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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PS Solutions’ Merilli Brings Leadership to Penn State Altoona Women’s Softball




Seems baseball can really influence a lot. It’s been known to develop more than one leader – and more than one leading developer. It requires a clear understanding of math, statistics, teamwork and a keen eye for those who can be coached.

PS Solutions’ co-founder Joe Merilli has had baseball in his blood since he was in Little League. He wanted to pass along his love of the game once he had kids, but with three daughters he switched to softball. One of his daughters (Miranda) started playing t-ball when she was four years old and later started pitching with Dad in the back yard. Dad coached the t-ball team and went to coach’s clinics to make sure he was teaching the correct softball mechanics to his teams as instructed by the best college coaches in the game.

Eventually, Joe started one of the first local travel teams (Altoona Express) for 10u, 12u and 14u players. The Altoona Express allowed the players to see a higher level of competition and travel all over the east coast. Altoona Express teams traveled as far as Disney World in Florida to compete. Miranda eventually out grew the local scene and the decision was made she would try out for a larger travel organization in Pittsburgh and she made it. Dad eventually was asked to coach one of those teams and they traveled from Michigan to Florida to tournaments.

By the time high school came around, Merilli was hired to coach that team and took a perennial losing team to winning 59 out of 71 games and a date in the Western State Finals and were among the best teams in the State in their Division. Miranda finished her high school career as one of the most decorated pitchers in Blair County History.

On to College: The stakes grow

When Joe’s daughter went off to pitch for NYU Polytechnic’s softball team, he stayed home coaching his winning Bishop Guilfoyle team. But that wouldn’t be for long. The head coach at NYU Polytechnic had lost one of his coaches and asked if Joe would be interested?

“You’re asking the wrong guy,” Joe replied. “You really should ask your star pitcher.” When she said yes, he became NYU Polytechnic’s pitching coach. After a couple of years there, and while being courted by Hunter College to be their pitching coach, Guilfoyle called to request he return. Apparently, they hadn’t won since he left, so Joe stepped in for a season and lead the team back to playoffs, losing only by one run in the District playoffs.

During that year, the Head Coaching Position had opened at Joe’s alma mater – Penn State Altoona -- and it didn’t take long for the two to get together and announce that Joe would be the next head coach of Women’s Softball at the school. In his first year at PSU Altoona, the team surprised everyone by finishing tied for first place in the conference with a 15-3 record. Over the past 4 years the team has been regularly at the top end of the conference and this year looks very promising also, even with four first year pitchers.

Technology and Baseball

When asked why he’s such a good softball coach, Joe always starts with the love of the game. But in college coaching, he swears that success is about recruiting the right players. It’s about getting the right talent, those that understand team play. Interestingly enough – that’s what he does at PS Solutions, too. Joe says that team sports are different today than they’ve ever been, that technology and social media play a huge role now. It’s not all the bad stuff – like having the discipline to put down that phone when you’re in team-time. Merilli has a strict rule: no cell phones at practice, when eating together, nor at games. He swears that no team can win if they don’t talk to each other, creating relationships and bonding as a team.

But technology also helps them win. It’s about the strategies developed – and about the data generated, tabulated, and analyzed.

“I always have used spreadsheets and charts to know my team and my competition,” said Merilli. “I chart every pitch we throw. We know how every batter we face hits. We take that data and determine what pitch to call against every batter. It’s a combination of teamwork, talent and data that lets us have fun while attempting to outmaneuver the other team.”

There’s no crying in this baseball

In A League of their Own, Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) ‘coaches’ the girls to tears. Joe used to coach a lot like Dugan…especially with his daughter and the talented high school teams he had. But times are changing and Joe will regularly tell you that he has mellowed a bit on the field. He still expects a lot from his players, especially from the most talented ones. He will tell you that he loves a well pitched, well fielded game. But this year, the team is scoring more runs and winning some games with the bats.

“We have a really good team this year, with four really good first year pitchers. But this may be the best hitting team we have had a long time. We won six games in a row in Florida, because we hit well all week.”

For Merilli, the game looks at all sides of the players, and lets everyone develop strong skills in new ways. Just like the developers he works with all day, who might be great at Java but surprising him when they take on other object-oriented systems. From all of us at PS Solutions, we wish the Penn State Altoona Lions 2019 roster a world full of luck. Go Lions!

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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.


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 our 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