Archive for the ‘MRrSoftware’ Category

Using Twitter and Clients with No Eyes

June 6, 2009

I have previously wrote an article about the popularity of the web-based mini blogging social network that has taken off in the past two years.

Briefly, Twitter gives you 140 characters to tell your “followers” what you are doing. even the text box at the top of the page where you input your mini blog asks,
“What are you doing?”

An odd conception to say the least but it’s addicting, informative and incredibly fun. Bringing many people together whether it be celebrities, friends, colleagues, or even organisations such as news networks, companies, sports teams, Twitter is there to give you all the information you could possibly want. Follow who you like and allow others to follow you and this ingenious way of communicating brings the technical world that bit closer.

As this is a blog about accessibility, I am going to discuss a few different ways you can get your daily fix of tweeting. First of all you can visit the The twitter Website and tweet directly from the web. On the whole this is a fantastic and obvious way to tweet although some of the features are hard to do with voice over, such as retweet, direct message without going through a whole lot of links and pages to do so. Following and unfollowing a person is relatively straight forward with the find friend feature on the website with no major issues once you’ve found who you want to follow and hit the follow button, you’re then “following” that person and proceed to receive tweets from that person. Unfollowing is just as straight forward, go to that person’s profile and hit block and an option to continue to follow or unfollow is given. Very straight forward and uncomplicated.

Another web-based twitter client is Accessible twitter which as it says gives the users more options that the regular twitter does not. The site is laid out so navigation short cut keys used by a screen reader user are plentiful. The ability to jump from one part of the page to another works well and there is a really cool feature that warns you how many characters you have left after a certain point. Under each tweet, options to reply, retweet, send a direct message or make a favourite are listed making it easier than ever to do whatever functions you desire.

Even though accessible twitter has a search option, I could find no direct way to search for friends like you can on the regular twitter website. Maybe I’m missing it altogether and I do assume that the search option aids in searching for people too but if you have a common user name you’re looking for, it might get a little tedious to search through all of the results. Again, I may have missed that particular option but it is not obvious on the home page.

Next I am going to talk about the first twitter application I used on the mac. Twitterific. This application is clean, straight forward and completely accessible. After downloading, enter your twitter user name and password, set the options like how often you want it to check for new tweets, the noise it will make when new tweets arrive, etc. The tweets appear in a table and you always start where you left off in the previous session. Replying, sending direct messages can all be done from the twitterific application. However, that is where your functionality pretty much ends. The only things you can do is add as favourite and refresh tweets or mark all tweets as read.

As I said earlier, the functions that are popular on the accessible twitter site include retweet which was not including in twitterific.

Enter Syrinx.

Syrinx like Twitterific is a desk top twitter client and has a bunch of features that are non existent in twitterific. Retweeting is just one of them. It has everything Twitterific has and more. It was not too accessible when I first looked at the application But after emailing the developer, MRRSoftware, a few days later an update was released and the inaccessible components had been fixed. The tweet list now has the names of the tweeters before the tweets which didn’t happen previously. A cool feature that it does have that you can follow and unfollow people right in the application. Syrinx has all the possibilities you would want from a twitter application. You are able to search within the app and add favourites, all the things people would love to do. The book mark feature works so you can book mark the newest tweet, allowing you to stay after the point of the tweets you have already read.
Another feature it possesses that Twitterific does not which is vital for someone like me who loves to share articles I’ve read/written ETC is the URL shortening feature. With other clients, it has been implemented but in the accessibility ones it has not until Syrinx. It’s a great feature and it works all from your keyboard.

The only feature it currently does not have is trending topics that other inaccessible twitter clients boast about. But who knows what the future will bring? When you have developers willing to make an app accessible, anything is possible.

So personally, if you don’t want to have safari open all the time and you need alerting when a friend has tweeted, go and download Syrinx. It’s fun, friendly and above all accessible. Although twitterific is good in the sense that it runs purely in the background but just hide Syrinx if you don’t want it up front all of the time. Both applications are great with pure use of the keyboard and both implement short cuts so it all works very well. But now I have Syrinx, I can’t see me going back.

Some useful links

Twitter home page
Accessible Twitter
Icon factory and twitterific
MRRSoftware and Syrinx

and of course you can follow me on twitter
follow me on Twitter

any comments will be welcomed as long as they’re constructive.
M.J