Years ago, I had my team building out our racks at our new datacenter. I was quite proud of it. It was going to be our first planned from the start build-out of 6 racks, as opposed to the hodge-podge build-out we had done of 5 cabinets we had previously rented. Instead of just cramming in equipment where it would fit, we could plan where every piece would go and where we’d leave room for future expansion. This was in 2001, so it was still during a big Internet boom.
One of the things I had decided on doing early on was color coding cables. Red was for anything in front of the firewall for example. On the backside, every server had two network cards, one for outgoing traffic (the “front-net”) and the second for traffic between the servers (the “back-net”). To help distinguish between the two, I had ordered a bunch of green cables for the front-net, since that data was “safe” and green is “safe”, and blue cables for the back-net, both start with “b”. Sure, somewhat silly mnemonics, but they worked.
Until, about a week after we finally completed our datacenter move, not one, but two members of my five person team commented, “oh, they were different colors? I couldn’t tell, I’m colorblind.”
“Doh!” So much for my nice color-coded system. It can be fairly easy to overlook barriers when you don’t see them. Sometimes it takes more thought and action on your part. Sometimes it takes asking questions, or observation.
Lately I’ve been trying to look for more barriers that I might not have seen before and looking into what I can do to remove them. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not always successful and I’m still learning. But hopefully we call can.
One area I’ve been focusing on this is in my work for the Capital Area SQL Server User Group. Right now I’m looking at two possible barriers. I say possible because I honestly don’t know if they’re issues or not:
First, I’m trying to find someone who can provide ASL interpretation. Here’s the thing: we have never had, as far as I know, a deaf person attend one of our events, or even express an interest. Is that because there are no deaf DBAs in the area or because they know if they do attend, they probably will face barriers an person with hearing won’t face?
But, that actually begs the question: if there are no deaf DBAs in the area, why? Perhaps there are deaf people who WANT to become a DBA, but can’t because the barriers that exist well before they even attempt to attend one of our events. I don’t know, but I hope to explore this issue a bit more.
Another item I’ve started to look into, is whether some sort of child-care services at our SQL Saturday event would help encourage more people to attend. My initial thought is, “it’s Saturday, so ideally a spouse can watch kids” or a similar solution. But, that’s assuming every attendee has a spouse or the extra money to hire a babysitter for an entire day. In other words, it’s making a lot of assumptions. There’s definitely some major logistical concerns that I have to continue to explore before we can even think about offering it. But I’m also simply trying to figure out if it would make a difference. Unfortunately, currently for our user group meetings itself, it would not be practical. But even then it may be worth looking into.
On a personal note, I have a friend who had a service dog. She was interested in joining me on a caving trip. So we actually discussed the logistics of it and determined that it was in fact possible to take her caving with her service dog. There was some logistics we had to work out and I did have to get permission from the cave owner. Unfortunately, our scheduling never quite synched up and we had to forego the trip. But the point is, barriers CAN be overcome if one works at them and is willing to be a bit flexible.
Today’s takeaway: What barriers have you looked for and tried to remove? They’re out there, even if you can’t see them.