Sunday, April 19, 2009

Get Notified Of Online Crossword Updates

If you solve a daily crossword online, do you keep checking the paper's website to find out if they've uploaded the latest, and if they haven't, refreshing the page every few minutes hoping they'd change it quickly?

If you're really keen to know as soon as the latest crossword is up, you might be wasting a lot of time in repeat visits to the crossword page. I found myself doing that for Financial Times crossword on Fridays. That's the day I blog on fifteensquared.net for FT and want to get the grid as soon as it is available. The time of upload varies, so one can't tell precisely when the day's crossword will be up.

I'm using a tool now that checks the crossword page in the background. It would also be useful for solvers of other crosswords online – such as The Hindu Crossword solvers from the US/UK time zones, who get the latest crossword in the afternoon while it is midnight in India.

So What Is This Tool?

The tool is called Update Scanner. It monitors web pages for updates. The tool is a Firefox add-on. IE users – it is time you switched to the better browser :)

You can get Update Scanner from here: Install Update Scanner. This link will open a screen as below:

update-scanner-download

Click on the Add to Firefox button, and Install Now on the popup following it. This will add Update Scanner to Tools menu of Firefox.

Installed! How To Make It Track Crosswords?

A few simple steps:

  1. Open the crossword page.
    For Financial Times: http://www.ft.com/arts/crossword
    For The Hindu Crossword: http://www.hindu.com/ (Track the front page itself, as The Hindu does not have a common "crossword" page. Still, it is sufficient to know that the "Miscellaneous" link on the front page has changed.)
  2. Right-click anywhere on the page, and choose the menu option Scan Page For Updates…

     update-scanner-scan-page-ft

  3. A dialog window will open as below. Drag the sliders to adjust how frequently you want to scan the page (can vary from every 5 minutes to every week), and the extent of change you want to track (set it to "Cosmetic Changes are ignored" for the FT page, and a broader level for THC, say "Medium Changes are ignored").

     update-scanner-preferences

  4. update-scanner-notificationThat's your job done, Update Scanner will handle the rest. As soon the new crossword is uploaded, it will show this little window in the bottom status bar. Click the blue Up arrow on it to visit the changed site and get the latest crossword. If you are tracking many sites, the ones that have changed will be in bold on the Update Scanner sidebar.

    update-scanner-display-changes

Notes

  1. Switch on the tool only when you need it. e.g. If you know that the Hindu Crossword will be up after 12pm your time, switch it on at 12pm. After the new crossword notification reaches you, disable it till next use. (A general good practice is to keep unnecessary processes on your computer off.) To disable, go to Firefox menu Tools –> Add-ons, select Update Scanner and click Disable.

     update-scanner-disable 

  2. You need not apply Update Scanner on pages that provide RSS feed of their content. Subscribe to such pages through your reader or email. The Hindu Crossword, for example, is part of the RSS feed: http://www.hindu.com/rss/10hdline.xml - you could use that instead to get notified of crossword updates.

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