Whitepages staffers at Grace Hopper Conference #GHC14

Whitepages staffers at Grace Hopper Conference #GHC2014

This past week I attended the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, Arizona along with some of my fellow female coworkers from Whitepages. At the conference, I met women (and a few men) from all over the world, listened to technical speakers, participated in career workshops, and learned about some of the challenges women face in the technology field—those include the gender gap, unconscious bias and the imposter syndrome.

One of my favorite talks was by Lorrie Faith Cranor, director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory as well as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Cranor spoke on her research for creating secure and usable passwords.

Friday night we had dinner with a group of attendees from Time, Inc. We reflected on the conference, chatted about our experiences in the technology industry and shared our personal interests—so great to meet other women in the tech field!

But there was one particular point stressed throughout the conference that turned out to be one of my main takeaways: the importance of mentors and sponsors in your career. Mentors provide knowledge and guidance when you need it, while sponsors advocate and promote you within the company. And last but certainly not least, the GHC was a great chance for me to bond with my fellow female Whitepages engineers!

If you are interested in hearing more about women in computing, there are some interesting documentaries coming out soon on the topic of women in technology. Be sure to check out Girls Rising, Big Dream, and Code – Debugging the Gender Gap.

 

 

 

1950s housewife on phone

Ever wonder how the ten-digit phone number came to be? In the US and Canada, a phone number consists of three parts: a three-digit area code, a three-digit exchange number and a four-digit station number. Before mobile phones, the area code told you the broader location of the caller, the three-digit exchange number honed in on a more precise location, and the four-digit station number was an unique identifier within the given area and exchange. If you wanted to dial someone local, you could just dial the seven-digit number without entering the area code. Has anyone else ever noticed that the Tommy Tutone song, 867-5309/Jenny, doesn’t have an area code?

Then came the age of mobile phones, Skype and VoIP technologies. Suddenly phone numbers were no longer tied to location and the amount of phone numbers increased as mobile phones came to be associated with a single individual rather than a household. The heightened demand for mobile phones necessitated the creation of new area codes. That rocked the boat a bit because some people associated their identity with having a particular area code. In Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw receives a new phone with a 347 area code and she protests, “No, I’m a 917 gal. Always have been.” But nowadays a ten-digit number is a necessity because people tend to stick with the same mobile number, even if they move. That means we can no longer accurately infer location from their area code.

As technology continues to progress, the ten-digit number will evolve from conveying a vague sense of location to what it really represents: the identity of the user.  Several companies, from start-ups to large wireless carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, provide caller ID services.  In the future, we will just be able to type a name or click a photo, and the call or text will connect automatically. Dialing the ten-digit number will be a thing of the past.

 

No question, pets are part of one’s family – so much so, it seems there’s been an increase in giving the family pet a name that, in the past, has usually belonged exclusively to humans. Growing up, in fact, two of our dogs were named Rosie and Tammy.  And many pet owners say their pets have feelings and personalities just like humans (see “Grumpy Cat” and now “Surprised Cat”), so we decided to take an (unscientific) look at the trend of naming pets and see what’s, well, “Spot” on.

George
One of the most popular names for boys in the U.S., along with being the name of the future King of England, 1,330,568 people have this name, yet the peak year of popularity was 100 years ago. One of the most well known “Georges” in pop culture is George Costanza, from the TV show “Seinfeld”, but who can resist a cat named George?
Jack
Over half a million (541,388) people have this name,and one-third are kids under 12, so kids may meet as many pets as peers with this name.
Ginger
There are nearly 81,000 people named Ginger in the U.S., originally a nickname for a person with red hair, like the pooch here, but also a nickname for Virginia, which was Ginger Roger’s real name.
Harry
This name peaked in people popularity in 1913; but 333,442 people have this name, resurging in popularity in light of the “Harry Potter” books and movies.
Noble & Notable
There are other names that have an air of nobility and sophistication–while their human counterparts have memorable personas, like Rex, Duke and Earl:
Other notable names are Lily, a French bulldog who, her owner says, “doesn’t know she’s a dog”, along with Penny and Harper. Harper is a name that’s gained popularity with humans lately: Virtually all people with this name are under the age of 12.
So move over, Rover: Pet names are all in the family. Have you given your pets “people” names?

 

Stars are always starting new trends, and the names they choose for their children are no exception. In honor of some of 2014’s latest A-list infants, we took a look at the popularity of 20 names in the country shared with this year’s celebrity offspring, and Parents magazine’s In Name Only blog joined us. Scarlett Johansson’s daughter Rose is this list’s blockbuster, with 399,967 people in the U.S. sharing the name – with the most residing in the appropriately nicknamed Garden State, New Jersey.

What’s In a Name?

Here are some of the top name trends that are in vogue in 2014:

  • Old Hollywood: Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde, and Emily Blunt all chose names for their children that peaked in popularity before the 1920s – Rose, Otis, and Hazel, respectively.
Scarlet Johansson

Scarlet Johansson

  • 12 And Under: Over 90% of people named Jaxon (Kristin Cavallari’s son), Alijah (Kendra Wilkinson’s daughter), Lyric (Soleil Moon Frye’s son), and Ava (Stacy Keibler’s daughter), are under the age of 12, showing that these famous tots will be in good company in their school years.
Kristin Cavallari

Kristin Cavallari

  • Uniquely Unisex: River and Frankie, the names of Kelly Clarkson and Drew Barrymore’s daughters, are increasing in popularity from their primarily male origins. Females named Frankie (33%) are rapidly catching up to their male counterparts (67%).
River Phoenix

River Phoenix

Much like Prince George, whose name has increased in popularity since his birth last year, we expect that many of these names may also see a surge in popularity in the years to come. Some of these names, like Ava, are already in the Top 10, while Alyssa Milano’s daughter, Elizabella, has the most unique name on the list, with only seven people in the country sharing it.

Prince George

Prince George

The list also breaks down the states where the most people with these names are living. Interestingly enough, Kerry Washington, star of the political thriller Scandal, named her daughter Isabelle – a name most popular in Washington, D.C.!

Drew Barrymore, Olivia Wilde, Kerry Washington

Drew Barrymore, Olivia Wilde, Kerry Washington

Top 20 Names Shared with 2014 Celebrity Babies

  1. Rose (Scarlett Johansson): 399,967; NJ has the most
  2. Harper (Jenna Fischer): 172,123; WV has the most
  3. Oliver (Ginnifer Goodwin): 156,415; AL has the most
  4. Hazel (Emily Blunt): 114,866; MS has the most
  5. Frankie (Drew Barrymore): 55,904; MS has the most
  6. Summer (Christina Aguilera): 49,770; OK has the most
  7. Booker (Thandie Newton): 48,752; MS has the most
  8. Otis (Olivia Wilde): 43,862; MS has the most
  9. Ava (Stacy Keibler) : 23,404; MS has the most
  10. Isabelle (Kerry Washington): 22,564; DC has the most
  11. Royal (Lil’ Kim): 20,788; NC has the most
  12. Vale (Savannah Guthrie): 1,798; VT has the most
  13. River (Kelly Clarkson): 1,499; WY has the most
  14. Apollo (Gwen Stefani): 924; HI has the most
  15. Lyric (Soleil Moon Frye): 781; WY has the most
  16. Jaxon (Kristin Cavallari): 546; ID has the most
  17. Alijah (Kendra Wilkinson): 200; VT has the most
  18. Meilani (Jenni “JWoww” Farley): 162; HI has the most
  19. Bodhi (Megan Fox): 148; ME has the most
  20. Elizabella (Alyssa Milano): 7; HI has the most

 

 

tools-e1410978676967

 

Last Friday, we kicked off our first ever Whitepages Hackathon. It was a fantastic event with huge participation, great ideas and lots of fun. The idea behind it was a long time in the making. Every day at work I hear questions or suggestions on how to best leverage our data. Whether it’s an engineer, member of the marketing team, or one of the folks from HR—Whitepagers are constantly dreaming up new ideas to enhance our business. I finally decided it was time to round up all the Whitepagers to spend an afternoon brainstorming ideas and focusing on the ones that would best serve our customers. We kicked off the Hackathon at noon on September 12, 2014. Here was the format for the day

  • Pitch your idea in 1 minute
  • Form teams around the best 6 ideas
  • Spend 6 hours on execution
  • Present your idea in 5 minutes
  • Crown the winner

The level of participation blew my mind. Nearly a third of the company pitched a total of 28 ideas. Participants included members from Whitepages PRO, marketing, HR, engineering, ad sales and the interns. Pitches were one minute long and had to focus on a business problem with a way to solve it. The ideas pitched represented different business units and customer personas. We had something for Whitepages PRO developers to help them play around with our APIs, some great features for Whitepages, and we had ideas on how to leverage our Identity Graph data to solve the business community’s pain points.

Voting for the best ideas. More chaos = more fun

Voting for the best ideas. More chaos = more fun

 

Next, each participant voted to select the six best ideas. Over 60 people voted—that’s more than half of the office. That’s a great testament to the culture here at Whitepages, where everyone is working hard to make the customer’s experience the best it can be.   Once the voting was complete, the teams formed around their six chosen ideas. They were instructed to fine-tune their idea, think about user experience, and then create mockups, prototypes, or something more fleshed out so that the judges could better understand the problem, solution and user experience.   The next six hours were spent on execution. It was intense. There were heated debates, challenging questions and last minute coding to come up with something cool.   Then came the time to present. The judges were asked to focus on:

  • Relevance of the solution for Whitepages
  • The customer’s experience
  • Execution
  • Quality of the presentation
The interns presenting their mockups followed by a real demo

The interns presenting their mockups followed by a real demo

The teams ensured that the judges had their work cut out for them. If the top six ideas were all good, then the execution went above and beyond. For example, one team created two mobile apps (Android and iOS) from scratch complete with design and coding. Another did an entire demo all from the command line. And the next team created cool visualizations that would enhance our data’s value in the realm of business. All of this was done in just six hours! In the end, it was a single point that separated the winner from the runner-up.

 

For the grand prize, each of the winning team members received: (1) bragging rights as the winner of the first ever Whitepages Hackathon; (2) the potential opportunity for their idea to be productized; (3) dinner at the Space Needle.   For me, the best part of the Hackathon is what comes next. I am already in conversations with one of the teams to open source their project. The idea would improve the developer’s onboarding experience for our Graph APIs. Additionally, one of the product teams is keen to see if they can prioritize another idea for early 2015. We are also trying to figure out if we can create a sample app from one of the pitches. In short, the Hackathon was a real win, and of course, lots of fun. It made all the planning and effort behind organizing this experience totally worth it.   What do you think? Let me know (kshah [at] whitepages [dot] com) if you have interesting ideas for our data. And if you now find yourself wishing to take part in some competition, then enter Whitepages PRO API Mashup Challenge. We’re taking submissions until October 31st.

In meantime, I’ll be planning the next Whitepages Hackathon.