June 20 , 2017

ISTE 2017: Squirrels in San Antonio

The Squirrels team is traveling to San Antonio next week for the 2017 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference & Expo. This year marks our fifth consecutive year at the show, and it’s already looking like it will be the best one yet. 

Things you need to know about Squirrels at ISTE

    1. We are sponsoring EdTech Karaoke on Tuesday, June 27th. If you’ve never heard of EdTech Karaoke, you might be thinking that we’ve been duped into helping a nightclub that didn’t save any of its budget for a DJ. EdTech Karaoke has become a legendary event at education conferences around the country, and there’s no bigger education conference than ISTE.

      If our years at ISTE have taught us anything, it’s that EdTech Karaoke is one of the great highlights of the week. Be sure to get your tickets to the event at Aztec Theater soon, as EdTech Karaoke sells out quickly. We will also have additional EdTech Karaoke tickets to give away at the Squirrels booth (#626) in the ISTE expo hall. We’ll take entries all day Monday and randomly draw the EdTech Karaoke ticket winners on Monday night.

    2. The Great Redwood of ISTE is back for year two. The 18-foot tree that was built by Squirrels attracted the gaze of ISTE attendees from all over the expo hall like a field of moths gliding toward a distant garage light at night. Come see it. Take your picture with it. Tell your grandkids about it. Just know that nobody has actually ever called it the Great Redwood of ISTE.3k1a3659.jpg
    3. Our brilliant team is hosting ClassHub demos every hour on the hour. Our new classroom device management and monitoring technology will be on display and at work for you. This is a great opportunity to see it in person. We created ClassHub to address a number of needs expressed to us by educators and improve the ability for students to collaborate, share and learn with the devices they use every day. We think ClassHub is a home run, and we can’t wait to show you.Schedule Print.png

    4. Our classic education technology Reflector 2, the Reflector suite of companion apps and AirParrot will be on display as well. Our team can also tell you all about using Ditto, our smart and unlimited screen-mirroring technology, in K-12 education.

    5. We have a number of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts presenting at ISTE. These presenters are some of the best and most knowledgeable individuals in their profession. We can’t wait to hear what they say and have them join us at the Squirrels booth.

      Get the full list of Alpha Squirrel session times and topics at ISTE.

Another year of ISTE is upon us, friends. Embrace it and make the most of your time there. ISTE is an opportunity for all of us – educators, administrators, IT professionals, tech integration specialists, entrepreneurs and EdTech companies – to grow professionally and improve our knowledge of our craft.

As always, stop by the Squirrels booth (#626) to see what we’ve been working on for you and to put a few faces to our unique company name. 

June 15 , 2017

5 Tips to Get the Best Streaming Experience

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This is a guest post from Chris Brantner of CutCableToday.com

Streaming services have rapidly gained in popularity the last few years. They offer seemingly never-ending content for subscribers, including TV shows, movies and even streaming tons of live sports.

Unfortunately, all that content goes to waste if you have a bad streaming setup. You might think the only things you need to do are set up your Wi-Fi, subscribe to a service and begin streaming, but there’s much more you’ll want to do.

Make sure you take the right steps to ensure your setup is fine tuned for optimal streaming quality. That way you can avoid the disastrous scenario of waiting for the stream to buffer right as a huge play is breaking out while you’re streaming an NFL game. Here are five tips to help you get the best streaming experience: 

1. Determine what internet package you need

One thing that most people don’t realize is that you don’t need shockingly fast internet speeds for an ideal streaming experience. If you have one device streaming in high definition, you’ll need just 5Mbps (megabits per second) of download speed. With multiple devices, this can go up to 25Mbps.

In one case, this information can improve your streaming experience if you realize you don’t currently have fast enough internet speeds for your streaming needs. But, another benefit is you hopefully recognize there’s no need to overpay for that blazingly fast download speed, when a fraction of the cost will work just fine. This can save you some serious dough, which you can use to put toward better ways to improve the rest of your setup.

2. Pick the right internet provider 

There is no one answer to who the best internet service provider (ISP) is for everyone. The best option varies for each person and can easily change based on your location or the internet speed you decide you need. After figuring out your desired internet speed, you should shop around and compare ISPs.

Sometimes you’ll find a great offer from a competitor of your existing ISP, or you can even find a great offer that exactly meets your streaming needs. For example, some ISPs don’t offer packages with download speeds as low as 5Mbps. You might find another provider that has the lower package, which can once again save you money that you can spend elsewhere.

3. Get a good router and upgrade it regularly

Wifi in general is usually the key problem in most people’s streaming setups. A router is the key tool that will make or break your experience. This isn’t the place to skimp because even though your internet speed meets your needs, your router might not be delivering that to your devices.

You should get a solid router and make sure to upgrade it regularly. An upgrade is recommended about every two years. This could either mean you buy your own router and replace it every couple of years or just trade in the router you rent from your ISP for the latest version.

4. Set up your router correctly

Now that you have your router, you need to make sure you set it up properly. You should place the router in the center of your home. This increases the chance your Wifi will reach all of your rooms and minimize the chance of dead zones. Additionally, you should keep your router out in the open and off the floor to reduce any interference.

5. Improve your Wifi with a whole-home Wifi system

A whole-home Wifi system promises the improved Wifi experience the 21st century demands. Instead of having one access point, your purchase gets you multiple devices. You then set up each device throughout the house, which work to extend and amplify your Wifi service. This reduces any chance of dead zones. The market is new, but there are already a bunch of great options.

Whole-home systems work especially great if you have a room where you can never seem to get strong service. It can let you seamlessly stream ESPN in the basement, while someone else is binge-watching a show in the living room. Some of the most popular whole-home Wifi systems are Eero or Google Wifi.

Bonus Tip: Easily mirror your streams to your TV

AirParrot is an incredibly helpful software tool for anyone who likes to stream. This won’t impact the speed you’ll be able to download your streams, and it’ll add a ton of flexibility to your streaming experience. You just need to download AirParrot 2 on your laptop (PC or Mac). Then, you can wirelessly send whatever you’re streaming on your computer to your big screen. Stream all of your services in the Firefox or Chrome browser and you can then connect to your Apple TV or Chromecast.

Now you have all the information needed to improve your streaming setup. You’re ready for a top-notch streaming experience that’ll make all your friends jealous as they sit and watch the buffering icon.

June 12 , 2017

Finally! Teachers Can Now Monitor Every Student Device During Class

Educators no longer need to peer over a student’s shoulder to monitor progress or gauge how the student is progressing through a task. In fact, they don’t even have to leave their desks.

While students are busy using their devices to work on an assignment, complete group work or take a test, teachers can use device management software called ClassHub to see what is happening on every student device in real time.

The ClassHub Screen Peek feature allows teachers to see student devices from their computer to ensure students are on task and using devices in the classroom as directed. 

How it works
Once a teacher starts a class in the ClassHub Classroom Manager, each student in the classroom is listed along with a student avatar. Selecting the Screen Peek View option in the Classroom Manager presents a live view of every student device in the classroom. The teacher can see what each student is working on (or not working on) and how each student is performing in a matter of seconds.  

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To access a larger view of a specific student’s device, teachers simply click on the device in the Classroom Manager. The enlarged view also presents several device management actions, including the ability to:

  • Send a message to the student’s device
  • Open a webpage on the device
  • Lock the device into a specific application
  • Lock the device entirely
  • Begin mirroring the device to an AirPlay or Cast receiver
  • Manage applications

Does ClassHub sound like something you’ve been wishing for since the day devices appeared in the classroom? We’re happy to help bring it to your school or district.

Contact us today to chat about ClassHub or schedule a demo.

June 5 , 2017

Reflector 2.7.4 for Windows is now available

A new Reflector 2 update is available for Windows users. 

You can update Reflector 2 by selecting “Check for Updates” from the Reflector 2 preferences menu. Additionally, you can download the new version from the Reflector 2 download page.

Reflector 2.7.4 for Windows update notes:
  • Resolved an issue with the "Classic Renderer" setting not being persistent
  • Resolved an issue with the "Show Client Name" setting not being persistent
  • Reflector 2 now prevents the computer display from sleeping during YouTube video playback
June 5 , 2017

Squirrels Summer 2017 Reading List

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The school year is over, vacations are on the horizon and oh yeah, ISTE is this month! After the seemingly endless hours of grading papers and preparing lesson plans, summer is the perfect time for educators to relish in the successes of the school year and rejuvenate for the next. So we ask - what better way to do this than with a good book in hand?

To help you find the perfect summer book, members of the Squirrels team share their recommendations below.

 Becky Shiring
Director of Professional Development and Continued Learning

“The Curious Case of Sidd Finch” by George Plimpton
A hilarious book that stemmed from an April Fools’ Day joke article in Sports Illustrated about a baseball player that can throw 168 mph. What more do you need?

“Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World” by Bruce Schneier
This book is a totally shocking look into how governments and corporations collect data on us every day. Most people are apathetic about privacy issues, but this book will change your mind.

“Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
This is an epic book that beautifully weaves through time. Mitchell has an amazing ability to write with a different voice through each period of time. 

“The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why” by Amanda Ripley
This book totally changed the way I look at the situations I'm in. It basically says that people survive because they practice what to do in emergencies. Also, always look for the exit when you enter a new room!

Jessica Chevalier
Director of Business Intelligence

“Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” by Elizabeth Gilbert
It's a great reminder that we learn a lot about ourselves when we step out of our comfort zones. 

Joseph McCulty
Business Analyst 

“Sula” by Toni Morrison
"Sula" is close to "Sulu" and Toni Morrison kind of looks like Uhura. The book itself is decent, but sadly not about Star Trek. 

Connal Kelly
Account Executive 

“The Good Girl” by Mary Kubica
Thriller that keeps you turning the page!

Alissa McGill
Developer Relations Engineer

“Mistress of Dragons” by Margaret Weis
Unique and epic fantasy. Written by one of the authors of the Dragonlance books. It is like Eragon but with more grit and adult themes.

Aaron Rinier

Director of Customer Support

“Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
I really enjoyed reading about Kennedy's time in WW2 in the Navy, and how it influenced the rest of his life. There are a lot of interesting facts about him that I was never taught in school.  Very easy to read also.

Stephen Gerstacker
Senior Developer 

“Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert A. Heinlein
This book is an interesting reflection on the current political and cultural climate that we're experiencing today. 

Ashley Swinehart
Jr. Front End Web Developer

“Filters Against Folly: How To Survive Despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent” by Garret Hardin
This book tells you how to think and make decisions through these 'filters' in judgment which must be considered. It's a timeless reference for problem solving.

Mike Bruin
Technical Support Rep

“The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism” by Naoki Higashida
I like this book because it is a quick but vivid and fascinating look into the mind of a special needs child.

Keirsten Heckel
Communications Strategist

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
I love any book with elements of suspense and emotion. The Girl on the Train leaves you questioning whether to empathize with the main character or feel sorry for her, while uncovering a mystery that leaves you on the edge of your seat.

Llaran Smiles
QA Analyst

“The Last of the Renshai” by Mickey Zucker Reichert
This is the first book of an often overlooked fantasy trilogy. It’s very well written with a compelling story.

Emily Carle Hafer
Alpha Squirrels Program Manager

“Along Came a Leader: A Guide to Personal and Professional Leadership” by Kelly Croy
Written by one of our Alpha Squirrels, Kelly Croy's “Along Came a Leader” transcends educational leadership. It's a must read for educators, but the lessons, humor, and insight can be applied in any situation.

“#FormativeTech: Meaningful, Sustainable, and Scalable Formative Assessment With Technology” by Monica Burns
Written by one of our Alpha Squirrels, #FormativeTech tackles two major topics in education: assessment and technology. It can be daunting to connect the two, but Monica does so in a way that is easy to understand and practical. Plenty of "try on Monday" tips for all educators!

“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
“A Wrinkle in Time” is a classic YA novel for all ages that dives into the world of science and fantasy. Bonus: it will be released as a movie in 2018, so you can get a jump start on the story now!

“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty
If you heard the hype around the HBO mini-series of the same name, you need to take the time to read this book. Moriarty knows how to add twists and turns that will keep the reader engaged until the very end.

Jon Bishop
Creative Director of Marketing

“The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger” by Stephen King
The movie is coming out this summer (ft. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey), but it seems to just borrow from King's self-described magnum opus series "The Dark Tower." If you like westerns, horror and sci-fi, it's a great read. Even more, the series connects pillars of King's canon–like IT, The Stand, Salem's Lot and Hearts in Atlantis.

 

If you have any recommendations for us, feel free to leave them in the comments below. 

We want to wish all educators a happy, relaxing and safe summer! Happy reading!

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. Our excitement and passion lies in creating high-qualty, budget-friendly software that can be used to enhance the devices already found in today's home and work environments. Follow our blog for all the latest product releases, #TeamSquirrels news and industry insight!