Based on my email, my most popular blog posts fall into three categories. The most popular single post, I'm ashamed to admit, is my Offensiveness Index. What's with you folks? You're supposed to be intellectual word lovers but a little titillation and you go gaga. To answer many queries, ok, ok, yes, I'll do more!
The second most popular are my mini-bios of people I don't know anything about, but close behind are my posts that actually provide useful information for solvers like my music theory essay. It would be fun to build up a collection of these but to do so I need your help. These might be silly, serious, or mundane.
Here's a mundane but still handy example. I think I was able to solve yesterday's puzzle before many of you were able to download it. What's my secret? Careful attention to the URI. (Note to geek wanna-bes: the more prosaic URL would also be correct in this case but URI is a little hipper in the techno set and it implies you understand the subtle distinction between the two. Casually toss around that acronym at your next nerd party and watch the women swoon.)
The Premium Crosswords page at nytimes.com is supposed to kick over to the next weekday's puzzle at 10pm Eastern. Sometimes, like yesterday, it doesn't. There are many possible reasons for this — an incorrect "expires header" on the page, problems with whatever edge cache system they use to distribute their static content worldwide, I'm just showing off here. If you rely on that page you won't see the puzzle if there are problems, but look closer. Hover over the "Today's Puzzle" link and you'll see a reference to something like http://select.nytimes.com/premium/xword/Mar2708.puz. If you don't see the date you want, just modify that link to point to the correct day. The format is obvious. The fast way to do this in Windows is to right click on the link, select Copy Shortcut, paste the URI into the browser address bar, edit the date appropriately, and hit Enter. Mac users can do something similar. By the way, this works for almost any date back to October 23, 1996. I'll talk about the exceptions in a future post.
There, that was a tip about something I happen to know about but as I've reported earlier, I don't know everything. There are lots of useful facts that you know that help you solve puzzles. If those could be concisely codified, that might make a great blog entry.
Tomorrow's post will be my first experiment in this new endeavor. Seth Grossinger is a friend of this blog and I've temporarily made him a co-author. I've given him complete control over the Saturday puzzle post which he will upload sometime Saturday morning. He can talk about the puzzle in as much or as little detail as he wants. His only constraint is that he's promised to include useful solving data in an area I don't know anything about.
What are the areas of your expertise? If you have some clever thoughts you'd like to share, send me an email using the link in the left column.
Update: The Friday puzzle by Barry C. Silk (answers) is close to perfect. Nothing was obvious at first but everything fell into place. I realize this is subjective and largely random. Everything I happened to guess happened to be right. That fortuitous happenstance is going to happen from time to time but I could have just as easily have erred and got stuck permanently in a corner. Rather than claim to be lucky, I prefer to think it's a great crossword. Thanks, Mr. Silk, for making my day. "Drag during the day?" NEED A NAP, of course. "Aid in picking things up" is ANTENNA. Good fun.