Touché 1.1.5: It Works Again!

August 17th, 2021

Touché 1.1.5 is now available from the Touché home page.

When Apple first announced the Touch Bar, I was excited to dig in and start playing with it even before I had access to a Mac with a Touch Bar. Touché 1.0 was the result of that ambition.

Over the years the system’s support for Touch Bar changed in ways that made Touché slowly become less reliable and, finally, to more or less not work on any Macs at all.

I recently had some insights about how the Touch Bar support on the system has changed, and was able to put together an update to Touché that restores functionality.

Touché is an unusual product for me in that I don’t actually use it myself. When functionality stopped I was tempted to remove it from the site altogether, but now that I’ve gotten it working again, I think it will be nice to make it available to those who will enjoy it. Maybe you are one of those people? If so, I hope you do enjoy it.

Update, August 19, 2021: I just posted a quick 1.1.6 update to fix a few outstanding issues in 1.1.5. Check for updates or download the latest from the home page to get these fixes:

  • On Macs with a real Touch Bar, prevent the Touch Bar from going blank when showing Touché
  • Fix a bug where changes to keyboard shortcuts in Touché Preferences did not have an effect until restarting the app
  • Improve visual contrast in the Touch Bar window title and in Preferences

Black Ink 2.1.7: Preserving New York Times Support

August 10th, 2021

Black Ink 2.1.7 is now available on the Black Ink site and on the Mac App Store.

Last week, the New York Times shocked the crossword community by announcing that they would drop support for the Across Lite download format in just one week. What a week it’s been! As I write this on Tuesday morning, August 10, 2021, the Across Lite formatted puzzles have indeed been removed from the New York Times web site.

Since the 1990s, the Across Lite format has granted paying subscribers to the New York Times Crossword the ability to download the puzzles they’ve paid for, and to solve them in a desktop or mobile application of their choosing. Black Ink, Red Sweater’s crossword solving app, is one of the many options available to these subscribers.

When I first heard the news of the decision, I assumed the worst: New York Times subscribers would never again be able to download and solve these puzzles in Black Ink. But, after sulking a bit, I got to work questioning whether that was necessarily true. After all, as a paying subscriber to the New York Times Crossword you can download and solve the puzzles within a web browser. Maybe Black Ink could somehow do the same thing on behalf of my customers, finessing the data into a format that the app can work with?

I’m excited to share the news that Black Ink 2.1.7, which I’m releasing today, achieves that goal. It might be a bit underwhelming from a customer point of view, because when you launch and download the New York Times puzzle using this version of the app, it should … just work exactly the same as it always has! The mechanism for downloading and manipulating the data is completely different, but the end result is a consistent experience for customers. You’ll enjoy all the same downloading, printing, and solving features you’ve come to rely on over all these years.

This is all great news for Black Ink customers, since downloading the New York Times puzzles should continue to work as it always has. But for people who have been accustomed to solving or printing in other apps that depend upon the Across Lite format, the outlook is not so good. If you’ve ever been curious to give Black Ink a try, now might be the time to give it a shot!

The update contains a few other important updates. Here’s the complete list of changes:

  • Now downloads NYT puzzles without requiring Across Lite format
  • Improved memory usage performance when opening and closing puzzles
  • Prevents editing and deletion of built-in puzzle sources. Disable them if you want to hide them from the list.
  • Further improvements to the compatibilty of saved puzzles with Across Lite

At the end of a tumultuous week, I’m overall still disappointed by the New York Times’s handling of this situation. The short notice and apparent disregard for a whole community of offline solvers was difficult to digest. I come out of the week with some sense of triumph at having overcome the obstacles laid before us, but I’m still worried about where this change will leave us in the weeks, months, and years that lie ahead.

New MarsEdit Help Page: Embedding Videos

July 24th, 2021

It’s increasingly common for folks to insert videos into their blog posts, so I thought I’d write up a help article on the subject for folks who wish to use MarsEdit to embed videos:

Embedding Videos in Posts

In short, there are two options: either host the videos yourself on your own blog, or let a video-hosting service such as YouTube do the heavy lifting!

Black Ink 2.1.5: Across Lite Compatibility Fixes

July 16th, 2021

Black Ink 2.1.5 is now available on the Black Ink site and on the Mac App Store.

This update addresses a long-standing shortcoming of the app that prevented puzzles in the Across Lite (.puz) format from being openable in Across Lite, or other apps that open such puzzles but verify the internal “checksum” values in the puzzles. Now you should be able to share edited or completed puzzles with folks who use Across Lite. Let me know if you run into any examples of puzzles where it doesn’t work as expected!

The update also includes some bug fixes related to printing and VoiceOver. Here’s a complete list of the changes:

Black Ink 2.1.5

  • Saved puzzles are now compatible with being opened in Across Lite
  • Add a new Edit menu item to “Copy Clue” for the selected word
  • Fix a bug that could cause puzzle clues to print over the grid in some layouts
  • Fix a crashing bug when printing some puzzles
  • Improve VoiceOver behavior with respect to focused word after switching focus direction

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