The Surly Admin

Father, husband, IT Pro, cancer survivor

Personal Update

Most may not realize, but I recently left my old position at SeraCare Life Sciences and moved to athena health (lower case is on purpose).  As sometimes happens in business, SeraCare felt they could do without me and while I didn’t necessarily agree I have to admit my situation has improved quite a bit.  athena health is a cloud based technology company selling EMR–electronic medical records–and claims submission automation.  I think this is a great business model, and judging from their 30% growth over the past 2 years (each year) their clients feel the same way!  athena is quite a bit different from my past positions as it marks my first real return to corporate IT since leaving Sun Life of Canada many years ago–I did have a stint of a 3-month contract working at PC Connection but the commute was just too much–otherwise I’d probably still be there!

It’s interesting how IT changes at scale as the differences to small business are stark.  Petabyte flash-based SAN’s are the standard now, with high-speed Compellant storage being relegated to tier two storage and backups!  I was excited to be getting flash-based drives in a few laptops before.  And I have PowerShell to thank for it!  I was primarily hired because of my script writing talents–though I’m sure 20+ years in the industry didn’t hurt the decision any.  All the hard work in the Spiceworks, PowerGUI and forums, not to mention this very blog have really paid off.

And with the scale of athena health comes interesting side effect to how you have to approach your PowerShell script writing.  When I run a task against all of the users now, its not a report with 150 lines in it, it’s a report with 4,700!  Suddenly, multi-tasking using PowerShell jobs takes on a whole new meaning, as well as taking a different perspective on your script writing.  Often I’ve just done brute force methods because the datasets were so small it just didn’t matter.  That’s no longer an option!

Another cool thing I’ve been working on is re-writing our fax troubleshooting tool.  Have I mentioned faxing as it relates to athena health yet?  I should, because I’ve never seen, or heard, anything like it.  One of the features of athenaNet is we give you, the client, a toll-free fax number and all of your incoming faxes come to us and we place it in your portal.  Sending something out to a lab?  Just complete the form and we’ll take care of the fax to the lab–both sending and receiving.  It’s actually pretty amazing.  And we do a LOT of a faxing.  No, seriously, it’s stunning.  I don’t know the exact numbers but it’s hundreds of thousands of faxes sent and received every day.  We actually went over 1 million faxes a couple of weeks ago.  The infrastructure for just our faxing environments is larger than most companies entire data centers!  We have 2 “environments”, A and B and three data centers.  Each data center has 8-12 servers PER environment so that’s a whopping 48 to 60 servers–I’ll have to do an exact count at some point–just to support faxing.

So a fax troubleshooting tools is a given.  One of my first projects walking into the door was to fix the one we had, which was written in ASP.  Now, I told the boss right off the bat, “you realize I don’t know ASP, right?!”  He was fine with it and was actually looking to do something in PowerShell first, then putting some kind of web front in on it later so we can roll it out to the account managers.  I’ll be writing about how I accomplished this in a future post, but I mostly just copied Boy Wonder here, so feel free to look through his stuff in the mean time.  With some tweaking this actually ended up working really well.

Anyway, I am still around and I am still writing when I can.  Luckily things are starting to slow down a little bit so I can start thinking about the blog again.  FYI, I’m doing a beginner’s guide to PowerShell for the Boston Spicecorps on July 24th so if you’d like to check it out make sure to sign up for Spiceworks and get yourself registered!


June 18, 2014 Posted by | General, Random Thoughts | 2 Comments

Random Thoughts – Spiceworks, WordPress and more

Couple of random thoughts I wanted to write about on Spiceworks, WordPress and

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January 2, 2013 Posted by | Random Thoughts | , , | Leave a comment

ForEach Performance

It’s been a tough couple of weeks, let me tell you!  I had a cold, that eventually dropped into my lungs and became pneumonia.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much interest in doing anything when I’m sick, not even Powershell!  Also, at work, we’re ramping up to migrate from our current ERP system to one from SAP and I expect that will be eating up a ton of time too.  Not to mention the need to finish my Exchange 2010 migration, create a Sharepoint 2010 test environment from our production one and half a dozen other projects going on at the same time.  I hope to keep fitting my scripts in amongst all this, as I have to admit this is where my IT passion is right now.

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December 3, 2012 Posted by | Powershell - Performance, Random Thoughts | , , | 2 Comments

Random Thought Friday

Nothing much going on lately, well, except for…

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October 26, 2012 Posted by | Random Thoughts, Technical | , | 1 Comment

Random Thought Friday

I’ve decided to slow down the posting a bit as I was going a bit crazy there! The plan, assuming I can stick to it, is to post every Monday and Thursday. Assuming, of course, that I have things I want to talk about. It’s been fun writing about the little projects I’ve been working on, and really helped me understand better what I’m doing. I’ve even spotted problems with my scripts as I break them down and run through it.

As with most plans, of course, I’m breaking the Monday/Thursday rule on week #1 with this post. But I think I’ll make Friday’s more about random things I’m thinking about that aren’t necessarily Powershell or IT Admin based–but almost certainly tech based! I am who I am!

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October 12, 2012 Posted by | Random Thoughts | , | Leave a comment

Of Mistakes and Modules

Recently I’ve been doing more with Powershell functions, and blissfully telling people to run the script and then the function is available to you.  This is great if you use a Powershell ISE, either the built in one or a third-party one like PowerGUI.  ISE’s will keep functions alive after you’ve run your script, which is a great feature while you’re testing a new script.  The shell, on the other hand, isn’t so forgiving.  Run it there and it loads into memory and as soon as the script finishes it promptly is DUMPED from memory.

Oops, sorry about that!

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September 9, 2012 Posted by | General, PowerShell, Random Thoughts, Technical | , , | 1 Comment

The Myth of Common Sense

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about common sense, and why does it seem that no one has it? You see the statement all the time, and as a IT person, I see–and say–it all the time. But I began to wonder if common sense even exists, and I believe I have the answer.

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April 7, 2011 Posted by | Random Thoughts | 1 Comment

Something the Lord Made

Somehow, my wife and I got roped into a movie last night that kept us up until 1am.  It was an amazing film from HBO called “Something the Lord made“.  Really an amazing story that was written, and acted, well.

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September 29, 2009 Posted by | Random Thoughts | , , , | 2 Comments