All demons of Glafira Zhur

All demons of Glafira Zhur

Glafira came in sight of LvivCSS Live a long time ago — we’ve seen her being retweeted by the organizers of the MinskCSS and MinskJS communities on Twitter. Later, we began to follow her and her passion for accessibility — practices that make your website easier to be used by as many people as possible.

Recently, literally, everyone is talking about accessibility, and accessibility of your website now even influences the quality of its output in search engines.

So, we decided to talk to a person who is so bright and dedicated to these issues and so sincerely devotes her time to spreading the ideas and practices of accessibility among developers.

Hello, Glafira! How are you, how are you doing? Ready for a serious conversation?

Hi! Whew... Just now, I was killed three times while passing the portal in Diablo III, so yes, I'm cheerful and ready!

Okay, then we have no doubts you are in the most serious mood, so let's start, and our first question that interests everyone is how did you get into the frontend?

In terms of profession, I followed my father all my life. He is a manager, a violinist, and a computer technician, so by the age of twelve, I had already played violin for five years, tinkered with piles of computer parts, and forced my brother to wash the dishes for me.

Today my dad is a freight forwarder and a car mechanic, so I don't even know what it can lead me to!

At the age of fourteen, I was already installing Windows 95/98. Of course, I was doing it at night, it took so long, I had to relax and lean back in my chair.

Glafira, just Glafira.
Glafira, just Glafira.

I used to spend all my family money on the Internet, chatting until the very morning. My nickname in the chats was "Countess Glafira" and no one believed that this was my real name!

And then I suddenly began to create forum RPGs with HTML / CSS.

My grandmother worked as a programmer in a bank. She told me not to follow her path because if I put on a sweater and jeans, I will never take them off because this is the way! So, I resolutely put off the music and went to study to be a programmer. Enough of skirts and dresses.

And now I'm a front-end developer with music and writing experience — making FRPGs I also had to write characters and plots! I'm a happy person who believes that you need to do better, more, stronger every second!

You organize events. Please tell us about your experience, pros and cons, pitfalls, as if we know nothing about it.

Hahaha! Well...

I have been involved in the organization of IT events for two years now (it sounds big).

Glasha & Sasha. Fromtend Live 2020 backstage.
Glasha & Sasha. Frontend Live 2020 backstage.

But when I finally got to a more serious level, COVID came and told us sternly: „Wrap it up, folks, it's time to rest!”. So, two conferences where I had to be the organizer didn't happen.

We are making very warm and highly moral and expert meetups here in Minsk. I always wonder how cool our talks are and how useful it has been to do it from the inside. Develop soft skills — that's quite a feat!

The biggest upside — cool networking!

Even now, online, you still feel it. I conducted my own meet-up on accessibility and those whom we usually saw only on the pictures, participated! In addition to networking — there is energy. I get it from how the talk changes from run to run with your help.

Speaking of the pitfalls and disadvantages — the organization takes a lot of effort and time, and it's not always possible to properly combine this with work. But now I have a four-day work week and I feel much freer! It would be great to also stop planning meetups for Thursday before the weekend on Friday…

Happy faces of MinskCSS #5 attendees.
Happy faces of MinskCSS #5 attendees.

Let us be honest, the Minsk community is the object of our envy and the platonic onelove. Please tell us about your participation in MinskCSS and Accessibility Club Minsk.

I came to MinskCSS/MinskJS through conferences, Twitter, and the team that did these cool meetups.

At first, I was fascinated by their talks, then I dared to apply for a talk, and later I got a job at the company (LOVATA), where some of the organizers worked. And so it began…

I don't know why I want to work in this field so much. There is a lot of design, a lot of thoughts about other people, a lot of new energy and understanding.

It was in this company that I had my first experience with accessibility and there I was fascinated by the ideas of quality code and semantic layout. It was cool to use the latest technology and learn the principles of accessibility; I gained a lot of important experience there and swam on.

Once, after a trip to Sweden, when I was tired, unemployed, I sat at night and thought I didn't want to do anything anymore, I didn't even want to code for at least a year, but my fingers independently accepted the offer for an accessibility expert position and created an Accessibility Club Minsk Twitter account.‌

To not prepare before talk at Frontent Live 2020, Glafira just sit there and takes selfies.
To not prepare before talk at Frontend Live 2020, Glafira just sits there and takes selfies.

Now we have a whole community! Unfortunately, the first meetup coincided with COVID, and we even chose a place with a wheelchair ramp! I was terribly worried because I had to move everything to online! And then a blind guy came to us, and we got an amazing feedback from him!

‌On December 10, the second meetup was held, 4 speakers, three of them spoke for the first time. It takes a lot of time to prepare even one speaker, and here are as many as three newcomers! But we survived, and I realized how much I love independent and smart developers, also interested in accessibility!

And yet, where does such interest in Accessibility come from?

I don't know why I want to work in this field so much. There is a lot of design, a lot of thoughts about other people, a lot of new energy and understanding. Worlds that need to be united! And in general — I am a Virgo by horoscope! I love logic, straightforwardness, and concrete steps.

In the field of accessibility, it's impossible to work without specificity and directness. Getting out and looking for detours, some “polite”, off the mark words — that's no good. And here it is basically necessary to act, instead of speaking. It speaks to me.

And you also can command developers!

And most importantly — no matter how it may sound, but I like to be, so to speak, outstanding. I believe that I can bring important things into the world (I do mean globally), if not by leading the army, then just as a coy commander :) I feel support, growing interest, I'm ready to give myself to a good cause! And this is fine!

One of your main hobbies is playing the violin. How did you learn to play, and how do you find time for this hobby now?

I studied violin for 9 years at a music school. They predicted a bright future for me, but in the end, I upset everyone — I decided to leave when I had just tasted the game. Moreover, it used to be more of duty: to practice-to perform-to practice.

With „Čaradźej” musical troupe.
With „Čaradźej” musical troupe.

I'm not leaving it now. I have two violins — acoustics and electronic (although these are two Frankenstein monsters, they exchanged their parts). Before the COVID, I played twice in the rock opera „Čaradźej” (Wizard) here in Minsk, and then again at the mini festival. After not practicing for so many years, it's very difficult.

Our undisputed favourite of your hobbies is Diablo. How many times have you managed to defeat the Lord of Destruction?

It all started with Diablo, and I never went through it completely, as, in fact, Diablo II — the fifth act is very difficult (and Glasha isn't good at levelling). Now I have passed Diablo III 1,000 times (my favourite classes are Necro and DH), I killed Diablo in 2 seconds. I'm learning to grind!

By the way, I'm a terrible introvert, and I've been playing for several years, but it was only recently when I decided to play online. Oh, if I only knew that you could upgrade so fast :) Well, yes, from the 15th season I try to participate in each new season. Now I'm still mastering the craft. And I didn't give up on it! But it's good enough for streaming for donates.

Glafira destroys Blizzard development team.
Glafira destroys Blizzard development team.

Diablo for me is the last bastion of peace, I go to it in moments of the darkest despair. My aunt has a son, a gamer (and a future programmer), so, looking at me, who spends hours on the portals, she realizes that not everything is lost.

From virtual worlds to printed worlds. Please share with us the latest books that have influenced or impressed you the most.

As for professional literature, everyone was impressed by the book "Grokking Algorithms", and I wasn’t an exception. The book took me back to college for an algorithms class (where I didn’t understand anything) and explained everything normally. At the age of 27, I finally understood a binary search — so much for a programmer! I want to read more professional literature.

As soon as you start thinking about yourself, you will immediately influence others, and they themselves will reach for a better life. Win-win

Now I read amusedly articles about accessibility (A11Y Project and Smashing Magazine newsletter). There all these small details like alt-text for pictures over time begin to form a coherent picture. There is understanding, and with it goes an inspiration.

A11Y Project is an incredibly cool project. The newsletter includes all the latest news from the world of accessibility! It's a huge pleasure to read.

Everyone knows about Smashing Magazine, but not everyone is subscribed to their newsletter. But it's a five-star! It's not just about accessibility, but the fact that this topic appears there quite often is very cool.

But I also read fiction. And my favourites are Olha Hromyko and Robin Hobb. I have loved Olha since childhood, and she doesn't get worse with time. Yes, those are silly fantasy books, but I'm crying over them quite good :) Robin Hobb — she is my discovery of the year. I didn’t calm down until I read all the books about Fitz and the Fool. And these are 12 thick books.

Do you have any plans for the near future, given these turbulent times?

So, my five-year plan includes:

With work/life balance mentor

And finally — three main tips for our readers.‌

So, I am ready to share my life experience, listen:

  1. Take care of yourself. As soon as you start thinking about yourself, you will immediately influence others, and they themselves will reach for a better life. Win-win
  2. Use semantics in HTML!
  3. And the classics — give your piece of advice to yourself

It was an incredibly interesting Twitter interview! Thank you, Glafira, for our conversation! Today we say goodbye to you and our readers, but we hope very, very, very much to meet you next year in Lviv!

For me, this is a completely new format, and I've heard only the best (and delicious) about LvivCSS, this is a legendary conference!

Thanks for the invitation, invite me again!

Twitterview from December 11, 2020 (original language — RU)