M Slice F2L (##15-16)

It was exactly three years ago this weekend that I solved a Rubik’s Cube for the first time. Escaping the craziness that can come with too much family over Thanksgiving weekend, I spent an hour in front of YouTube, scribbled some notes, turned on my webcam, and recorded this six-minute solve. I thought I was awesome.

Fast forward three years, and I’m not longer impressed by being able to solve cubes, even big ones. Speed is impressive (certainly the sub-10 folks blow my mind), but that’s never going to be me. Three years in, I’m still hovering at 30 seconds for a 3×3, and I’m actually ok with that. What impresses and intrigues me even further is deepening my knowledge; I’m always interested in learning new techniques and approaches (in my very limited spare time).

For a little while, now, I’ve been focussed on using the M slice to make easier and reduce rotations in certain “tough” F2L cases. These two — #15 and #16 — boiled to the top:

M U (L F’ L’) U’ M’

executed as: M U (Rw F’ Rw’) U’ M’

M U (L F L’) U’ M’

y’ (R’ U R U’) d’ (R U R’)

U (R’ F R F’) U (R U R’)

M U’ (R’ F R) U M’ setup:
M U’ (R’ F’ R) U M’

y’ (R U’ R’ U) d (R’ U’ R)

I’ve identified 8 other cases that are interesting contenders for M slice F2L. But some would be just as clunky as the conventional approaches. As Cyoubx very clearly articulates in this video, M slice (as part of forced rotationless) F2L taken to its extreme starts to approximate Roux — and bad Roux at that. I’m interested in exploring Roux more. But, for now, I think there are certain key F2L cases that can be converted to M and used in Fridrich/CFOP without veering into bad-Roux-land. While I continue to explore the others, I think these two work quite well.

iPhone 240fps Slo-Mo (Ja Perm)

Yes, another quickie slomo video. Ja Perm:

(R’ U2) (R U R’) z R2 (U R’) D (R U’)

I don’t think this iteration is that common, but it’s been my go-to since I stumbled onto it ages ago.

(music: Beats Antique, “Cat Skillz”; cube: Maru CX3)

The key with this one is the z rotation, which converts into more manageable U and D moves what would otherwise be alternating R and L moves. I don’t execute the z as a full rotation, but just enough that my right hand can execute the “coverted” moves.

DIY YJ Yulong Phantom Cube

A quick post and a quick video. I caught a glimpse of the Maru CX3 Phantom Cube the other day and really dug it. In contrast to a typical cube of black plastic with colored stickers, the phantom has black stickers on colored plastic. It’s basically a stickerless cube stickered (on all six sides) with black stickers.

Since I had a handful of black stickers and a Yulong stickerless cube laying around, I figured I could make one myself:

I’ve always been intrigued by stickers on colorless cubes anyway, and this one performs pretty well. That said, the “inverted” scheme makes color recognition really tough. A fun cube, but definitely not one for speedsolving.

iPhone 240fps Slo-Mo (H Perm)

Another slo-mo PLL iPhone video? Maybe this will become a series, after all....

HH was the very first one-look PLL I learned. It forced me to learn M slice flicks for the four M2′ combos, each of which I executed as two single M’ flicks. Soon thereafter I learned double-M’ flicks (pulling back to front across the bottom with my ring then middle finger), allowing much faster execution. Although I also learned double-U flicks, I couldn’t get my right hand fingers into position for those doubles while holding the cube in a way that allowed for the double-M’s. So, I would do double M’s and paired single Us. I eventually learned the M-based U Perms which relied on a mix of U and U’ as shown in this slomo video. Last week, a lot of folks commented that my Ub push/pull finger trick on the U layer was innovative.

What if I used that same trick for the H Perm, like so:

M2′ U’ M2′ U2 M2′ U’ M2′

Turns out, it works quite well.

(music: TAUK, “Sweet Revenge”; cube: Maru CX3)

My left hand index finger executes the U’ by pulling left to right across the front. That puts the index finger in a position to push right to left for the U2, and in a position to do the second U’ like the first. The only challenge was that muscle memory kept telling my left hand to move the M layer as though I was doing a Ub perm. A couple days in, the synapses have adapted and separated the two. My execution is good, but there’s speed to be gained.

AoChuang 5×5 Re-Stickering (Time Lapse)

It’s not easy to make a re-stickering video interesting. So, why make one at all? In this case, it was an excuse to test the iPhone 6 time lapse feature. Here’s about 30 minutes of scraping, cleaning, and stickering a Moyu AoChuang 5×5 reduced to 100 seconds.

(setup: iPhone 6 tripod-mounted with Charger City adapter; music: The New Deal, “Back to the Middle”)

The puzzle and stickers are from The Cubicle in my standard scheme. The cube looks great and performs even better. Easily the best 5×5 out there. Perfectly suited for me, the worst 5×5 solver out there....

iPhone 240fps Slo-Mo (U Perms)

It seems that iPhone 6 slo-mo videos are all the rage these days. Why not jump on the bandwagon? No doubt slow-motion is useful for teaching new algs and finger tricks. Here’s a quick proof of concept based around my execution of the U-Perms:

(setup: iPhone 6 tripod-mounted with Charger City adapter; music: Kung Fu, “Loose”; cube: Dayan Zhanchi)

Not bad for a phone, eh? Although this was shot under the same light as my other videos, it does appear darker and noisier (with the sensor trying to compensate). It seems that the 240fps frame rate does drop the total light processed by a good 50%. I’ll need to blast it with light next time.

I have an ambitious plan up my sleeves for a video based around the slo-mo feature. But with the clunky workflow (needing to pass the video through the iMovie app before offloading for editing in FCPX), it might be a while before I find a solid uninterrupted block of time for it.

P.S. I just recorded a similar video for the Nb Perm (z D’ (R U’ R2′) D (R’ U D’) (R U’ R2′) D (R’ U R) z’):

(setup: tripod-mounted iPhone 6; music: Kung Fu, “Paragon”; cube: Moyu AoLong v1)

Maybe I’ll consider a series of these....

S-Slice: F2L Edge Flip

For a while now, I’ve had a decent alg for flipping a placed but misoriented F2L edge: r (R U R’ U’) r’ U2 (R U R U’ R2). As I wrote earlier, this is a “purer” alternative — in that it does not affect the orientation of the U corners — to the standard algs of (R U’ R’) d (R’ U2 R) U2′ (R’ U R) and (R U R’ U’) (U’ R U2 R’) d (R’U’R). It’s regripless and fairly fast, but still a bit a clunky.

While learning an S-slice alternative to another F2L case (coming soon), it occurred to me that S may open up possibilities here, too. I reached out to TellerWest, king of tricked out algs, and we identified this as possibility:

R’ U S’ U’ (R B’ R’) S R B

As shown in this video, it works quite well:

S moves are not that easy nor natural for a lot of folks. Continue reading