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Etc. / Re: General rules for filling in a grid?
« Last post by RichP on January 09, 2016, 12:24:38 AM »
A couple of ideas after you have followed Thomps2525's excellent suggestions . . . when adding strings of 2 or 3 black squares to a 15 x 15 you might try positioning them around the top and bottom of the 5th and 10th column for three discrete sections of 4-5 letter words across the top and bottom of the puzzle (or the 8th column for 7 letter words). You'll then have an idea of where other black squares need to go in the center to complete your grid. I find it helpful to start with words that bisect 2 or more themed answers, particularly where those crossings will result in a word with awkward letter combinations (e.g. a "y" and a "y"). If you can't find good words for those crossings, it may be necessary to fiddle with the positioning of your themed clues. Once the difficult crossings are resolved, I like to work the section nearest the most difficult crossing (i.e. with the fewest alternate words that could be substituted to complete the crossing) to make sure that I can find clean fill for that section.
Software / Technical / Re: Comparison of CW Construction Software
« Last post by RichP on January 08, 2016, 11:44:09 PM »
Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion!
Today's Puzzles / A message about the January 3 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on January 03, 2016, 03:12:32 PM »
The title of today's crossword by C.C. Burnikel, "Online Chat," pretty much gives the theme away. "GroupMe exchanges, briefly" is IMS and the eight longest answers are phrases with the initials I and M, including ICEMACHINE, IRONMAIDEN, INNERMONGOLIA and IDINAMENZEL (not "Adele Dazeem," as John Travolta called her at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony).

IM means "Instant Message" or "Instant Messaging." The technology that allows computer users to send messages back and forth was developed in the mid-1970s and first used on PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations), a private instructional network established in 1960 at the University of Illinois. The PLATO system allowed students at UI and other universities to learn Latin, chemistry and other subjects via computer. Instant Messaging technology was popularized in 1996 by the Israeli-based company ICQ (pronounced "I seek you"). At its peak, ICQ was used by more than 100,000,000 people worldwide. ICQ is now owned by the Russian Internet company GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app developed in 2010 and now owned by Microsoft.

And don't worry---none of the above information will be on the final exam. :)

Today's puzzle includes a higher-than-usual number of individual black squares -- 19 -- and a higher-than-usual number of foreign words: AMIE, ELREY ("The king of Spain?"), ESA, HAJJ, IDEE, MONTE, MUSEE, NIE ("Never, to Nietzsche"), ORO and SENAT ("Haiti governing group"). A cute clue was "Spot check?" for LEASH. A disgusting answer was POOP, for "Skinny." Both words are slang for "inside information" (among other things) but this section of the grid could easily have been reworked so COOP, HOOP, LOOP or BOOP (as in "Betty Boop") could have been used instead of POOP. Gak!
General Support / Re: Kevin McCann, Your Email Doesn't Work
« Last post by jackburden on January 03, 2016, 12:49:20 PM »
I sent a test email to Kevin's address 3 hours ago and have not received any error messages.

David, can you try from a different email account and see if you still get the error?
Software / Technical / Re: Is CrossFire still alive?
« Last post by ahimsa on January 01, 2016, 07:13:23 PM »
Thanks for the update on CrossFire, qwrrty.

I'm still using it on Yosemite so it's good to know it works on the latest OS version.
Today's Puzzles / I have a beef with the December 29 crossword
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 29, 2015, 04:53:35 PM »
In today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Mary Lou Guizzo, "'We have the meats' fast-food chain" is ARBYS. Yes, "We have the meats" is a really dumb slogan. Anyway, ARBYS is a "homophonic hint to the six longest puzzle answers," all of which are two-word phrases with the initials RB: ROYALBLUE, RACINGBIKE, ROGERBACON, RODEOBULL, RUSTBUCKET ("Dilapidated ship") and ROOFTOPBAR ("Tavern with a view").

The first Arby's was opened in 1964 in Boardman, Ohio. Many people think the name "Arby" represents "RB" for "roast beef." Indeed, in the 1980s the company's slogan was "America's roast beef, yes sir" (A-r-b-y-s). But the name actually stands for the Raffel Brothers, Forrest and Leroy, who founded the chain. There are now around 3500 Arby's restaurants in the United States and Canada. The chain is jointly owned by Wendy's Restaurants and Roark Capital Group.

The theme of Gary Cee's Daily News crossword is SPINCYCLE ("Washer action") and the four long answers include the letters S, P, I and N in various orders:

1978 Cheech & Chong comedy: UPINSMOKE
Academy Award winner for American Beauty: KEVINSPACEY
Gilbert & Sullivan operetta set on a ship: HMSPINAFORE
Besides Charlie Chaplin, only director on Time's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century: STEVENSPIELBERG

And that may well be the longest clue in crossword puzzle history!

The Universal crossword includes STEPSISTERS, ELEVATORMAN and ESCALATORCLAUSE. What---no phrase beginning with STAIR? An escalator clause, also known as an escalation clause, is a contract stipulation which allows for one person to pass rising costs on to another. It is explained at

And are there any hotels or department stores which still have elevator operators? I can't imagine a hotel owner paying $50,000 a year for someone to stay in an elevator just to push buttons which the guests are perfectly capable of pushing.

Today's NEA crossword has more three-letter words than usual. Among them are the overused words ADE, AIL, ARC, ATE, ESA (not used in English), LEA, ODE and RYE. At least there was no ALE or IRE or SPA. Maybe tomorrow.

I hope everyone has a happy 2016. I would love to see more people posting here. It's simple: You solve a crossword, then you talk about it. Of course nobody has to be as verbose as I am, but.......
Software / Technical / Re: Is CrossFire still alive?
« Last post by qwrrty on December 29, 2015, 03:41:36 PM »
I realize this is an ancient thread, but just in case anyone else runs across this when searching for information about CrossFire on the Mac:

CrossFire does continue to work on the Mac. I am currently using it on OS X 10.11.1 (El Capitan). The most recent CrossFire release is based on Java 6, which requires installing a legacy Java runtime from Apple, but it still works.

The warning " can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer" is the result of Apple allowing by default only apps from registered Apple developers to run. It is easy to work around: when the dialog comes up, you may click the "Open" button to open the app anyway.
General Support / Re: Kevin McCann, Your Email Doesn't Work
« Last post by David Bywaters on December 28, 2015, 11:12:42 AM »
I have tried again, with the same result:

Mail Delivery Subsystem <>
2:23 PM (20 hours ago)
to me
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the server for the recipient domain by [].

The error that the other server returned was:
454 4.7.0 TLS not available due to local problem
Today's Puzzles / Re: Merry Christmas and Good-bye
« Last post by magus on December 26, 2015, 12:32:30 PM »
Thanks, Steve.
Today's Puzzles / Re: Merry Christmas and Good-bye
« Last post by Thomps2525 on December 25, 2015, 04:06:47 PM »
Would this be the same Los Angeles Times which today ran a lengthy column titled "Naughty and nice of 2015"? The "naughty list" included Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who is a Christian and believes homosexuality is a sin and refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The "nice list" included the Supreme Court for legalizing same-sex marriage and the state of Nebraska for abolishing the death penalty. I am not surprised that this leftist newspaper would not have a Christmas-themed crossword. I was slightly surprised, however, that the "Naughty and nice" column ended with these words: "Merry Christmas, everybody. Here's hoping that your nice list is a long one."

The crossword included four familiar phrases but with two consonants reversed:

Word game for beginners? SCRABBLELITE
Memoirs of an African river explorer? IWALKTHENILE
Radial destroyed during testing? SACRIFICIALTIRE
Ordinary little insect? STANDARDMITE

But "It starts in juin" as a clue for ETE? The overuse of the French word for "summer" in crossword puzzles is bad enough, and now it's clued with another French word? And the French word AMI was also in the crossword. My wish for everyone is for a happy Christmas.  My wish for crossword creators is that they can find enough English words to fill the grids without having to resort to French, Greek, Latin, Italian, German and Spanish words. My wish for Mister Magus is that he finds another source for crosswords, ones which he will find more challenging. Check out the archived crosswords---easy, medium and difficult---on the website of New York Times puzzle creator Brendan Emmett Quigley. Print them out and have fun!
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