June 5, 2017

Squirrels Summer 2017 Reading List

SUMMER READING.png

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!

December 28, 2016

2016 Squirrels Company Recap

12 Christmas Party

It’s hard to pinpoint the best place to begin our 2016 Squirrels year-end recap. No individual highlight or accomplishment would do this year justice. Only the culmination of many unique moments– from national recognition and globalization to new products, team members and more – can reveal the complete picture of our best year to date.

So we’ll start at the beginning.

January 2016

Squirrels Supercomputer Verifies Largest Prime Number Ever Discovered
The in-house supercomputer at Squirrels HQ is 2,400 times faster than today’s average consumer computer. It was built by Squirrels employees using their “10-percent time.” We used this computer in a coordinated global effort to find the largest prime number ever discovered (GIMPS). The efforts paid off in January 2016 with the discovery of a prime number that is 22,338,618 digits long.

Fortune Magazine Ranks Squirrels Among Top Three Best Workplaces For Technology
Fortune Magazine honored Squirrels in its Best Places To Work list after analyzing feedback from 48,000 employees at various companies around the country.

Squirrels Visits London
The Squirrels team made its first trip across the pond to attend a major education technology conference called Bett.

1 BETT

February 2016

Squirrels Releases Reflector 2 For Android TV
Our AirPlay and Cast receiving software became available for Android TV, allowing people to wirelessly stream and mirror content from a wide range of devices directly to their TVs.

March 2016

Squirrels Named North Canton Business Of The Year
The North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce honored Squirrels as its business of the year. The company received recognition from several Ohio representatives. An annual awards dinner was held on March 2.

Squirrels Releases AirParrot Remote
The release of this new iOS app enables AirParrot users to control AirParrot from an iPhone or iPad. This was a significant release covered by publications such as 9to5Mac, LifeHacker, MacStories and iMore.

3 AP Remote

April 2016

New Class Of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts
Squirrels selected its second class of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts. It included 19 teachers, principals, EdTech specialists, tech coordinators and more.

Reflector 2 And AirParrot 2 Add Support For 13 New Languages
We have a global customer base. It made sense to expand the language offering in Reflector and AirParrot to make our products easier to use for non-English speakers around the world.

June 2016

Squirrels Releases Cloud-Based Ditto Screen-Sharing Service
Squirrels released a significant new development in screen-mirroring technology. Ditto is a smart screen-mirroring solution that allows anyone with a Mac or Windows computer to walk into a Ditto-enabled meeting space and instantly (and wirelessly) present their computer to any screen connected to an Apple TV, Chromecast or Reflector-enabled device.

6 Ditto

Summer 2016 Alpha Squirrel Class Announced
Squirrels selected its third class of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts. It included 15 educators and EdTech specialists.

6 Summer Alphas

Squirrels Attends ISTE 2016 In Denver
The Squirrels team took 15 employees to Denver for our largest and most ambitious conference exhibition to date. We also unveiled our DIY 20-by-20 island booth. It was a head turner.

6 ISTE

July 2016

Pokemon Go
…..because we were as addicted to it as everybody else.

Ditto Adds Audio Support
Squirrels added audio support after it was a highly requested feature in the first month of the Ditto release. Users can now share a screen and have accompanying audio come out of the TV or display that the user is connected to.

August 2016
Squirrels Adds iOS 10 Support To Reflector 2
Squirrels released the compatibility update to its flagship app, Reflector 2, before iOS 10 was publicly released.

Squirrels Sponsors North Canton Main Street Festival
It’s always good to give back to your local community, right?

September 2016

Squirrels Volunteers With Habitat For Humanity
Squirrels partnered with Habitat for Humanity for the fourth time to spend a day helping the organization build and restore homes for local families.

9 Habitat

Squirrels Company Retreat To Destin, Florida
The Squirrels team takes a weeklong trip each year to spend time collaborating, reenergizing and building camaraderie.

9 Company Retreat

October 2016

Fall 2016 Alpha Squirrel Class Introduced
The fall 2016 class included 26 EdTech experts from four different countries and 14 states.

November 2016

Cyber Monday 2016
Cyber Monday 2016 was the biggest sale in Squirrels history.

December 2016

Squirrels Holiday Party
Our annual holiday party took place at Chop and Swizzle in Uniontown, Ohio.

Whew! On top of all of that, we revamped our Edcamp sponsorship program and attended too many education conferences to name in one blog post. The Squirrels team had an incredible year, and we’re excited for an even better 2017. We would like to thank every customer, employee, educator and friend who helped make this year so special. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Stay tuned -- 2017 is going to be a big year.

November 23, 2016

Where's the Beef?

Squirrels Chili Cook-off

If there is one thing you should know about us, it’s that we take chili very seriously.

Squirrels celebrated its fourth annual chili cook-off last Friday. Seven unique employee-made chilis were entered into the contest. We’re just now coming out of the food coma, and we have absolutely no regrets about the amount of food we consumed. We’ve learned that it’s best to view the chili cook-off as Thanksgiving preparation. Although it was 70 degrees and sunny outside, that didn’t stop us from enjoying the chili utopia and copious amounts of deserts that employees graciously made for the day.

Also, we are forever thankful to whoever provided the cornbread.

After sampling all of the goodness and tallying up votes, the “Jons” continued their Squirrels chili cook-off dominance.  Reigning champion Jon Bishop was crowned the winner once again with his “Cornquistador” chili. Cornquistador is a thick, spicy pork and corn chili with a cheesy base and a lasting–but bearable–heat. It contains three types of meat (bacon, chorizo and ground pork), six different spices and six kinds of veggies, all sliced to perfection.

Here’s the complete recipe:

VEGGIES:
1 yellow onion, diced small
1 bag of small sweet peppers (yellow and red), deseeded, diced small
1 shallot, minced as finely as possible (it’ll basically dissolve overnight)
4 jalapeños, chopped, seeds in
2 serrano chili peppers, thinly sliced

Veggies go into the crockpot first.

MEAT:
1lb. of ground pork, browned in Sriracha, salt and pepper
1lb. of chorizo, crumbled, browned in the same skillet
9 strips of thick-cut bacon, cut into bits, drizzled in honey and seared in the same skillet

Throw all of that into a bowl, drain the fat. Add to chili after the veggies and before the sauce and spice.

SAUCE:
1 can of Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese sauce
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes with lime and cilantro

SPICE:
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Spread the sauces over the meat, add spice and stir. Cook on low for 6 hours.

AFTER 6 HOURS ADD THIS:
2 cans of corn, drained
2 extra jalapeños, chopped
1 extra Serrano chili, thinly sliced
1.5 packages of tex mex shredded cheese
The juice of 1 lime
Season to taste (I added a little extra salt, paprika and chili powder)

This is Jon’s second consecutive win, following two-time champ Jon Zelasko. Will anyone ever dethrone the “Jons?”

Sam Coffman came in second with her “Give Thanks” chili, which was an all turkey, Thanksgiving-inspired recipe. This sure gave us all the warm, cozy feels with Thanksgiving just days away.

Squirrels Chili Cook-off

Although only one chili was crowned champion, we couldn’t have made this day happen without the rest of the amazing chilis that are all winners in our hearts: Coco B. Crisp (Ashley Swinehart), Wine Chili (Andrea Sommers), Chili – by name only (Mike Bruin), Burnt Nose (Aaron Rinier) and Membabeans N’ Meat (Jessica Chevalier and Kyle Gritzan).

Squirrels Chili Cook-off Winner

 

January 20, 2016

Squirrels Developer Tweets 22-Million-Digit Number

Earlier this month, the Squirrels supercomputer verified the largest prime number discovered to date. The prime is unfathomably large at 22,338,618 digits. That’s a number with more than seven million commas!

To showcase just how big the number is, and of course to further programming knowledge, developer Matt Bowen created a Twitter account that is currently tweeting the number.

At a rate of one tweet every 38 seconds, the account will be tweeting for three months. Each tweet contains 100 digits, and in total, the account will send 223,386 tweets. Don’t worry, Bowen isn’t sending the tweets himself. The process is automated.

Check out @LargestPrimeNum on Twitter to see the digits.

Prime Number in Book Form

 

January 19, 2016

Squirrels Supercomputer Verifies Largest Prime Number Ever Discovered

We’re excited to announce that one of our workplace hobbies recently contributed to a monumental discovery in mathematics.

Members of our team began building a supercomputer during summer 2015 as part of our 10% program that allows employees to use 10% of every week to work on projects that help them develop professionally. The supercomputer they built is 2400 times faster than today’s average consumer system, and it’s unofficially ranked as the 182nd most powerful system in the world.

Squirrels Supercomputer

Supercomputers can be used for a number of things, but the team joined their newly created system in a coordinated global effort to find the largest prime number ever discovered—GIMPS.

Big task, right? Months of research, infrastructure enhancements and computing paid off this month when a prime number consisting of 22,338,618 digits was found. That’s a number with more than seven million commas in it. The discovery came after 31 days of non-stop computing on a University of Central Missouri computer volunteered by Dr. Curtis Cooper, a professor at the university.

After Dr. Cooper’s discovery, our supercomputer went on a 55-hour sprint to verify the largest prime number he had discovered. The number is much too large to write out, but it is mathematically represented as 274,207,281-1. Written out, the number would stretch for more than 68 miles. The discovery is included in a rare class of primes known as Mersenne primes and is the first of its kind discovered since 2013. This number is one of only 49 Mersenne primes discovered in more than 500 years.

Squirrels SupercomputerOn a normal consumer computer, the verification would have taken months, but the Squirrels system cut this time to just over two days. The risk of an error in the initial discovery is around 2 in 100, but the verification done by Squirrels on different hardware than Dr. Cooper creates an impossibly small margin of error.

The search for primes is never-ending. There will always be greater and greater primes discovered as hardware and software capabilities continue to improve. However, the technology that is developed in the search for primes can have a huge impact elsewhere, such as protein and enzyme analysis in diseases and cancers.

Our supercomputer project is central to Squirrels’ goal in education to excite students and drive them toward interests in math and science. We plan to contribute to other high-profile research projects and not just continue research with prime numbers.

Supercomputer

Other projects may include protein folding analysis to help find cures for diseases, deep learning algorithms for rapidly identifying cancerous cells in medical images and extremely detailed physics and chemical simulations to identify potential improvements in battery and other technologies.

For more detailed information and photos, read our press release.

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!