Black Ink Crossword Puzzle Solver

BlackInk200.jpgBlack Ink $24.95 comes from the new owners of MarsEdit, so I had very little doubt that it would be a well constructed application, and it was.

I don’t do Crosswords. I wish I did as I have fond memories of my step grandfather sitting in the back room with his pipe and well thumbed dictionary doing the crossword. He was one of those people that could do the crossword in 10 minutes, without writing in the answers, and remember it all days later. In my mind ‘doing the Crossword’ has always had a slightly romantic feel about it.

So because I don’t do Crosswords I asked a neighbor to take a look at Black Ink with me. Before I share our thoughts and discussion with you let me tell you what Red Sweater have to say about it:

Internet Enabled
Black Ink makes it easy to download FREE puzzles from sources on the Internet such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Unlike books or CD-ROMs that come with a limited selection, Black Ink puts you in charge of downloading the puzzles you love the most.

A Solver’s Interface
Black Ink’s user interface is the result of years of thoughtful evolution. Building on the strengths of the MacXword, Black Ink adds live resizing, redesigned status markers, and a beautiful splash screen aimed at making your puzzle solving experience a joy.

Puzzles To Go
You still prefer to solve on paper? No problem. With Black Ink’s sophisticated printing functionality, you can easily print out copies of any of the puzzles you download. Save up a week’s worth and bring them on your next vacation!

Powerful Features
Behind Black Ink’s simple interface are countless features for the advanced solver. Jump instantly to any clue simply by typing its number. Right-click to enter multiple letters. Start a timer and start training for Stamford!

So what did we think about it?

Basically my friend couldn’t see the point of it. Their view was that as it only picked up puzzles that already existed on the original site, why not just go and ‘do’ the puzzle on that site? Fair point I guess. Now of course Black Ink has much better printing options – but do you need them when all you really need is the grid, the clues and some scribble margins? After all it will end up in the bin after you have done it. To state the obvious the layout and the clues are exactly the same, and Black Ink just nudged ahead in it’s ability to reveal the answer to the whole puzzle as well as individual letters or words (something that committed crossword puzzle solvers – what do you call them? – apparently shun anyway).

I on the other hand thought it was a neat use of technology, that was cleverly put to together but I was disappointed that todays FREE puzzle was in fact the FREE one from todays edition of the New York Times, which in turn was an archived one from 1996. I think that may well be the problem for the true puzzler, the fact that if they do online crosswords they probably subscribe to paid services of their favourite puzzles?

I found that I was arguing for the software against my friend who was the one that actually did the crosswords – technology for technology sake maybe? I think that as far as doing crosswords on a computer goes this is fine – the ability to save the puzzle and come back to it was very useful, and the knowledge that you will get new ones every day (it was really easy to add more subscriptions) was very neat. At the end of the day though could I see my grandfather sitting at a computer in his back room doing the crossword? Would it have the same boyhood memories that even now bring a smile to my face? I don’t think so.

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