Joe Ross' Guide to Solving the WSJ Meta with Excel

What is a Muggle? What is the KAS scale? This is a place to learn about the Muggles community and some of the terminology we use.
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KayW
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Re: Joe Ross' Guide to Solving the WSJ Meta with Excel

#21

Post by KayW » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:12 pm

Back on the grid to find that my post-enlightment was correct. And as requested, here is the eight by ten glossy, albeit sans circles and arrows:
chaingang.JPG

Emmaa
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#22

Post by Emmaa » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:03 am

This format is really AWESOME, Joe!

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#23

Post by juliet » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:54 pm

Does the Joe Ross Excel process require more than just Acrobat Reader?

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Joe Ross
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#24

Post by Joe Ross » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:55 pm

juliet wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:54 pm
Does the Joe Ross Excel process require more than just Acrobat Reader?
Yes, Juliet. This is a way to use Microsoft Excel to highlight answers & clues and to create lists to explore paths to answers.

You could use Adobe Acrobat Pro or other graphic & spreadsheet software, but I don't think that Acrobat Reader has the highlighting & text tools.

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Joe Ross
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#25

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:27 am

August 30, 2019 SHORT STORIES thought process:
20190830 SHORT STORIES meta.gif
Spent too much time with UBRY until giving up.

Jotted down columns of the short words made whole, missing letters (which turned out to be the correct RH), vertically crossing answers, answer anagrams, anagrams without to letters in the themed answers, and more. Decided to sleep on it.

Took up UBRY, again. Bleh. Saw URBY as a possibility taking the four shortened words left to right versus top to bottom in clue order. AHA? URBY rang a small bell. Admit to taking it to a web search & found the WSJ article which I had read when published two years before. Patting myself on the back for having an inkling of this memory, I was sure this was the answer for awhile, but it seemed too obscure for people outside of the east coast to "get". I still posted that I was on shore on Friday afternoon. :oops:

Assuming the answer had to be related to short msgs on the web, apps, etc., I played over the remaining columns of stuff & generated one or two more columns. Spent too much time trying to make UBER work. AHA!, saw YO _ _, AE _ _, & WH _ _ answers, then searched for E _ _, disappointed that EAT was horizontal versus vertical, like the other three. Picky, no?

REMEMBER: This tool is no different than printing out multiple copies of the puzzle on paper, which many muggles prefer. This is another version of the same tool, but allows "erasures" & moving of scribbles, highlights, circles, arrows, and paragraphs on the back.

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#26

Post by Emmaa » Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:29 am

JR: Your work elegantly, beautifully, and brilliantly tracks my meta journey through “Short Stories,” only taking it further, with narrative, to the conclusion, and beyond: poetic imagery, confetti and rainbows, a vivid key that speaks a thousand words. Perfection! Thanks!

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#27

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:04 am

JPR - For Good Measure.gif

FOR GOOD MEASURE - September 20, 2019

Rule #1: Investigate in CLUE ORDER first.

FWIW: Everything not bordered in red was created by 6:30 PM, Thursday. I found myself repeating myself mentally, not listening, & annoyed at the hub-bub I was creating & ignoring.

The path to the correct answer - bordered in red - took maybe 10 minutes, Friday morning. Had I followed Rule #1, I would have solved Thursday.
Last edited by Joe Ross on Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#28

Post by Eschie » Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:29 am

Fantastic work! I'll have to try your method next week. I got lost down the rabbit hole with the Princess Bride and came up with a completely wrong answer! I'm 2 out of 6, puzzles are easy, metas are the challenge.

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Joe Ross
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#29

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:36 am

Eschie wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:29 am
Fantastic work! I'll have to try your method next week. I got lost down the rabbit hole with the Princess Bride and came up with a completely wrong answer! I'm 2 out of 6, puzzles are easy, metas are the challenge.
I hope it works for you, Evy! Let me know if I can help.

Wrong answers are more fun than correct, plus you've teased the bonus of yours being possibly derived from The Princess Bride. Do you mind sharing?

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#30

Post by Emmaa » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:14 pm

Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:04 am
JPR - For Good Measure.gif


FOR GOOD MEASURE - September 20, 2019

Rule #1: Investigate in CLUE ORDER first.

FWIW: Everything not bordered in red was created by 6:30 PM, Thursday. I found myself repeating myself mentally, not listening myself, & annoyed at the hub-bub I was creating & ignoring.

The path to the correct answer - bordered in red - took maybe 10 minutes, Friday morning. Had I followed Rule #1, I would have solved Thursday.



Joe:

Your legendary work is, once again, amazing and revealing, but even moreso on this occasion, as it must be, due to the odd reaches in this meta by Mike Shenk. Your prowess is proven, and your comments to the monster’s creator too kind. Alternatively, may be I still don’t get it. Perhaps, this time, surely you deserve to say, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.” That will be fine, since I’m sure there must be many this week who hoped they were on the heavenly shore, only requiring rescue early this morning. Hopefully no one drowned, though I suspect many livers are now at risk, and future meta-cruises may require designated drivers, or at least a 3rd category for those MIA, for record keeping purposes by our CD, since they (we) were neither on the boat or ashore in the AM. BTW, anyone given thought to not allowing the vote for degree of difficulty or the designated ashore status until after the official posting of the answer. Surely that would be more accurate. How would that work? Never mind. Chaulk this up to SBT (sea biscuit toxicity), or more likely MBS (meta newbie syndrome), known to often improve with time, though there are incurable subtypes.

I did find the grid to be impressive, inspiring, and of great interest. The hare-brained holes had this rabbit studying the origin and the supremacy of the METRIC SYSTEM, now, I believe, the rule in all but 3 countries. I enjoyed learning the history and the facts. I was led to read and watch physics videos on quantization of energy into discrete packets of QUANTUM MECHANICS. (Note there is no Q in the grid), lending appreciation to the derivation of PLANCKS CONSTANT (which, ironically, one can find in scattered but organized form in the top 10 rows, in a wondrous, yes, descending ordered EMMAA fashion, in the completed grid. Nota bene R-C (row- collumn): PLANCKS P 1-4, L 2-8, A 3-5, N 4-13, C 7-1, K 8-15, S 9-15; CONSTANT C 1-10, O 2-9, N 4-13, S 5-13, T 6-5, A 7-13, N 9-9, T 10-3. Now, I didn’t actually search for the known constant, {Its value in metre-kilogram-second units is 6.62607004 × 10−34 joule∙second, with a standard uncertainty of 0.000000081 × 10−34 joule∙second}, but it just might be in there somewhere, but it is more simplistically stated as the lower case symbol, h, a challenging thing in a crossword where numbers and lower cases are not allowed!

IMHO, I would have been much more impressed with a more global answer, such as the ones I have listed Above in CAPS, even if in pig latin, than “a unit of measure,” with the dubious, yes, unholy grail PINT. {Note to Mike, if he reads this, and I imagine he will - dare I say “pint sized” and pitiful, uninspiring contest answer.}

My conclusion: Joe, I find your daunting task to simplify and tame this monster “for good measure”, even had it lacked the beauty of “in living color” like the NBC Peacock, much more admirable than the comparitavely unfinished, dull creature, which never quite measured up, despite all our collective efforts.

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#31

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:21 pm

Emmaa wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:14 pm
The hare-brained holes had this rabbit studying the origin and the supremacy of the METRIC SYSTEM, now, I believe, the rule in all but 3 countries.
Mark:

I spent a good hour, Thursday afternoon, trying to determine if the Metric System mattered, as shown in Columns F & G of my spreadsheet. ACRE put an end to that, much too reluctantly.

Ignoring the Metric System rabbit hole might have led to a personal-best solve time for me, but I have learned that worrying about time should be my last concern. I am way too new at meta-solving to worry or care about times. It's the old joke: A musician walking in Manhattan asks, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" The reply, "Practice. Practice. Practice." Like any other endeavor, profession, art, sport, hobby, etc., the basics have to become second nature, which depend on repetition, learning from mistakes, observation of & advice from the masters, repetition, repetition, and repetition. I had everything I needed in front of me: two sets of four words.

My biggest mistake, this week, was not remembering that the answer is nearly always in meta clue order. Not having that foremost in my thoughts, I grew frustrated & thought I had to pick from among the four, which I think I will learn over time never happens. That's how I tried to justify GRAM as an answer (out of BATTER IN GRAM), reaching into the interwebs & finding a couple of sites that promoted better health through better measuring of food ingredients for diets.

The other thought that I should have had in mind was that the answer would be a 4 letter word, since there were 4 meta clues/answers, per DrTom's excellent post, HERE.

Over time, I'm confident that we'll all learn & internalize more and more of the basics & the art of crossword metas. Mistakes will recede along with their tempting rabbit holes. In the meantime, it's fun to learn and this is such a fun & intelligent group from which we can.

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#32

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:07 am

20190927 TWO'S COMPANY too.gif

Above is the correct solution. I ended on The Island of Misfit Toys by getting SACHS, thinking, "Cool! Sachs (sic) Fifth Avenue", and submitting it.

THIS POST made me think, "Huh?" Then another player verifying their answer after they submitted led me to "DOH!", when I had to type out my answer.

The puzzle title & all five meta clue answers demanded a two name corporation, of course.

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Al Sisti
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#33

Post by Al Sisti » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:35 pm

I think Joe needs his own category with his explanations and spreadsheets: "Rossword Fiend."

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#34

Post by Joe Ross » Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:52 pm

Al Sisti wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:35 pm
I think Joe needs his own category with his explanations and spreadsheets: "Rossword Fiend."
HAH! Love it, Al! Dead center in the ten ring. Let's share several pints of Guinness and not talk about it!

"Fiend", anyway. Never has anyone taken the longest roads less-travelled, used as many circles, arrows, & paragraphs, nor redefined - by example - "casuistry" more fully when trying to explain something that is purported to make the lives of others more simple. (See what I did there, again?)

With apologies, I'll need to borrow Cindy's avatar.

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#35

Post by Cindy » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:53 pm

Joe Ross wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:52 pm
Al Sisti wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:35 pm
I think Joe needs his own category with his explanations and spreadsheets: "Rossword Fiend."
HAH! Love it, Al! Dead center in the ten ring. Let's share several pints of Guinness and not talk about it!

"Fiend", anyway. Never has anyone taken the longest roads less-travelled, used as many circles, arrows, & paragraphs, nor redefined - by example - "casuistry" more fully when trying to explain something that is purported to make the lives of others more simple. (See what I did there, again?)

With apologies, I'll need to borrow Cindy's avatar.
I love my avatar. But you are free to borrow it.

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Joe Ross
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#36

Post by Joe Ross » Sat Oct 05, 2019 12:36 am

Cindy wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:53 pm

I love my avatar. But you are free to borrow it.

Cindy, you are most generous with your whole world champion avatar. I said that out of deep admiration and, sort of, for shock value. I wouldn't dare borrow it. You carry it with grace & intelligence. I'd look ridiculous!

Best wishes to all for a beautiful autumn weekend!

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#37

Post by Emmaa » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:20 am

Joe:

Your illuminating insights have been the most helpful to this impatient, at times ingracious, Newbie to the metas. I am getting the hang of some of these gems now, albeit slo-mo.
Thanks for your regular generous pointers.
Initially, I had no idea how anyone could get these metas. The posted stats always astound me, and I have gained admiration for the many who make it to shore each week… Thanks!

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#38

Post by Joe Ross » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:59 pm

You're too kind, Mark.

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#39

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:02 am

20191004 LEADING MEN.gif

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#40

Post by Joe Ross » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:37 am

Inca wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:23 am
I'm still attached to my own Excel Meta Template, but it does take more time to set up.)
Inca,

I decided to try this week's PGW Double Back and Start Over and did the following, which reminded me of your Excel method:
  • Took a snippet of the PDF & pasted it to MS Paint.
  • Reduced the size by 50%.
  • Cropped to the image of the puzzle.
  • Copied the image & pasted to an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Resized the pasted image of the puzzle so that it would fit within the EXCEL window, viewed at 100%.
  • Made the width of Column A to fill to the left edge of the grid.
  • Resized the next 15 columns, B through P, to get as close to the widths of the grid squares, without the columns being wider.
  • Made the height of Row 1 to fill to the top edge of the grid.
  • Resized the next 15 rows, 2 through 16, to get as close to the heights of the grid squares, without the rows being higher.
  • Clicked on the image and adjusted the size to fit the spreadsheet's adjusted grid column widths & row heights.
  • Readjusted Column A & Row 1 to fit.
  • Selected Columns B through P & made their text BOLD.
  • Adjusted the transparency of the puzzle image to 40%:

    ― Selected the puzzle image.

    ― Right-clicked on puzzle image.

    ― Format Picture

    ― Selected the Image Icon
20191008 PGW DOUBLE BACK transparency.gif

The grid can be filled out & highlighted on the spreadsheet.

Navigating to each cell must be done by arrow keys, not mouse pointing (Clicking with a mouse selects the puzzle image, not cells within it).

To highlight a word, arrow to the beginning or end cell of the word, hold the SHIFT key, arrow to the other end, then Home, Font, Fill Color.

I've filled out the grid in CAPS and did some highlighting. It works well.

On to the meta.

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