Elgan: Post on Twitter by talking into a phone

Here's the easiest new way to tweet: Hit speed dial, talk, and hang up

Microblogging on Twitter is great. But sometimes you're just too busy to sit down and type that 140-character tweet. Maybe you're climbing a volcano, sprinting through the airport or running a marathon and just can't stop to type. Here's how to post on Twitter using only a voice phone call.

No, to the best of my knowledge, there is no single service (yet!) that takes your voice mail, transcribes it into text and posts that message on Twitter. But there are two services that, when used together, do exactly that. And like Twitter itself, they're both free.

The process is simple in concept. A free new service called reQall gives you a toll-free number and lets you leave a message to yourself. (It's a lot like Jott.) The reQall service transcribes that message into text, and makes that text available in several formats, including Real Simple Syndication.

Another, unrelated service called TwitterFeed takes any RSS feed and pushes it out as a series of Twitter posts, or tweets.

When you combine reQall with TwitterFeed, you simply call a number, talk, and hang up. What you said on the phone is broadcast over Twitter as a normal tweet. Sweet!

Also note that setting up these services for voice tweets doesn't replace the normal typing process for Twitter. You can still send tweets the old-fashioned way. It simply adds another option that you can use whenever you like.

Here's how to do it.

Step 1. Set up a Twitter account. Go to Twitter.com and click on "Join the conversation." Enter a username, password and e-mail address, and type in the "Captcha" text, then click "I accept. Create my account."

Step 2. Set up a reQall account. Go to reQall.com, and click on the appropriate regional link next to the "Sign up Now" starburst. Add your name, e-mail address, cell phone number, user ID and password. Fill in the "characters" box. Click the terms and conditions check box, then click the "Sign-up" button. Click on the "Settings" link in the upper right corner, then on the "Feed" bar on the left. Make sure the "RSS feed of my reQall posts" is checked. Click on the RSS button, then select and copy the URL of your feed.

Step 3. Set up a TwitterFeed account. Go to TwitterFeed.com and click on "Login to twitterfeed." Add your OpenID, or follow the instructions to create one. Once you've logged in, click on "go to my twitter feeds." Click "Create new twitter feed." Enter your Twitter username and password, then paste in the RSS feed address from reQall. Change the "Update frequency" to every half hour, and leave the "5 new updates" each time as is. Change the "Include" item to "title only," and uncheck the "include item link" item. Leave the "Post new items based on" default as "pubDate." Leave the "Prefix each tweet with" box blank. Make sure the "Active" box is checked, and click the "Create" button.

You're done! Because this is a "set it and forget it" process, you won't have to log in, type anything or mess around with your settings in the future.

The best thing about the ability to call in your tweets is that now you can "live blog" activities that require full use of your typing fingers. People love to post Twitter updates of their adventures. Now you can send live, real-time Twitter updates while rock-climbing, jogging, fishing or flying a kite.

There are two downsides to posting Twitter tweets via voice call. The first is that reQall may occasionally mistranscribe your message. The service is very good, but sometimes doesn't get it right. Just inform your followers that you're sending tweets by voice call, and they'll forgive occasionally garbled tweets.

The second downside is that it can take between five and 45 minutes for your Tweet to appear because both reQall and TwitterFeed take some time to process, and TwitterFeed checks your RSS feed at a minimum frequency of every 30 minutes.

One final note: All these services -- Twitter, TwitterFeed and reQall -- come highly recommended even if you don't set them up for voice tweets. For example, reQall is an extremely powerful new voice-based productivity tool for those so inclined. Look at what you can do with reQall.

In the meantime, I'll see you on Twitter! (Follow me at twitter.com/mike_elgan -- and drop me a Direct Message to let me know how you like calling in your tweets.)

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. He blogs about the technology needs, desires and successes of mobile warriors in his Computerworld blog, The World Is My Office. Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com, follow him on Twitter or his blog, The Raw Feed.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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