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March 6 , 2017

The Top Live Streaming Service for Cord Cutters

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Before most people cut the cord, they spend their time worrying how they’re going to live without their favorite cable channels. However, the truth is that there are more ways than ever to live stream cable channels without actually having a cable contract. With that in mind, here are some of the best live streaming options that are currently available. 

Sling TV: Sling TV is known for being the oldest live streaming service on the market. It costs the least, starting at $20 for more than 30 channels, and it specializes in the skinny bundle. The skinny bundle is a small number of popular channels with less filler channels and a lower price than cable.

Sling TV also offers small add-on bundles that give you a chance to personalize your package. Most bundles are $5/month and include options for kids programming, sports, news, lifestyle and other topics. Sling TV works on most streaming devices including some smart TVs, gaming consoles and more traditional options like Roku and Chromecast.

Channel options vary based on the package you choose. However, popular channel options include AMC, A&E, ESPN, CNN, Lifetime, TNT and TBS. Through package add-ons, you can also add channels like TLC, USA, HBO and even some local channels. Learn more in this complete Sling TV overview.

PlayStation Vue: PlayStation Vue came out after Sling TV but did not offer nationwide service until the beginning of 2016. The service offers four packages ranging from the Access Slim ($45/month) with over 45 channels to the Ultra Slim ($64.99/month) with over 90 channels (including HBO, Showtime and other premium content).

PlayStation Vue offers a solid interface. It’s easy to find your favorite channels and your favorite shows. They are also one of the few services to currently offer a cloud-based DVR, so you can record events like the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities to ensure that you don’t miss a thing. 

PlayStation Vue is also one of the only streaming services to include mobile restrictions. You can watch Vue on Chromecast, mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, but when you sign up you’re tied to your home location. From that point, it can prove difficult at times to watch shows away from home.

As for channels, Vue has a lot of the same offerings as Sling, but they also offer FOX News and some local channels either on-demand or in live stream depending on location. However, Vue did recently lose Viacom channels.

DIRECTV NOW: Owned by cable giant AT&T, DIRECTV NOW is one of the newest names in live streaming. Packages start at $35 a month and go up in size and price to $70/month. As this service comes from a cable company, it’s probably going to be reminiscent of most cable packages. The packages here are large with tons of channels, the guide is what you’d expect if you had cable and it provides an overall pleasing experience. The package may cost a little more, but they make up for it by offering HBO for $5.

Each package includes everything from the prior package plus additional channels. The list of available networks includes AMC, Lifetime, Syfy, ESPN, FS1, FOX News, MSNBC, USA and tons of other channels. HBO and Cinemax are the only add-on options, but they are the cheapest in the streaming world at $5/month per channel. You can watch DIRECTV NOW on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and mobile devices. For a full look at DIRECTV NOW, check out this overview.

fuboTV: fuboTV is a good choice for any huge sports fan. The service just expanded offering a full cord-cutting solution with packages starting at $34.99 a month. It’s a great service for soccer fans (you get the entire FOX Soccer Plus platform), local sports, European soccer leagues, golf, MLB, NBA… you name it.

As for regular entertainment channels, you’ll have access to channels like FX, USA, FOX News, Lifetime, Viceland, MSNBC, Oxygen and a wide variety of other channels.

Like PlayStation Vue, fuboTV has a cloud-based DVR, so whether you’re watching sports or TV, you can record what you might have otherwise missed. fuboTV is a great way to watch those games that you were unable watch with the other services.

Other services will be out this year, and you can expect the market to continue to fill with choices in both the live and on-demand streaming circles. For now, these are your choices and all of them are worthwhile considerations given that they are much cheaper than cable. These services truly do offer all the substance with less of the fluff.

Happy streaming!

The Top Live Streamng Service For Cord Cutters is a guest post from Chris Brantner of CutCableToday.com

June 23 , 2015

5 Things You Need to Know at ISTE 2015

More than 17,000 education professionals and edtech thought leaders are set to visit the City of Brotherly Love next week. That can only mean one thing: ISTE 2015 is finally upon us.

The largest edtech conference and expo of the year has something for every attendee. Educators will discover how to infuse their classroom with the latest, trendiest learning technologies from the most revered names in education. But where do you begin? 

A conference this large can be a little daunting, so we’ve compiled the following tips to help make your experience as valuable as possible:

  1. ISTE is a marathon – don’t sprint!
    The first morning of ISTE is like opening day for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Everyone is eager to become immersed in the most comprehensive edtech conference on the planet. So many vendor displays to visit. So many old friends to catch up with. So many great presentations to attend. It can be dizzying and, eventually, exhausting. Much like Phillies fans after the big game, you’ll be ready to pass out after day one at ISTE if you don’t pace yourself. 

    Make a schedule or game plan before you arrive. This will help you manage all of your to-do items. Remember that you don’t have to accomplish everything in one day. That would be like trying to see all of Disney World in a day. It’s just not possible. You will have plenty of time to visit the vendors, socialize and see quality presentations to get the most out of your ISTE experience.

  2. The tool must always be secondary to the goal
    You will come across a lot of cool new tools during your time at ISTE, but not all of them will be a good fit for your classroom. Incorporating new technology without a corresponding plan for its use in the classroom can negatively impact the student learning environment. It’s important to know exactly how you’re going to implement a new piece of technology, how it will interact with other classroom technologies and how it will yield value to your students. Doing a little research and planning before you purchase new classroom tech will ensure that you are effectively managing your class time and school budget.
  3. Stay hydrated
    This sounds like a no brainer, but it really is a big deal. Do you live life by the coffee-in-the-morning, beer-in-the-evening philosophy? That could be problematic at ISTE. We recommend bringing a refillable water bottle to keep yourself feeing awake, refreshed and healthy during the day. 
  4. Think socially
    Utilize the social media outlets at your disposal to get the most out of your ISTE experience. Industry professionals in attendance will flood the social sphere with ISTE dialogue on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can’t be everywhere at once, but your fellow ISTE attendees will be in all of the other great sessions and presentations you can’t attend.

    Curate a list of hashtags (#ISTE2015 and #edtech) to follow all of the action. Social media is a great way to pick up speaker quotes, tech innovations, best practices and event details that you would otherwise miss.

  5. Meet new people
    This one is simple, but it might be the most important. ISTE gives you the opportunity to become absorbed in an education culture with thousands of like-minded professionals. Take the time to get to know some of them. If you are going to ISTE with colleagues, make a conscious effort to split up from time to time. You can learn a lot from interacting with peers. Their experiences become your experiences, and you just might make a lifelong connection.

Good luck at #ISTE2015! Check out what Squirrels is giving away at the conference this year (hint: it’s iPads).

Let us know about some of your memorable ISTE experiences in the comments section! What do you enjoy most about ISTE?

June 16 , 2015

AirParrot 2.2 for Mac and Windows is Available

An substantial update to AirParrot 2 is available! AirParrot 2.2 brings hardware encoding support to Macs running 10.9 and later. This update also brings Windows UI improvements and a better experience to touch devices like tablets.

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

Mac 2.2 Release Notes:

  • Hardware encoding - AirParrot 2 now uses available hardware encoding to capture screens and transcode media files at much lower CPU usage when streaming to Apple TV and Chromecast (OS X 10.9 and greater)
  • Audio streaming to AirPort Express generation 1 (version 1) now works properly
  • The power button and play/pause buttons are now disabled when not mirroring/streaming
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes and stability improvements

Windows 2.2 Release Notes:

  • AirParrot 2 now better supports running on tablet and touch devices
  • AirParrot 2 now appears in the “Open With” context menu when right clicking a media file in Explorer
  • Audio streaming to AirPort Express generation 1 (version 1) now works properly
  • Pressing Control+L will now automatically reconnect to the last receiver
  • The power button and play/pause buttons are now disabled when not mirroring/streaming
  • Improved the “select an area” mirroring UI to be easier to use and better looking
  • Improved general mouseover, scrolling and tap areas (especially on touch devices)
  • Resolved a crash when rotating a Windows tablet while mirroring the screen
  • Resolved an issue that could cause media streaming to drop after roughly 30 minutes of streaming
  • Resolved an issue that caused duplicate devices, when connected via Quick Connect, to appear when re-opening the AirParrot 2 menu 
  • Resolved an issue that caused AirParrot 2 to stop sending sound when the AirParrot 2 volume slider was adjusted in the Windows sounds mixer
  • Resolved an issue that caused device names with special characters to appear mis-formatted
  • Resolved an issue that caused progress indicators to remain after disconnecting from a device while media streaming is connecting
  • Resolved a memory leak when using Classic Capture mode on Windows 8
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes and stability improvements
June 16 , 2015

How to Bag Free Trade Show Swag at ISTE 2015

Squirrels is giving away iPads, smart covers, gift cards and more

We are just a few short weeks away from the largest EdTech tradeshow of the year. ISTE 2015 promises to provide ample opportunity to network with peers, learn about the latest technology and trends and, oh yeah, get free stuff.

We get it. People love free stuff. It doesn’t really matter how trivial the items are.  If you are an exhibitor giving away t-shirts, software trials, pens, sunglasses, koozies, posters, notebooks, erasers, mugs and so on, you can expect to be in high demand once word spreads about your cool giveaways. 

As much as it pains us to admit as an exhibitor, we realize some people only stop by our booth for the free swag, and we’re ok with that. After all, ISTE attendees pay hundreds to thousands of dollars in registration fees, travel expenses, hotel accommodations and food. They are rewarded with a three-day, world-class EdTech development opportunity and endless aisles of knick-knacks to wear and display proudly in their classroom.

That being said, Squirrels is doing away with the little knick-knacks this year. We’re leaving the stress balls, notepads, pencils, slingshot rockets, water bottles and mugs in North Canton, Ohio, as we embark for Philadelphia.

Instead, Squirrels is giving away two grand-prize packages that will offer our winners much more functionality than the average freebie. 

Random Drawing

Our first grand-prize giveaway includes:

  • iPad mini 2 with retina display
  • iPad mini Survivor protective case
  • Twist Cable Lightning Connector
  • $50 iTunes gift card
  • $25 Best Buy gift card.

To enter, ISTE attendees must simply fill out the Squirrels ticket that comes with their registration packet coupon book and drop the ticket off at our booth (booth #1452). We’ll randomly select a winner before the end of the conference.

Button Prize

Our second grand prize giveaway includes: 

  • iPad Air
  • iPad Mini 2
  • iPad Air Smart Cover
  • iPad mini Survivor protective case
  • Two Twist Cable Lightning Connectors
  • $50 iTunes gift card
  •  $25 Best Buy gift card

To enter, attendees must stop by our booth to pick up a pin-back button. We’ll scan their badge to enter them into the button prize package drawing. In addition, we’ll have representatives walking around the exhibitor area to find people wearing the Squirrels button. Our reps will scan their badges for additional chances to win.

Are you excited? Stop by booth 1452 at ISTE 2015. We’d love to help inspire you to transform your classroom technology and maybe, just maybe, give you some free stuff.

In the meantime, check out Reflector 2 and AirParrot 2 to get a better idea of what we do!

June 8 , 2015

5 Ways Apple Will Change the Classroom in 2015

This afternoon at the annual WWDC conference, Apple announced iOS 9 (among other new Apple projects) launching free to the public this fall. But what does this have to do with education? Should you care? If your classroom uses iPads, the answer is absolutely.

Advances in the iOS operating system will bring a world of possibilities to single-device, BYOD and 1-1 classrooms using iPads this upcoming school year.

Some of the innovative new features include:

1. Split-Screen

Using the iPad is much more multitask-friendly in iOS 9. Users will be able to see multiple applications on their screen at once, change the size of the split and manipulate both windows at the same time.

  • What this means for educators: Switching between applications can be frustrating when working on an assignment. Being able to view two applications side-by-side will streamline this process and allow students to complete work easier and faster.

2. News App

The News app will replace the Newsstand app. Instead of having to purchase subscriptions to publications, students will be able to instantly follow publications like The New York Times; specific interests like Technology; and popular or personal blogs.

  • What this means for educators: The News app will give students and teachers the chance to stay up-to-date on news that is important to them. Having access to a seemingly unlimited news stream will help facilitate current events discussions and give students a different perspective.

3. Notes App

An update to Notes shows vast improvements with iOS 9. This includes the ability to add bold titles, web links with previews, pictures, custom drawings and checklists to enhance the text of the note.

  • What this means for educators: Students can use the native Notes app to talk thorough notes, complete homework and more. With easy note deployment through messages, mail and social media, this may eliminate the need for a third-party note application.

4. Battery Life/Low Power Mode

These new software enhancements will add hours of lifetime to the battery of each iOS device.

  • What this means for educators: Longer use means fewer headaches keeping devices charged.

5. Keyboard

Instead of displaying an omnipresent uppercase keyboard, the keyboard on the iOS device will now use uppercase letters when the shift key is pressed, and lowercase letters when typing in lower case.

  • What this means for educators: This seems like a simple update, but imagine elementary schools. Students learning letters will be able to visualize the difference between upper and lower case letters.

The update to iOS 9 is free and is expected to be available this fall. If you’d like to try the update before everyone else, check out beta.apple.com.

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!