Alicia carr

Alicia Carr

Mobile Developer, CEO Pevo

Alicia V. Carr, is director of Women Who Code and a self taught mobile developer that create a domestic violence app dedicated to helping victims escape abuse. She knew she had to utilize her acquired skills as a developer to make a difference.

Description

Alicia Carr grew up surrounded by domestic violence. So when she learned about coding, she decided to build a mobile app to help women escape domestic abuse. Her app, Pevo, got the attention of Apple, who featured her in their WWDC promo video. She shares the technical challenges of building this app, the personal challenge of learning to believe in herself, and how she learned the skills to bring this app to life.

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:00.00] (Music) Welcome to the first episode of Season Two of the CodeNewbie podcast. We talk to people on their coding journey in hopes of helping you on yours. I'm your host Saron and today's episode is deep. We're talking about building an app to help victims of domestic abuse. And because we do discuss domestic violence, this episode comes with a trigger warning.

[00:00:28.26] AC: My name is Alicia Carr and I am CEO/Founder of Pevo Purple Evolution, the first domestic violence app for the state of Georgia -

[00:00:36.24] SY: She shares the story of creating Pevo, and all the little things you have to think about when building an app for that specific group of users. You can't store data, you can't have an email login - in fact, when you open the app, what you see isn't the name Pevo or anything about domestic violence. You see a calculator. That's right, a working calculator. Alicia walks us through all the challenges she faced - technical and non-technical. And the decisions she made to build her app. After this.

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[00:02:44.26] When I first learned to code, all I wanted was to be a developer. But then I actually learned to code and realized that you don't become a developer. You become a front-end developer, or a Rails developer, or a full-stack engineer, or a back-end engineer, or the million other job titles that involve coding. So how do you pick? And once you get that first job, how do you turn it into a career? You can use the Dice Careers mobile app. This is the tool I wish I had when I first started. You pick the tech skills you either have or hope to have in the future, you type in your designer job title, and Dice helps you find other job titles you might also be interested in and maybe didn't know about. But they take it a step further, by telling you what skills these job titles require, how much they pay, and based on your profile, they tell you what skills you might want to learn so you can one day apply for those jobs. They simplify a lot of the chaos of job-hunting, and it's totally free. So check out the Dice Careers mobile app. Go to dice.com/CodeNewbie for more info. That's dice.com/CodeNewbie.

[00:03:46.04] You created a company and specifically an app called Pevo. Tell us about that.

[00:03:50.04] AC: I started building the app in 2014 of January, and the reason I named it Purple Pocketbook because I was like, The Color Purple is for domestic violence, as well as women carry everything in their pocketbook. The app was built on iOS and on Android back in 2014, and in fact, my son built it for me.

[00:04:10.18] SY: Wait, did he already know how to code, or did you make him learn to code so he could -

[00:04:14.11] AC: No, no he did not know how to code! No! Actually, I did not want him to, and he kept harassing me and his father about building the app on Android and I was like, whatever, go ahead, do it. I was really impressed - he did a really great job on the app on Android. And it's still on Android on Google Play.

[00:04:38.19] SY: Ok, so why didn't you want him helping with the app?

[00:04:41.18] AC: It's complicated, you know. (Laughs). It's just complicated.

[00:04:49.11] SY: You didn't want to mix business with family, that's what it was, that makes sense.

[00:04:54.27] AC: You know, I love my son, so. I want to leave it there.

[00:04:58.25] SY: (Laughs). Ok, we'll leave that alone. So tell me how you build the iPhone version - did you already know how to build mobile apps at that point?

[00:05:07.06] AC: No, actually, I didn't. So, 2011 I was standing in line getting my second-generation iPad, and I met this sixteen-year-old boy, and I was wondering how he got all that money to buy an iPad. I was like, um, how did you get that money? Did you wash some cars? He's like, no, I created an app. I was like - where did you go to school to learn that? He said I learned from Youtube. And I turned to my husband and said, that's what I want to do. So 2012 my husband said, well, why don't you figure out how to go to school to learn how to build apps. At that time I didn't know what code to learn. And finally found somebody, a couple people who said they would help me get the knowledge of learning Objective C. He wasn't a good tutor, and the thing is I never gave up. It took me a year and a half to believe that I knew what I was doing.

[00:06:05.18] SY: So let me ask you this. Thinking back on that time, do you feel like it was an emotional thing? Was it a lack of confidence just because it was hard, it was new, or do you feel like you actually did not know what you were doing at that point?

[00:06:20.14] AC: I think it was because it was hard and it was new. With all the books out there, everybody recommended Big Nerd Ranch at the time. Even though I was doing it, it was like nothing was working when I was using the Big Nerd Ranch book. It was like I was missing a line of code or something and it was really driving me crazy. And so I took several breaks in between, tried other books, tried to figure out a way to learn. Even searched Youtube, because the young guy told me it was Youtube and I was like - some of it works, some of it didn't. So I just kept trying and trying and trying to build something that will work. It was September of 2013, there was a boot camp, and I started learning Objective C. And once I started doing the bootcamp, I started to understand that I knew what I was doing. It's just that I didn't believe that I knew what I was doing.

[00:07:21.25] SY: Absolutely, and that's the difference between learning purely on your own, you're isolated and it's just you and the computer, or even the book, versus learning with other people, because there's so many things that I think, oh, I'm not really that good at this, I have so much more to learn, and then I'll talk to somebody who I thought was really good at it, and I'm like uh uh, no, what you're saying is completely wrong. And I actually know more than you. So it's really great that you had that opportunity, too.

[00:07:43.09] AC: Exactly. I mean, everybody said, Objective C is very hard. Yes, it is hard but I wanted to learn to build iPhone apps. I mean, I had people said, Android is faster to learn, or third party software you could do better, and I was like, no. This is what I want to do. I finished in three months, the tutor who was helping me came up with the idea of creating a domestic violence app.

[00:08:15.08] SY: At that point when you were learning, it sounds like you didn't have that particular app in mind yet. You just knew that in general you wanted to be a developer.

[00:08:23.05] AC: No, I didn't have that app in mind. The app was on my mind for about a good six months to a year, when he told me about it I just bust out in tears because I lived around victims of domestic violence. My moms, my aunt, my sister, my daughters, my girlfriends, were all victims of domestic violence.

[00:08:47.11] SY: Wow.

[00:08:49.03] AC: So it was meant for me to build this app.

[00:08:53.04] SY: So with so many people in your life who were dealing with this, what did you hope to do accomplish with the app? Was it about general awareness, was it about in the moment what can I do - how did you envision the app solving the problems that you saw in your world?

[00:09:11.10] AC: The thing is, that being that I was around it, the most important thing was resources. When I decided I was going to build the app, I had to remember what will help them get out of a situation. Being around it so much, the main thing I remember is, how the abuser will tell the victim so many stories to get them to not leave them or to not call the police, or just anything to prevent them to have that knowledge in their hands.

[00:09:47.13] SY: So you had to really understand both perspectives, both sides of that relationship, to do that app justice.

[00:09:54.03] AC: Yes, I had to. First thing is, they need to find a shelter. Alright, we need to come up with a list of shelters. Well, the shelters didn't have an address - the shelters just had city and state and zip code.

[00:10:07.15] SY: Really?

[00:10:07.24] AC: Yep, secret locations. If you put the address on Google, the abusers will find the location, but men didn't understand that. So they want to say, you know, you need to put geo-location in there - you can't put that in there, babe. He's like, then why are they hitting location? Because the abusers cannot go to these locations.

[00:10:29.13] SY: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, in that case then, how do you bring women to the safe place if they don't know what the safe place is? I assume there's a phone number?

[00:10:39.25] AC: There's a national number, and then you have - the states have different shelters that have their own telephone numbers. In fact, I had a victim from California contact me. She's homeless and she needed help, and she didn't know where to go. And just so happens I'm working on a national version of the app - I had researched this in maybe other states, but not in California. And I basically - she reached out to ask for help, and I'm like ok, let me give her the necessary information. And I emailed her and I gave her four locations in California and I told her, do not take no for an answer. These are the things that my app has, is the list of places they can go. And even if they don't want to go to these shelters listed in the app, they can still reach out to them and say, I need food. I need blankets. I need a job. That's what the resources is there for.

[00:11:39.04] SY: Was she concerned - I guess, were you concerned that the shelter would turn her down?

[00:11:42.14] AC: I told her that she needs to reach out to shelters. I didn't say that this is where she needed to go. The reason why I gave her the resources is because - and this is something I've learned while building this app - a lot of these locations will give you money for rent. For gas. For water. And they have places where they give you furniture. So these were things that I've learned while building the app.

[00:12:08.17] SY: So, this app to me is very interesting, not only because you're a relatively new developer, you learned to code and you built this app, but also because a lot of apps are not as serious, I guess, is one way to put it. They're fun games or to-do lists or things that are not necessarily life or death. And for your app, not only does it need to work and be accessible and look good and be easy to use, but on top of that, you have to make sure your information is right. If you mess up copy, or you put in the wrong phone number, or anything like that, there are potentially huge, huge consequences. How did you balance the technical building of this app with the content creation that it needs?

[00:12:55.28] AC: I was a data-entry clerk.

[00:12:56.24] SY: Oh, there you go.

[00:12:57.06] AC: The thing was, ok, everything is on a mobile device. Second thing is that the abuser has access to her mobile device. The abuser can turn off her cellular service. He can say I don't want you to have the phone. He can go through her phone and see what apps are downloaded. She's not going to have no kind of privacy when he can open it up and close it any time he wants to. So when my daughter bought the app I said, ok, I couldn't use any form update that requires her to use cellular service. So, if I use any form of back-end that she can use, and it has to be on cellular - regular phone service - it won't work. But it will work on the wi-fi. Everything I had to think about is having that resource at any time, any place, no matter what. And the one other thing is, I had to actually type everything in. I had to type everything in. All the shelters, the law - it was a website called Women's Law that lists all the domestic violence law per state - so all of that was typed into the app, just for the safety of the victims.

[00:14:03.02] SY: Right, meaning that you couldn't use any third-party APIs or anything like that. You had to manually go in, and put in your own content. So when you were figuring out, you know, as the abuser, this is what they may do, as the abused, this is what I might do, was it a lot of sitting and thinking for yourself? Did you read books, did you do interviews with some of the people who you knew were going through it? Where did that research come from?

[00:14:31.01] AC: Well, a lot of it is from my experience. As a child and dealing with it. One of my girlfriends died from domestic violence.

[00:14:39.28] SY: Oh no.

[00:14:40.12] AC: One of my girlfriends, her boyfriend broke her door down and beat her unconscious. And so a lot of things that I remembered when dealing with my girlfriends, for example, Katina had bought a house. I told her, don't you bring that man in your house. And she said, Alicia, you don't understand. I need him to take care of my babies. And in my mind at that time, I'm telling her, you need to get out, you need to get out now. But then as I was building this app and hearing these women's stories and understanding the situation and dealing with these women and talking to the Georgia task force, and the state of Georgia had different task forces for different counties. In time I understand that you have to help them slowly get out of it. So that information is in my app, where it tells them how to do it slowly and carefully. Because we can talk about it, because we're not in that situation. But when that person is in that situation, we can't tell them to get out because we don't know how bad the situation is. There's too many stories of women getting out and dying. So that's where I had to be very, very careful in making sure that they had everything they needed in that app. This women come up to me and say, I think this is a good idea and I think this is a good idea. You need to add this to the app, and you need to add this to the app. People from other countries calling me about this app. And I'm like - it's just me, myself, and I doing this right now, babe.

[00:16:17.06] SY: So when you say that they need to be helped and taken out of that situation slowly, is it because they need convincing that they should leave, or because it's safer for them to leave over time, instead of just disappearing? What's the reasoning behind that?

[00:16:34.09] AC: It's safer. So for example, the abuser might not give them any money but just for food. She would probably take ten dollars of that money and put aside. So those are things that in the app tells the women how to plan their safety exit plan. It has to be a safe way for them to get out. I mean, I've talked to women who said that I just gradually talked my way to a point where he let me go. And it was like, I wish I had your app to help me. So it's something that gradually you have to look at the safety of the women getting out of it. Because when they just walk away or automatically get out, a lot of them die from it.

[00:17:21.10] SY: Wow. And I noticed that when you were talking about some of the differences between building a "regular" app versus building an app for domestic violence, I noticed, because I downloaded the app myself to give it a test drive, and there's no login. There's a password - you put in a passcode, but there's no typical email, username, there's none of that. But now it makes sense because if you have an email address attached to it, then your abuser might be able to reset the password and figure that out, so you want to avoid that.

[00:17:52.23] AC: Exactly. And remember, by setting an email up in the app, it goes through the regular email. Now we can do messaging within the app now, without it going to other parts of the device. I was told by a lawyer that you need to put video in there, and I was like, I would have to then store the video some place, and then if something serious happened, then they're coming to my house to get access to that information. And I'm like, no -

[00:18:20.06] SY: Now you're part of it, yeah.

[00:18:20.22] AC: No, we ain't doing that. So I'm trying to come up with ways to - ok, so, this video needs to be saved within the app as well as pictures saved within the app. And if they delete the app, it goes away. It moves all that information. So I mean, there were just so many ways that, you know, now, I can do that. These are things I can do now, which I couldn't do before.

[00:18:45.06] SY: So, what did the very first version of this app look like in your head, compared to what it looks like now. Were there features and things you realized over time were either not safe that you had to let go of?

[00:18:58.03] AC: Well, the first version of the app, I made it look like pocketbooks. And I was like, ok, when the men look at it, they're going to be like, I don't want to go into this darn app, it's got pocketbooks in it. So the first version was more so just putting all the information in and the quiz, and I didn't think about the password thing until some of the people I met at Apple recommended it. They said, hey listen, that's a great idea, so why don't you do this to put in front of the app so when somebody does go in there, they will see a calculator. With the second version of it, that's where I started to think of - ok, I don't want everybody to know what it is, but then my husband had to remind me. But babe, if everybody don't know, then you're not going to get to the right people.

[00:19:43.15] SY: Yeah, it's tricky! It needs to be kind of secret but kind of popular?

[00:19:46.24] AC: Yeah. So, a lot of women saying, well, they wanted a journal in there. They wanted to have messaging in there. I'm working on it now to make it where it's an app that they can actually go in and use and have other people that they know download the app as well. So they can send a message to their moms, or to their sister that they're in a situation. Secretly, without it going into their messaging, iMessaging app. There's so many things right now - I have a list of things I'm working on right now, with the help of a lot of people. Because they see a need in it. I created something that I didn't think was going to be needed.

[00:20:39.07] SY: How long has the app been available in the app store?

[00:20:41.26] AC: Since May of 2014.

[00:20:50.01] SY: So it's been a while, it's been a while. So have you been able to gather some data on how many people have downloaded it or used it, that kind of thing?

[00:20:53.24] AC: Well, on Android, it's about 800. And it's about another 8 or 900 on iOS.

[00:21:02.12] SY: And do you have any sense of how many people it's actively helped or helped get out of a bad situation?

[00:21:08.06] AC: Well, one person definitely used it and they did put a review on iOS. But because of it being for victims, it's kind of hard to say who it has helped. And for a woman in California to reach out to me and say that she is having problems, that speaks volumes to me, it really does. They may not put anything on iTunes, but they do reach out to me via email.

[00:21:38.11] SY: That's what I assumed. I assume a lot of the feedback you get would be more personal, because they probably don't want to send public tweets talking about what happened and how it affected them, so. Yeah, it makes sense. (Music). Coming up: Alicia tells us how she got discovered by Apple and ended up being a featured guest at WWDC. They put her in the promo video and everything. The last twenty seconds of it are brilliant - you have to watch it. She also shares her own insecurities of being a new developer in her forties.

[00:22:09.13] AC: If I ever had to go back, I'd tell myself, you know what you're doing, don't give up and stop beating yourself up for learning something new.

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[00:24:23.09] Ok, so, let's get back to the course that you took. You said that you took it and you said oh my goodness, I actually know some stuff, and I'm ready to learn Pevo. What happened next?

[00:24:36.12] AC: I started building Pevo. I did everything - front-end, back-end, UX, UI - I added everything. You know, I tried to reach out to some organizations, shelters - I didn't get the feedback that I wanted. I would assume that they would want to help me with the information and I had to just do it on my own, went rogue, just doing it on my own. Google was my best friend, let's say that. Google told me everything.

[00:25:02.05] SY: So, what was your process like, because as we've talked about, there are clearly a lot of pieces, a lot of things you need to think about. So, how do you break down such a large project?

[00:25:14.25] AC: I had to prioritize how the app would need to be done. Shelters are the most important thing. The next thing was the law. I know so many women that the abusers would lie to and tell them, you can't take your children out of my house. If you do, I can get them back, lawyers, or you can't divorce me, or you can't get no alimony - I mean, just hearing those stories, and making sure that the law was accurate. So there was a website called women'slaw.org. If you're a victim of domestic violence, the law is for you, as a victim. But the thing was, each state was different. For example, in the state of Georgia, if you're a victim of domestic violence and you tell your employer that you're a victim and that you're going through stuff, and if that victim has to leave their job, they're obligated to pay unemployment insurance. But then all states are not listing that. Another thing I found out under the Obama administration was that if you're a victim of domestic violence from another country, you get asylum. And these were things I was putting inside the app. Then it was the quiz - I put in the app. Now, I had problems with the quiz. I had to have somebody help me build the quiz, to let victims know - are you a victim? Answer some questions to find out if you are a victim.

[00:26:39.00] SY: So that question thing was really interesting because, from an outside perspective, that feels like a very black and white thing. You either are or are not. Have you found, in your example, that there are lots of victims that just don't understand that it's abuse?

[00:26:53.09] AC: Yes, there are a lot of victims that don't understand the abuse. They really don't. Because abuse goes so many different ways. It could be financial, it could be self-esteem kind of abuse, it could be mental, physical. It's a lot. It's just a lot. It took me some time to put that together as well.

[00:27:16.15] SY: So tell me about some of the technical challenges that you had when you were building it.

[00:27:21.03] AC: The quiz was my biggest challenge. When Apple came I had to challenge them, I had to fix the app.

[00:27:28.27] SY: Oh! What was wrong with it?

[00:27:29.05] AC: It wasn't working like it should. (Laughs). The things that I wanted to do, the app also has Swift in it, because Swift came out the following year. So, when I kept updating it, I had to add Swift. They said, you can add Swift to Objective C but they both wasn't playing nice with each other. The calculator wasn't Swift. And so there were certain things that it wasn't playing nice with, so was the search. The search wasn't Swift. So the search wasn't working because I couldn't figure out what I did wrong. It was like one little line of code. It was no fun. But it was exciting for me, because even though I would walk away, I did not want to give up on the code. I couldn't give up.

[00:28:13.26] SY: So that's one of the things about both - because it sounds like you were learning to code and building your first app, all in one swoop, in one motion. And what makes that really hard is when you get stuck, how do you get unstuck. And I feel like that's one of the biggest differences between juniors and seniors, is that senior developers are just generally more experienced developers. They get stuck, and they have enough of a toolkit, they've seen enough types of problems to be able to say, I know what that is, I'll figure it out. Or to say, I know someone who knows what that is, so they will figure it out. But if you're learning to code and building your first app all at the same time, it can be really hard to get yourself unstuck. So how did you handle those moments?

[00:28:56.27] AC: One thing I've learned in the time I've built this app is that it's like, you either get a job with no app, because it's a lot of people who say, ok, I haven't built an app, but I got a job as an iOS developer. Then you have those people who are like, I built an app, and I don't have a job. I don't know somebody where I can just make a call, and say - can you look at this code for me? And I did have some people who I can reach out to look at my code for me, because they really respect what I was doing. And they did help me. And I think that was the real challenge - was that I couldn’t just ask anybody. And I think that was my fair, that I couldn't just ask anybody. I was afraid to ask for help.

[00:29:45.05] SY: What were you afraid of?

[00:29:45.24] AC: Somebody telling me that my code looked awful and that I didn't know what I was doing. That was my biggest fear. I'm over that now.

[00:29:55.19] SY: How did you get over that? Because I've noticed with myself, too, especially after I started doing a lot of speaking, I said, ok, now I have to make sure nobody ever sees my code, so they don't, so I don't get judged for that. Let me just keep talking and let them think I'm amazing. And then after a while I just realized - if I keep going like this, I'm never going to get better. So what was the moment for you? What made you get over it?


[00:30:16.16] AC: When Apple came knocking at my door.

[00:30:20.00] SY: Well, that changes things. Tell us about that.

[00:30:23.20] AC: The first part was Women Who Code got me free tickets to the WWDC Fifteen. So when they got my free tickets to that event, well, a friend of mine, who really was a mentor, and I love him to death, so he's like, get a t-shirt, advertise Purple Pocketbook. So on the back of the t-shirt, I put on there "Thank you WWC for getting me a scholarship to WWDC Fifteen," took the picture front and back, and sent it to everybody because I was so excited. I sent it to Apple, I sent it to Women Who Code, I sent it to all my girlfriends, got to the scholarship event, they were looking for me, and basically asked me if they could take a picture of me during the keynote, standing on line. And I was like, sure. And they took a picture of me and they said, Alicia C. created an app at the age of 54 for domestic violence, something like that. And so 2015, that was the opening to the opportunities for Apple. The following year, 2016, the documentary video company contacted me and said that they wanted to do a video on me. The app had to be updated to the new version, so they sent somebody directly from Apple to help me update the app.

[00:31:49.23] SY: Wait, was that the first developer, outside developer, who looked at your code?

[00:31:52.08] AC: He probably was the second person. I was like, I said, my code is really bad, it's all over the place. He said, Alicia, your code is better than the people I work with. That was enough for me to shut up. We submitted that app on Friday, and I was like, man it's not going to get approved to Apple Memorial Day weekend. They had someone come in Memorial Day weekend to approve that app. I was so glad it was over, everyone was gone Saturday night. I was resting Sunday and Monday. I get a call that Friday, before the keynote, and it was one of the producers from Apple, and they was like, ok, Alicia, we need your approval. They sent me the video, password, and everything, locked everything. I asked, can my husband see it? He said no. (Laughs). So I looked at the video, I cried and then I busted out laughing. And so when it came out on the keynote at the very end, my phone was ringing off the hook. I mean, people from Apple called me up that I met at events, and it was like, Alicia, you've got this video, you've got to use it however you want to use it, because this is an amazing video, you stole the show in the video. I was like, ok, thank you!

[00:33:21.22] SY: Oh, definitely. I actually wrote down, I wrote what you said - you said - and I'm not going to say it nearly as well as you did, but you said "I want to be this amazing coder, this off-the-chain senior developer where everybody comes to me and says, can you fix this? And I'm like yeah."

[00:33:37.13] AC: You can do it, it's like pow-pow-pow, yeah-yeah! That's how I felt when I learned Objective C and Swift. I learned how to create a mobile app in Apple. I felt amazing.

[00:33:51.01] SY: So that was going to be my question. Now that it's been a few years since you first started learning to code, you have this app, you have some really nice publicity - I know you've been doing some speaking. Have your goals changed, or do you still want to be the off-the-chain senior developer?

[00:34:07.27] AC: No, I don't want to be an off-the-chain senior developer no more. (Laughs).

[00:34:13.12] SY: No? Why, what happened?

[00:34:13.17] AC: I'm 54, black woman, and it's not easy getting a job at this age, babe. I decided to make my own. I don't think that is meant for me to work for somebody else. I've got this app that I have to take to the next level. It's too many people pushing me to make this app a national app, and maybe even go into national. I can't have people calling me from Canada and Australia and from India telling me that, is this app available in their country? That tells me that there is much more to me doing what I need to do to make this app even bigger than what it is.

[00:34:57.14] SY: So, what does that mean for you? Does it mean that you do need to become an amazing expert developer so you can build this app out faster? Or does it mean that you focus on the promotion and the communication and the marketing, and then hand off the development to someone else? How do you see your role evolving based on where you want this app to be?

[00:35:15.08] AC: My goal and my role is to make this app where women built it. I would love to get more women's hands on doing more mobile. There's very few women doing it right now. And women are the ones that are hands-on the mobile - we've got almost 78% of women on mobile devices. That's where my gold is. Right now I am currently working on making this app a national app. Right now is seriously needed. So even if it's an underground app, it's so much more can be done with it. I got women who say I want to learn Android. I got a young lady right now who's like, there's five or six of us working on a project right now, who are women of color. The potential of these women who are doing mobile is amazing. Them learning to build something different, and maybe become entrepreneurs themselves.

[00:36:11.04] SY: And the other thing that I'm really interested in with this app is not just the fact that it's a social enterprise, and it's doing good, but the fact that your specific domain requires different technical considerations. I think that a lot of times in tech when we talk about doing social good, it feels like it's a different topic than being technical. There's the technical people who do really hard-core coding stuff, then there's the touchy-feely people who talk about community and being nice to each other, and there aren't a lot of talks that I've seen, stories that I've heard, that really focus on how being more socially conscious, trying to do good, requires a different way of approaching technology, and requires different technical considerations, which, if we had more conversations that way, my hope is that some of the hard-core developers who don't necessarily connect with the specific causes, still feel like they have a place. They can see that their technical skills are still applicable, even when we're talking about more social causes.

[00:37:19.23] AC: Exactly, exactly. The person that I met at WWDC in an Uber, in the backseat while we was going to a restaurant, he - and I'm telling him about what I'm doing - he's like, I want to help. Ok, Alicia, I know some people who definitely will help you, but the first thing I'm learning is I have to go back to the beginning. Is by designing a new app. I have to design it all over again. That app can not always stay the same - it has to change up every couple of maybe year or two because we're disguising the app to where the abuser doesn't know it's an app.

[00:38:02.01] SY: Yeah, and I imagine laws might get updated, information might change, that kind of stuff.

[00:38:06.23] AC: And what you said a little bit earlier - I'm definitely going to take my hands off of it now. It's at a point right now that I have to now tell people how the app needs to be designed. And so that's where I'm at right now. Everybody says your hands need to be off it, you need to have people build pieces of the app for you to make it the way it needs to be.

[00:38:27.26] SY: So you mentioned, briefly, your age and the fact that that's impacted your journey. So, I'm wondering, you said how old are you now - 54?

[00:38:39.00] AC: I'm 54, yes, babe.

[00:38:42.06] SY: So if you developed Pevo and took that course and learned how to code and all that, but you were 25, is it just that you would have more time to do other things, or do you think you'd have a different set of opportunities or exposure or?

[00:38:59.02] AC: It wouldn't happen when I was 25. It would not. I wouldn't have seen a need for it then.

[00:39:05.14] SY: You needed the life experience.

[00:39:08.01] AC: Yeah. Being older, eyes are more wide open. My ears are more wide open. I see more, I hear more. And I understand a little bit more, too. So, if I was younger, I would not have the patience to say, ok, I'm going to sit here and learn this. Ok, I'm tired, I'm going to get up and go. I wouldn't have the patience. Right now, I'm living my dream. Since I was 17 I wanted to be in technology, wanted to go to school and learn how to code. And back then it wasn't even coding. I don't think they even had a word called coding then. I'm living my dream, I'm following my passion right now.

[00:39:46.06] SY: So now let's move on to some fill in the blanks. Are you ready?

[00:39:47.22] AC: Oh, girl, yes. (Laughs)

[00:39:53.06] SY: Number one. Worst advice I've ever received is?

[00:39:55.08] AC: I don't remember anybody ever even giving me worst advice, because I don't listen to it (laughs). If it's something that I don't want to hear, I don't listen to it. I put a lot of amazing people around me who don't do that. They encourage me, they inspire me.

[00:40:16.03] SY: So your answer is nothing? You have no worst advice to share?

[00:40:18.29] AC: I do not. The one thing that really bothers me, out of anything, is the person who was supposed to be tutoring me for iOS told me "You'll never get that Android app out." I was like, ok. If that's what you - you want to believe that, alright. And that following year, I had it out.

[00:40:39.02] SY: Number two. My first coding project was about?

[00:40:43.09] AC: My first coding project was creating my first website using HTML. It was called African-American literary form. I was trying to find books for my daughters on Amazon, because my daughters wanted to read books about themselves. You know, young girls who are doing great things, telling great stories are hard, so you know how it is. I was having the hardest time finding books on Amazon so I said hey, how many other people are having the same problem? So I created a website, just specifically to find books for my daughters and for other people from Amazon.

[00:41:26.26] SY: Number three - one thing I wish I knew when I first started to code is?

[00:41:30.14] AC: That I needed to be patient with myself because I knew what I was doing. I didn't believe in myself, let's say that. That it was something that I was really bad at, I really put myself down on that.

[00:41:46.14] SY: Yeah, it's hard, and it's really hard to not have that confidence and push through anyway, and it sounds like you did a great job with that.

[00:41:50.15] AC: I really beated myself up, because I really didn't believe that I was good at what I was learning. Now, I feel great that I've learned it, but if I ever had to go back, I'd tell myself, you know what you're doing. Don't give up, and stop beating yourself up for learning something new.

[00:42:14.24] SY: Yep, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. You want to say goodbye?

[00:42:19.00] AC: Goodbye my people! Kiss kiss. (Laughs).

[00:42:23.03] SY: Very nice. (Laughs). And that's the end of the first episode of Season 2. Let me know what you think - tweet me @CodeNewbies or send me an email, hello@codenewbie.org. If you're in D.C. or Philly, check out our local CodeNewbies meet-up groups. We've got community coding sessions and awesome events each month, so if you're looking for real-life human interaction, look us up at meetup.com. For more info on the podcast, check out www.codenewbie.org/podcast. And join us for our weekly Twitter chats. We've got our Wednesday chats at 9 PM EST and our weekly coding check-in every Sunday at 2 PM EST. Thanks for listening. See you next week. (Music).


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