December 23, 2014

‘Twas the Weekend Before Christmas

‘Twas the weekend before Christmas and you could tell by each grin, 

that everyone was anxious for the festivities to begin.

The halls were decked, decorations carefully placed,

ready to celebrate all weekend with great style and taste.

The employees were nestled snug in their office spaces,

making apps wasn’t the only thing bringing smiles to their faces.

Once everyone was draped in sweaters that made them look strange,

they met Friday to begin the white elephant exchange.

After everyone selected a gift, ready for a gag,

they tore each present from its wrapping (or Chipotle bag).

Some were funny, some useful, some that needed turned on,

but most of them dealt with happenings in ‘the john.’

With bellies full of cookies and gummy worms by the heap,

each employee went to bed early, too anxious to fall asleep.

For the next day was no average day, a festivity for the hearty,

it was the eve of the annual Squirrels Christmas Party.

On Saturday evening, in suits and dresses,
each Squirrel gathered to celebrate the year’s successes.

During dinner, Jon gave everyone his or her moment of fame,

in a surprise award ceremony, calling each person by name.

“On David! On Andrew!

On, Cody and Matt!

On, Sid! On, Cory!

Everyone accept your awards, stat!

To ‘The Squirreliest Squirrel!’

To ‘The Oldest Old Man!’

Now ‘The Office Cat!’ and ‘The Cutie Patootie!’

You’re all a wonderful clan!”

The festivities continued, dancing at lightning paces,

with plenty of photo shoots with our cardboard faces.

But as dawn arose and the sun came creeping,

everyone decided to spend all of Sunday sleeping.

This time of year, Squirrels would like to thank you,

our loyal customers, why we do what we do.

We hope your season is both merry and bright,

Happy holidays too all, and to all a good night!

 

December 9, 2014

Day in the Life of Squirrels: The QA Team

The members of #teamsquirrels work hard everyday to make sure those who are using Squirrels software have the best experience possible. At the forefront of this effort you’ll find Kyle and Mike, the members of the QA department.

These QA (Quality Assurance) professionals are responsible for testing four products on six different platforms, as well as the marketing and store webpages that support them.

In their office you’ll find an incredible number of devices. Cabinets are stocked with Apple, Windows, Chrome and Android devices, old and new. Amazon Fire TVs, Chromecasts, Linux boards and more are piled on their desks, ready to test the latest and greatest Squirrels software innovations.

 

All of the testing is done manually, so it was very important to Kyle and Mike to find a method of testing that is both quick and effective. Using the traditional Waterfall methodology, they found themselves falling short.

In the Waterfall model, every step of the development process had a specific timeframe. Testing was the very last step, resulting in bugs being recognized at the very end of the process. The developers had to scramble to go back and fix the errors before the deadline, which caused a lot of unnecessary stress.

Frustrated, the team went looking for answers. When they stumbled upon Agile methodology, they knew they had to learn more.

Matt Becker and I attended the Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West earlier this year,” Kyle said.  “While we learned a lot, I think we both left with only one thing on our minds: we need to go Agile.”

Agile allows the QA and development teams to work side-by-side during the evolution of the product lifecycle. Kyle and Mike have constant access to the code that’s being worked on and work with new builds each time a developer makes a change. They find that testing while developing is much more efficient, as it enables them to give quick feedback.

The Testing Process

To begin the QA process, the team uses Jira, an issue and project tracking software to plan development sprints with user stories. These stories are the beginning outline of a new product or update of an existing one. Kyle and Mike generate use cases or tasks that can be expected on the final product.

 They then construct acceptance tests in order to make sure the application meets the original requirements. It is the QA team’s job to ‘break’ the software to catch any bugs in the development process. If Kyle and Mike are testing an update to an existing application, they complete regression testing as well. This makes sure that a component or functionality that used to work before the testing is still functional after the new changes have been added.

If a bug is found or a component doesn’t meet all requirements for a story, a ticket is written in Jira, assigned to the appropriate developer and added to the backlog to be addressed before release. Once the application is in an acceptable state for release, Kyle and Mike certify it and prepare it to be released. 

Testing the software at Squirrels takes a lot of time and effort, but Kyle and Mike are ready for anything.

“I love being able to use the latest and greatest technology to make our software better,” Kyle said. “Getting our latest products and trying to make them be the best they can so our customers have a great experience is something I strive for all the time—in the office or out.”

 

“Being on the forefront of innovation like we are is fun, but also a big responsibility,” Mike said. “I love being part of making some of the best software in the world for our customers, and I take pride in making sure the applications work as intended when needed.”

November 14, 2014

Meet the Squirrels: Jon Bishop

This is the twenty-first post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.

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Jon came to Squirrels from Bolivar, Ohio and works in the creative department. As a graphic designer, Jon handles web advertisements, illustrations, animations, print materials, trade show materials and booth designs. He also is a part of the Squirrels marketing team, so he helps out with some copy writing and occasionally writes, produces and directs company videos.

One of Jon’s many roles leading up to the Slingshot launch was his coolest experience at Squirrels. “I did the Slingshot animated video that’s up on YouTube,” he said. “It was weeks of hard work, but it was fun and rewarding.” 

“In my own words, Squirrels is working to upgrade schools and businesses with an information age model of communication,” he said in regards to his favorite part of working at Squirrels. “It’s relatively cutting edge, and we make great products for the benefit of lots of different people. As a graphic designer, it’s amazing to work for a company I can believe in.”

Learn more about Jon B.!

Favorite things to do in your free time: I do Jujitsu twice a week. I like going on shoeless walks and hikes. I like camping. I like dancing. I recently bought a blowgun and about twenty stuffed animals to hunt with it. I love karaoke; “Ch-Check It Out” by the Beastie Boys is my favorite song to sing.

Favorite food: I would eat my body weight in dim sum.

TV show: I pretty much only watch Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Parks & Recreation.

Movie: I can’t really pick a favorite movie, but I recently watched Perfume and it was legit.

Band/artist: My favorite band is a three-way tie between Guster, Brand New and The Gorillaz.

Your idol and why: I’m not really into idols. Envying someone else’s life keeps you from appreciating your own. I’d rather embrace my Jon-ness.

Your motto: “Omnia mea mecum porto” … Everything I possess, I carry with me.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? Probably a party animal, like a skateboarding bear, a monkey that can play the electric guitar or a parrot that can do a passable Christopher Walken impersonation.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I graduated high school, my kindergarten teacher gave me an envelope. Inside was a picture I drew: a black and white space shuttle with blaring sirens. It was bombarding a pack of fleeing people with missiles and lasers. A caption below read, “When I grow up I want to be a police officer.” 

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Shape shifting. I’d shift to a clean-shaven version of myself every morning and save $100’s a year on razor blades and hair care accessories.

November 12, 2014

Squirrels Awarded Coolest App in North East Ohio

Every year, Inside Business Magazine holds the Cool Tech Awards. This year, Squirrels was proud to be part of the ceremony. Along with being named one of the 25 coolest tech companies in North East Ohio, Squirrels was also awarded Coolest App for Slingshot.

We’re humbled to be part of a growing tech culture in the area.

Check out some pictures from the event:

November 7, 2014

Meet the Squirrels: Meghan Murari

This is the twentieth post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.

Meghan was born in Concord, California but came to Squirrels from Canton, Ohio. Aside from being the best Slingshot rocket sniper in the office, she is the company’s finance manager. Meghan handles payroll, accounts payable/receivable, bookkeeping, internal sales and some external sales and marketing.

Becoming accustomed to the company atmosphere is the coolest thing Meghan has done at Squirrels. “This is the first job I’ve had where not only the management but the team as a whole really cares about the work they’re doing and the path the company is headed down,” she said. “Our company retreats to Lake Tahoe and the British Virgin Islands were incredible team building trips that solidified the company’s values, goals and direction.  With that being said, working here on a daily basis is pretty cool too!”

To Meghan, the best part about working at Squirrels is the staff. “Everyone here is amazing and very talented. We all get along very well and have built great friendships. It feels like a home away from home!”

Learn more about Meghan!

Favorite things to do in your free time: Spend time with my family and friends, photography, dancing and golf.

Favorite food: I LOVE food! You won’t see me turn down much (especially chips and salsa)!

TV show: Grey’s Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance and The Vampire Diaries (complete guilty pleasure). Oh and Ellen… I love Ellen!

Movie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dirty Dancing, Legends of the Fall and Shawshank Redemption to name a few!

Band/artist: My dad is the ultimate music man. He taught me at an early age about all the classics, rock and roll and doo-wop. Also, being in dance for 25 years has given me the opportunity to learn about classical, Broadway, jazz and pop music….I  love it all!

Your idol and why: My parents. You know that mom that everyone wished they had? That’s my mom. She loves unconditionally and has taught me more than words can say. There is no one in this world that will ever compare to her. My dad is the strongest, hardest working man with a heart as big as the moon. He has always done all that he can to make sure his family is happy and provided for. They have raised their own children and now help my husband and I raise our two kids; it really does take an army to raise a child! Without family, I believe we are empty.

Your motto: You can’t make others around you happy if you aren’t happy yourself!

If you could be any animal, what would you be? A chimpanzee - they are so much like us. It’s fascinating!

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A mom. I wanted 4 kids.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?  Healing Powers, both physically and emotionally. I would want them for myself but also to have the ability to heal others.

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!