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Welcome to the News and Blog Page

This baby names website was launched during the summer of 2008. This part of the website will discuss baby names, other websites, and getting ready for your newborn. Here are the subjects, and you can click the category names to see all the related articles:

Please enjoy our blog and leave feedback (upper right of all pages) if you have any suggestions. Thanks!

NameMapper (from Baby Name Wizard) beat me by 3 weeks

Wow, they did it again. The Wattenberg's, over at Baby Name Wizard, have made an excellent mapping tool showing the popularity of baby names in different US states and also for different years. Here is their announcement, which was about 3 weeks before my announcement. Obviously, I had been working on my maps for more than three weeks, so I didn't take their idea.... But, now I can't claim to be the only place to view state-by-state popularity differences.

Their state browser is much more featured than mine, but again, it uses Java which makes it slower to load, and it actually crashed my whole browser the first time I tried it. Should I give up and stop promoting my site? I would almost say "yes" except I think that there is room for more than 1 good baby name website.

Feedback from hundreds of users

I wanted to get some quick feedback on my new maps, so I posted my site on a website of "geeks" called Hacker News. In addition to 1049 unique visitors and over 3000 page views (!!!!), they posted many helpful comments. The general consensus was that the site name is not great, the clusters concept is a bit too complicated, some of the charts and tables are not clearly explained, and the colors on the map seemed backwards.

So, with those suggestions in mind, I have made these changes:

  • Changed the map colors: bright (saturated) red/blue is now for states where the name is most popular, and light (low saturation - closer to white) is for less popular. Thank you for that suggestion, I agree that it is more intuitive now. The only trick with this is to get the top 10 to show some differences, which on a linear scale did not work, so I had to make it on a log scale (see js code for details).
  • I changed some column headings. "Rank (modified)" is now just "rank," "Cluster Popularity" is now "Popularity (1880-2006)". I think some people thought all the bars on the chart had to do with the popularity of the individual names in the cluster, as opposed to the popularity of the names over time. Hopefully that change will make it more clear.
  • I will get a new domain name. My thought right now is: BabyNamesAcrossAmerica.com But, that might be too long of a name.
  • Simplify: I plan to condense the "cluster" page and "single name" page into one page so that people don't get lost. I have not done this.

But, wow, I'm glad that I got so many people visiting this site from that great HN community. Hopefully with these changes (and some press) I can start getting more visitors.

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Fun new maps of Baby Names Across America!

Welcome to the first of its kind, USA maps of baby names! Each state is colored according to the popularity of the name (lighter is more popular and darker is less popular). You can instantly see why some names which are so high of the list for the USA are actually kind of low in your region (or visa versa).

Here's a link for "Emily" where lighter is more popular and darker is less popular.

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New MySQL client is now available

When I was thinking about building this website, I took a side trip and made a new mysql client, based upon psh (Perl Shell).

Here is the source code, hosted at code.google.com:
http://code.google.com/p/psh-mysql-client/

The default MySQL client is nice, but I wanted to add some features to it, like command aliases. I also wanted to be able to be in my normal shell and quickly grab stuff from a MySQL table without switching terminals. So, I wrote a couple extensions to the psh (Perl Shell).

Two new commands are "dls" and "dhead". Screenshots below

Most popular baby girl names

What are the most popular bay girl names? That sounds like a simple question, but like most things, there are a lot of nuances: what year or range of years? should spelling variants or similar sounding names be ignored or merged? what part of the world? what part of the USA? what ethnicity or race? You might have obvious answers to these questions, but your answers might be different than someone else's.

This website currently aims to merge similar names into clusters while sorting by rank. As an example, here is a list of the most popular baby girl names with a "medium" amount of clustering. Thus, the top ten baby girl names (averaged since 1880, with a strong emphasis on recent years) and clustered "medium" is:

  1. Emily: Emelia, Emelie, Emilia, Emilie, Emily
  2. Emma: Em, Emmie, Emmy
  3. Madison: Maddison
  4. Isabella: Isabel, Isabelle
  5. Ava: Ev, Eva, Eve, Evie, Evy
  6. Alexis: Aleksey, Alexa, Alexandra, Alexandria, Alexina, Alexine, Alix
  7. Abigail: Abagail, Abigale, Abigayle
  8. Sophia: Sofi, Sofia, Sofie, Sophie, Sophy
  9. Hannah: Hana, Hanna
  10. Olivia: Olive, Olivya, Olva

However, if the clustering is very lenient with lots of names similar to the main name, then the top 10 list changes to look like this:

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Medicine at home for a new baby

(Disclaimer: this is not medical advice, it is merely a list of infant medicines which your doctor may advise you to use. Every baby is different. please consult a pediatrician with any health concerns)

My sister just had a baby and while she was still pregnant, she asked me what drugs besides Syrup of Ipecac she should have ready to give the baby. My first response was "THROW AWAY your syrup of ipecac." Unlike when we were kids, it is no longer recommended that ipecac be kept at home or even used under most conditions (also, a newborn is not going to be crawling around getting into trouble under the kitchen sink quite yet).

Other than that, babies under 6 months should generally NOT be given any drugs without consulting his or her pediatrician. Once you (the new parent) learns from the doctor how and when to give drugs like Tylenol, then you might end up making the decision on your own if the baby is older than 6 months. But, in nearly all cases you will want to talk to the doctor before (or soon after) giving drugs. The medicines listed here are handy to have in case it is in middle of the night and the on-call nurse or doctor advises you to give the drug.

3 months after launch

Baby Name Clusters has been on the air for about 3 months. My goal is to have more people finding and using the website, and we are making progress in some areas, but not much progress in terms of traffic, shown here:




Get ready for your new baby

When our first baby showed up, we were not ready. The room wasn't ready, we didn't have the right supplies, we hadn't picked a name and we were not mentally prepared. The main goal of this website is to help you pick a baby name, but it seems like some general advice/ideas would be helpful, too.

Here are some future topics. I will activate these links as the pages get written.

Do you have any other suggestions? Please comment below.

Also, you may have found out that everybody has advice for you - whether they tell you or not. The most important thing is for you to trust your instincts (assuming you are a good person). But, the second most important thing is to keep an open mind and be receptive to others (your partner, your kid, your peers, and some experts). Billions of people have done this before you, so be prepared to do some learning - it can be a wild ride.

Names around the world

The person who started Baby Names Map has commented on this site and linked to this website and I have been getting a fair bit of traffic from his blog and his website. I am grateful for his mentioning my site and it serves as a constant reminder to me that my site is very USA-centric. The main reason for this was to stay focused and get something up and running. Also, the US Social Security Administration site has over 100 years of name popularity information, which is a rich source of data (508,000 data points for 14,722 first names).

Despite the abundance of data from the SSA, I feel like I should add name popularity information from other countries into my website, since I can already see in my logs that I am getting some international visitors (UK and Canada for now). It would be fun to have some interactive maps or just be able to switch countries in order to view the rankings and historical graphs. I'll put it on my to-do list!

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