Dead tree solving - eco edition! 
Best of both worlds - paper and pencil/pen solving, but rather than curled up with the newspaper, you're curled up with your tablet/iPad/Android! Write, even draw, in the grid, directly on the screen. 

Perfect for rebus puzzles, like this one from a recent Thursday NYTimes puzzle. Use a stylus, for the feel of really writing, or just use your fingertip - it is remarkably easy and is your real writing... I filled this one out using my finger - the stylus is just there for show. (The rebus was MAN - as in TAXMAN at 54D...) If you would like to try it out, click on "About Me" on this page and send me an email.

Crosswording Tips 'n Tricks

I'll be providing lots of links to my favorite resources here really soon.  I want this to be my one go-to place that consolidates all the great websites I use, some all the time, some rarely (which makes having a list all the more helpful).
I hope it can be useful to y'all too.


How to embed a link in Blogger comments
It is beyond me why Google, owner of Blogger, makes this so awkward and difficult.
Here is the lazy man's way:

1. Copy the entire string in the left-hand box below into Notepad or Word.:
2. Copy your html link of the thing you want to embed.
3. Highlight the text between the  " quotes " , and replace it with the html link.
4, Highlight the text between the  > arrows <  and replace it with a friendlier phrase that describes your link.
5. Now copy the ENTIRE string from the first < A to the last A > into your comment!
Make sure you leave the "quote" and the <arrow> characters in place - they are key! 

this text string produces this
<A HREF="alinktosomething.html">Check this out</A>
Check this out


Evan's Natick Resolution Algorithm
It's not so much a rule, but a rule-of-thumb that I described in a previous comment a couple weeks ago. It's also not something I think is really unique to my thought process -- but I'll still happily take credit for it! It works like this:

When you run into a tough, potential Natick spot, try your hardest to fill in the crossing with a letter that will give you at least one legitimate word that you've seen in crosswords before. Even if you don't know what it means, or don't know who it is (if it's a proper noun), or understand how it fits the clue -- if you've seen it before, there's a decent chance that it showed up again. If you can fill in the crossing that gives you two legitimate answers that you've seen before, then you stand a good chance of guessing correctly.

For example, if you asked me on the street which poet wrote "The Highwayman," I'd have no clue. But if it's in a puzzle and the pattern is N-YES, I'd almost certainly guess NOYES, only because I know I've seen the name before, whereas I haven't with the other possibilities. That's true with OTARU as well -- I've seen it before, even though I couldn't tell you the first thing about it, except to say that it's a place in Japan.

I'll have to add a few more aspects to this rule of thumb since there are other ways it can be applied -- like, Naticks are there for a reason: Nothing else can possibly fit there. Don't go looking to make the crossing fit better than it does.
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Evan is a regular in Rexville, as well as an accomplished and popular guest blogger.  Recently, he helpfully described his method for resolving those pesky Naticks. which I have reproduced here.

 *Natick - As per Rex Parker's FAQ page 
"If you include a proper noun in your grid that you cannot reasonably expect more than 1/4 of the solving public to have heard of, you must cross that noun with reasonably common words and phrases or very common names." Go here for the answers that occasioned my coining this phrase.


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