Our 2013 winner, Dustin, reluctantly handed over the trophy with promises to reign again next year.
While 2014 was a year full of excitement, hard work and growth, our team is anxious to jump into 2015 and continue that legacy. But, before we do, it’s time to look back on some of the our favorite memories of 2014!
“I would have to say my favorite Squirrels memory in 2014 is when Drew finally got fed up with this old crappy printer that never worked correctly, then decided to throw it out the window. It was very satisfying to see that printer pay for its transgressions against us.”
“My favorite memory was in BVI when a group of us set out to kayak to the island that was way too far away. One person kept capsizing their boat, and the other took on water and started sinking. Two fellow Squirrels came out to save the sinking kayak, and others switched kayaks to ensure everyone was safe. Character, teamwork and compassion were shown in that trip - summarizes the Squirrels well. “
“Nothing made me happier in 2014 than watching our team grow. Seeing new, excited faces and fresh enthusiasm and energy come to the team continues to inspire me.”
“I have many fond memories, and one I think everyone will enjoy involves NERF guns. Andrew purchased a gun with a grenade launcher on it, and my first shot with the grenade went straight into Matt E’s face. Direct shot with no warning. He lived, but he wasn’t pleased.”
“My favorite memory was the final week of the Slingshot push. We were all exhausted, frustrated and tired of being around each other by that time., but, we stayed focused, came together and really showed what this team is capable of doing.”
- Matt E.
“The Saturday we all came in and tested/worked on Slingshot during the April pre-launch push is my favorite memory. Everyone came in at about 10am and hammered on Slingshot until sometime early in the evening, but a lot of us stayed later. That night, as things slowed down, everyone left was hanging out here in the development office telling stories and drinking beer—all very chill. Definitely a cool day.
- Jon Z.
“My favorite memory was floating in the ocean in BVI with my cousin Andy, having a cousinly conversation.”
- Matt Y.
“One of my fondest memories of the last year would have to be traveling to Belgium with Dave and getting to work with a development team there. From being in a different work environment to just being in Belgium, it was a trip that I will remember for a long time.”
- Matt Bowen
“My favorite 2014 memory is when everyone from the company crammed into the conference room and toasted some really expensive champagne as we celebrated the successful launch of AirParrot 2. Best feeling ever.”
“I would have to say my favorite memory from 2014 would be the day we all sailed on the catamaran in BVI. I really enjoy the peacefulness of the ocean and the great company of my co-workers.”
“My favorite memory is the sequence of events that inspired Squirrels Game Night.
July 14, 2014: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
15:00: Six men sit down at a RISK board armed with cigars, beer, and dreams of world domination.
19:30: A drunken World Congress is held during dinner. Pacts and Border agreements are made.
23:30: Three players have been eliminated. All pacts have been dissolved.
July 15, 2014
00:30: The map is split between two Super Powers: Stephen and Jon B.
01:20: Legions of tiny grey soldiers swarm the Western hemisphere. Jon B is victorious.
01:30: Jon B stumbles to Villa 2 to find everyone still awake and playing “Never Have I Ever”
01:31: Jon B’s life is complete.”
- Jon B.
“One of my favorite memories is the day we released AirParrot 2 and many of us were sitting in the conference room watching the page visits and the servers crashing. It felt great to see how well it was doing after all the hard work we put in.”
“Oh, the memories of 2014 are full of laughs and great times. It’s hard to just sum it up in a few sentences.
1. ISTE when multiple teachers came up to me and couldn’t believe I was real! With all of the back-and-forth emails I do everyday, it makes me feel good to meet the people I correspond with!
2. One word: NERF
3. Our corporate retreat this year was full of great, fond memories. We all really had the time to bond as colleagues and friends. BVI is a trip I will never forget and always cherish.”
“Seeing our holiday party venue was one of my favorite moments of the year. All of the attention to detail made it an excellent night and already has me looking forward to next year!”
“There are plenty of memories that stand out and the team has done some great things this year. My fondest memory though is more personal. Squirrels gave Kyle and I an opportunity to attend Agile Development Conference West, where I was able to learn from and collaborate with some great minds in software development. A number of those interactions were experiences that I’ll never forget. I expect that those memories will continue to motivate me well into the future.”
- Matt Becker
“Looking back at all the amazing things we have done and experienced together, one thing in particular sticks out in my head. After we got settled into our villas on our private beach in Virgin Gorda, I grabbed a paddleboard and hit the water. Slowly going over everything I could reach, hearing nothing but the wind, tiny splashes against the bottom of my board and the faint laughter of my co-workers was a surreal moment. It showed me what amazing things could be created when unique individuals come together to create an ecosystem to work, play and enjoy together.”
‘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!
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.”
This is the twenty-first post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.
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.