Keirsten Heckel

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July 11, 2017

That’s a Wrap! Our ISTE 2017 and EdTech Karaoke Roundup

We spend plenty of time planning and prepping for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference and Expo, and for good reason! ISTE is the largest education technology conference in the United States, providing 21,000 attendees with access to workshops, sessions, keynotes and nearly 500 exhibitors. It’s hard to believe this was our fifth time exhibiting.

Our fifth experience as an exhibitor was unforgettable. We wanted to thank you all for the memories and share our key takeaways. 

Here are six points to note about ISTE 2017:

  1. ISTE continues to grow every year! The number of educators from ISTE 2016 to ISTE 2017 grew from 16,000 educators to 21,000 educators – and it showed! The expo hall was packed with educators ready to learn, connect and discover everything and everyone in the EdTech world. This enthusiasm is what makes ISTE a can’t-miss event for exhibitors like Squirrels.
  2. The expo hall had a variety of products – there wasn’t just one that ruled the floor. ISTE had it all - from device-management solutions and interactive whiteboards, to cases for student devices and flexible seating.
  3. EdTech Karaoke is VERY important to us. So much so that we were one of the main sponsors this year. More on that in a minute.

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  1. Putting together and taking down our tree booth will always be taxing, but it’s a great team-building exercise….literally! How could moving 800 pounds of wooden walls for 10 hours not bring our team closer together?

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  1. Our Alpha Squirrel EdTech experts ROCK! We were lucky enough to connect and meet with more than 30 Alpha Squirrel educators who use and love our classroom products. If any of you stopped by our booth, you may have seen one or two of them presenting with our COO, Andrew Gould, or our Director of Professional Development, Becky Shiring.

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  1. The Squirrels team loves Mexican food, and Texas has some of the best. We hosted our second annual Alpha Squirrel Social at the Iron Cactus, located along the San Antonio River Walk. The margaritas were cold, the queso was hot and the company was delightful.

EdTech Karaoke 2017

Remember when we said that we were a sponsor for EdTech Karaoke? It was certainly a night to remember as our team serenaded the theater with “Sweet Caroline,” did an EdTech Karaoke Twitter takeover and threw stress-ball microphones into the crowd. Our singing may be out of tune and our aim might be off, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time!

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EdTech Karaoke Winner Interview

EdTech Karaoke isn’t just for fun. A champion is crowned. We were lucky enough to speak with the winner from the night, Susan Grigsby. Grigsby is the District Media Specialist from Forsyth County Schools in Atlanta.

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We actually knew her before she was karaoke-famous because earlier that day, she stopped by to check out an in-booth presentation on our awesome new device-management solution. Talk about a brush with greatness.

Grigsby started out the competition with her rendition of “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi and won with the crowd favorite, “Proud Mary,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Good move, Susan. Good move.

Turns out this wasn’t her first time at ISTE, and it wasn’t her first time singing at EdTech Karaoke either.

“I’ve been coming to ISTE since 2014,” Grigsby said.

When asked if she has been singing at EdTech Karaoke since 2014, Grigsby responded modestly and with a smile, “I sang in 2014, yes.”

But, she didn’t just sing in 2014, she also won that year. Clearly Susan is no rookie when it comes to EdTech Karaoke. So how does this new accomplishment make her feel?

“It feels amazing! I’m going to Disney World,” Grigsby said.

Grigsby may be going to Disney World, but her EdTech Karaoke title also won her a trip to ISTE 2018 in Chicago. All the best, Susan, and we’ll see you there!

Stay tuned for our next big conference (or EdTech Karaoke) adventure. Until then, enjoy all the songs performed at EdTech Karaoke – ISTE 2017 edition -- with this Spotify playlist.

July 10, 2017

Cord Cutter’s Guide: How to Stream and Mirror the 25th Annual ESPY Awards

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When’s the only time Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, Simone Biles and Serena Williams will all be in the same room together? That’s right…at the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards. We’re convinced our invite got lost in the mail. 

This year, two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning will take the stage to help hand out awards that recognize individual and team athletic achievement. Comedians and Hollywood stars usually take on the responsibility of hosting such an event. However, Manning will be the first athlete in ten years to host the ESPYs after LeBron James co-hosted with Jimmy Kimmel in 2007.

If this hosting gig is anything like Manning’s SNL hosting appearance in 2007, he’s sure to have the Microsoft Theater (and nation) laughing. We can only hope that Herb Alpert’s “Casino Royale” will be playing as Manning walks off the stage (Locker Room sketch, anyone?). 

Grab your popcorn, grab your tissues (for the acceptance speech feels, of course) and grab your computer, because we are bringing you four ways (plus a bonus tip) to stream the event without cable!

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Sling TV is one of the top ways cord cutters can stream live TV without a cable subscription. Subscribers who choose the Sling Orange package ($20/mo.) have access to the Broadcast Extra bundle ($5/mo.) to watch live local broadcast channels, including ABC. Only want to use this service to watch the ESPYs? You can try it free for 7 days!

Note: You can only stream ABC Live through Sling TV in select markets around the country. These areas include Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. If you live in one of these areas, the ABC live stream will be accessible.

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One of the newest solutions for cord cutters is DirecTV NOW by AT&T. This online streaming service offers you more than 60 TV channels, including ABC, for $35/mo. without a contract (or you can try it free for seven days). You can use this service on most streaming devices, including computers and mobile devices.

 

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PlayStation Vue brings another streaming option to cord cutters trying to watch their favorite shows without cable. You can watch the ESPYs with this solution if you live in a market where Sony has the right to carry live feeds of some of the major networks including ABC at just $40/mo. However, if you do not live in one of those areas, you’ll need to catch the event over-the-air. You can determine your local channel availability by entering your zip code here.

 

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Over-the-Air Broadcast

Don’t forget the old-fashioned way! Since ABC broadcasts over-the-air (OTA), it’s free to watch with a digital antenna if you live in range of an affiliate. Here’s how to choose the best antenna for you.

 

Pro tip:

Finding ways to stream live TV is only half the battle for cord cutters. After all, nobody wants to watch Peyton Manning hand out an award on a tiny computer screen. Download AirParrot 2 on your Mac or PC to wirelessly mirror that live broadcast from your computer directly to an Apple TV or Chromecast.

Use Sling TV app or DirecTV Now in the Chrome, Safari and Firefox browser to stream the event. Then open AirParrot and select your browser as the “From” option. Select your Apple TV or Chromecast as the “To” option. This will allow you to experience all the action on the big screen.

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Watch the 25th Annual ESPY Awards Online:

Wednesday, July 12
8 p.m. EST
Host: Peyton Manning
ABC

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!

May 26, 2017

Cord Cutter’s Guide: How to Stream and Mirror the Indianapolis 500

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means it’s time for family, food and (hopefully) good weather, but for some, it’s time to watch cars go around a 2.5-mile track 200 times. Coverage of the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 begins Sunday, May 28th at 11 a.m. ET on ABC.

Billed as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500 (also known as the Indy 500) is one of the most popular automobile races of all time. Millions of people tune in to watch the Indy 500 broadcast, while more than 250,000 people travel to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to experience it firsthand. 

Scott Dixon, Ed Carpenter, Alexander Rossi and more are ready to put the pedal to the metal and take on the 500 miles/200 laps/805km. So the question is, if they’re ready, are you?

Here are a few streaming (and mirroring) solutions to get you prepared for the big race.

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IndyCar Race Control is the best (and free!) option for cord cutters, and it gives viewers live scoring and updates throughout the day. No cable subscription required.

 

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Sling TV is one of the best ways for cord cutters to stream live TV without a cable subscription. Subscribers can choose the Broadcast Extra package ($5/mo.) on top of their Sling Orange package ($20/mo.) to have access to ABC. However, if you only want to use Sling TV for the Indy 500, you can try Sling TV free for seven days.

You can also use your Sling TV Orange account to watch the Indy 500 on WatchESPN. All you need to do is go to www.espn.com/watch and log in with your Sling TV credentials.

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One of the newest solutions for cord cutters is DirecTV NOW by AT&T. This online streaming service offers more than 60 TV channels, including ABC, for $35/mo. without a contract. You can also try it free for seven days. The service is available on most streaming devices including computers and mobile devices. 

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Good news, PlayStation owners! You can watch your favorite driver right from your gaming console. PlayStation Vue offers a large package of channels including ABC, which is what you need to watch the Indy 500. The package starts at $29.99/mo. and does not require a contract. This service is compatible with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Try it free!

Note: Channel availability, pricing and supported devices are subject to change and may vary by location. 

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SN Now is a live streaming service that allows viewers to watch coverage of all Verizon IndyCar series races, including the Indy 500. You can purchase this service for $24.99/mo., however, if you already subscribe to Sportsnet, SN Now is available at no additional cost.

Indy 500 viewing pro tip:

Finding ways to stream live TV is only half the battle for cord cutters. After all, nobody wants to watch the last lap of the historic Indy 500 with a roomful of people crowded around a tiny computer screen. Download AirParrot 2 on your Mac or PC to wirelessly mirror that live broadcast from your computer directly to an Apple TV or Chromecast.

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Enter http://racecontrol.indycar.com in your Chrome or Firefox browser, or log in to your Sling TV, DirecTV NOW or SN Now account to stream the event. Then open AirParrot and select your browser as the “From” option. Select your Apple TV or Chromecast as the “To” option. This will allow you to experience all the action on the big screen.

Learn more about the AirParrot 2 desktop mirroring/streaming app.

May 9, 2017

Why We Appreciate Teachers on National Teachers’ Day

"The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." - Dan Rather

Teachers are introduced in our lives at an early age to help guide us as we grow and mature. The countless teachers we are exposed to in our lifetime shapes our minds and helps us discover our passions, strengths and weaknesses. Their professional efforts change the world by creating the presidents, doctors, lawyers, policemen and engineers of tomorrow. They teach us not only about important subjects, but about life lessons that help us understand the world. Most of all, they inspire us to follow our dreams and to never give up. 

From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you to the teachers that have helped us, to the teachers that are helping the future and to the teachers that we are lucky enough to work with every day.

This National Teachers’ Day, members of the Squirrels team reflect on the teachers that have had a positive impact on their lives. 

Emily Carle Hafer, Alpha Squirrels Program Manager: 

“I have a love of reading today because of the positive learning environment provided for me in elementary school. I remember my teacher, Miss Ruth, reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” out loud to the class, which turned me into a Harry Potter fan for life and a fervent reader. Outside of our read-aloud time, I was picking up every book I could, which I still do today!”

Becky Shiring, Director of Professional Development and Continued Learning: 

“Hands down, the teacher that had the largest impact on my life was Rick Tubman, my high school field hockey coach. He wasn’t my teacher in the traditional sense, but he was also an elementary educator. When I expressed an interest in becoming a teacher, he let me volunteer in his 5th grade class. He knew how to find the strength in every player and every student and then use that strength to help them excel. He helped even the most timid students and players believe in themselves. He inspired teamwork and empowered others to become leaders themselves, which is what true leadership is. I learned about the type of leader and teacher I wanted to be from Mr. Tubman. It’s no surprise that he’s a school principal now.” 

Alissa McGill, Developer Relations Engineer:

“To Ms. Filliez for teaching me to pay attention to detail by mercilessly taking off points for misspelling French words and missing accent marks in her class. To Ms. Filliez for teaching me creativity with projects that required us to put on fashion shows, present mock weather forecasts and write and illustrate our own storybooks. To Ms. Filliez for rewarding good grades on exams with free homework passes and challenging us not to use them even after we had worked so hard to earn them. To you Ms. Filliez, a teacher whom I will remember long after I have forgotten how to speak French.”

Joe McCulty, Business Analyst:

“The teacher who has most positively impacted my life was Sue Bugansky, my Spanish teacher of three years. In addition to teaching me Spanish, I also learned more about the English language from her than any other teacher. Beyond that, she gave me my first real glimpse of the world beyond the familiar bubble of my rural high school. Part of that comes with the territory - it is a foreign language - but Señora B was particularly suited for this task. She has seen so much and experienced so much of the world. Hearing stories, seeing pictures and holding souvenirs from the person teaching you makes a huge impression.

I’m not the only one who has been impacted by her. All her students were automatically members of Spanish Club. She would have the senior students organize events at one of the nearby Mexican restaurants every couple of weeks. Spanish Club was a great boon to students who didn’t normally sign up for extracurricular activities. Señora B has since retired, but the Spanish Club tradition lives on. A good group of her former students still calls her up to plan new events, including paella days! She’s pretty much the coolest.”

Happy National Teachers' Day to all the teachers of the world! You make learning fun and that’s a reason to celebrate you every day. 

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. We create high-quality, budget-friendly screen mirroring and device management software that’s compatible with today’s most popular devices. To date, our software can be found in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, businesses and homes. Follow our blog for all the latest product updates, Squirrels news and technology insight!