Site maintenance: Wed 18 May – Thu 19 May 2016

I’ve just been notified by the company that hosts my webserver that they need to turn it off for about 10 minutes to replace the power supply that it is plugged into.

They will be doing this overnight between Wed 18 May and Thu 19 May.

In my local timezone (British Summer Time) this will be sometime between 5am and 8am Thu 19 May.

In Eastern Daylight Time, this will be between midnight and 3am Thu 19 May.

In Pacific Daylight Time, this will be between 9pm and midnight Wed 18 May.

It should only be off for about 10 minutes sometime within the three-hour window (they are unplugging and replugging all the servers in the rack, so they can’t predict exactly when mine will be rebooted).

So if the site isn’t available on those days, just wait 10 minutes and try again 🙂

Sorry for the inconvenience, but apparently a fault has developed with the power supply, so this should prevent unexpected interruptions down the road!

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New Scrabble dictionaries

In the last year the Scrabble people have been very busy updating their dictionaries around the world!

In North America…

Last year (2014) there was a new Scrabble word list published by Merriam-Webster: the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary 5th edition (OSPD5).  This is now the official dictionary for home players of the Scrabble game in North America.

It’s a cut-down version of the Official Tournament and Club Word List 3rd edition (OTCWL3) – the longer tournament list also contains offensive words not suitable for home use.  The 3rd edition OTCWL was written in 2014 but wasn’t approved for tournament use until April 2015.

In the rest of the world…

In September 2015 the 4th edition of Collins Official Scrabble Words (CSW2015) was adopted as the official tournament dictionary outside North America.

I’ve had quite a few requests to add these dictionaries, as many apps are now switching to these dictionaries.

I’ve added versions of these dictionaries to Word Helper as:

  • Scrabble USA: 2014 Merriam-Webster
  • Scrabble USA: 2014 Tournament
  • Scrabble International: 2015 Tournament

It’s been a bit hard, as the dictionary makers don’t always publish exactly which words have been added or removed.  But I’ve made my best efforts, based on the information available to me.

Because of the way I’ve compiled my dictionary, it’s possible that the apps you use might have slightly different words.  If you find a difference, please let me know and I’ll fix it!

All the other older dictionaries are still available to use.

NB. I’ve stopped using the label “home/school” for the Merriam-Webster OSPD, since most apps seem to refer to it now as Merriam-Webster or MW.

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Cookies!

Anyone visiting the site recently from a country in the European Union may have noticed one of those annoying ‘this site uses cookies’ bars at the bottom of the screen.

These are popping up everywhere as a result of an EU law.  I’ve tried to resist putting one on the site for as long as possible, as they are bloody annoying!

Sadly yesterday my advertising provider (Google Adsense – who display all the adverts on the site) told me that I have to have one of these cookie warnings if I show their adverts.  So the annoying bar has to be there 🙁

But I’ve tried to make it as unobtrusive as possible, and once you click the ‘got it’ button it should disappear for a year.

To be clear, nothing has changed with cookies on the site.  I still use them to display the adverts, to check how many people visit the site, and to store user preferences.  I don’t do anything untoward with them.  It’s just this annoying EU law I have to comply with.

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Good news for mobile phone users!

I’ve just done another major update of the Word Helper site.  For most of you, you may not see much difference.  But it you access Word Helper from a mobile phone, hopefully you should find it much, much easier to navigate!

As a reminder, if you use an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you may still find my two native iOS apps easier to use:

Word Finder (for Scrabble, Words with Friends, etc)

The Crossword Solver

But for users of Android, Windows Phone, etc, the mobile-responsive design of Word Helper should make it usable on the move now 🙂

There are a few very small changes to the layout for the main desktop site.  Sorry about that – I know that change is often unwelcome – but I’ve kept them to a minimum, and they were unavoidable in order to make the site change automatically to whatever size screen you view it on.

I’ve tested the site thoroughly on my desktop computer, my iPhone, and my iPad, and it seems to work well.  But if you see any problems, let me know.  A screenshot of how the site looks on your device can also help me solve any problems!

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Announcing the Crossword Solver

After many years of running this site for Scrabble, Words with Friends, and other similar word games, I decided it was time to spread the net wider.

Today I’ve created a new section The Crossword Solver.  As the name suggests, you can use it to solve crossword clues when you’re stuck.

Just put in the letters you’ve already found, and question marks for the blanks, and it will show all the words in the dictionary which could fit in that position.  For example ‘?X?M?L?’ would find ‘EXAMPLE’.

Of course, you still have to work out which of the possibilities best fits the clue, but we wouldn’t want to take all the fun out of the crossword would we 🙂

As usual, you can also download The Crossword Solver as an iPhone and iPad app if that’s more convenient.

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New Words With Friends dictionary

I’m grateful to Lisa (one of the users of my Word Finder iPhone app) for pointing out that Words With Friends have recently updated their dictionary.

So I’ve just tweaked the word list for Word Helper to accommodate the changes.

They seem to have added 50 new words – many of them from the official Scrabble dictionary (such as AIRSHOW and WETSUIT), and some presumably because they’re in common use by the users of the app (e.g. SHIZZLE and SEXTING!)

They’ve also removed 11 words.  In common with their previous removals, these seem to all be words that can be used as racially derogative terms.

I’m working on an update to the Word Finder iPhone app at the moment, and the new dictionary will be in the next release 🙂

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Sorry for the website problems

If you’ve visited Word Helper over the last couple of days you may have noticed all has not been well.

It started on Tuesday when I did a routine upgrade to the web server.  It should have taken less than 2 minutes and then been back up as normal.  Sadly things didn’t go smoothly, and the server failed to reboot.

I then tried to start my backup web server that I keep for such occasions, and I swapped over to that server.  Unfortunately I found that I hadn’t updated that server when I moved Scrabble Helper to Word Helper, so it didn’t have the Word Helper site on it.  As a result anyone visiting Word Helper got redirected to my main company homepage (Richard Loxley Ltd).  I tried to restore the Word Helper site from my backups, but then discovered a problem with my backups!

So I had to get the original server back up.  It took about 2 hours, and then it can take a while for all the DNS servers on the internet to notice the original server is back up, so some people saw the Richard Loxley Ltd page for longer than that.  Oops – sorry 🙁

I then had to fix the bigger problems with the original server, which I’ve been doing over the last 2 days.  Luckily I was able to do that without too much downtime – but I did have to restart the server several times over the last 2 days, so you may have noticed a few occasions when the page didn’t respond for a minute or two.

I believe that everything is back to normal now.  If you’re still having problems then please contact me and I’ll try to sort it out.

Sorry for messing up 🙁

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Have Scrabble tile values just changed?

If you keep up to date with the news, you might have just come across a disturbing story!

According to the BBC news, the value of all the Scrabble tiles have just been changed!

Woah!  Really?

No, not really.  Not so fast BBC.

What they are reporting is a piece of research that says the values ought to be changed, if they were to reflect which letters are in most common usage in English.

The actual research is in fact fascinating, and well worth a read 🙂

Of course, we all know (or should know!) that the points value of a tile doesn’t have much being on its actual worth.  For example ‘S’ and the blank tile are worth far more than all the others, because they enable you to play other words more easily!

And that’s just one of the tips you’ll find in my Scrabble book 🙂

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I need your help!

I want to thank everyone for all your lovely comments and support with the change of the site name that was forced upon us.

But we’re not quite out of the woods yet, and I need your help if you can spare a couple of minutes.

Before we moved the site about 20,000 people visited the site every day.  With the new address for the site about half the people found the new site, but that still leaves about 10,000 regular users who didn’t see the notice about the change, and haven’t been able to find the new site 🙁

I wonder if you could help spread the word so the other users can find it?

If you could do any of these things it would really, really help!

  • If you have a website, add a link to www.wordhelper.org
  • If you have a blog, write a post about Word Helper
  • If you read any forums, write a post about Word Helper
  • If you’re on Facebook (or any other social network), share a link to www.wordhelper.org
  • If you’re on Twitter, post a tweet with a link to www.wordhelper.org
  • or any other way you know to get the word out!

Thanks for any help you can give 🙂

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Ok, so I made a mistake!

Oops.

You will probably already know that due to legal problems I had to rename the site from its original name of scrabblehelper.net.

Well I only had a week to do it, and so I had to choose a new name quickly.

I reckoned a lot of the site’s users would miss the announcement, and would turn to Google to find the new site.  After a couple of hours of research I found that far more people search for phrases including the words ‘cheat’ and ‘words’ than any of my alternative names.  So I quickly registered the name cheatwords.net and moved the site.

Well it turns out that a lot of you really didn’t like the name ‘cheat’.  In retrospect, that should have been obvious to me!  I’d always shied away from the ‘cheat’ label myself in my 5 years running this site.  People use the helper for many reasons, and I’d always felt that the site attracted word lovers who enjoyed playing Scrabble, not cheaters.

I certainly never meant to offend anyone, and didn’t intend to effectively call you cheaters!

Anyway, for the last week I’ve run a poll to see what people thought of the site name, and the results are now in.

A whopping 4590 people voted!

As you can see, the overwhelming majority (66%) wanted the site name to change, and so who am I to argue?

As of today, Word Helper is the new name for the site, and the URL is www.wordhelper.org.

Don’t worry if you still have cheatwords.net bookmarked.  That domain will still work, it will just re-direct to wordhelper.org.

Sorry everyone – I’m only human 🙂

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