Sales and Solos


Strummer Bob Fields Heads Up Sales in Pittsburgh





When you’ve been serving the IT industry since 1981, have deep roots in your region and throughout the Midwest, and, to quote Chuck Berry, can play guitar like ringin’ a bell, well, you’re bound to be a rockin’ success.

PS Solutions’ Robert (Bob) Fields may have taken a brief hiatus from IT during the Y2K hangover, but we’ll forgive him for that and chalk up 35 years to his investment in the tech industry. He actually started in IT recruiting for an IT consulting firm, but they soon uncovered his true talent.

“I still remember the day, sitting in Pittsburgh, when I sold the highest billing rate for a consultant in the history of the company to a client in Washington, DC,” reminisces Fields. “I found that I really enjoyed the sales side of the house and spent the next ten years with that company advancing in that role.”

He joined PS Solutions in November of 2015. It was a great fit from the get-go, with IT services and the oft-desired tech recruitment. Earlier positions with big companies kept pigeon-holing him into doing things he was good at but didn’t love. He loved account management and the people/problem solving balance it offered. And that’s the role he was looking for.

“Moving to PS Solutions gave me that opportunity,” he said. “It also provided a bit of a homecoming back to a more agile, entrepreneurial, smaller, quality-oriented, regional IT consulting firm. The strong values make such a difference, in my happiness and in the satisfaction of our clients.”

The Bob Special Sauce



What is it, really, about being an account manager that Bob loves? It’s solving problems for the people within the companies he serves. When we asked him why he thought he excelled, he told us it came down to one thing:

“I listen,” he said. “Many people are too quick to talk, to sell what they want to sell. But if you develop the skill of listening, you’re more certain to understand what is needed. If you have listened, your questions are much more on point, and the client knows that you get it.”

Of course, you have to get to that meeting, right? The one where you get to listen? Opening that door can be a tough nut to crack.

“I have been told by clients that they have given us a chance because of my persistence. In some cases, it was persistence over the space of years,” he says with a smile.

The Band Behind the Man



He may have spent his first three years in Erie, but Bob’s a Pittsburgher through and through. In high school he fell in love with writing, and only became a guitar player at 17, once he realized he would like to be able to play the music he wrote. Like every good teenage guitar player, he formed a band, and like every good sales person, he stays in touch. After all these years, and across a myriad of time zones, Bob stays in touch with different members of the band.

Even with more than 30 years of teaching, recording and live performances under his belt, Bob still finds the magic of playing for a crowd. At one particular performance at PPG Paints Arena, PPG Place, he performed for about 500 people during a summer arts festival. “It’s like a glass castle, and when you catch it at sunset, with fountains reflecting the colors, it’s just magical.”

Sometimes it seems that magic is his middle name. It’s actually Boyle, however, which leads him to play a lot of Irish tunes. This means that St. Patrick’s week can be especially busy, as he tries to give back to people of all ages. He developed a way to use new music technology, using a loop pedal to record and play rhythm parts and guitar synthesizer to represent the bass, fiddle, bagpipes, pennywhistle and other instruments. He involves his audience, looping in the seniors at retirement homes and the partakers at the bars. And getting them to sing along is half the fun!

He especially enjoys serving the underserved. “It brings validity to what you’re doing. When you’re playing music it’s not about you – it’s what can you do for others.”

You’ll often find him playing in contemporary music services at church, but he can play classical, rock and folk. He finds what his audience is hungry to hear, and that’s what he delivers.

You could say that Bob is a listener and a problem solver, whether he’s at work or performing. It’s what makes him great at what he does, at home with this family, in the clients’ offices, or on the stage. To Bob, what you can do to make others’ lives more rich is the thing to do.

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Impacting Wilmington’s Tech Growth


Trevor Hughes Joins the PS Solutions Wilmington Team

PS Solutions has increased their Wilmington headcount… and it’s about to get much bigger if Trevor Hughes has anything to say about it.



After five years in sales and business development for technology companies and recruiters, Trevor is putting his love of helping individuals and businesses achieve success to work for PS Solutions. Most recently with Proficient Learning, one of Inc. 5000’s fastest growing companies in 2018, he’s anxious to put the Wilmington office of PS Solutions on the tip of every North Carolina company’s tongue. After all, PS Solutions was also on the Inc. list before they opened the Wilmington office two years ago. He’d like to seem them regain that listing in the next year or two.

“It’s exciting to be in a position to help young companies grow, especially focusing on the Cape Fear region,” said Hughes. “I’m researching all the companies from startups to those over $2 million in annual revenue, because that is where I think the software development services offered by PS Solutions can have the greatest impact.”

Hughes will be focusing on three areas: recruiting technology talent; connecting PS Solutions’ developers with companies that need custom software; and promoting a new software product that the company is launching this spring, called Chute Festival. “I was drawn to the position because I love recruiting and selling technology solutions; both are needed in our region,” he said. “It’s rare to have a chance to also help launch a new product, so I’m really excited to reach out to the festivals across the southeast, too.”

Chute Festival is a Cloud-based service that makes it easier for people who run fairs and festivals to be more efficient, managing their vendors, customers, team and invoicing. PS Solutions is officially introducing it this spring, with Hughes being at the center of the sales activities. He pointed to the incredible number of festivals in the Carolinas as a huge opportunity.

When not networking, you’ll likely find Hughes where you find so many of Wilmington’s transplants: on the beach. Along with surfing, Hughes is a competitive open water swimmer. He regularly competes in the Pier to Pier swim on Wrightsville Beach, and takes part in the Swim the Loop event, which is 3 ½ miles of open water.

“Like most people who choose to make Wilmington their home, I’m really excited to help keep it a great place to live,” said Hughes. He has two sons with his wife, who is a special education teacher in a Topsail Elementary School.

“Wilmington is a great place to raise a family. We see more and more people choosing to want to live where they vacation, and the quality of life here is outstanding. I’m looking forward to helping PS Solutions offer more people a high standard of living through technology.”

PS Solutions takes a creative approach to solving companies’ technology problems, employing a diverse group of software and project management professionals to keep software development in the USA. They focus on growing cities as a way to keep costs down without having to off-shore.

For more information, contact info@PSSolutions.net

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Fairs, Festivals, Conferences:
Plan and Manage Vendors and Volunteers with Chute Festival


Trade shows, County fairs. Film festivals. Street fairs. Flea Markets. Job fairs.

Events like these are a compendium of thousands of details. Vendors, payments, marketing, invoicing… keeping it all organized and easily accessible can be exhausting.

PS Solutions to the rescue! We’ve recently released our own vendor management system, and we call it Chute – as in, parachute – because it eases your entry into the event. We were working with a Pennsylvania County Fair which faced problems when volunteers left the organization. The result was increased difficulty tracking and managing billings. The team at PS Solutions saw an opportunity to help event managers across the country easily organize, communicate about and manage their interaction with vendors.

Here are just a few things we took into consideration when creating our event management system for festivals:


A Bird’s Eye View: Event maps

Chute Festival provides you with a computerized interactive version of your festival or fairground layout. It’s easier than ever to determine which spaces are still are rented and quickly pinpoint where each vendor will reside. Of course, it’s also easier to show which spaces are open and left to be sold, allowing you to quickly close the deal. Vendor reservations are laid out in color, making it a snap to identify who’s where.


Better Communication: Email Systems

Keep up communications with potential, current and even former vendors through our simple email management system that ties directly to the data in your system.

Get Paid Faster: Cloud-based Invoicing

Let Chute Festival take the stress out of billing. Generate customized Invoices on the fly to track and manage payments and accounts. With a few clicks, you can generate all invoices for a given event. And all the information is tied back to each vendor, giving you greater insight into where you stand financially.
And if you use a different accounting – or event database -- package, that’s no problem either. Chute provides easy export into PDF, .xls and CSV. With only a few clicks you can export an entire section of data in a pain-free process.

Always On: Cloud-based Software

There are so many advantages to having a cloud-hosted software solution. For example:
  • Any device, anywhere: with Chute you aren’t tied to a specific machine, so you can access information from your phone when traveling, your tablet on-site, or your desktop in the office.
  • Team-Driven: We don’t limit the number of users, and there’s no extra charges for access from multiple devices. Keep your team focused on success, not worried about the technology.
  • Secure and Off your Mind: The software itself and all of your data is hosted offsite in a secured environment, so you no longer have to worry about system failure, hard-drive crashes or obsolete technology. Leave maintenance and upgrades behind and focus on what makes your festival work.

No Limits: Host Scores of Events

We don’t believe in capping your creativity or your success. So, go ahead. Host two events this year. Or three. Even if you want to expand your mapping footprint or layout, the costs for new maps are available at extremely low rates, allowing you to expand or reorganize without worrying about excessive costs. Whether you host one event or a dozen there are no caps when you use Chute Festival to manage your projects.
Feel confident. As you grow, Chute Festival will grow with you.
Want to learn more about how Chute can help you? Connect with us at info@chutefestival.com

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PS Solutions Delivers Columbia Protocol App for Suicide Prevention in NC


Wilmington, NC – April 9, 2019 -- PS Solutions, a software development firm with offices in Wilmington, NC, as well as Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA, last month released a new app designed to help identify those at risk for committing suicide which utilizes the renowned Columbia Protocol. This free smartphone app provides instant access to simple questions which have been successful in helping identify suicide risk. Blair County, PA was the first to develop an app using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) and provide local contact information to nearby crisis centers. The app is now offered in North Carolina and can be customized to connect directly to local crisis centers.

“North Carolina’s suicide rate is higher than the national average,” said Wayne Hippo, co-founder of PS Solutions. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to bring this free app to the attention of our citizens and those who serve this community. It’s a way to help members of our community who need it most.”

The free iOS and Android app provides access to the C-SSRS, which prompts a few simple questions that gauge when an individual is at risk for suicide then recommends an appropriate level of mental health support. The list of questions can be answered within a few minutes. App users are also offered contact information for crisis centers, which can be customized to include local contacts.

“We need to get everyone in our communities asking these questions,” said Dr. Kelly Posner, Director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project, “Just think of how many lives we can save if every parent, police officer, teacher and neighbor downloaded and used this app.”

More than 20 years of research validates relevance and effectiveness of the C-SSRS. Seen as the gold standard in assessing suicide risk, it is globally. For people who have thought about suicide, simply being asked these questions can come as a relief. One study found that asking the questions reduced distress in depressed respondents.

According to a March 2019 study conducted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the increase in the national suicide rate from 2016 to 2017 was the largest annual increase in nearly 20 years. Suicides rose by 4% from 2016 to 2017 and 22% from 2008 to 2017. Worldwide, almost 1 million people die by suicide each year; one life lost every 40 seconds.

The idea for the app came from Blair County Pennsylvania, and it is the first county to offer customized local information. Other regions are encouraged to provide local crisis centers contact information, which is based on a user’s phone location. Information on app customization is available through email: info@PSSolutions.net.

PS Solutions is a software development firm headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with offices in Pittsburgh and Wilmington, North Carolina. PS Solutions takes a creative approach to solving companies’ technology problems, employing a diverse group of software and project management professionals to develop software in the U.S.

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Want help to teach kids to code? Go Ask Alice




When you own a software development company and you lead a foundation that encourages young girls to learn to code, you’re often asked about how we can get enough coders among our population. In fact, it seems that at most dinner parties we attend there’s at least one parent in the room that asks about how to help teach their children to develop technology skills. One team at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) must have been asked the same thing, as they’ve come up with one option. They call it Alice.

According to their website, Alice is designed to teach logical and computational thinking skills, fundamental principles of programming and to be a first exposure to object-oriented programming. It’s used by teachers but can easily be led by parents-as-teachers as well. Most start at middle school level, although it has regularly been used with younger children – and even those at university level.

Designed to provide the basics coding and software design, it includes game development but is also used to expand understanding of both logical and creative thinking. Studies done at CMU found proven benefits in engaging and retaining diverse and under-served groups in computer science education.

In and of itself, Alice is a fabulous teaching environment. The Alice Project as a whole, however, also provides supplemental tools and materials for teaching using Alice across a spectrum of ages and subject matter. They have established an active community, wherein teachers of all sorts interact to provide ideas and applications and talk through concerns or questions.
Alice starts with a simple drag-and-drop approach, to make the concept of programming less daunting. Students (and teachers!) progress quickly to develop stories through animation and sound, and ultimately even build games.

Why is it called Alice?


If you’ve ever had to name a product or a company in the past 20 years, you know how difficult it is to settle on something that’s not already taken. While many girls could be Alice Smith, there’s only one alicesmith.com, and acquiring the registered trademark is a complex process. As the creative folk at CMU tried to express this program, they thought, of course, of storytelling. Who better to embody the idea of Alice in Lewis Carroll’s The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. Carroll, a mathematician, novelist, and photographer, could do intellectually difficult things but also realized the most powerful thing was to be able to communicate clearly and in an entertaining way. This inspired CMU’s efforts to make something complex (programming) easy and fun. As they describe on their site, the name is also a very practical choice. The artwork associated with the Alice books is now in the public domain, its copyright having lapsed. Also, the name “Alice” has several other advantages: easy to spell and pronounce, it shows up at the top of alphabetized lists. Great marketing forethought!

What does it cost?


It’s so important to offer programming as a key still today that CMU has found a way to make this project a gift. In other words, it may cost you in time and energy, but there is no financial outlay. It’s free.
So, no matter the age of your children, go take a look at Alice. There may be a great storyteller inside your child’s mind, once they have the tools. You’ll find a link to it on our Foundation website, under Classroom Materials.

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Software in a Different Language


PS Solutions Software in a Different Language

In an earlier blog post we discussed the benefits of custom software to help businesses establish a competitive edge. Yet designing, testing, installing and training can be a significant battle for the team leader.
Organizations quite often conclude that their in-house development team is either already overworked or that they don’t have the necessary skills required to complete the project. Coders and app developers have specialties, generally in different languages like HTML, Java Script, C++ -- the list goes on. If the new system calls for Python and that’s not in the programmers’ wheelhouse, you’ll likely outsource the work.
Outsourcing in the US likely means the computer language is the primary concern. Outsourcing offshore, however, will invariably add a few layers of complexity to the project, including the spoken and written language. Having your team work in different development languages is one thing. Having them try to understand a second language and envelope that into the system may be the breaking point for a successful endeavor.

Dialect, Accent, Colloquialisms

When folks from the northeast move to southern states, they often found themselves having a hard time understanding the accent, especially in the deep south. Are they hearing a foreign language? Even those with a rather well-developed ear, who’ve traveled extensively ask people to repeat themselves. There are so many English dialects that misunderstandings occur regularly. Accents among Americans are difficult enough but add accents of English speakers from across the globe and it’s likely that the work to decipher meaning can confound situations. Non-native speakers often slip into the sentence structure of their native language and confuse inferences due to colloquial speech and slang that dominate today’s communication style.

Tech Translation

A friend of one of our co-workers lives in Poland. His Facebook feed recently had a cute picture of a child and a description written in Polish. Not speaking Polish himself, he decided to use one of the many translation apps available. Apparently, the way it was translated made our colleague shudder that his Polish friend was speaking so negatively about his son… Of course, when asked directly, the translation software had not interpreted the comment correctly. Imagine a situation like that when teams are trying to work on projects as complex as a software system. It’s not enough to outsource to an English-speaking team. Communication among those working on the project can make or break its success, so consider the clarity of working with an astute team here on US soil. Don’t let any part of your system get lost in translation.

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Columbia Protocol Suicide Prevention App, Connecting Pennsylvania Residents with Local Support




America’s first app designed to help save those with suicidal thoughts has been developed by PS Solutions and introduced first in Blair County, Pennsylvania. Based on the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), the Columbia Protocol App provides instant access to a few simple questions that can help save the life of someone considering suicide.

“Our county’s crisis line has 200 to 400 calls every year,” said Jim Hudack, director for the Blair County Department of Social Services and person responsible for the initial idea. “This app is another way to offer help to the members of our community who need it most.” Users download the iOS or Android app to access questions that gauge when an individual is at risk for suicide; it then recommends an appropriate level of mental health support. The list of questions can be answered within a few minutes, after which users are offered contact information for local and national crisis centers.

“We need to get everyone in our communities asking these questions,” said Dr. Kelly Posner, Director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project, “Just think of how many lives we can save if every parent, police officer, teacher and neighbor downloaded and used this app.”

With over 20 years of research to validate its relevance and effectiveness, the C-SSRS is seen as the gold standard in assessing suicide risk and is used by governments, schools, and communities across the globe. For people who have thought about suicide, simply being asked these questions can come as a relief. One study found that asking the questions reduced distress in depressed respondents.

Blair County operates one of the busiest crisis centers in the state of Pennsylvania, despite having a population of 124,000. In Blair County, 23 residents took their own lives in 2018, a 64% increase from the 2016 total and above the national average of 14.5 deaths per 100,000.

According to a March 2019 study conducted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the increase in the national suicide rate from 2016 to 2017 was the largest annual increase in nearly 20 years. Suicides rose by 4% from 2016 to 2017 and 22% from 2008 to 2017. Worldwide, almost 1 million people die by suicide each year — equal to one life lost every 40 seconds.

PS Solutions, headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with offices in Pittsburgh and Wilmington, North Carolina, was chosen by Blair County to develop the app. The app will work as-is nationwide, sending all callers to the national hotline; it can also be customized by PS Solutions to include contact information for hotlines in other counties, cities, and states, which would be delivered based on the user’s phone location.

TO DOWNLOAD: Search the app store for Columbia Protocol. It will say it’s by "PROFESSIONAL STAFFING SOLUTIONS, LLC.".

It can be found on the Play Store for Android or the App Store for iOS

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Offshore USA: 7 Reasons to Outsource in America


PS Solutions American Software for American Business

Every growing company needs software. Technology is what drives efficiencies that lead to greater profit, and therefore most corporations will turn to creating proprietary software to sharpen their cutting edge.

But when software is not your core competency, you look to outsource the development of your grand ideas. This is what has worked for millions of firms the world over. Often, sacrifices are made when it comes to saving money by shipping development overseas. Some of the sacrifices are clear; others are discovered when you are waist high in the project.

Let’s take a serious look at the top reasons we hear from our clients that have off-shored overseas, then done a u-turn and offshore to small-town USA:

Cost

While it may appear at the outset that you’re saving significantly when you compare a $20/hour coder in Asia to a $150/hour coder in the US, you can bet you’ll be getting what you paid for. Many of our clients have pointed out that other non-price issues added so significantly to the overall cost of the project that they would have been better off just keeping the project on- shore and perhaps paying a bit more in wages.

Security

Offshoring development overseas can expose companies to data leaks. Some reports show that 30% of companies that have offshored development have security breach incidents. Even those with NDAs suffered IP loss. Your company’s USP could be littered with more than just bugs – and the resulting court and litigation costs could put your balance sheet at risk.

Language

Someone once described software development to me as a complex social process where people share complicated ideas and abstract concepts. While many eastern Europeans and Asians speak excellent English, there can still be a lost-in-translation opportunity that is further heightened by electronic communication. Intermingling development-speak with English and a third language can spell disaster.

Culture

The industry your business targets might be a particularly perplexing one for those outside of the American culture to truly understand. Take healthcare, for example. The American system is unique and comes with a plethora of acronyms and processes that most could never understand. How, then, could they possibly write code that enables the American healthcare system to work better? You can apply that concept to other industries as well – finance, law and insurance spring to mind.

Time

It’s not just the time zone that will get in your way, but the approach to both time management and length of time to complete a project that could make the difference between a successful outsource and a complete failure.

Impact on Jobs

The more we offshore tech jobs, the more our economy takes a hit. “But I’m not responsible for our economy; I’m responsible for my company’s bottom line.” Fine, but don’t take a short-term approach to saving a few bucks. As we noted above, sending your development to Asia is going to cost you more than you expect it to. And that’s just the money. Imagine to whom your company will sell its products when the highly experienced American developers are out of work…

The Investor’s Perspective

Developing your competitive advantage is the real reason behind owning your own software instead of relying on off-the-shelf systems. We’ve heard of late that many angel investors and venture capitalists will not invest in entrepreneurial endeavors that have off-shored their software development. Certainly, that is not true in all cases. But do you need to make that the factor that determines your ability to secure funding?

It’s critical to find a partner that works with you to determine the feasibility of key features, to create a timeline that works for you and your project, that delivers and is easy to communicate with. It’s also important to take a longer look at the impacts on your business and your community. Over the next few months this blog will dive more deeply into the above reasons. Keep your eyes on this blog, and if you have questions in the meantime, don’t wait a single minute to give us a call. We’d be happy to explain how PS Solutions addresses each of the above concerns – right from the USA.

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A Decade of Delivery


PS Solutions - 10th Anniversary

Sometimes opportunity is subtle, sometimes it hits you over the head, and sometimes it actually seems to worm its way into your consciousness. PS Solutions might be any one of those, depending on the time frame. But in January of 2009, it was as though the clouds parted and said: “NOW!” Wayne Hippo and Joe Merilli had bantered about the idea of starting a business 10 years earlier, but somehow the timing just didn’t seem right. Jobs, civic commitments, family affairs all weighed too heavily. But in late 2008 they revisited the idea. After more than 20 years in technology and human resources, Joe watched his employers as they scaled and grew. Wayne had spent 20 years advising businesses, municipalities and working in employment law. They were both in the ‘Rolodex’ business, having built strong relationships for years across technology industries. It was time they built this for themselves. The start was easier than they thought, with connections that spread across southwestern Pennsylvania. They began simply as an extension of companies’ HR departments, placing technical experts in organizations, finding the right skills and the best personality match.

Internalizing the External

Shortly after the business started growing, they noted that the demand for outsourced software continued to grow. As Joe is, first and foremost, a tech guy, this part of the expansion came very naturally. After identifying some projects with their current clients, they hired contractors for PS Solutions, becoming their own customer. Soon there was so much work they were directly hiring software developers in full time positions on the PS Solutions team. “We are fully committed to our team,” said Hippo. “They are the ones that make our company work, so we take care of them not just with salaries, but also with the best benefits package we can assemble.” It works. The employees appreciate the opportunity to have a solid place to work with challenging projects. And it helps that they are truly impacting the American employment landscape. In fact, PS Solutions now has three very different offices: Altoona, Pittsburgh and now Wilmington, NC. “We watched as company after company outsourced their software development, taking jobs away from Americans because it was cheaper overseas,” said Merilli. “We found a way to ‘Offshore America’ – to build a strategy where we employ really smart people in smaller towns where the cost of living is lower and the quality of life higher. It’s really win-win-win-win… for the employees, the small cities our clients and America.”

Forward!

So, where does PS Solutions go from here? As pragmatic as Merilli and Hippo are, you can guess: it’s the next logical step. PS Solutions is developing their own software and application packages. Within the month, PS Solutions will launch their first app, becoming a software vendor themselves. And given their propensity of community focus, the app will be consequential: nothing short of helping prevent suicide. Keep your eyes here on this blog… We’ll continue to bring you the stories that paint with clarity what the next decade will deliver.

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Wayne Hippo - PS Solutions Owner - PS SolutionsJoe Merilli - PS Solutions Founder - PS Solutions


Blair County Commissioners Award Suicide Prevention App Development Contract to PS Solutions


It’s a sobering fact: Suicide is the number 1 killer of adolescent girls. It is the second-leading cause of death among all people ages 15 – 29. It is no wonder, then, that the Blair County (PA) Commissioners are anxious to find a way to curtail this threat to our next generation.

During the Blair County (PA) Commissioners meeting on January 8th, 2019 (watch the TV report), the commissioners voted to fund a new app to help first responders and county social workers determine the risk level for suicide. PS Solutions was awarded a contract to develop an app that utilizes the Columbia Lighthouse Project’s protocol, which establishes a series of guidelines for helping those at risk.

The app, which will be operational on both Android and Apple devices, is being developed by PS Solutions. The concept, however, came from the Blair County social services director.

“We spent years carrying around little cards with questions and color-coded answers on them,” said Jim Hudack, Director of Blair County Social Services. “What happens when you can’t find that little card? I’ll tell you – I’m never without my phone, so I asked Joe if creating an app would be possible.”

The Columbia Lighthouse Project’s Suicide Prevention App provides a list of questions to ask, ranging from “have you ever felt like taking your life” and “if so, have you ever thought about how you would do that?” There is a color-coded system for responses, helping to alert the person asking the questions to whether there is an urgent need for help (red) to if it’s a typical situation (green).

The app will provide a resource primarily for first responders but is available for use – for free – by anyone. It is currently in development, with delivery expected by early February. For more information, call PS Solutions at 814-942-7888.


Team hosts computer workshops in schools


Cucalorus, PS Solutions reached 90 students, mostly girls, ages 8-14.

The Cucalorus Festival brought a digital literacy program to local elementary and middle school students with a mobile Kids Coding Workshop. Students at Snipes Academy, Wrightsboro Elementary and GLOW Academy were given an opportunity to write simple codes that programmed and controlled super-small computers, or Arduinos. The program was sponsored by the PS Solutions Foundation.

“Coding is the language of computers,” explained Rob Hill, a filmmaker and Cucalorus outreach educator, as he led students at Snipes to engage in the programming exercise. “A computer program, or code, is a set of instructions that a computer follows to complete a task.” Leading the students through the coding program, Hill provided guidance to connect a circuit board to the computer and then program the computer to tell the circuit board to light up.

The workshops were scheduled over three days reaching some 90 students, mostly girls, ages 8 to 14. According to Wayne Hippo, managing partner of PS Solutions, “the girls tend to flourish and engage more readily without boys in the room. We want girls to see that computer science is a fun and gratifying field of study, and workshops such as these give them a good hands-on opportunity to learn and grow confident with new skills.”

Indeed, the girls showed immediate delight when lights flashed as a result of their coding exercise.

 

There is urgency to drawing more girls into fields of computer science. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment of software developers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. A tech talent vacuum means many of the jobs go unfilled, so broadening the pool of candidates is critical to U.S. competitiveness.

“Ultimately, we hope by providing young girls with experiences such as the Cucalorus Kids Coding Workshop, they might later consider studying for a career in computer science or programming,” Hippo said. “You never know when you are opening a door to possibilities that might otherwise never have been considered,” he says.

PS Solutions’ Foundation is a nonprofit committed to developing young girls’ interest in software engineering.

The coding workshops were part of Cucalorus Connect, an interactive convergence of technology entrepreneurship and creative arts. Expanding the festival’s media literacy programming, the digital literacy outreach works to draw people into the world of digital sciences, arts and communications.

PS Solutions is a software development firm that recently expanded to Wilmington from its Pennsylvania headquarters.

Team hosts computer workshops in schools


Outsourcing While Onshoring: A Better Option for Software Solutions


Hiring programmers a world away has long been a desperate option for those looking to fill their need for tech talent. The argument was simply that American programmers weren’t available or affordable, and going off-shore promised lower costs and a tech team who worked while you slept.

Over time, American C-suites learned that there were hidden costs to the overseas solution. The time zone differential left small windows for communication and problem-solving. And English fluency, together with other cultural understandings, have grown from “nice-to-haves” to essential factors. These ‘soft’ attributes had a major impact on internal project management.

Such real-world lessons now collide with a growing concern of American jobs versus foreign jobs, and the real possibility that bad actors could comprise your offshore team and compromise your software integrity.

Indeed, when offshoring one loses certain control of the project which frequently translates into losing control of the money spent on that project; some companies spend millions without reaching a satisfactory solution. We’ve all heard those nightmares.

While acknowledging the cost savings companies cite for offshoring entire IT departments, what about the occasional, but necessary project updates, system and deliverable alignments that in-house software development teams inevitably face?

Because hiring a full-time developer — or team — requires an extended search, considerable overhead and the moral fiber (or lack thereof) to eliminate staff when the project is complete, companies look to what seems to be the easier and cost-sensitive solution of outsourcing via offshoring.

The alternative is onshore outsourcing. Assembling a stateside team to support and solve urgent software solutions invites creative collaboration, assures accessible control and eliminates the angst that comes with the “long-term commitment” of a new employee.

At PS Solutions, we thrive on providing creative onshore solutions for companies hitting roadblocks with their technology. We assign skilled developers to work onsite with in-house teams, or offsite but easily accessible. Either way, you meet the designers and developers working on your project; you can see the progress they are making and engage as frequently as you like. You’re in control.

Our capacity to scale, staff and site solutions according to client projects is what distinguishes PS Solutions. We match talent to task and temperament to team, assuring project needs and corporate culture are equally considered.

The result is ten years of satisfied clients who have avoided or at least augmented the offshore approach. For major corporations or mid-sized companies alike, onshoring is a welcome alternative to the overseas and often over budget offshore solution.


Are you 508c Compliant?


1 in 5

As of 2015 there were 40 million Americans with disabilities. That’s a lot of people who should be able to use your website – or the technology you offer – but may not be able to do so.  It’s helpful to them if your site is easily accessible, but if you want the federal government or even its employees to have access you may need to make a few tweaks.

Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a federal law mandating that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.

What, exactly, is “accessible”? Essentially it means that whatever you offer needs to be as easy to use by those who have disabilities as it is by those who do not. When it comes to websites, the good folks at Essential Accessibility have developed a checklist to help you determine if you need to make changes. It includes things like:

  • Text equivalents for every photo, image, logo or other non-text element.
  • Flickering only at a frequency of more than 2 Hz or less than 55 Hz to reduce seizure risk.
  • Online forms should be able to be completed using assistive technology or just the keyboard, just a mouse.
  • High contrast between the information and the background color, to support limited vision.
  • Limit scrolling to get to the core elements.
These are just five tests you can try for yourself. Once you believe you are in compliance, demonstrate it to the government by completing a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), an informational tool that describes exactly how the product or service does or does not meet Section 508 standards. The completed VPAT gets posted on the creator's Web site to provide government officials and consumers with access to the information.

We’ve fixed websites and even software for many companies. If you need a hand, don’t hesitate to call on PS Solutions.

508c


You Know PHP... But How's Your .NET?


For years your team has developed hypertext-based solutions. For both internal and client applications, you guys can rock you some PHP.

But the challenge has changed – and now you need to develop for Windows. You look into a framework that will support a series of different languages – you need access to a huge library that can share with multiple applications.

You need .NET.

But you don’t know .NET, and neither does your team. You can learn it… it’s not rocket science and your team knows C# and VB... besides, they’re really keen. But, you don’t have an extra month.

You need a .NET expert. Someone that will know how to get the Framework right, how to apply the appropriate tools. What you don’t need? To go through a hiring process. To sign someone on who has the skills you need for a short-term project. To get the project clearly laid out.

One of the great things about having PS Solutions as a partner is that we’re ready to help. We have a hefty team that’s facile with:

• Java
• .NET
• Python
• C#
• Android
… and a whole lot more.

We’ve worked in manufacturing, healthcare, finance, retail, transit, HR… you name the industry, we’ve likely coded for it.

So don’t stress. Just call PS.


Software firm PS Solutions opens in Wilmington


Company could bring on 15 employees, official says.

WILMINGTON -- A software development firm has opened in Wilmington, hoping to tap into the region’s growing fintech hub and other industries.

PS Solutions, an Altoona, Pennsylvania-based firm, is operating out of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This is the first PS Solutions location outside of Pennsylvania, where it also has an office in Pittsburgh.

Managing partner Wayne Hippo said the company develops software solutions for a variety of clients, from mid-size landscaping businesses to convenience store chains to national healthcare and corrections companies. He anticipates PS Solutions having its own Wilmington space and about 15 employees within the year.

“We’re pretty excited about it; it’s certainly the type of community we have been looking for,” he said. “Wilmington seems to be a growing community, willing to take on a lot of tech development.”

In addition to IT support, PS Solutions can develop software and provide programming to clients. Hippo said many of PS’s clients have been fintech -- or financial technology -- companies, an industry that’s growing roots in Wilmington through companies like nCino and the recently opened Apiture. Live Oak Bank is building space at its Wilmington campus that will house future fintech companies doing business with the bank.

Hippo said the presence of those and other tech companies helped draw PS Solutions to the Port City. Rather than locating in the Reasearch Triangle or Charlotte, Hippo said PS was looking for a North Carolina home that would offer future employees an attractive lifestyle.

“Not everyone wants to be in the heart of the big development areas,” he said. “There’s plenty of talent out there that thinks, ‘maybe there’s a better way of life’.”

PS plans to do business with clients throughout the Carolinas, and Hippo said the company is excited to keep tech talent in the Wilmington area.

“I think we’re really pleased at the reception so far, and we’re looking forward to a long-term partnership,” he said.

http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20180612/software-firm-ps-solutions-opens-in-wilmington


Altoona Mirror Article: Altoona tech firm opens NC Office


PS Solutions of Altoona and Pittsburgh is opening a Wilmington, N.C., office, bringing software development solutions to companies in the Carolinas that are hitting technology roadblocks.

PS Solutions offers a staff of software and project management professionals and serves major corporations and mid-sized entrepreneurs, providing programming and software development, contract IT services and onsite placement of IT professionals.

The company employs a diverse group of technology professionals with a commitment to solving the tech talent vacuum and keeping technology from moving off-shore. The company looks to grow its Carolina-based staff throughout the year.

“Wilmington offers an im­portant new business landscape for us, opening ave­nues to RTP and the southeast region,” Wayne Hippo, managing partner of PS Solutions, said in a statement. “We look forward to serving the growing fintech, health care and service sector economy, all of which rely on secure, scalable and state-of-the-art software solutions.”

“Ours is a team of creative problem solvers,” co-owner Joe Merilli said in a statement. “We are very adept at finding innovative solutions, whether our clients are facing changing technologies, expanding services or are even entering the technology/software world for the first time. We pride ourselves in working alongside our clients to solve their technology and software problems.”

Below is the link to the article: http://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2018/06/altoona-tech-firm-opens-nc-office/


Software Development Firm PS Solutions Opens Wilmington, NC Office


PS Solutions fills regional skills gap and provides on-shore solutions for

companies facing technology roadblocks

  Wilmington, NC – May 29, 2018 -- PS Solutions is opening a Wilmington, NC, office bringing creative solutions in software development to companies in the Carolinas that are hitting technology roadblocks. PS Solutions offers a staff of software and project management professionals and serves major corporations and mid-size entrepreneurs alike, providing programming and software development, contract IT services, and onsite placement of IT professionals. With offices in Altoona and Pittsburgh, the company employs a diverse group of technology professionals with a commitment to solving the tech talent vacuum and keeping technology from moving off-shore. PS Solutions is currently working out of UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on College Road and is looking to grow its Carolina-based staff throughout the year.

“Wilmington offers an important new business landscape for us, opening avenues to RTP and the southeast region,” said Wayne Hippo, managing partner of PS Solutions. “We look forward to serving the growing fintech, healthcare and service sector economy, all of which rely on secure, scalable and state-of-the-art software solutions.” The company works for a broad range of clients who need help with .net, Java and Android platforms, providing creative and cost-saving solutions to support their growth.

Creative Solutions to Technology Problems PS Solutions can scale its expertise for Fortune 500 and multi-national corporations, mid-size companies and start-ups, alike. Clients have included:
  • A convenience retail chain of 500 stores that required an enterprise-wide platform for HR systems
  • A landscape design company working to update its web portal and develop an app for real-time field-staff communications
  • A national education organization that, having invested nearly $2 million in a failed offshore software re-write, turned to PS Solutions to transition proprietary but outdated user-facing technology to a web-enabled standard.
“Ours is a team of creative problem solvers,” explains Mr. Hippo, “we are adept at secure solutions for our fin-tech clients and have HIPPA-certified developers for our healthcare clients.”

Keeping IT Stateside The trend of off-shoring technology development and IT support is a critical driver for Mr. Hippo and his partner, Joe Merilli. The two are committed to providing an accessible solution to companies who wish to keep their technology in the US. “Technology affects every aspect of our lives, so it is important that we, as a country, control how it is developed and applied,” explains Mr. Hippo. With comparisons to America’s furniture and textile industries, he asks, “Do we really want to offshore our banking and healthcare technologies? Keeping software development here at home is a matter of national security,” he says.

About PS Solutions PS Solutions, a software development firm headquartered in Altoona, PA, with offices in Pittsburgh and Wilmington, NC, uses US-based developers to alleviate the technology talent vacuum. The company’s creative approach to software development services earned them a position on the Inc. 5000 list, in the top 150 fastest growing IT Services Private Companies (133) and ranked 7th in Pennsylvania.


Inspire Act


On February 28, 2017, the President signed the “Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Act” into law.  The primary aim of the bill is to compel the director of NASA to encourage women and girls to study within the STEM fields.  The purpose of this act is to support NASA and help women to consider and pursue a career in aerospace.  NASA will use three initiatives to support the efforts; the NASA GIRLS AND NASA BOYS programs, Aspire to Inspire, and the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.

The INSPIRE Act is one additional step in what needs to be a comprehensive approach to break down the glass ceiling for women in many STEM fields.  We currently have a tremendous shortage of US trained personnel to fill the many opportunities in STEM fields.  The US is currently losing thousands of jobs overseas, simply because we don’t have trained people to do the work required.  While not anywhere near a cure for the problem INSPIRE is a step in the right direction.  The fastest fix to this problem is to make sure that women are given every opportunity to go after what are often traditionally male opportunities in the STEM fields.

PS Solutions Foundation is dedicated to helping young girls get exposure to STEM opportunities, particularly software engineering in the hopes that they will be encouraged to pursue the field as they work through their educational path. PS Solutions Foundation has provided scholarships for girls participating in science camps at Penn State Altoona.


Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act


The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act was signed into law on February 28, 2017.  It was one of two bills designed to encourage woman to pursue careers in science and business fields.  This Act allows the National Science Foundation to encourage entrepreneurial programs for women.  These programs will allow women the opportunity to strive for careers in the STEM fields from the lab to the commercial world.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while women make up 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, they only hold 25.6 percent of computer and mathematical occupations and only 15.4 percent of architecture and engineering occupations.  At the college level, women only earn 18 percent of computer science degrees.

Founded in 2012, PS Solutions Foundation focuses local efforts at encouraging young women to develop an interest in software engineering.  The Foundation partners with educational providers to engage the young women so they can explore Computer Science and hopefully one day strive for a career within the field.  There is a large opportunity for women within the STEM fields and this Act will hopefully be only one step in a comprehensive plan to help grow those opportunities for women.


News on Latest Cyber Attack


The most recent attack on Friday, May 12 affected 200,000 victims across at least 150 countries worldwide.  The latest attack comes from ransomware known as WannaCry.  Ransomware is software that blocks access by encrypting your data until a ransom is paid.  It displays a message that requests money to unlock access.  There has been an international search for the perpetrators behind the attack, being led by the Europol, the European Union’s Police Agency.  Luckily, there has been no second wave of attacks with many watching to see what the start of the new workweek brings.

The WannaCry Ransomware takes advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows.  Microsoft released a security patch in March to correct the problem.  However, there are many companies that do not automatically update their systems to incorporate the Windows patches.  A prime reason for not wanting to do so, is that often the newer releases or patches cause problems with companies operating legacy software programs.  Essentially, these companies have been running the gamble of not upgrading the security patches so they don’t have to spend potentially significant money to upgrade the legacy software.

If you are considering doing a rewrite of your software systems, consider contacting PS Solutions for a quote.  Our rural outsourcing program allows you to save thousands of dollars by utilizing our Altoona-based software engineers.  You save money, keep jobs in the USA, and avoid the risks of the unknown results of gambling on using overseas development companies.


PS Solutions Makes Recommendations in Light of Latest Cyber Attack


While companies need to make the decision about investing money to upgrade legacy software, everyone should be considering the following steps to reduce the risk of downloading ransomware:

  • Do not open emails from someone you do not know or trust.
  • Never open an attachment within an email from a company or person you do not know.
  • Never click on a link inside of an email.
  • Never reply to SPAM emails.
  • Always use a SPAM filter/ Anti- Virus software.
Utilize these tips to protect yourselves and your technology.  Cyber attacks are an increasing risk and it is better to be prepared and safe.


PS Solutions continues growth and announces hiring of new Senior Account Manager


Altoona-based PS Solutions is proud to announce the hiring of Robert Fields as the company’s new Senior Account Manager. Fields will be heading up the PS Solutions’ Pittsburgh office on the North Shore. He is responsible for continuing growth of PS Solutions’ mission to help businesses fulfill their software and web development needs while keeping technology jobs in the USA.
Robert Fields joins PS Solutions with more than 25 years’ experience in the Information Technology Consulting industry. Fields brings extensive experience developing innovative product, project and staff augmentation solutions to complex client problems, consulting with Fortune 500 manufacturing firms, insurance companies, and educational and financial institutions, sourcing and retaining key resources.
PS Solutions employs Software Engineers and Web-based developers in its downtown Altoona and Pittsburgh offices to create, design, and re-engineer software for clients throughout the eastern US.


Questions should be addressed to Joe Merilli or Wayne Hippo at PS Solutions 814-942-7888



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At PS Solutions, we believe that software and technology are important in our day-to-day lives. Our goal is to ensure that the computer code running everything from banking to healthcare to national security is written, protected and stored right here in the USA. We hire top-flight software developers who creatively solve problems and we put them to work here in the USA. Let’s tackle your software projects together, using American creativity and “know how”.

FIND OUT MORE


Altoona Development Center
1601 Eleventh Avenue
Ste. 201
Altoona, PA, 16601

Pittsburgh Development Center
1500 Ardmore Boulevard
Ste. 500
Pittsburgh, PA, 15221

Wilmington Development Center
2109 Capital Drive
Ste. 170
Wilmington, NC, 28405