Red Sweater Blog https://red-sweater.com/blog Official blog of Red Sweater Software Fri, 27 Mar 2020 19:11:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Dictionary Lookups in Black Ink https://red-sweater.com/blog/3570/dictionary-lookups-in-black-ink https://red-sweater.com/blog/3570/dictionary-lookups-in-black-ink#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2020 19:04:55 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3570 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 […]

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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.

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MarsEdit 4.3.7: Fixes for Apple Photos and Lightroom Integration https://red-sweater.com/blog/3567/marsedit-4-3-7-fixes-for-apple-photos-and-lightroom-integration Thu, 12 Mar 2020 13:18:37 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3567 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 […]

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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.

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Black Ink 2.0.3: Printing Improvements & More https://red-sweater.com/blog/3561/black-ink-2-0-3-printing-improvements-more Thu, 05 Mar 2020 14:09:59 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3561 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, […]

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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.

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TidBITS Reviews Black Ink 2 https://red-sweater.com/blog/3559/tidbits-reviews-black-ink-2 Wed, 04 Mar 2020 00:25:58 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3559 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 […]

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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!

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Protecting Your Privacy with Metadata Removal https://red-sweater.com/blog/3551/protecting-your-privacy-with-metadata-removal Fri, 14 Feb 2020 20:36:15 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3551 These days people are increasingly aware of the impact that publishing information on the web has on our privacy as individuals. Each of us has our own personal comfort level with respect to the amount of information we share. In particular, as bloggers we choose to share or withhold details including our real names, gender, […]

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These days people are increasingly aware of the impact that publishing information on the web has on our privacy as individuals. Each of us has our own personal comfort level with respect to the amount of information we share. In particular, as bloggers we choose to share or withhold details including our real names, gender, geographic location, political affiliation, family members, and perhaps most significantly, photographs of ourselves, our family members, and our surroundings.

If you choose to publish photos in your blog posts, it’s important to understand that image metadata may reveal more to your blog’s readers than you necessarily intended. For example, many bloggers are comfortable sharing a photo of their child playing in the grass in their backyard. Or a delicious latte from the cafe they stop at on the way to work. It’s not as if it literally show the address where these photos were taken. Yet when GPS metadata is present on photos it effectively does exactly that.

For example, here’s a delicious tofu banh-mi sandwich I once enjoyed:

Picture of a banh mi sandwich

Nothing obviously identifies the location where this picture was taken, yet it’s loaded with extremely detailed geographic information. If you’re curious, go ahead and right-click the image above, save it to your Mac, and open it in Preview. If you then select Tools -> Show Inspector, you’ll see a ton of additional information about the image:

Screenshot of Info panel for image showing a map of Paris

That’s right! If I had published a blog post with that photo shortly after enjoying the sandwich, somebody might have been able to catch up with me in Paris and introduce themselves! It might have been a friendly encounter, or it might have been … kind of creepy.

So, what can you do about this? You could turn off GPS features of your camera and/or phone, but the truth is it’s really handy to be able to look up the location of photos from our personal libraries. Alternatively you could use software such as Flying Meat’s Retrobatch, which includes a preset template called “Social Scrub” specifically for removing metadata from images.

But if you’re a blogger, and you use MarsEdit to publish your posts, it couldn’t be easier. In fact, MarsEdit includes an option to strip location and other metadata from images automatically, whenever you upload an image to your blog:

Screenshot of MarsEdit image media defaults including an option to remove metadata

Better yet? This option is enabled by default. So download MarsEdit today, start publishing images to your blog, and rest assured that unless you choose to share your location, you never will.

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FastScripts 2.8.1: Bug Fixes & Performance https://red-sweater.com/blog/3545/fastscripts-2-8-1-bug-fixes-performance Thu, 23 Jan 2020 20:46:15 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3545 FastScripts 2.8.1 is now available on the FastScripts site and on the Mac App Store. This update consists of minor bug fixes and performance improvements: The keyboard shortcut for opening the FastScripts menu can now be set to “None” Fix a bug that allowed the Preferences window to be resized too small to show the […]

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FastScripts 2.8.1 is now available on the FastScripts site and on the Mac App Store.

This update consists of minor bug fixes and performance improvements:

  • The keyboard shortcut for opening the FastScripts menu can now be set to “None”
  • Fix a bug that allowed the Preferences window to be resized too small to show the contents
  • Fix an issue that could impede scripts being run in quick succession with keyboard shortcuts
  • Fix an issue where the color chooser panel could be lost in the background if switching out of FastScripts while the Prefrences window is active
  • FastScript’s AppleScript interface now supports a “location” property on script library references, so you can obtain the file path to any node in its script hierarchy

If you enjoy FastScripts, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks for your support.

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MarsEdit 4.3.6: Phasing Out Blogger.com Support https://red-sweater.com/blog/3540/phasing-out-blogger Fri, 17 Jan 2020 20:03:26 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3540 MarsEdit 4.3.6 is now available on the MarsEdit home page. It was submitted to the Mac App Store but has not yet been approved. With this release, I’m officially dropping support for Blogger.com. Existing configurations may continue to work, but attempts to authorize new connections will fail. This is because Google no longer supports the […]

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MarsEdit 4.3.6 is now available on the MarsEdit home page. It was submitted to the Mac App Store but has not yet been approved.

With this release, I’m officially dropping support for Blogger.com. Existing configurations may continue to work, but attempts to authorize new connections will fail. This is because Google no longer supports the authorization mechanism that MarsEdit uses. You can read more about the changes at Google that prompted this change in the Blogger page on Red Sweater Help.

For the adventurous existing customers who already have a Blogger configuration in MarsEdit, I’m offering advice for migrating existing authorizations from one Mac to another. This should be considered a stop-gap solution at best.

Dropping Blogger.com support is bittersweet for me. After I acquired MarsEdit in 2007, adding support for Blogger.com was one of the very first tasks I took on. I continue to host my own personal blog on the service. But over the years it has frankly been more of a headache to support than I wish it was, but I continued to put the work in because I both hoped Google would eventually put more effort into supporting the system, and because I knew I had a ton of passionate users who are still using the site. Unfortunately, I don’t think the prospects are good for the future of the service, and the hurdles Google has put up make it untenable for me to continue this effort.

On the bright side, this update also includes a number of bug fixes and enhancements. Here’s the complete list of changes in this update:

  • Adapt to changes in Blogger.com that require MarsEdit to drop support for the service
  • Images can now be pasted directly into the Featured Image field
  • Changes to default media size constraints no longer requires typing the “pt” units after the numeric value
  • Fix a bug that caused post editor’s sidebar width to change to match the preview template editor’s width
  • Fix a bug that could cause autoresizing text fields to not grow or shrink to match text
  • Fix a crash that could occur if a blog is deleted while it still has active network operations running

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.

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Black Ink 2.0.2: Bug Fixes and Accessibility Improvement https://red-sweater.com/blog/3537/black-ink-2-0-2-bug-fixes-and-accessibility-improvement Tue, 07 Jan 2020 15:09:50 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3537 Black Ink 2.0.2 is now available on the Black Ink home page and from the Mac App Store. This update is a follow-up release to Black Ink 2.0, including a number of fixes to bugs that have been reported since that release. Black Ink 2.0.1 was a Mac App Store-only release to address a problem […]

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Black Ink 2.0.2 is now available on the Black Ink home page and from the Mac App Store.

This update is a follow-up release to Black Ink 2.0, including a number of fixes to bugs that have been reported since that release. Black Ink 2.0.1 was a Mac App Store-only release to address a problem with in-app purchases.

One notable improvement on the accessibility front, is this release includes a change to fix the behavior of “Speak Items Under Pointer,” a feature that announces items as you move the mouse cursor around. Previously this feature only announced across words, but it will now announce either across or down words, depending on the whether the current focus is on an across or down word.

Here’s the complete list of changes:

  • Accessibility
    • Improve “Speak items under the pointer” to speak the right clue for across or down depending on current focus
  • Bug Fixes
    • Fixed an issue that caused downloads of older WSJ puzzles to fail
    • Fixed a bug that caused the puzzle window to drift off screen when making it larger
    • Fixed an issue that prevented logging in to American Values Club accounts when passwords contain particular characters
    • Fixed a bug that caused the timer to not be visible/started by default
    • Improved error handling when a downloaded puzzle cannot be saved for whatever reason

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.

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Black Ink 2.0 Is Here https://red-sweater.com/blog/3529/black-ink-2-0-is-here https://red-sweater.com/blog/3529/black-ink-2-0-is-here#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2019 19:14:05 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3529 I’m excited to share the news that Black Ink 2 has shipped and is available for immediate download both on the Black Ink home page and from the Mac App Store. As promised, customers who purchased a license to Black Ink 1 on or after January 1, 2018, are entitled to a free upgrade to […]

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I’m excited to share the news that Black Ink 2 has shipped and is available for immediate download both on the Black Ink home page and from the Mac App Store. As promised, customers who purchased a license to Black Ink 1 on or after January 1, 2018, are entitled to a free upgrade to Black Ink 2. Customers who purchased Black Ink 1 in 2017 or earlier are entitled to a discounted upgrade price.

Black Ink 2.0 is a huge update to the app, featuring a massive overhaul of the puzzle-solving window, support for new accessibility features, and at long last, Dark Mode support for macOS 10.14. Read on to learn more about the changes in this update.

Free For All

One major change that comes with this update is that the app can now be used for free, with no time limit. All the basic features to download and solve puzzles are available, but a few “premium” features are locked and available only to customers who purchase a license. These premium features include:

  • Printing puzzles
  • Using the puzzle timer
  • Checking puzzle answers
  • Revealing puzzle answers

These modest limitations leave the app delightfully useful in “free mode,” but I hope that most users will be inspired to purchase a license to unlock the extra behaviors and to help support development of the app. Additional premium features may be added in the future.

Visual Refinement

Every aspect of the puzzle-solving window has been rethought, from the elimination of the outdated “drawers” for the clue lists, to painstaking improvements to how the elements of the puzzle grid are drawn. One of my goals with Black Ink is that it embraces the aesthetic joy of working with crossword puzzles, and to that end the puzzle itself must be as beautiful as I can possibly make it.

Folks who enjoy running macOS 10.14 or later in Dark Mode will appreciate the new Dark Mode puzzle grid, drawn mostly with a combination of black and grey, with white text only for the most pertinent aspects of the puzzle: the clues and your answers.

Accessibility Improvements

I’m excited to finally offer VoiceOver support for the puzzle grid. Believe it or not, I have been wanting to add this for over 12 years, but whenever I sat down to tackle the problem it just seemed … too hard. There are aspects to a crossword puzzle that defy the usual assumptions about what elements on a screen represent. I ended up making my best effort at addressing the challenges, and I hope the VoiceOver community finds it usable. In any case, I consider this a “1.0” as far as VoiceOver support is concerned, and will be eager to hear feedback from folks in the VoiceOver community once they’ve had time to give it a spin.

Separately from the all-new VoiceOver support, Black Ink 2.0 now correctly handles “focus follows zoom”, so folks who benefit from solving with the Mac’s overall screen zoomed in can enjoy the benefits of the zoom area moving automatically to reveal the currently focused word.

Streamlined Solving

Lots of little improvements have been made to “the little things” in Black Ink that make solving that much more of a joy. Nuanced behaviors in tabbing forwards and backwards in the puzzle, such as answers marked incorrect being treated as “empty” so you can easily navigate to them to re-solve them. Relatedly: the home and end keys now navigate to the beginning and end of the focused word, respectively.

Finally, puzzles that have notes from the author attached to them are now much easier to spot. Where previously you had to look for a “Show Notes” menu item, Black Ink 2 will now prompt you when opening a puzzle that has notes. If you choose to view them, you can either dismiss the notes, or drag them off into a separate window for easy reference as you solve the puzzle.

A Fresh Start

I’m excited to share Black Ink 2 with the world, and see it as a great baseline for continued development of the app. Here’s to crossword puzzles, their beautiful aesthetic, and the joy of solving them on a Mac.

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FastScripts 2.8: Custom Folder Icons and More https://red-sweater.com/blog/3526/fastscripts-2-8-custom-folder-icons-and-more Wed, 30 Oct 2019 23:15:51 +0000 https://red-sweater.com/blog/?p=3526 FastScripts 2.8 is now available for download from the FastScripts home page and on the Mac App Store. For this update, I dug deep into the archives and looked into some long-standing feature requests and bug reports that I had simply never gotten around to fixing. Here is the complete list of changes: Custom folder […]

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FastScripts 2.8 is now available for download from the FastScripts home page and on the Mac App Store.

For this update, I dug deep into the archives and looked into some long-standing feature requests and bug reports that I had simply never gotten around to fixing.

Here is the complete list of changes:

  • Custom folder icons are now displayed in the FastScripts menu
  • FastScripts can now be quit by cmd-dragging the icon out of the menu bar
  • Revealing a folder from FastScripts now respects the user setting for default folder opener
  • Removed FastScripts’s custom AppleScript text suite in favor of using the standard system suite, to fix some string coercion problems when running scripts

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

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