Fans of the CrosSynergy syndicate’s puzzles that publish in the Washington Post may have noticed a change in puzzle file availability. The Post’s games web page can no longer be used to download a .jpz (Crossword Solver) file. The publisher prefers to direct solvers to the online game, where solvers view an ad before accessing the puzzle for free. You can still solve the two more recent weeks of puzzles online at the WaPo site, print out the puzzles there, and use their leaderboards.
The CrosSynergy team is now offering email subscriptions for those who prefer ad-free or offline solving on the computer, or who like to support independent distribution of crosswords a la the AV Club and MGWCC. Each evening, the following day’s puzzle is sent to subscribers in .jpz and .pdf formats, plus a .pdf solution page.
The general subscription page is here: $2.99 a month or an introductory offer of $24.99 a year ($15 less than the NYT puzzle subscription, and under 7¢ a day). I’m delighted that they’ve got a special offer for Diary of a Crossword Fiend readers: A free month of CS puzzles. I encourage you to sign up for your free trial here: http://www.csxword.com/fiend/. Also, if you’re really hankering for the .puz file format, .jpz-to.puz converters are available.
I’m glad to learn that A-list constructors Ian Livengood, Todd McClary, Patti Varol, and Brad Wilber (and, less recently, Jeff Chen) have joined the CS squad! (This info is at crossynergy.com, not the linked subscription hub.)
However, I won’t be subscribing to a service that can’t deliver crosswords in the standard .puz format. Sure, I could use the converter that one of Amy’s readers generously created several years ago… but the whole point of paying for email delivery is convenience. I’ll miss the Sunday Challenge and Bob Klahn’s crunchy themed grids. But there are enough puzzles out there to keep me busy without getting annoyed every morning.
Also, shout-out to Ade for his excellent blogging – and making us all smarter with sports!
While I think it’s customer-unfriendly not to deliver a PUZ file, PUZ files really need to die in a fire. They’re completely inflexible and will never be able to support any new features.
JPZ files are much more extensible, can support all sorts of wacky non-standard features, can support the full range of Unicode characters (not just Latin-1), and more. They’re the future, and it’d be nice to see more institutions start pushing towards them and away from PUZ files.
All true! I just don’t like any of the solving programs that support .jpz.
As a paper solver, I find the printing options for Crossword Solver to be somewhat limiting and inelegant. The .puz format may have its limitations, but Across Lite is more flexible and has a cleaner page layout.
It’s kind of sad — many people (myself included) are of the opinion that AcrossLite is the best crossword puzzle solving app out there on computers, yet it’s seen no improvements or updates in *years* (the last update for Mac OS X was when they released an update for x86 Macs, after Apple stopped supporting PowerPC emulation in Mac OS X 10.7).
So we’re all stuck with the .puz format until LitSoft releases support for .jpz (unlikely), or the other crossword software vendors improve their products more.
And I say this as a developer of crossword puzzle software — maybe I should port my Android app Words With Crosses to desktops?
Just finished my first CS puzzle using AcrossLite. No problem. I did have to do a couple of things.
First, the converter app is not from the Apple App store. That violates my security settings. No problem – I overrode that setting for this particular app. Then I had to download a Java jdk file. After okaying a couple of oracle agreements I found the Mac OS X 64 bit download and installed it. Next I opened the jpz2puz.jar file and selected the jpz puzzle to convert. Converted instantly. So far the only glitch I’m seeing is that an apostrophe in a clue translates to a-hat??.
I noticed the CS page with the converter refers to Mr. Happy Pencil. I’m sure this is old, old news, but how and when was Happy Pencil’s gender determined/decided?
Hi, PJ. It’s either because of the patriarchy masculinizing all sorts of things and pretending they’re gender-neutral, or perhaps because in German, Spanish, and French, “pencil” is assigned the masculine gender.
I wonder what the languages with gendered nouns do when it comes to the words for transgendered people.
So is the subscription the only way to print the puzzle? When I go to the usual page, the puzzle won’t load at all.
Not sure which “usual page” you’re using. I just accessed and printed out Lempel’s CS puzzle here: http://games.washingtonpost.com/games/daily-crossword/#
There’s a printer icon to the right of the puzzle, at the bottom.
I’ve been using the link in your “Today’s Puzzles” section, but the link in your comment worked. Thanks.
I’m not an expert on CrosSynergy puzzles. I never have been an everyday solver, and I haven’t been a semi-regular solver in a long time. (Somehow I had more time for puzzles when I had a full-time job.) In any case, I enjoy CS crosswords when I do them on occasion. I find they are good quality puzzles, and that’s something to be thankful for. But I’ve never felt the puzzles were targeted at me. I’m hardly a speed solver but I do like more of a challenge, and a lot more in a theme. I never had reason to complain — the puzzles were free online — and I figured CS is a popular syndicated venue, the puzzle-makers know their audience, and they’re giving those solvers what they want. That’s where the revenue is, after all.
But if CS is looking to add an online revenue stream, I wonder if that changes. Is the online solving audience the same as the audience doing puzzles in syndicated papers? Are they looking for the same kind of puzzles?
My guess is that the people who are most willing to pay for puzzles directly are looking for something a little different. But maybe not. Maybe new paying solvers will be happy with CS status quo. Maybe not, and the puzzles will adjust for paying solvers. Or maybe there’s a bigger audience of regular solvers who will adjust to paying. I really don’t know. It will be interesting to see how it goes.
I am in favor of solvers paying for puzzles directly. I think it’s a better model for the xword biz, and it gives constructors a better shot at making a decent buck. It also leads, imo, to better crosswords. So I wish the folks at CS good luck, and the list of new constructors is encouraging.
I do pay for a number of subscriptions already — and happily — but I feel I’m at the limit. (Time is the limit in my case more than money.)
Regarding solving programs: I have nothing good to say about Litsoft, but Across Lite is still my program of choice.