Posts tagged with “captcha”

Adventures with Chyrp Lite: theming 🐦

Out of the box, Chyrp Lite gave me just about everything I needed to rebuild my blog from the broken pieces of WordPress, but it gave me something else as well: functionality similar to Tumblr, which I find that I like very much. It even includes two themes that are described as "tumbleblog" themes. I especially like the theme called Umbra, as I have always liked dark themes, though I may still change some of the background colors. For example, I may want to modify it so that the background is blue like my main website and the template that I wrote for making basic websites. Still, the default theme called Blossom and the similar Topaz theme had some elements I found missing from Umbra and Sparrow, which are the "tumblelog" themes. I really like how the tumblelog themes have the navigation bar across the top, but I find that they don't show my pages. Not to worry though, it is very easy to modify them.

One thing to note is that the first time I tried to modify a theme by adding my site description as a subheading at the top of the page, the modification didn't appear. I even logged into the server and tried restarting my web services to no avail. I found out though that the reason my modifications were not appearing was due to the fact that my theme layouts were cached. Once I removed the cache folders, my modifications appeared correctly, and the caches never came back. From that point, the elements I wanted in Umbra that are in Blossom were very easy to add. All I needed to do was to first copy Umbra's main folder to a folder of a different name, edit the info.php file to differentiate it from Umbra in my list of themes, then copy the parts of the sidebar that I wanted from Blossom and paste them into my modified Umbra. Now my pages and categories show up on all pages and posts, just as they did in Blossom and Topaz, except across the top instead of going down the side, and my related posts show up underneath the categories on post pages. I decided not to copy the recent posts, since the index page is already showing the five most recent posts, so I don't feel like I need to show the links across the top to posts that are already linked on their titles. Related posts looks useful on individual post pages though, so I kept that feature.

My theming modifications are not complete by any stretch, but this is much easier even than what I did back in the day with Tumblr, and the software is still in active development. I mean I've visited the git repository more than 5 times over the past couple of weeks, and every time I look at the latest commit, it is never more than two days old. As I write this post, the latest commit is 18 hours old. So I'm confident that my new favorite blogging software will continue to be developed and maintained for a good long time. I also have my choice of database back ends, easy theme customization, post types similar to Tumblr, exactly the extensions I need that are all tested and known to work, very little I don't find useful, Markdown posts and pages, categories and free-form tags, screen reader accessibility right out of the box, a nice comment system included, complete with a moderation queue, locally generated text-based math captchas to prevent spam instead of the dreaded image verifications or third-party services, just about everything I could want in a lightweight and compact package. To sum it all up very nicely, I ❤️ Chyrp Lite 🐦

My request for Amazon Mechanical Turk accessibility received a somewhat positive response but needs further attention.

Amazon Mechanical Turk is an open marketplace where businesses and individuals can offer payment for tasks to be done by large groups of people. These tasks are usually more suited to human beings than computers, and are distributed among a large group of people, similar to the way complex computational problems are broken down and distributed among large groups of computers. The available tasks include things such as judging the relevance of search results, separating the events that occur in a sentence and completing short surveys about behavior or perception of products or services. If your work is approved, your earnings are transferred within a couple of days to your Amazon Payments account, which is similar in a lot of ways to PayPal, and can be withdrawn to your bank account or an Amazon gift certificate at any time. Completing these tasks can be a lot of fun and is an easy way to make a little extra cash when you need it. But if you live with blindness or visual impairment, you will quickly run into an image only captcha that you will need to verify repeatedly, usually once or twice a day. Currently, the only way around this is to submit the image to either the WebVisum Firefox plugin or to Solona each time it is presented.

Yesterday I e-mailed their customer support to express the need for an alternative to their image only captcha verification that is accessible to people living with visual impairment. Here is the e-mail I sent in its entirety. Note that the word HIT as it appears in this email stands for Human Intelligence Task.

Once I complete a certain number of HITs, I am asked to type a word that is printed in an image in order to accept the next HIT. Because of my visual impairment, it is very hard to continue from this point. Because there is no audio or other alternative to the visual image, I am forced to send a copy of the image to a server that sends it to a person who can see to read it. The person who reads it sends back the text to be copied and pasted into the word verification text box. This is unduly time consuming, and on Mechanical Turk, time is indeed money. In the past, I have been able to independently solve audio captchas as well as text-based questions based on math and common sense answers. Please implement such an alternative or a mobile phone based or other opt-out method for the Mechanical Turk site.

Thanks, ~Kyle

This morning I received a response from their customer service department, which I am also including here. Some links have been removed for security.


Thank you very much for your feedback. While the and its related websites are generally usable for people with screen readers, we’re always looking for ways to improve usability of the site for all customers, including those with disabilities. To that end, Amazon has formed an alliance with the National Federation of the Blind to work together to improve the accessibility of our websites in the coming months and years.

At this time, the Mechanical Turk website is in “Beta” and does not yet support a non-captcha security verification solution. However, we appreciate your feedback on how we can continue to improve the site, and I’m forwarding your feedback to the team responsible for website accessibility.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us back using the secure form at the following specialized link to ensure we receive your next message:

(link removed)

Thank you for your interest in Mechanical Turk.

Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here: (link removed)

If no, please click here: (link removed)

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Stacy B. Amazon Mechanical Turk

Based on this response, and considering Amazon’s dedication to accessibility on their other sites, it looks promising that the accessibility of the web site, especially the problematic captchas, can and will be fixed in a timely manner. However, it would be greatly beneficial for their team to understand just how many people wish to see better accessibility on this particular Amazon service which is still in public beta at this time.

If you are at all interested in using Amazon Mechanical Turk, or even if you’re not interested in this site, but you benefit from or advocate for general accessibility of web sites to people living with visual impairment, I would urge you to individually contact their customer service department. Feel free to copy and paste any part of my above e-mail or write your own. Also, please share and link to this post and invite as many other people as possible to do the same. Accessibility should be the foremost consideration whenever building a web site or an application. In 2010, there is no longer a reason to make it an afterthought.

Customer Service"