Category Archives: favorites

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

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Maru CX3 / 60-Second PLL Time Attack

It’s been a little while since my last post — that monster parity article that still has my head hurting.  I’ve got a couple things in the works, but I put them aside when I got a Maru CX3 the other day.  I’m really impressed with the cube, and I found my turn style and speed improving with it.  On a whim, I thought I’d give a sub-60 PLL Time Attack another go with the CX3.  I came awfully close, at 60.65 seconds.  Here’s the video (with apologies for some of the out-of-frameness):

(music: Lettuce, “Outta Here”; cube: Maru CX3 w/ stock stickers)

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Parity or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 4×4

After painstakingly modding my Shengshou v4s a couple months ago (mod post coming soon), my interest in 4x4s has waxed and waned. On the one hand, I find it a welcome and more challenging distraction from 3x3s; on the other hand, those damn parity algorithms!?! I have finally committed them to muscle memory and am now trotting along at a 2:20 average using the Yau variation of the reduction method. (For more on Yau, and especially the cross-on-right variation that I find easier, check out Cyoubx’ really good Yau intro video.)

For months, parity was my albatross. I finally conquered it, so to speak, not only by finding and learning algorithms that worked for me, but also my learning about the root causes of parity. This was by far my deepest dive into puzzle theory and its associated patois. Keep reading past the jump for much more on the types of cube parity, what causes each, and, most importantly, what we really mean when we sloppily say that a cube has “parity.”

PARITY ALGORITHMS

If you’re just here for the algorithms, look no further:

OLL Parity
4x4-oll-parity

[1] Rw U2 x Rw U2 Rw U2 Rw’ U2 Lw U2
Rw’ U2 Rw U2 Rw’ U2 Rw’

[2] (Rw Lw) U2 Lw’ U2 Rw’ U2′ x’ U2 Rw’ U2′ Rw U2 Rw’ U2′ Rw2 U2

PLL Parity
4x4-pll-parity

Uw2 Rw2 U2 r2 U2 Rw2 Uw2

Here’s a (now muted due to copyright claims) video showing each:

(music: Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues; cubes: Konsta+Florian modded Shengshou v4s with Cube Specialists Bright+ modded stickers)

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Cube Patents

Every once in a while, my hobby intersects with my profession. That was the case a year ago when I wrote about the controversy between Dayan and Seven Towns over the latter’s (largely exaggerated, I believe) position that it had a copyright/trade dress claim against any cube maker using the standard yellow-white/red-orange/blue-green color scheme. And it’s the case again now, with my recent project to decorate my new office. I figured that the lawyer who deals with patents by day and speedcubes in his free time might as well have some topical art.

I downloaded a variety of cube related patents, ranging from the very first related patent of which I’m aware (from the 60s), the Japanese magnetic 2×2 patent from the 70s, the Hungarian and US Rubik patents from the early 80s, the (in)famous Verdes V-Cube patents, and the (relatively) recent Dayan ones. In Photoshop, I assembled them into a composite with the abstract pages and key diagrams, had it printed at 24×36 by Kinkos (for $4.50), and framed it (via Aaron Brothers for $35). Voila! Legal-cube-nerd art:

cube-patent-composite-25%

Click on the thumbnail to expand. I’m not convinced there’s a high demand for this sort of thing, but, just in case, here are links for downloading it:

pdf (15MB) | png (16MB) | png (50% size – 6MB)

(Again, I doubt there’s interest, but I would just ask that no-one commercialize it, and that I get credited/linked-back if anyone uses it online.)

And if the composite file isn’t enough, here’s a video. A veritable multimedia smorgasbord!

(music: “Apache,” Incredible Bongo Band)

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PLL Time Attack (72 seconds)

It’s been a little while since I felt like I’ve accomplished much in terms of cubing, especially after plateauing at about 30-35 seconds on 3×3 solves. So, I decided to revisit PLL time attacks, and, after a few days of practice, got a good outcome: an on-camera 72-second PLL attack that started and ended with a solved cube:

(music: Dexter Gordon, “Scrapple from the Apple”; cube: Zhanchi w/ ModCuber fitted full-bright stickers)

By way of brief background, PLL is the last step in CFOP — once you have a solved bottom face, solved bottom two layers, and solved top face. All that’s left is to get those four edges and four corners in the top layer rejiggered into their proper position. There are 21 PLL cases (22 if you count solved), each named after a letter that somewhat resembles the pattern of the edge and corner swaps. More detailed background and the PLL algorithms can be found on the speedsolving.com wiki.

A PLL time attack is the performance of each of the 21 PLLs in a stream without stopping. Completing it in a minute is respectable, but not amazing; forty-five seconds is really good; and better than that is truly impressive. When I first learned PLLs, I did a quasi time attack — quasi because it was truncated (I did the Gs separately), because I did each PLL individually (not in a single stream), and because I used my best of three attempts per PLL. The sum of the 21 parts was 66 seconds. Continue reading

V Perm (Revisited)

v permI remember learning the V Perm early in my PLL progress and being quite proud of myself. I even wrote this dedicated post containing a video showing my unimpressively slow execution. Unfortunately, the execution never got that much more fluid. Although it was an average speed perm for me when I did my (kinda sorta) PLL attack, it always was one of my clunkier ones.

Last weekend, jskyler91 posted a new Cubing World video showing a “non-standard” V Perm execution based on this algorithm:

z D’ R2′ D (R2 U R’) D’ (R U’) (R U R’) D (R U’) z’

No awkward re-grips and much smoother than the traditional approach. He bemoaned the z rotations; I was intimidated by all the D layer moves. Still, the fact that he could sub-1 the perm led me to believe that I could do it in 2. As this video shows, I’m close:

(music: Eldar Djangirov interpreting “Cool” (West Side Story); cube: Lubix Zhanchi w/ Cube Specialists fitted bright stickers and modded Cubesmith grey stickers for U face)

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