## The Elf on the Cube

Day 7 (2014 Dec 07, 06:45)

The Elf. He came back. Again. Just as the book tells it. This time, trading the shelf for an oversized cube. And he took a liking to my CX3.

A little creepy.

## 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:

# #16

## M U’ (R’ F R) U M’

### setup: M U’ (R’ F’ R) U M’conventional: 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….

H 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.