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Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

This episode is an accessibility extravaganza! Guest host and Alteryx Engineering Manager, Steve Tomasak, had a chat with Accessibility and Localization Team Lead, Jeremy Likes, and Kyle Waterworth, Accessibility Product Manager. Both users of assistive technology, Jeremy and Kyle share their personal experiences, and explain the principles of Universal Design. They also shout out ground breaking assistive technologies, and talk about how they’re working to make the Alteryx Platform more accessible to all users.

 


Panelists

 

Steve Tomasak - Manager, Software Engineering, @SteveT, LinkedIn
Jeremy Likes - Team Lead - Accessibility | Localization, @JeremyL, LinkedIn
Kyle Waterworth - Product Manager, Accessibility, @A11yKyleLinkedIn

 

 


Topics

 

Learn more about accessible data viz from @SusanCS in the Data Science blogLearn more about accessible data viz from @SusanCS in the Data Science blog

@JeremyL with his two most trusted advisors@JeremyL with his two most trusted advisors

 @SteveT, living his best life at the Alteryx office in Colorado@SteveT, living his best life at the Alteryx office in Colorado@A11yKyle showing off his guitar skills@A11yKyle showing off his guitar skills

 


Transcript

Spoiler

MADDIE: 00:02

[music] Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. I'm Maddie Johannsen, and today I've passed my hosting mic to Steve Tomisac, one of our engineering managers at Alteryx.

STEVE: 00:13

Check one, two, three, four. How's that?

MADDIE: 00:16

Steve is joined by our accessibility team lead, Jeremy Likes.

JEREMY: 00:20

Yeah, I'm like a super nerd. I grew up on video games, the classics throughout the golden era. The '90s, 16 bit era.

MADDIE: 00:30

And our accessibility product manager, Kyle Waterworth.

KYLE: 00:34

I'm also big into reptile keeping. I currently have eight snakes in my apartment.

MADDIE: 00:41

They had a chat about their work to make the Alteryx platform more accessible, the concept of universal design, and some really cool assistive technologies that are out there. Here's Steve to kick us off. [music]

STEVE: 00:56

So we'll start with Jeremy. Jeremy, can you describe some of your personal history related to accessibility?

JEREMY: 01:05

Yeah, absolutely. I suffer from a disability called ocular albinism. And what ocular albinism is is it's an impairment that's passed along your mother's recessive gene. And so what it does is it typically skips a generation, and it hits males harder than it hits females because we have two X chromosomes. So even if a female were to have it, they likely wouldn't notice it, right? But what it translates into is a lack of pigmentation in the eye that allows a lot of light to sort of make it's way into the back and the retina area instead of being reflected out by the pigmentation that's normally there. And so what that does is it renders my visual acuity below legal blindness, and so my visual acuity without correction is 20/200 if that gives any of the normal-sighted folks out there a scale by which they could compare it to. And with past correction on my left eye, 20/170. And so it also has some really interesting side effects as well. There's an nystagmus associated with it, so the eye will dance at times. It's hard to focus on one particular thing. I remember having to do a lot of exercises when I was a kid with a patch over my eye, trying to strengthen the muscles around the eye and to focus on a ball that was moving back and forth. Those kinds of exercises.

JEREMY: 02:31

So with that, I've had sort of-- one thing you learn really early on when you have a disability is the people around you are very keen to point it out and make you feel different, right? And so I think when you're a kid and you're a user of accessibility, you have a tendency to feel a little ostracized and like you really want to fit in and really the only thing you ever want to do is be like everybody else. But I think at some level, somewhere along that journey you sort of mature a little bit and look past that-- start embracing the differences and actually start dialing in on the things that you can control. And that's kind of what my journey's been like. Got made fun of a lot as a kid, but I think that's led to having a tougher skin and not expecting the world to adapt to me but rather for me to adapt to the world and just use what I can, the things I am good at, the things that I do have the physical facilities to do, dial in on those and really try to use those tools to my advantage. And so one of the tools I use is a magnifier. And luckily for me, in today's world magnifiers come bundled with OSes, and I use Window's built in magnification software to help level the playing field for me and so that I can be able to write code and be able to perform my job at an optimal level, so. That's my journey in a really simplified nutshell.

STEVE: 04:00

Cool, thanks. Yeah, appreciate the context on that. Kyle, can you share a little bit about yourself?

KYLE: 04:07

Yeah, absolutely. So I was also born with a visual disability. The short, not super medical version is that basically my optic nerves didn't develop correctly which led to a host of other problems. So like Jeremy, I also suffer from nystagmus. With correction I see okay out of my left eye. I'm still legally blind. My right eye is basically useless, and that's sort of what started me down my journey to accessibility. I actually went to a specialty high school. I went to The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind for all four years of high school, which is a boarding school designed to essentially teach kids who are deaf, blind, or have other special needs how to function in the world. And I mean, I learned a lot of things while I was there. I became fluent in braille, and even for those of us who can see-- especially me growing up. We didn't really know what my vision was going to do because as I was a kid, it got worse. So they sort of thought that maybe as I grew up I would go completely blind. And so I learned how to navigate using just a cane blindfolded and how to cross streets and all of that fun stuff. Luckily, that didn't happen. But that's sort of my introduction to accessibility and accessible technology because we also had a computer lab, and everybody was taught how to use a screen reader and how to use a braille display and a bunch of other assistive technologies. That really sort of set me down the path that I'm on now.

STEVE: 05:41

So to kind of shift gears a little bit, one thing I wanted to touch on and get into is the terminology. And so, Kyle, I'd like you to kind of touch on some of the terms, some of the meanings related to accessibility and assistive technologies.

KYLE: 05:58

[music] Sure. So the big one I want to talk about is what do you call somebody with a disability who is using a computer or using their phone and that you need to create sort of a use case for or a persona for? And really the correct term is a user of assistive technology because it's a really wide umbrella. We have to keep in mind that assistive technology means everything from closed captioning to an electric wheelchair to a screen reader to a switch device. It really kind of covers the gambit, and I hear other terms a lot like accessible user or accessibility user. And while they're not inherently bad or wrong or offensive, they can kind of communicate an attitude of lip service or-- that's best case. Worst case you just sound like you don't really know what you're talking about, and that's something that you'll be called out on when you start talking to some of the more militant accessibility advocate groups. That's something they'll latch onto immediately. So yeah, user of assistive technology. You really can't go wrong with that.

STEVE: 07:12

So then in that same vein of talking about the assistive technologies. Kyle, what are some things that you currently use that maybe are things that have just come out, things that maybe you've been using for a long time that could help people out here that are looking for some of those?

KYLE: 07:29

Sure thing. So for my daily driving purposes, I use the magnifier that's built into macOS as well as the magnifier that's built into Windows. It's a little-- you have to go in and play with some settings to start using it on macOS, but for anybody who's listening who's curious, hitting Windows Plus from pretty much anywhere will magnify your screen. Hitting Windows Escape will turn it off. And in my work, I use a screen reader a lot. My screen reader of choice is NVDA. It's free and Open Source, and it was actually developed by two college students who were tired of paying for JAWS, which is-- JAWS is sort of the oldest and most well-known screen reader. So I believe-- I may have to correct myself on this, but it stands for Job Access with Sound. And it was actually developed back for MS-DOS and Windows 3.2. And it's been the way that blind people can use a computer ever since, and based on sort of that foundation, other screen readers have been made. For one, when I was in high school, the other big one was called Window-Eyes, but that's not around anymore. And now even it's built into iOS. It's built into Android. There are screen readers for all of these platforms just natively. And yeah, assistive technology's come a really long way. I mean, especially when you start getting into things like eye tracking and switch devices and mouth controls and voice control that's now coming standard on mobile OSes. The rabbit hole has gotten really, really deep just in the last five years.

STEVE: 09:13

Yeah, that's really cool that things have gotten better across the board on the technology for what you're using. Jeremy, is there anything else that you use outside of these, or are you using some of the same tech?

JEREMY: 09:24

I'm using a lot of the same tech. I actually went to a camp, actually, when I was in high school for visually impaired folks. And they showed us a lot of these screen readers, and at the time-- I mean, this was in the '90s, right? To date myself. There was JAWS even back then, and being able to toggle various contrast modes and dark mode and those things were still coming online at that time. And so I just kind of got used to that-- luckily, I'm fortunate enough to not have a really super severe case of ocular albinism. I have more of a mild to severe case. So I can get by with just a screen reader, luckily. So I'm super fortunate in that regard.

STEVE: 10:07

Yeah, that's very interesting, and definitely a piece that I want to touch into because both of you guys sharing what you've done, a little bit of your journeys. Something that I'd like to hear a little more about is what is was like when you joined Alteryx. And then, Jeremy, if you could start there. I know you've been-- about three, four years ago you started. Kind of go over a little bit of your time and what it was like.

JEREMY: 10:31

Yeah, so I joined in 2015 at the tail end, and actually during the interview, there was a coding question. And both the people interviewing me noticed how close my nose was to the paper. It was actually an on-paper test, and it was just some kind of a Fibonacci sequence of numbers that I had to kind of work through and show the different stages of a variable throughout its journey through the code and all that. And so one of my first days there, our team leader on Designer Jerry Pizanki came to me, and he was like, "Hey, man. Why is your screen so small? And I noticed you were having trouble reading the other day. Can you tell me a little bit about your handicap?" And I told him. And that was actually really refreshing to hear because not a lot of people have the courage to ask somebody who's a disabled person about their disability in such a frank and honest way. So I told him a little bit about, and then I exchanged the challenges it presents to me. And then I showed him the screen reader-- not the screen reader. Sorry, strike that. The magnification software that I was using. And he's like, "Wow, you're chewing up a lot of real estate with that magnifier. How about we get you a bigger TV." And that's quite literally what we did. We got a TV not a monitor-- a 1080p monitor. And you'd think, "Wait. Wait a minute. Wouldn't you want like a 4k or something that's a little more up with the times?" And the answer to that question is no, actually. The worse the resolution, the bigger the pixels are on the screen, actually the more it helps me out. So he did that. He put it in with IT, and we got that piece of technology in I think a couple days after that. And I use it to this day. And it was just-- I knew I had arrived at the right place when that was one of the sort of indoctrinating conversations-- was how can we help you do your job better? And that just really stuck with me.

STEVE: 12:18

Yeah, that was definitely something that I noticed because we were on the same team early on and definitely appreciated that Alteryx as a whole was able to accommodate and give you some of the things that you needed to make your life easier and have us all do a better job working together.

JEREMY: 12:36

[crosstalk]

STEVE: 12:36

Kyle I know-- yeah. Kyle, you started pretty recently. How was your onboarding with Alteryx and what did you notice?

KYLE: 12:44

Yup, so as you said, I started pretty recently. I've been here-- actually, this week is three months. And when I started, because of the current climate, the pandemic, I spent all of four days in the office. And I've been working from home ever since. But one thing that I noticed in my time here so far and even during my interview process was that everybody seems to be on board with accessibility. This has been my career, and in previous roles, I've had to fight a lot. I've had to ice skate uphill to get anything done for accessibility because, in short, it doesn't really pay. The ROI just really isn't there. But here it was like, oh, wait. Yeah, no, we care. We're going to do it. Just tell us what we need to do, and we'll do it. And so that's been really, really refreshing. I've worked with a bunch of different teams, and engineering, PMs, everybody has just been really on board to make our products accessible and just better overall as a result.

STEVE: 13:49

Yeah, that's really good to hear, and that is the one piece that I've noticed as well is that we've really taken to the not the why but the how. And that's a big piece to it. Now, one of the things you touched on there-- you talked about the work from home. So, Kyle, is there anything now that's been a little different over the last few months with needing to work from home for you?

KYLE: 14:12

I mean, not really to be honest. I mean, I've worked from home before. It's not really a new thing for me, and it's my home, so I have all of my stuff set up. I've got my giant monitors and my TVs in the wall, so. It's been pretty okay. I mean, the working from home combined with the can't go anywhere because of COVID thing has gotten to be a little much, but other than that it's actually-- it's been okay.

JEREMY: 14:43

Actually, I have a question for you if you don't mind. What kind of equipment are you rocking there at home? When you said big monitors, what do you got?

KYLE: 14:51

So I have a 32 inch monitor on my desk, and then behind that, I have a 50 inch TV mounted on the wall. And I also have another 32 inch monitor at the side of my desk, and I generally have at least two computers going at the same time. I'll have one for meetings and notes and more administrative tasks, and then I have-- and that's a Mac because the magnification that's rolled into macOS is so much better. And then I have a Windows, a PC hooked up to the other monitor with it's own separate keyboard and mouse and everything for screen reader testing and testing with Designer, etc.

JEREMY: 15:35

Awesome. Awesome. You put my-- you kind of have the drummer's cage, and I have just a drum set, unfortunately. I've just got a 50 inch screen that kind of keeps me going. It's always an interesting conversation when someone comes over to my house and they expect to see up Netflix, and I pull up work on my computer, so.

STEVE: 15:55

Yeah, it's been-- as we've talked to various people, "What do you have at home? Do you have the set up? Do you have those things?" It's been really interesting at least for me on my side. So another one I want to cover here is within these assistive technologies, Jeremy, do you have any that you'd like to talk about?

JEREMY: 16:13

Yeah. I was listening to Kyle present not too long ago on those road shows that he's been doing, and it really hits that human element when you realize the lengths that people are willing to go to just get their jobs done. And one of those that really stood out to me, Kyle - and you can elaborate on any others that you might know of - was mouth controls and braille that prints out to the user so that they can interact with what's going on on the screen. Can you elaborate on how those tools work? I mean, that's just incredible.

KYLE: 16:46

Totally. So for the mouth control, mouth control is sort of an iteration of what are called switch devices. For those who are familiar Stephen Hawking, and he had the speech synthesizer in his chair. The way he was controlling that was with a small button that was touching his cheek because he could still use his cheek. And so he would just through activating this one switch, sort of go through the menus and pick letters, and that's how he would use that synthesizer. This is actually something that is currently built into pretty much every major OS. You basically use one giant button to do everything within an interface, and especially for iOS, the entire screen is that big button. So if you can use one finger, then you can do everything on your phone by basically just using it as a giant button.

KYLE: 17:39

Where mouth control comes in is people who are essentially paralyzed from the neck down but still have full motor function of their face. It's a device that connects to their computer and will have one or two joysticks. And so what you do is you use your mouth and your lips to move these joy sticks to sort of direct your mouse and otherwise navigate. And you can also blow into it or suck on it, and some of them you can bite. And these will do different actions like click, right click, etc. And there's actually a streamer who's name escapes me right now, but he streams Call of Duty using a double stick mouth control. And actually he does pretty well. He does well enough that he has an audience streaming it. So really what people can do with these technologies is really crazy. And like I said, a lot of this has just sort of come about in the last five years. And you get even crazier when you start talk about things like eye tracking. Eye tracking, I think, is going to be the next big thing in the accessibility community. In a previous role, I was working on eye tracking for set top boxes for televisions using an Xbox Kinect. And it's-- I mean, we-- it was like almost there. And even right now for those of your who are interested, there is a mobile browser for iOS called Hawkeye. And it will use your front facing camera to actually track your eyes and allow you to click on things.

JEREMY: 19:14

Yeah, beautiful. That's really good stuff. That hit me in a really visceral place when you were presenting those technologies, and I'm sure others had a similar reaction, so. [music] I mean, on some level you get kind of like, "Oh, woe is me" about your handicap, right? Especially when you're younger. And then you hear about people who have to use their cheeks and their mouth to click things, and then you suddenly realize, "Wow, I have nothing to complain about."

STEVE: 19:42

And like I said, all of these things and a lot of what we're trying to do here at Alteryx leveraging these technologies and some of these things are at the forefront of what we're trying to do to bring accessibility. So as we're trying to do that, Kyle, I want to ask you a question about our users. What are some challenges that you see that our analysts and data scientists face in various software and things that they're trying to use on the accessibility front?

KYLE: 20:11

Sure. So specifically for those who are visually impaired, so much of data science and analytics has gone towards the visual lately. Tableau became huge, and a lot of people are sort of going down that some thing where let's make data interesting by taking it from a table to this big colorful diagram. And that's great, however, if you are visually impaired or completely blind, that doesn't do you any good at all. And so I think we've as an industry sort of gotten away from accessibility not necessarily on purpose but just because spreadsheets are accessible generally speaking. Data and Excel files and-- it's all sort of accessible by default because it's had to be because it's 20 year old interfaces. But now, moving towards a lot more visual representation, it creates a lot of challenges for people using assistive technology.

STEVE: 21:13

Yeah, that's definitely what we've seen especially as we start to push the envelope, things that we do within Designer. There's just a lot there that we're trying to figure out and work on for sure on that front. Another thing I'd like to know from you guys are what are some things that as you've worked here at Alteryx, that you've done related to accessibility even before this project has kicked off for you, Jeremy? What would be something that you've done?

JEREMY: 21:41

We have something every three months at Alteryx called innovation days, and some of you who follow us probably are aware of that. And it's just a couple of days where we can hop in and just scratch some of the itches that have been bothering us over the course of using the product or developing for the product. And so I've been on the localization team for a while now, and I've done things like build apps for our linguistic testers that allow them to go in and change translations on the fly and then have those translations committed to our various branches and then show up in the code the next day. One of the challenges in QE in particular is being able to install builds quickly. Unfortunately, we still have an installer that we need to run, and because we keep adding features to it, it just gets larger and larger with each release it seems like. So one of the things that QE particularly suffers from is thrashing. So going back in between different versions of the software and going and checking out this branch and that branch to check for defects and things like that. So I developed a little application that will automatically, silently, headlessly install Alteryx in the background so that you can get up and get a cup of coffee or tighten up your test plan or whatever it is you're going to do in that time instead of clicking through the GUI and waiting for things to happen. This app kind of just takes care of all that for you, and it will boot up Alteryx when it's finished installing, so. Couple of little nifty doodads like those.

STEVE: 23:10

Yeah, we have innovation days coming up here in a few weeks. And I know over the last two, we've had some engineers that have gone out and try to do some things that are related to accessibility. Now, Kyle, like we talked about earlier, you just started recently. What are some of the things that you've done to kind of get acclimated with our products as you came onto Alteryx?

KYLE: 23:32

Well, I did a lot of testing like screen reader testing and just sort of general accessibility testing of all of our websites and sort of our next gen products. I also had to get familiar with Alteryx Designer itself. I feel like I took kind of a fun approach in that I took some Overwatch game data from ranked matches, and this was somebody who just recorded thousands and thousands of their matches and recorded all of this data. And I tried to figure out, okay, is your win rate better based on location? Or is it better based on location relative to that country's GDP? And just some fun little things like that. Turns out, no there really isn't, but it was a fun way to sort of familiarize myself with the product. Beyond that, like I said, I went through pretty much all of our customer-facing anything and from there sort of rendezvoused with those teams and took them through it. These are priorities. These are the main problems. I've also been doing a lot of road shows, going from team to team doing a presentation about this is accessibility, and this is why you should care. And this is what our philosophy for accessibility here is at Alteryx. And it's just now starting to really bare fruit. We've really gotten rolling on Designer and some of the other teams are starting to show some serious improvement. So so far, I'm happy with the progress we've made.

STEVE: 25:00

Yeah, that's great. And one of the things we had touched on offline a little bit just in discussion about when we should be thinking about accessibility, what part of the development process, if you will, should we start to think about it. And one of the topics was universal design. Kyle, can you tell me a little bit about that concept and what it means? And you might be on mute.

KYLE: 25:24

Oops [laughter]. So yeah, universal design is the idea that you design for everyone. You don't just design for "normal users." At the same time, you don't just design for users of assistive technology. You design for everyone who could possibly use it. A good example of this is you don't build stairs up to a door and then bolt a ramp on the side. You create stairs that incorporate a ramp. Something that's pleasing to the eye and also serves all the needs of anybody who could use it. And part of the design-- or part of the idea of universal design is that accessibility should be front and center along with every other consideration for designing and creating and deploying a new product. We're not just trying to check a box here. So if you owned a restaurant and there were stairs in the front and someone in a wheelchair came up and you said, "Oh, no, no. We're accessible. There's a ramp in the back next to the dumpster." Yeah, you're technically accessible, but it's not a good solution. So that's really the idea of universal design is that you consider accessibility along with UX and tech writing and development and along with everything else. It is just as important. It's not more important. It's just as important.

STEVE: 26:50

Yeah, I think that the sooner that you could think about and implement these changes in the design development process, the better off you're going to be just like anything else when you're trying to add things in and make good design and do those things. So one of the things I want to touch on now is what is our plan going forward? And I'm going to start with you, Jeremy. You can kind of describe some of the work that the engineering team that you lead-- what they're working on at the moment.

JEREMY: 27:22

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Steve. What we're working on is trying to get things right. We had a group of customers come in-- actually, it was one customer come in. One of our most valued and cherished customers. Come in with a team of individuals who are responsible for sort of assigning a score for you on how accessible you are. And it turns out we weren't super accessible. And as it turns out, they have an individual that they work with who's a CPA, and she's completely blind. So she obviously is very familiar with working through barriers and overcoming obstacles. And unfortunately, their company really relies on Alteryx-- unfortunately for her, I should say. Really relies on Alteryx to do a lot of things, and if we have not a super accessible product available to her, she's not going to be able to perform well in that particular sphere, right? And so one of the biggest focuses I have is trying to-- since we're starting from scratch, let's get this thing right. And that means putting testing at the forefront.

JEREMY: 28:20

So everything we do on this team will have an automated test written prior to the development work. So you can think of it-- there's sort of an industry standard buzzword called test driven development or TDD. And that's really the approach we're using as we get into controlling things with the keyboard and creative ways to bring up GUIs and navigate through those GUIs. Not getting stuck once your in a GUI. Those are all things that are highly repeatable and kind of catastrophic really if you look at it, if they fail. So those are sort of two really good indications that you need to automate those things. And so we can be sure since we are also checking code into our Designer branch, which is our flagship product. We're not being shy about checking these changes in. We're going right into the lion's den and checking that code in so that if something were to break, we're going to know about it right away. It's going to be super visible, and it's going to be super necessary for our team to scramble and fix anything that comes out of that. So really the TDD approach, getting testing ahead of the curve, and making sure that-- Kyle is a great asset in this regard. But just making sure that as we walk through different features and are grooming our refinement meetings that we're kind of leading with how a user of accessibility would approach that particular problem. So we carefully diagnose each feature that we look at. We really deeply consider what the experience is going to be like for the user. And then we go from there about our engineering approach.

STEVE: 30:03

Yeah, that's really great to hear. I appreciate what you guys are doing on that front. And then to kind of switch over more into that product side, Kyle, what's your go forward plan or what are some of the things that you've been working on outside of what Jeremy touched on?

KYLE: 30:17

Well, I've been kind of bouncing all over the place. About half of my job, to be honest, right now is evangelism. A lot of people at Alteryx and beyond just-- they know vaguely what accessibility is, but they don't really know what's involved in actually making our products accessible. So part of my work has been just doing thorough audits of all of our products and interfaces and saying, "Okay, here's the issue, and here's what I think is the best way to fix it." And then at that point, you sort of leave it to those teams. It's their stuff. They built it, so they can figure out the best way for them to fix it based on their workflow. But just kind of giving that guidance. The way I like to look at what I do is I sort of steer the ship. I don't know necessarily how the nuts and bolts work, however, I know where we need to get and what being accessible means. So that means a lot of kind of manual testing on my part as well as just sort of general advice. I've been working a lot on sort of guidelines and standards for how to create an accessible interface. And moving forward, right now Designer is our main focus, but I am really excited about sort of our next generation platforms because I think that they are going to not only be incredible useful but be very, very accessible right out of the box. And that's been sort of my other driving motivation is that when we release our next generation of products, they should just work for everybody.

STEVE: 31:57

Yeah, that's great to hear. And then for anybody that's listening in to the podcast. They want to get more information. They want to follow our progress as we're going. Kyle, where can they go and what resources could they use to follow us?

KYLE: 32:14

Well, we have a Slack channel for all of the Alteryx associate listeners. Beyond that, you can follow me personally on LinkedIn, Kyle Waterworth, and if you ever have any questions, comments, concerns, dating advice for the team, accessibility@alteryx.com is a good way to reach us.

JEREMY: 32:36

Yeah, so to get a hold of me, it's just linkedin/jeremylikes, L-I-K-E-S, just likes it sounds, to be corny about it and throw a dad joke in there. Yeah, dating advice is very much appreciated. It probably would have been appreciated more before I was married, but hey, I can pass that on to the younger generation. And I don't think Kyle dialed into exactly what the Slack channel was, so I'll go ahead and clarify that now. Maybe we can splice this in. But it's #a11y, and that's the Slack channel that you'll be able to find us. And that's a handle for accessibility that's pretty universal. Ally. A11y. And that just means A plus 11 other letters and Y. Do the math on it. You'll find out that that is absolutely true.

STEVE: 33:22

Cool. Appreciate both of you guys, and just to kind of close this out, a little fun question. Jeremy, what do you like to do for fun things outside of work? Any of that kind of stuff?

JEREMY: 33:35

Yeah, I'm like a super nerd. I grew up on video games. I grew up with the classics throughout the golden era. The '90s, 16 bit era. And I'm actually a huge fan of learning languages, and one of the languages I like to teach people is Japanese. I actually lived in Japan for about four years and worked over there. And so I thought it would be really cool to be able to combine language learning with an RPG, right? If you can imagine a role playing game navigating through various lists and clicking the same thing over and over again, casting your spells and those kind of things. If we could replace those repetitive motions with writing Kangi, Japanese characters, to produce an action onscreen, I thought it would be really cool and unique to have a game that could teach you how to write Kangi just based on context. So for example, if I wanted to cast a fire spell in this game, then I would write the Kangi for fire. If I wanted to slow the enemy down, I could write the Kangi for slow and slow that enemy down. So that's something that me and a genius friend of mine who graduated from Cornell are working on right now. So I'm looking forward to wrapping that up.

JEREMY: 34:48

The other thing I do is I write soundtracks for video games. So I was a huge music nerd in high school. I was in every band you can imagine. I was in jazz band, concert band, symphonic band. So not only did I have the visual impairment, but I had sort of the nerdy image. It was a fun four years. I assure you of that, but. So yeah, I just write soundtracks for independent games, and one of the soundtracks that I'm working on is a game called Elysian Shadows. And proceed with caution on that. If you ever look up any of our YouTube content, just go into it knowing that it's PG-13 and up.

STEVE: 35:23

Cool. And then same question for you, Kyle. What do you like to do in your spare time?

KYLE: 35:27

Well, so Jeremy said that in high school he was in like every band. Well, I'm still in like every band. Currently, I'm a guitarist for one band, a bassist for another band. Up until very recently, I was the drummer for a metal band. That's most of what I do is play music and record music. I'm also big into reptile keeping. I currently have eight snakes in my apartment. And beyond that, I mean, mountain biking, longboarding, a little bit of everything.

JEREMY: 36:00

I see why you asked for dating advice. You got reptiles in your house. How does that usually play out for you?

KYLE: 36:06

You know, it's funny you ask because it's totally polar. It's about half and half. Either it's, "Oh my god, how do you have those in your house? What is wrong with you? You freak!" or it's, "Oh my god, that's so cool! Can I touch it?"

JEREMY: 36:19

Yeah, you showed up the other day I think for one of our internal meetings with a snake wrapped around your neck. That didn't get any attention or anything [laughter].

KYLE: 36:27

Yeah, no. I thought it was funny because I didn't say anything about it, and then whoever was hosting the event says, "So we going to talk about the snake around your neck, or are we just going to not address that?"

JEREMY: 36:38

Address the snake in the room.

KYLE: 36:40

Oh, yeah. Oh, they're big too. I have this weird goal to keep the top five largest species. I've got like three of the five so far. Yeah.

STEVE: 36:48

Yup. And that has been the fun. Work from home, everybody on video all the time because that never would have happened if we were in the office. [music] And we may never have seen any of those for a while if [ever?].

MADDIE: 37:01

Thanks for listening. If you have an idea to improve your experience with the Alteryx platform, share it on our ideas page on community which is linked in the episode's show notes at community.alteryx.com/podcast. [music]


This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).
Special thanks to @andyuttley for the theme music track for this episode.

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Before any of the great scientific minds who consume this content point it out - the point about females having two xx chromosomes and males having only one - I accidentally said "we" making it sound as if I was talking about males.  Incidentally, if you're interested, if you drill down on the link above you'll get a good summary of what I was saying:
https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/ocular-albinism#inheritance