Archive for geek

The Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors
November 16th, 2011 | Link

Since I mentioned some volunteer projects recently, I thought I’d talk about the one that launched last month.

I work for Salesforce. It’s a fairly large software company; as I write this it’s growing and for the last several years has been in Forbes magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. One of the things that earns the company that ranking is Salesforce’s 1:1:1 model, which is this: 1% of Salesforce’s product is free to non-profits in the form of donated or discounted licenses; 1% of the founding stock was placed in a foundation to be used in grants; and 1% of each employee’s time is made available to volunteer with non-profits of their choice.

That last part means that each Salesforce employee receives 6 paid days off per year to volunteer. But during my first couple years at Salesforce I found it hard to make time for volunteering outside of the 2-3 corporate team-building events my team participated in. So this year I made it a goal to use all my hours.

Enter the Bay Area Association for Disabled Sailors (BAADS), a local non-profit that offers sailing programs to people with disabilities, fostering independence, confidence and a whole lot of fun.

Ironically, BAADS’ website wasn’t accessible to members with certain disabilities: the screen reader software used by blind and visually impaired users to read web pages couldn’t access some of the content. Additionally, the site was full of broken links, and the content was outdated: any time BAADS wanted to make a change they had to pay the consultant that had developed the site to do it, so they’d save up several changes and then there would be some delay before the changes were actually done.

Old BAADS Website

One of the things I do at Salesforce is participate in a workgroup that works to make our web-based software accessible to users with disabilities. I’m also a bit of a WordPress geek (the content management software I use for this blog). And one of BAADS’ board members happens to be my neighbor. So I devoted my volunteer hours to setting BAADS up on WordPress so they could update their own content, and creating a WordPress theme (the wrapper that handles layout and style for a website) that would be accessible to all of BAADS members.

Last month, after many hours of work, the new BAADS site went live. (Yay!) The visual design was provided by one of Salesforce’s visual designers, Grant Anderson. There are many things that I could explain about why the new design is more accessible than the old one, but I’m saving those for a post on my other blog, where I usually geek out over such things.

New BAADS Website

I’m pleased with the way everything turned out. Between this and another volunteer project this year, I turned in more than 100 volunteer hours — well over the paid 1%, but totally worth what I learned through the process and the satisfaction of helping a great group of people. And BAADS is thrilled. Everybody wins.

Bartering Lines
March 8th, 2007 | Link

One of my coworkers, Jos, made one of my other coworkers (or actually, her bandmate) a steel device to help in measuring sound waves. It has a flat round base with a rocket-ship-shaped thing welded to it, the tip of which is really pointy and sharp. How pointy and sharp? Well, let’s just say that after playing with it for a bit the other day it’s a good thing I’m up to date on my tetanus shot.

On what would normally be a completely unrelated note, I finished a bunch of new photo albums last night (starting here on Flickr) and brought them in to work today to show to yet another coworker. And since Jos has a deep respect for handmade things (he’s building his own electric car) and he happened to ask whether I’d made any new books lately, I showed them to him, too.

When I first picked up the pointy sound-wave-measuring device, one of the first things that came to mind was that the base would make a good weight for bookbinding. It’s the right size, and heavy (being steel), and would be perfect for weighing down sections while I’m sewing. I bought two three-pound weights from Hollander’s a couple of months ago and those have worked out well, but I would like more, perhaps heavier, weights and between the cost of the actual weights and the added cost of shipping them I have held off getting any.

While Jos was looking at my books I asked where he’d gotten the steel for the sound-wave thingy, and what grew from that was a barter. He is going to make me a couple of steel weights to my specifications, with welded-on handles; in exchange, I will make him a custom photo album. I’m super excited about the idea. Bartering just seems so much cooler than selling.



My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


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