“Updates Available”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 👩🏾‍💻👨🏼‍💻 Difficulty: 2.5/5

First things first: Jessie and I want to extend a sincere Thank You to all the well-wishers of crossworld. We got engaged last Monday evening, an ecstatically happy occasion that coincided with our second New York Times crossword collaboration. The conceit of that puzzle was (spoiler alert) barftastically romantic, even by our standards.

We’ve since returned to Cambridge full of vigor and steely determination! Jessie’s just begun the harrowing post-PhD job search and continues to Put In Work on her dissertation book project, and I am going Back To School shopping! As of this week I’m officially a student again, working towards an MFA in creative writing locally at Emerson. I’ve also got a number of significant puzzle projects on the front burner, all of which represents a veritable feast of creative pursuits on which I plan to gorge unashamedly in the coming months. *burp*

Anyway! One of the first chores that presents itself upon returning from a weeklong holiday is firing up one’s computer and starting up the ol’ “install later” two-step with the software updates alert… right? Which brings us to this week’s puzzle, “Updates Available.” Thoughts and spoilers after the jump!

software: “I’ve changed!” me: lol right

This theme set is an outgrowth of my recent rereading of “Gravity’s Rainbow” on the heels of my puzzle of the same name in the Times a few weeks ago. The V-2 ROCKET, I *quipped* to Jessie, probably had a V4 ENGINE and ran on V8 JUICE … and walla! A theme set version one-point-oh is born.

I went *back and forth* on how to represent this VERSION NUMBER concept. Initially I went with a more conventional representation, with VONE FLYING BOMB, VEIGHT JUICE, and VFOUR ENGINE as theme answers… but I just couldn’t get past the weird parsing of VFOUR when V4 just *looks* so much closer to the version number V-dot-digit naming convention.

The resulting V2 ROCKET, V8 JUICE, V6 ENGINE set looks for visually appealing to me, though of course it’ll present some issues on the solving end, since I have to define wether the applet/AcrossLite file is looking for V2 ROCKET or V[TWO] ROCKET, which might be annoying for solvers who get the error alert when they just guessed wrong as to which answer I specified on the back end. In any case, you *got it right* either way, since the across answers in MY [TWO] DADS, THE [EIGHT]IES, and DEEP-[SIX]ED all preserve the numerical meaning of those letter strings.

Happy solving, friends!


8 thoughts on ““Updates Available”

  1. Congrats here also! Hope there is a great engagement story, perhaps with a proposal hidden in a grid? Re your puzzle theme, fun fact, the lubricant WD-40 is so named because there were 39 failed formulations before they hit on a good one. And some friends and I, staring at a Heinz bottle yesterday, decided to research the “57 Varieties” backstory only to learn that the company had 60-something products at the time but decided that 57 was a cool looking number. Which I found kind of deceitful, but I like ketchup so I got over it.

    • Both of these factoids are exactly the sort of thing that catch my theme-generating eye. Hopefully you’ve got your own little notepad with half-baked ideas, since you’ve clearly got the nose for it!

      • I do have such a notepad, but those two factoids aren’t in it, so if you can make them useful for a puzzle, have at it! (And btw “half-baked” overstates the cooking that goes into my ideas.) At the same time I learned about the “40” in WD-40, I learned that “WD” stands for “water dispersion”, which I guess is what the product is all about. I found that interesting, but only a dork would find that interesting.

        • I did NOT know either factoid! Huh! And I just found out that the WD-40 company also makes 2000 Flushes…and now I’m wondering if the “2000” part is Really True. Ross, lovely puzzle as always. I liked learning about the Pasteur Pipettes.

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