I Got 5 On It

Go ahead and stream the below as your read this post. It’s my strained attempt to find some topical background music consistent with the post’s forced title. Maybe it’s just the introspection of turning 36, but it’s fun to hear an updated version of a song* that we used to listen to in high school.

* Wick-It Remix of the Luniz' “I Got Five On It,” with the opening minute or so cleaved and a line muted to keep things PG-13 around these parts….

So, I received my Shengshou 5×5 yesterday from amazon. I’m not really into higher order cubes, and certainly not into speed-solving them. But I guess that curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to test my theory that a 5×5 actually would be easier than a 4×4 for want of parity issues. I *hate* 4×4 last layer parity — with its long and confusing algorithms. Two 5×5 solves in, my theory seems mostly right.

shengshou 5x5
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2x2s Revisited

I haven’t spent much time at all on 2x2s. I actually think they’re fun puzzles, but just never really got that into them. I basically got a V-Cube 2×2 a month after getting into cubing, landed a 27-second on-video solve on my first try, got a 16-second solve a few days later, and then shelved it.


When Crazybadcuber posted his excellent 2×2 tutorial (embedded below) the other day, I decided to order a better 2×2 (a WitTwo Type C v1) and try again. The last time I played with a 2×2, I treated it as a 3×3 with no edges. Which, of course, is right. But applying 3×3 algorithms is not very efficient. For example, I used to treat this 2×2 case like this 3×3 case . Of course, the 3×3 algorithm will work. But it takes 12 QTM moves with a couple D layer moves (which I find hard on a 2×2). By contrast, the 2×2-specific an alternate 3×3 algorithm takes only 6 QTM moves — and is crazy easy: an F turn to setup, a Sexy Move, and a F’ to finish. EDIT: The key is that these three are equivalent: . Once you ignore edges, there are multiple 3×3 OLL cases to choose from for each 2×2 OLL case. Continue reading

Adventures in 4x4ing

Excepting a one-week detour to play with a Pyraminx and a weekend of fiddling with 2x2s, my cubing adventure has been exclusively a 3×3 one. Back in April, I purchased a QJ Mini 4×4 on amazon, and I thought I might get into it. Instead, I dove more deeply into the 3×3’s, learning F2L far better, mastering the PLLs (just 3 Gs left), and picking up OLLs here and there.

On Saturday, my five-year stumbled onto a youtube video of a 7×7 solve (probably starting with my youtube history) and asked, “Dad — why don’t you get a big cube?” Not one to argue with the flights of a kid’s imagination, I relented by pulling out my dusty 4×4. (A far cry from a 7×7, but, like a camera, the best one is the one that’s with you.) I spent 30 minutes in front of youtube (learning, as I did with a 3×3, from RobH0629‘s great tutorial), scribbled down a few parity algorithms, and then, voila!, solved a 4×4. Continue reading

Pyraminx Restickering

As I posted last weekend, I’ve enjoyed the distraction of my QJ Pyraminx.  It’s a fun puzzle, and the QJ turns easily with just the right amount of clickiness.  My only complaint was that the stickers, while good quality, were pretty drab.  The red was very dark and the green and blue were hard to distinguish in low light.  Enter cubesmith.

I re-stickered this morning with a set of bright/flourescent stickers, and am really happy with the results.  (Strangely, the iridescent orange appears red in the video.)  As long as I had the GoCam handy, I set it up and captured the process in time-lapse. Fifteen minutes compressed to 90 seconds:

music: Thom Yorke‘s chilling solo rendition of, fittingly, “Pyramid Song” (from October 26, 2002 Bridge School Benefit, an amazing cause!)

first timed 2×2 (27 seconds)

Having spent the last couple months consumed by 3×3 cubes, I just grabbed a 2×2 to break up the monotony. As expected, it didn’t take long to become comfortable with it. After all, a 2×2 cube is simply a 3×3 cube without the edges. After about 20 minutes for practice, I recorded this 27-second solve:

Pure Beginner’s Method adapted to a 2×2. The OLL was a little clunky, and I’m sure there are some more efficient algorithms. The PLL was a snap.

The music is Umphrey’s McGee playing, appropriately, “2×2” (from their December 30, 2010 concert). The full show can be downloaded here.

The cube is a V-Cube 2. It seems to lock up a bunch, especially when compared to the better 3×3’s I own. But it’s certainly smooth enough to serve as a fun distraction.