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What's a Seven-Letter Word for Portable Computing?

What's a Seven-Letter Word for Portable Computing?

It's easier to solve a crossword puzzle, than to create one. Especially if the subject of the puzzle is the HP Palmtop.

By Hal Goldstein

Crossword Graphic

Crossword Clues

Palmtop users are always looking for an enjoyable way to spend a few spare moments with their HP Palmtop. Countless games are available for the HP 95LX and 100LX, but we overlooked the obvious -- crossword puzzles.

Well, not everybody overlooked that possibility. In fact, a couple of subscribers have been after me for a while to include an HP Palmtop- related crossword puzzle in The HP Palmtop Paper. Here's how I used the HP 100LX and Lotus 1-2-3 to create one.

Creating a Crossword Puzzle in Lotus 1-2-3

Creating a decent Palmtop-related crossword puzzle is a bit more difficult than solving one. And going through the process on the Palmtop was an added challenge.

First, I opened up Lotus 1-2-3 and arbitrarily set up a 10-by-10 matrix in which to enter words. I pressed (MENU) Worksheet Global Column-Width 1) to globally set the column width to 1. I created a border around the puzzle by keying the | symbol into each of the cells in the K (11th) column down to K10. I then I keyed a minus sign (-) in each of the cells in row 11 over to K11. Next I started entering Palmtop-related words into the matrix as they came to me (e.g. AppManager, LCD, Filer, etc.). I ended each word with a block character (hold down (ALT) and (MENU) on the 100LX or (ALT) on the 95LX and key in 254). The Lotus screen looked something like the following one.

Crossword Matrix in 1-2-3:  Graphic

 This approach was a good start, but it quickly got unwieldy. I improved my method by entering and maintaining a list of potential words for the puzzle. I displayed that list next to the puzzle. To do this, I created two unsynchronized vertical windows in Lotus by pressing (MENU) Worksheet Window Vertical, (MENU) Worksheet Window Unsync). The left window contained the evolving puzzle, the right window contained a list of possible words. I could hop back and forth between the windows by pressing (F6).

I entered Palmtop-related words into the right (list) window as I thought of them. I entered each letter into a separate column so I could use 1-2-3's Data Sort command to sort the list alphabetically by any position. So, for example, if I needed a word with "r" as the third letter, I could sort the list using the third column as a primary key.

The puzzle on the top of the next page is empty so as not to give away any of the puzzle.

Spreadsheet with Matrix and Word Windows: Graphic

 When I completed the puzzle, I gave the puzzle itself the range name PUZ (press (MENU) Range Name Create puz (ENTER) a1..k11). Then I saved the file as CROSSPUZ. I opened a new worksheet (press Worksheet Erase Yes) and read the PUZ portion of the file into it (press (MENU) File Combine Copy Named/Specified Range puz (ENTER) crosspuz). Then I set the global column width as 1 and created unsynchronized global windows as before so I could create the clues to the words.

Creating the clues

Next I created the clues by which the reader could guess the word. I indicated where the word began by referencing the cell that contained the word's first letter, and then wrote in the clue.

Puzzle with Clues: Graphic

 Getting more efficient

A good Lotus macro programmer could modify this procedure to speed up potential word searches and other crossword puzzle creation activities.

Since completing this I found a public domain program named EX- TRACT.COM. It was designed to help scrabble players, but is quite useful in crossword puzzle creation. Feed EXTRACT a list of words and a letter sequence such as XT and it creates a file with a listing of all those words having that letter sequence. Out of my list might come (TEXT, EXT, XT, TXT). The trick is that the word list has to be a text file with one word on each line (like some dictionary files). A regular text file with one word after another on the same line does not work.

The puzzle I created is moderately difficult. I'd be interested in feedback as to whether you prefer it harder, easier, or not at all.

We will place EXTRACT and these Lotus Worksheet templates in PUZZLE.ZIP on The HP Palmtop Paper on Disk. We'll also upload the worksheet templates with this article to CompuServe. Hopefully this will inspire others to submit puzzles so we can make crossword puzzles a regular feature of The HP Palmtop Paper.

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