Our Wilmington, NC connection helps build a small lifeline in Altoona

When we face unknown and scary situations the initial reaction is “how will this impact me?” That’s okay. In fact, the immediate reaction of personal protection and survival is inherent in the gene pool. It’s human nature.

It’s what we do with the second reaction that can matter even more in the long run.

We’re a technology company. Many of our customers are essential businesses. And if there was ever a business that can be converted to a work-at-home environment quickly, it’s probably ours. We had been watching developments, monitoring relevant sources and planning among ourselves. We made the decision on Monday and Tuesday we were running at full-service strength to our customers.

But after that first reaction of survival and self-protection, we started viewing the crisis through a different lens. We saw a lot of people suffering. Friends and neighbors through no fault of their own were being shut down or severely restricted in their operations.

Restaurants and bars were sharing stories of concern and fear. With good reason. Businesses in place for decades are suddenly being put on the brink of extinction because of a forced government shutdown. Employees working in those restaurants are out of jobs during the “quarantine”.

In trying to think of a way to help, we naturally turned to technology, but it was a bit of over-thinking. “How do we use our team’s technology talent to help solve the problem? Apps? Web Portals? “

Then, we stumbled upon an idea through our involvement and expansion into Wilmington, NC. We’ve had an office there for a couple of years now. And while it is doing well and growing, one of the unintended side effects of being in another state, in another region of the country, is the chance to see different ideas and different perspectives.

We were introduced by Wilmington friend and fellow Penn State Grad (We Are!) Lisa Leath to a Facebook page where the Wilmington community was bringing together restaurants trying to get out the word that they were open for pick up/delivery with customers, concerned citizens and, frankly, hungry people who wanted to both help and eat. They had 7500+ followers.

So, we created the Altoona / Blair County Take Out & Delivery Facebook page and asked our employees to take some time out of their regular workday to help build, grow and promote it. The trick is to get enough people interested to join the page in order to then encourage restaurants, bars or food trucks to take the time to post.

It seems to be working. In about 8 hours, the group has over 1800 members and continues to grow. Restaurants and bars are posting and hopefully people are dialing the phones and ordering food. It certainly won’t be the savior but hopefully it’s helping in some small way.

We have no idea where this quarantine/pandemic is going to go. Sadly, much of it is beyond our control. But there’s a fundamental life lesson that should be reinforced through all of this.

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it. We can be creative and find ways to respond that help everyone.

We can learn and be inspired by friends and neighbors. We can even learn from small southern towns about simple things we can do to help our neighbors. We’re all in this together.

Thank you, Wilmington.
Wash your hands.

facebook phone
The private information of more than 267 Million Facebook users (mostly living in the U.S.) was exposed for more than two weeks in an unsecured database on the dark web. According to published reports by the cybersecurity firm Comparitech and security researcher Bob Diachenko, Facebook IDs, phone numbers and names were exposed online for anyone to see for a two-week period before access to the server was shutdown.

 

It is still unclear how the ID’s and phone numbers were obtained, but the likely possibilities are that they were obtained by scraping and abuse of Facebook’s developer API. Scraping is when automated bots copy large amounts of data from websites and stores the info in a database for analysis. There remains a possibility that the data was stolen from API before the company restricted access to users’ phone numbers back in 2018.

 

What should you do???

 

Several thoughts:
• Adjust your profile privacy settings in Facebook. (1. In Facebook, go to “Settings” and select “Privacy”. 2. Change the setting for all appropriate fiels to either “Friends” or “Only me”. 3 Under the question: “Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?” – Make sure you select “No”.
• Use messaging apps with end-to-end encryption. Always use secure passwords and regularly review permission settings on Mobile apps.
• Be very wary (as you always should be anyway) of any suspicious text messages. Even if it seems clear as to whom you are speaking, keep an eye out for anything out of the normal that makes you question the texters’ identity. The more you know someone, the more you understand their communication nuances. Don’t be afraid to ask or challenge if you pick up an indication that something is off.

 

Ultimately, it’s important to realize that if your data and information is out there somewhere, anywhere, on the internet, there’s a realistic chance that it has been or will be exposed. Anytime you turn over information, even to large, powerful companies with plenty of resources, know that someone is trying to get to it. Regularly and responsibly changing passwords, updating security settings, and taking advantage of newly released privacy and security measures is just common sense and good practice.

 

Wayne can be reached at whippo@pssolutions.net


What that means for smaller companies in Raleigh seeking Technology Talent

Today Microsoft announced they will be adding 500 new technology jobs (paying an average of $125,000 per year) into the Raleigh suburb of Morrisville, NC. In exchange, the state of NC is offering Microsoft an incentive package valued at $14.8 million.

It’s definitely great news for the Raleigh, NC area overall, but what does it mean for smaller companies trying to compete for technology talent?

The reality is that a concentrated influx of these types of high-paying jobs, especially when they are coming from such a high-profile employer like Microsoft will wind up raising a business’ costs for employees, increases the demand and decreases the supply of talent. Certainly, some market forces will play a role in increasing the talent supply through relocation and new training/education opportunities as supply tries again to catch up with demand in the technology industry.

And though the market undoubtedly will go to work on this balance, inevitably there is a significant lag as the talent supply tries to catch up with the demand for technology talent. Keep in mind, we are speaking about an understaffed industry that is constantly struggling to add more people to the mix. Even huge technology markets like Raleigh struggle to get supply to keep up with demand.

For PS Solutions, we see this as both an opportunity to help technology customers in need of talent and also a potential threat.

The opportunity: we supply software solutions to help companies deal with the talent gap in technology. Our developers are all US based and we keep costs down by keeping our development centers in lower cost areas away from immediate economic pressures caused by a big influx of demand by some huge conglomerate. Our software development centers are located and designed on the premise that your zip code does not equate with your intelligence. In other words, the software developer sitting in Altoona or Wilmington is just as capable as the higher-priced person sitting in more expensive office space in a major metropolis.

The threat: unfortunately, sometimes companies facing a talent shortage and increased costs react by shipping projects off-shore to some company (or somebody sitting in a basement office) halfway across the globe promising software development at a lower cost. Why take the risk? Why worry about where your code is going, if it’s coming back or if it is being sent somewhere else? Why wonder about quality, reliability, time zone issues, cultural diffences? Sure, you have a “low” bill rate, but what’s the quality of the work and who is keeping track of the hours?

We deal with the threat of off-shoring by pointing out that our work is done in America, at competitive rates with talented, experienced developers who understand the culture in which your business is running. We will constantly work to get the word out that when things are getting tough (even as a result of good news like a major employer moving into a market), there are smart affordable options to solve your software development problems. It just takes a little bit of creative thought and the solutions become pretty obvious.

Wayne Hippo is an owner and managing partner of PS Solutions, a custom software development and consulting business with development centers in Wilmington, NC, Altoona, PA and Forest Hills (Pittsburgh), PA.

Wayne can be reached at whippo@pssolutions.net.


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
814-942-7888

Pittsburgh Development Center
1500 Ardmore Boulevard
Ste. 500
Pittsburgh, PA, 15221
412-731-2123

Wilmington Development Center
2109 Capital Drive
Ste. 170
Wilmington, NC, 28405
910-399-6820