Dictionary Lookups in Black Ink

March 27th, 2020

Crossword lovers enjoy Black Ink’s beautifully rendered puzzle grids, elegant solving dynamics, and the ease with which you can download and solve puzzles right on your Mac. But there are many other features lurking just beneath the surface.

One lesser-known capability leans on the brilliant system-wide dictionary lookup service that Apple provides, built-in to every Mac. If you’re not familiar with it, try it out as soon as you can: just hold the Command, Control and D keys while the mouse cursor on your Mac is hovering over some text. A dictionary lookup is performed and the results bounce to life right before your eyes. Pretty neat, huh?

Black Ink offers several features that give you some help when you’re stumped with a puzzle. There are options to check the accuracy of an entry you’ve made, and integration with the popular OneAcross.com service, which helps to suggest possible answers based on your current entries. When all else fails, you can even ask Black Ink to reveal the answer for any cell in the grid.

But sometimes the challenge isn’t so much in figuring out the answer, as it is in figuring out the clue itself. I took care in developing Black Ink that the same dictionary lookup functionality can be applied to the clues of a puzzle you’re in the midst of solving, so that you have a sporting chance of guessing the answer.

For example, many of the world’s most famous puzzles are American, and include clues that are aimed at an American audience. For folks elsewhere in the world who still enjoy the puzzles, it could be perplexing to come across a clue like “Betty Crocker product”. Now, I know who Betty Crocker is, but if you’re not from the United States, I’m not sure you do! Not a problem, just hold down Command, Control, and D. Because Wikipedia is configured as one of the dictionary lookup sources, I get this useful result:

Screenshot of Black Ink crossword app with the words

Aha, Betty Crocker is a famous brand food products company in the US. This summary doesn’t completely convey the cultural knowledge of what Betty Crocker means to the average American, but it’s at least a good head start in figuring out the answer to this clue, which happens to be CAKEMIX.

One of the things I love about solving crossword puzzles myself is that they are at once a challenge of my existing knowledge, and a means of increasing it. Of course I try to answer every clue without assistance, but when a “Betty Crocker” comes along, I know just what to do to level the playing field.

MarsEdit 4.3.7: Fixes for Apple Photos and Lightroom Integration

March 12th, 2020

MarsEdit 4.3.7 is now available on the MarsEdit site and on the Mac App Store.

This update addresses a few issues related to media management in the app, mainly to fix an issue that prevented some users’ Apple Photos library from appearing in the Media Manager, and to update support for Lightroom integration to work with more recent versions of Lightroom.

Here’s the complete list of changes for this release:

  • Fix a problem that could cause Photos library to appear empty in the Media Manager
  • Update Lightroom integration to support Lightroom CC 9
  • Fix a bug that caused some images to be rotated wrong when all metadata is preserved
  • Work around a system bug that caused artifacts to remain on the screen after deselecting text

If you enjoy MarsEdit, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter, and of course, writing about the app on your own blog! Thanks for your support.

Black Ink 2.0.3: Printing Improvements & More

March 5th, 2020

Black Ink 2.0.3 is now available on the Black Ink home page and on the Mac App Store.

While most people love Black Ink for its digital solving features, it’s also an excellent tool for printing. Whether you’re practicing for the ACPT, or you just want to spend a little time away from your screens, turn to Black Ink for an effortless paper rendition of your favorite puzzles.

When you print a puzzle, you get Black Ink’s usual beautiful grid rendering, along with a sophisticated clue layout algorithm, and many options for fine-tuning the content and positioning of the puzzle’s elements:

Screenshot of Black Ink's printing options

This update includes a variety of small improvements to the printing feature, as well as a number of other important fixes to improve the usability and reliability of the app:

  • General improvements to puzzle printing
  • Fixed a bug that caused puzzle clues to print in bold when fitting to a single page
  • Fixed the appearance of the Puzzle Notes when Dark Mode is enabled
  • Improved the centering of circles when drawn in puzzle squares
  • Decreased the severity of the shadow drawn on text in selected cells
  • Fixed a bug that caused the last row/column to be slightly shorter/narrower than other cells
  • Typing a clue number to jump to a clue now favors the clue in the same direction as currently selected clue
  • Removed Emoji & Symbols menu item since it’s not used for puzzle answer entry
  • Direct navigation by typing clue number now favors the orientation where the answer is not yet entered

If you enjoy Black Ink, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, or spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Questions or concerns? Get in touch at support@red-sweater.com. Thank you.

TidBITS Reviews Black Ink 2

March 3rd, 2020

Connie Laubenthal has a thoughtful review of Black Ink 2 over at TidBITS. She particularly appreciates the check and reveal features:

I love using this option when I get stuck, particularly when the clue has to do with a person who is popular in an area I’m not familiar with, such as a particular movie or music genre. It saves me from having to resort to one of the many crossword puzzle answer Web sites. Some may call this cheating, but I solve crossword puzzles for entertainment, not for competition.

Laubenthal goes on to mention features such as the timer, for gauging how long it takes to (hopefully!) solve a puzzle, and recognizes that the app offers features for solvers ranging from beginner to advanced.

Thanks to TidBITS for reviewing Black Ink 2!