Team WP: Meet Sr. Product Manager, Suja Vaidyanathan

Sr-Product-Manager-Suja

Meet Suja Vaidyanathan, 80’s music fan and Sr. Product Manager on the Whitepages Caller ID team. Suja works on all aspects of the product lifecycle, from new feature ideas to feature prioritization and even in-market support. Suja is clearly passionate about her role and her team. As said by Suja herself, “I love product management because I get to work with some many different teams to make our products successful – engineering, marketing, finance and more.” Let’s meet Suja!

 

 

Which office are you in?
Seattle, WA.

Why did you join Whitepages?
The big vision, the talented people and awesome culture.
Sr-Product-Manager-Suja-Company-Culture
(Above is just one example of our awesome company culture.) 

What’s your hometown?
Seattle, WA

What’s your favorite snack in the kitchen?
Cashews.

How do you take your coffee?
Soy milk and two Splendas.

What do you listen to at work?  What’s on your playlist?
Bad 80s music. So embarrassing.

What was your very first job?
A waitress at a retirement center.

Describe your first computer.
An Apple Macintosh SE when I was in middle school. The killer app was word processing but I also discovered Hypercard and learned to use it to put together “chose your own adventure” stories for fun.
Sr-Product-Manager

What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
The Smurfs

Sr-Product-Manager-Suja

Fill in the blank: If you really knew me, you’d know _______.
I’m a huge nerd. I love technology.

What are you most proud of?
My two small kids – they are amazing.

What do you do when you have 30 minutes of free time?
Browse fashion blogs.

If you had 10 extra dollars what would you buy?
I would probably pay it forward and drop it in a tip jar at a coffee shop.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Nursery Rhymes- singing along with my kids.

What’s the last vacation you went on?
Maui
Maui

What’s your signature gelato flavor?
Pistachio

Two things you can’t live without?
My smartphone and online shopping. I rarely go to physical stores anymore.

Meet Engineering Manager, Brent Newman

Brent-Newman-Engineer-Manager

Meet New York native and Whitepages engineering manager, Brent Newman. As an engineering manager, Brent leads a team of 5 who work closely together to tackle the front end of our Caller ID Android app. If you have the opportunity to walk around our office, you would likely find Brent working intensely at his desk, but if you listen closely, you just might hear him listening to Beck or Arctic Monkeys. Let’s meet Brent!

Which office are you in?
Seattle

Why did you join Whitepages?
I wanted a chance to create mobile apps that would reach millions of people.

What’s your hometown?
Fredonia, NY

What’s your favorite snack in the kitchen?
The new Sriracha covered cashews are pretty awesome.

How do you take your coffee?
Cream and sugar, but two of those hazelnut creamer packets in the kitchen will do.

What do you listen to at work? What’s on your playlist?
Recent favorites: Beck, Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, Milky Chance, Twenty One Pilots, Zedd, The Strokes.
Brent-Engineer-Manager
(The Arctic Monkeys!)

What was your very first job?
My parents used to own a small corner grocery store (attached to our house). I worked there as a cashier and I would also stock the shelves.

Describe your first computer.
It was a TI-99/4A. I saved up $60 from my allowance and my grandparents paid the other $60. I taught myself BASIC programming on it, and would save my programs to cassette tape.
Brent-Engineering-Manager-TeamWP

What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
I used to really love a show called the Dukes of Hazzard. So embarrassing.
Dukes-Engineer-Manager

Fill in the blank: If you really knew me, you’d know _______.
My wife and I were in the same Kindergarten class.

What are you most proud of?
My family (my two daughters!).

What do you do when you have 30 minutes of free time?
Play Words with Friends, scan my twitter feed.

If you had 10 extra dollars what would you buy?
Probably a couple of cool new iPhone/iPad apps.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
No song exists that can handle my singing voice. It’ll also be a cold day in hell that you’ll find me on a karaoke stage.

What’s the last vacation you went on?
Went with my family to England for Christmas. Spent time in London and the English Countryside.
Engineer-Manager-London

What’s your signature gelato flavor?
Cappuccino and Chocolate.

Two things you can’t live without?
Chocolate and my iPhone.

Rise Against the Machines: Fighting Robocalls & SMS Spam

Robot-Scam-Spam-Blog

Scammers aren’t quitters. Especially the ones who aren’t human—that’s where robocallers come in. While it’s pretty entertaining to picture an actual robot sitting on the other end of the line hoping to convince you sign up for their services, it gets old pretty quickly. And, as an Ars Technica article pointed out, interactive voice response (IVR) programs are not quite as charming as Wall-E trying to romance his way into the mechanical heart of his robot lady friend.

 

 

A.I. or just annoying?

Depending on the quality of the computer programming and vocal inflection, it can be pretty difficult to tell if you’re talking to robot or person. In fact, IVR bots tend to venture into what’s known as the uncanny valley, an ambiguous and uncomfortable twilight zone where computers come too close to being human-like both in appearance and sound, but are just robotic enough to be inhuman. In other words, this situation gives you the creeps. But, if you probe the robocallers long enough, it quickly becomes clear that you’re dealing with an IVR program spouting a scripted pitch.

Spammers using this technology are also experts at changing up the phone number that pops up on your phone, often using a local area code. This may lead you to believe that it’s a legitimate person or business calling. That’s one of the reasons that we developed our app Whitepages Caller ID to enable you to immediately identify and block spam calls. You don’t have to waste even a second listening to “Bob” ask you how your day is going, and potentially coaxing you into disclosing sensitive information. However, spam isn’t limited to robocalls, as iPhone owners have learned that.

Making a mess of iMessage

For iPhone users, iMessage is a pretty useful way to dodge data fees. But it doesn’t stop there: Almost all Apple products are connected to the iMessage system, which allows for free communication to anyone with the brand’s devices.

It’s also apparently a great way for spammers to get their annoying messages in front a massive amount of consumers. And it’s a dream come true for scammers with knowledge of Apple scripts. Wired explained the perpetrators of a spam attack from August last year used Apple’s own code to carry out the campaign. Who can resist knock-off luxury purses and faux-Oakley sunglasses? Plus, the workaround that Apple set up was pretty clunky. You had to send Apple a screen shot of the spam message, phone number or email, and details about when it was sent. Even then, it took a few days to see results.

Now, the Cupertino-based tech company has upgraded its spam blocking functionality in the latest iOS version. CNET explained you’re able to filter out unknown senders and mark them as junk. That’s great that Apple is taking the time to boost their blocking capabilities, but the reality is that there needs to be better spam detection.

At Whitepages, our phone reputation service works around the clock to ID spammers, including robocallers. We use that information when you search a phone number on our site, or when you use Whitepages Caller ID. If you’re an Anroid user, Caller ID is the ideal solution for helping you avoid cellphone spam and block scammers, both human and robot.

“Stop Calling Me!” Get on the National Do Not Call Registry ASAP

Stop-Calling-Do-Not-Call-Registry

Ever gotten a call from a telemarketer? We’ve all been there and we can all agree that it’s SUPER annoying. There are a few nifty steps you can take to avoid sales calls, but we’ll start with getting your number on the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC). It’s a list that you can get your landline and mobile on, and it’s monitored by the government (more specifically the FTC).

Where do I sign up?

Because we believe you should have complete control over your phone, we make the Do No Call Registry accessible from your Whitepages account. If you already have a Whitepages account, then you can sign up by clicking “Do Not Call” in the left sidebar, as seen in the image below. From there you click the link, and get taken to the DNC’s registry page.

DNC Sidebar

Then follow these three steps:

  1. Enter up to three phone numbers and your email address. Click Submit.
  2. Check for errors. Click Register.
  3. Check your email for a message from Register@donotcall.gov. Open the email and click on the link within 72 hours to complete your registration.

Please note: Your phone number will show up on the DNC registry within 24 hours, but it may take up to 31 days for you to stop getting telemarketing calls.

What to do if you’re still getting calls

Getting your number on the DNC means that you should stop getting calls from telemarketers. It doesn’t apply to political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls and telephone survey calls.

If you’ve been registered with the DNC for more than 31 days and get a sales call or a robocall (a call that end up being recorded messages), then you should file a complaint. The FTC lets you easily submit violations on their website. Here are a few points that are mandatory for you to file a complaint:

  • Save the date and time the calls occurred
  • Record the phone number it came from
  • Write down the name of the business that called and whether or not it was a robocall

Will I see results?

A lot of the big reputable businesses have learned their lesson – with a fine of up to $16,000 per call, it’s no wonder. Unfortunately, there are a lot of shady companies that use robocalls to get a hold of you that violate the DNC. With how easy it is for the company to spoof their telephone number, it can be very tough for the FTC to track down the perpetrator. This means that you have to take matter into your own hands. When you get a telemarketing call from a robocaller on your mobile phone, we recommend hanging up on the call (don’t press any buttons even if they say doing so will get you off of their list) and downloading Whitepages Caller ID.

Whitepages Caller ID gives you spam alerts on incoming calls, so you can decide if the call is worth answering. It also lets you block them so you never have to deal with them again. Don’t just take our word for it—download it free in the Google Play Store!

 

Caller ID Gets a Mobile Makeover

CallerIDPhone2

By this time, you’ve probably heard us talk about something called “Caller ID.” For those of you that haven’t, Caller ID is Whitepages’ very own Android app that identifies unknown calls, gives those calls a spam ranking and easily allows for call blocking. We are so excited about our app that we decided to dig deeper and found some pretty fun statistics (Did you know that 10 million phone numbers have been flagged as scams, telemarketers and debt collectors to date!?).

 

 

Take a look at our Caller ID infographic below to see just how many of those flagged calls were scams (and more!):

Caller-ID-Infographic