So, What’s this Blog All About?

I just posted a bit of an self-reflective video on my Youtube channel discussing my vision for the channel and this blog, and arguing that even a slow solver can be a solid and relevant contributor to the community:

The rough script is below. Continue reading

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Puzzle Collection (June 2014)

I’ve received tons of requests to put together a video showcasing my puzzle collection. I’ve resisted for a while, since I frankly don’t find it that interesting to watch someone talk — and for thirty minutes at that!?! — about their puzzles. But, as one subscriber noted, I do have a few unique cubes in the collection. So, why not? Here’s a video of my puzzle collection as of June 2014:

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13 Cubers / One Scramble

Once upon a time, this blog was something other than just a collection of my embedded Youtube videos. In fact, it was more like a repository of neat things related to cubing. Besides acting as an online chronicle of sorts, which is a function I still really dig, I want to steer the blog back to including other content.

This recent Cubing World video is a great excuse to do that. A follow up to last year’s Twelve Cubers, One Scramble video, this one features thirteen fast 3×3 solvers (two the current world record holders) each doing CFOP walk-through solves based on the same scramble:
L2 B' L2 B' D2 B' R2 D2 F2 R2 B' L B' U' R' D' B2 L2 U' B U2

This video is great. As I commented on it, the solves demonstrate really well that solving a cube is not just a robotic application of memorized steps — naysayers’ favorite criticism. No doubt there is a formulaic element of “see X and apply Y,” especially at the OLL and PLL stages. But the amount of variation in these walk-throughs showcases the high degree of analysis, problem solving, and creativity that go into a really good solve. And these are no lackeys. That some of the best cubers in the world each approached the same scramble differently is a testament to the deep complexity of the cube.

From Alexander Lau’s Roux and Phil Yu’s ZZ mind-benders to Justin Mallari’s impressive dexterity and finger tricks to Feliks’ and Mats’ always brilliant solves, the video is riddled with nuggets of awesome tricks and techniques to study. I can watch these over and over again…and have!

Dual Commentary with TazzVidz

stick-figuresAbout a month ago, TazzVidz approached me about doing a dual commentary on his channel. I was a bit skeptical at first. But then I decided that it might be refreshing to do a humble, earnest dual commentary.

I’ve written here ad nauseam that I think I’m a good cuber, but a mediocre speedsolver — dubbing this site a blog for the mediocre. It was in that vein that I did the interview/commentary. He layered the commentary over a video of *him* doing a 4×4 Ao5. I think it came out great:

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Excuses…Excuses — (0:39) Ao5 with a Cast

Here’s a dirty little (not-so-)secret fact: I’m a mediocre cuber. Indeed, mediocrity is, in a sense, the raison d’être of this blog.

me·di·o·cre [mee-dee-oh-ker]
of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate
     synonyms: undistinguished, commonplace, pedestrian, everyday; run-of-the-mill
     antonyms: extraordinary, superior, uncommon, incomparable

More accurately, I’d say that I’m a pretty good cuber, but a very mediocre speedsolver. My technique is decent. I know all PLLs and can execute them efficiently. I understand intuitive F2L very well, and have learned a lot of tricks for more complicated cases. And I’ve got about 60% of the OLLs under my belt. But when it comes to putting them all together into full solves, I’m just not that great. My cross stinks. My look-ahead is non-existent. And, under the pressure of the clock, I tend to confuse F2L cases and forget OLL cases. That’s why I average just under 30 seconds.

And that’s why I very rarely record full solves and, even more rarely, averages. Well, after my surgery and with this damn cast still on my arm (¡au voir mañana!), I thought I could record an average of 5 (Ao5) with a built-in excuse. And so I did. Here’s the video with a 39 second Ao5 (and with BIG apologies for so much of it being out of frame!):

(puzzle: Dayan Zhanchi w/ Cube Specialists fitted bright stickers; music: String Cheese Incident performing “Galactic > So What?” on 7.30.03)

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Two Years In – Thanks, CrazyBadCuber!?!

I had planned on posting a two year cubeiversary video this weekend, it being almost exactly two years from the first time I solved a Rubik’s cube. It was going to show a 30-second solve, before self-deprecatingly mocking myself for not really improving much this year. Yes, my technique is better. Yes, I know more algorithms. Yes, I’m more consistent. But my cross still sucks and my speed just isn’t falling much. Oh well. I never proclaimed to be fast, and even anointed this blog as one for the mediocre.

Well, instead of waking up and editing the video, I found myself laying in bed puzzling over why I had 400 emails (almost all from Youtube). I finally realized that CrazyBadCuber had done one of his Crazy Bad Promo videos featuring my youtube channel! Sweet! Hundreds of new subscribers! Here’s his video:

I’ve always thought that my video production and blog quality both eclipsed my cubing skills. There’s a bias against slower cubers, and I figured I wouldn’t get much attention until I sped up. Continue reading