to your on-premises Windows Server environment. Windows Admin Center allows you to connect services like Azure File Sync, Azure Update Management, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery and many more to your Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment. With the latest release of Windows Admin Center (WAC) which was announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019, we get another hybrid cloud feature. We get a new Azure Cloud Shell extension in Windows Admin Center. Azure Cloud Shell is an interactive, authenticated, browser-accessible shell for managing Azure resources. It provides the flexibility of choosing the shell experience that best suits the way you work, either Bash or PowerShell. We are able to use Cloud Shell directly from the Azure portal, shell.azure.com, in Visual Studio Code, in the new Windows Terminal or even in the Azure mobile app. Now with the new solution/extension, administrators can also run Cloud Shell directly within WAC.

How to run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

First, you will need to enable and install the new Azure Cloud Shell solution. For that open Windows Admin Center, go to Settings and in the menu click on Extensions.

Extensions

Extensions

Under available extensions, you will find the new Azure Cloud Shell (Preview) extension. Click on Install, the WAC portal will refresh automatically.

After the page has refreshed, the Cloud Shell option will show up in the top menu.

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

If you start Azure Cloud Shell for the first time, you will need to login to Azure.

After that, you can run the PowerShell or Bash experience, depending on what you prefer. You also have access to the clouddrive which comes with Cloud Shell.

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

In that, you can run tools like the Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell and much more. If you want to learn more about Azure Cloud Shell, check out my blog post, Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell. Windows Admin Center is a free download to use with your Windows Servers, you can download Windows Admin Center here. If you want to know more about the Hybrid capabilities, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you can run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Cascadia Code in Windows Terminal

Change the Windows Terminal Theme from Light to Dark

This is again a very small post on the Windows Terminal, like how to open the Windows Terminal from the command prompt or run and how to change the Windows Terminal background image. This time I got asked about how you switch the Windows Terminal Theme from light to dark. Well, the answer is pretty simple. The theme of the Windows Terminal is defined by the Windows 10 color theme. So to change the Windows Terminal theme from light to dark, you simply need to change the default app mode to dark or switch completely switch to dark in the Windows 10 personalization settings. Not like other Windows 10 apps, after you have switch the color mode, you will need to close and reopen the Windows Terminal to see the change.

The Windows Terminal is currently in preview and lets you run shells like the classic command-line, PowerShell or WSL and WSL 2. If you want to know how to install the Windows Terminal or how to customize the Windows Terminal, check out my blog post.

Change to Windows Terminal Dark Theme

Here is how you change it to the dark theme.

  1. Open Windows 10 Settings
  2. Go to Personalization
  3. Click on Colors
  4. Choose your color and select “Dark
Windows Terminal Dark Theme

Windows Terminal Dark Theme

 

Activate Light Theme

Here is how you change it to the light theme.

  1. Open Windows 10 Settings
  2. Go to Personalization
  3. Click on Colors
  4. Choose your color and select “Light
Windows Terminal Light Theme

Windows Terminal Light Theme

You can find more tips on how to customize the Windows Terminal on my blog. I hope this is a quick help, also check out my blog post about the new font called Cascadia Code. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment.



Cascadia Code in Windows Terminal

New Microsoft Code and Terminal Font Cascadia Code

Cascadia Code is the latest monospaced font shipped from Microsoft focusing on delivering an excellent font for command-line experiences and code editors like Visual Studio Code. The Cascadia Code font was first announced at the Microsoft Build conference in May 2019. And yesterday, Microsoft just released Cascadia Code version 1909.16 and it is available publicly on GitHub. Cascadia Code makes an excellent font for the Windows Terminal, and you can download it today.

It is the latest monospaced font shipped from Microsoft and provides a fresh experience for command line experiences and code editors. Cascadia Code was developed hand-in-hand with the new Windows Terminal application. This font is most recommended to be used with terminal applications and text editors such as Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.

I took some time to install Cascadia Code font on my Surface Book 2 and it works great with application like Visual Studio Code and the Windows Terminal running PowerShell. To start using it, simply download the font, install it, and configure the application to use is. In the Windows Terminal app, open the settings.json file and change the font in the specific terminal profile.

VS Code Cascadia Code setting for Windows Terminal

VS Code Cascadia Code setting for Windows Terminal

  "profiles" : 
    [
        {
            "acrylicOpacity" : 0.5,
            "closeOnExit" : true,
            "colorScheme" : "VibrantInk",
            "commandline" : "C:\\Program Files\\PowerShell\\6\\pwsh.exe",
            "cursorColor" : "#FFFFFF",
            "cursorShape" : "bar",
            "fontFace" : "Cascadia Code",
            "fontSize" : 12,
            "guid" : "{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}",
            "historySize" : 9001,
            "icon" : "ms-appx:///ProfileIcons/{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}.png",
            "name" : "PowerShell Core",
            "padding" : "0, 0, 0, 0",
            "snapOnInput" : true,
            "startingDirectory" : "%USERPROFILE%",
            "useAcrylic" : true,
            "backgroundImage": "C:/Users/thoma/OneDrive/Pictures/Me/Thomas Maurer Logos 2016/WindowsTerminal/Black Cloud Robot.png",
            "tabTitle": "PowerShell Core "
        },

If you want to know more about customizing the Windows Terminal, check out my blog post. You can find more tips on how to customize the Windows Terminal on my blog. If you are optimizing and customizing your code editor experience, you should also have a look at my favorite themes for Visual Studio Code.

The font is open source and licensed under the SIL Open Font license on GitHub, so it is easy to contribute. Have you tried the Cascadia Code font, and what do you think about the new coding font? Do you like it? And if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

If you are looking for some other cool Microsoft coding projects, have a look at Azure Cloud Shell and PowerShell 7.



Windows Terminal Background Acrylic Opacity

How to Change the Windows Terminal Background Image

As you may know, Microsoft released a new Windows Terminal, which is currently in preview. However, it has some great new features, and a lot of people are currently trying it out. Now I got a lot of questions about how you can change the background of the Windows Terminal. So I decided to write a quick blog post about how you can configure and customize the Windows Terminal background image. There are multiple ways you can do this. And you can not only change the color or use a background image, but you can also change the opacity, and if it should use the acrylic Windows effect.

Customize the Windows Terminal Background Image

First open the settings of the Windows Terminal app, which will open a JSON file, where the settings are stored.

Windows Terminal Settings

Windows Terminal Settings

This will allow you to customize the settings and colors of the terminal. Every console has a so-called profile, which you can modify. Let’s start with adding a background image.

        {
            "acrylicOpacity" : 0.5,
            "closeOnExit" : true,
            "colorScheme" : "VibrantInk",
            "commandline" : "C:\\Program Files\\PowerShell\\6\\pwsh.exe",
            "cursorColor" : "#FFFFFF",
            "cursorShape" : "bar",
            "fontFace" : "Consolas",
            "fontSize" : 12,
            "guid" : "{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}",
            "historySize" : 9001,
            "icon" : "ms-appx:///ProfileIcons/{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}.png",
            "name" : "PowerShell Core",
            "padding" : "0, 0, 0, 0",
            "snapOnInput" : true,
            "startingDirectory" : "%USERPROFILE%",
            "useAcrylic" : true,
            "backgroundImage": "C:/Users/thoma/OneDrive/Pictures/Me/Thomas Maurer Logos 2016/WindowsTerminal/Black Cloud Robot.png",
            "tabTitle": "PowerShell Core "
        },

With the “backgroundImage” value, you can set a specific image as the background.

"backgroundImage": "C:/Users/thoma/OneDrive/Pictures/Me/Thomas Maurer Logos 2016/WindowsTerminal/Black Cloud Robot.png"

Opacity

You can use the “backgroundImageOpacity” to set the opacity of the for the background image, and this is super helpful when you have a full background image.

Windows Terminal Background Image Opacity

Windows Terminal Background Image Opacity

You can add the following value to configure the opacity.

"backgroundImageOpacity" : 0.2

Acrylic effect

You can also configure the Windows Terminal to use the Acrylic effect in Windows 10 for the background. This will combine the acrylic effect with the background image.

Windows Terminal Background Acrylic Opacity

Windows Terminal Background Acrylic Opacity

Just set the following value to the settings.

"useAcrylic" : true,
"acrylicOpacity" : 0.5

Here is a full config you can have a look at, with all the settings enabled.

Profile

Profile

Let me know if that helps you to set, change, and customize the background image of the Windows Terminal. You can find more tips on how to customize the Windows Terminal on my blog and you can read more about the new Windows Terminal on the official blog. And if you want to know more about how you can run Azure Cloud Shell in the terminal, check out my blog post. If you have questions, let me know in the comments.



Download the new Windows Terminal Preview

How to open Windows Terminal from Command Prompt or Run

This is a really short blog post and more of a reminder than anything else. You might have seen the new Windows Terminal for Windows 10 was just released in the Windows Store as a preview. However, in the last couple of updates to the Windows Terminal app, it got to a state which already makes it my default terminal. The Windows Terminal allows you to run Windows PowerShell, PowerShell Core and even Bash using the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Especially the integration of the Azure Cloud Shell is a great plus for me. In this blog post, I am just going to show you how you can open the Windows Terminal from command prompt or Run (WIN + R).

To open Windows Terminal from the command line (cmd) or in Windows Run (WIN +R) type:

wt
Open Windows Terminal start wt

Open Windows Terminal start wt

 

If you want to know more about the Azure Cloud Shell integration, read the blog of Pierre Roman (Microsoft Cloud Advocate) on the ITOpsTalk blog.



Download the new Windows Terminal Preview

Install the new Windows Terminal (Preview)

At Microsoft Build 2019, the team announced a new Windows Terminal which will be open-source. There are a couple of improvements which are coming to the new Windows Terminal like; multiple tabs support, GPU accelerated DirectWrite/DirectX-based text rendering engine, advanced configuration settings, and much more. It allows you to run different shells like Windows PowerShell, PowerShell Core, Command Prompt, WSL, and also WSL 2. Today you can download the Windows Terminal Preview from the Microsoft Store. It is still a very early preview and the team, as well as the community, are still working on it. The team’s goal is to work with the community and launch version 1.0 end of 2019. Here is how you can install the new Windows Terminal.

Windows Terminal is a new, modern, fast, efficient, powerful, and productive terminal application for users of command-line tools and shells like Command Prompt, PowerShell, and WSL.

If you want to learn more about how to customize the Windows Terminal, check out my blog post My Customized Windows Terminal Settings.json.

You can find more information about it here on the Microsoft announcement blog.

Download and Install the Windows Terminal

You were able to download the sources for the terminal from GitHub and build it yourself. However, the preview release in the Windows Store makes it much easier to try it out and stay more up to date.

Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal will be delivered via the Microsoft Store in Windows 10 and will be updated regularly, ensuring you are always up to date and able to enjoy the newest features and latest improvements with minimum effort.

Provide Feedback and get involved

Windows Terminal is a new, modern, feature-rich, productive terminal application for command-line users. It includes many of the features most frequently requested by the Windows command-line community including support for tabs, rich text, globalization, configurability, theming & styling, and more.

The Terminal will also need to meet our goals and measures to ensure it remains fast, and efficient, and doesn’t consume vast amounts of memory or power.

You can file bugs and share feedback with the community and us, as well as fix issues and make improvements on GitHub. If you come across any bugs or want to share feedback, you can do that on GitHub issues for detailed issues/discussions or with the Microsoft Store release in the Feedback Hub. You join the development on GitHub.

If you want to use the new font which was designed for terminals and code editors like VS Code, check out my post about Cascadia Code.

Azure Cloud Shell

Windows Terminal Azure Cloud Shell

Windows Terminal Azure Cloud Shell

I also want to mention that you can run the Azure Cloud Shell directly from the terminal.

Try out the new terminal today, and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.