With repeated thanks to CrazyBadCuber, I’ve hit 1,500 Youtube subscribers. (At the same time, my blog subscriptions have increased, but certainly not as dramatically.)
1500 is a big milestone that coincides nicely with the holidays. Time for a give-away!
THE GIVE-AWAY CONTEST
One of the most popular posts on this blog and videos on my Youtube channel surrounds a LED-backlit Ghosthand Crystal Cube that I “hacked” for constant-on, blink-free illumination. As showcased in the how-to video below, I’ve hacked another one, and I’m giving it away through this contest.
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):
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.”
If you’re just here for the algorithms, look no further:
 Rw U2 x Rw U2 Rw U2 Rw’ U2 Lw U2
Rw’ U2 Rw U2 Rw’ U2 Rw’
 (Rw Lw) U2 Lw’ U2 Rw’ U2′ x’ U2 Rw’ U2′ Rw U2 Rw’ U2′ Rw2 U2
Uw2 Rw2 U2 r2 U2 Rw2 Uw2
Here’s a (now muted due to copyright claims) video showing each:
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:
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:
It’s been 14 months since I wrote about more advanced cross techniques, which is only slightly less long than I’ve been at this cubing thing altogether. At the time, I was thrilled just to move on from the beginner’s method of forming a daisy on top. Memorizing the cube’s color scheme seemed like an accomplishment.
A year-plus later, I’m stuck at around 35 seconds. I’ve learned all 21 PLLs, have gotten pretty fast at two-look OLL (with a handful of OLLs one-lookable), and am competent with F2L (fast, but with lots of hunting still). But my crosses are still really clunky. Time to start focusing on the cross.
To set a benchmark, I did 5 Ao12s of just crosses. I spread out the sessions to make sure they were pretty accurate representations. Although there are a few stray bests, the 60-cross average was 6.75: Continue reading →
You don’t skip the company’s annual golf tournament because you’re a double-bogey golfer. You go, drink a few beers, have a good time, and learn a thing or two from the guys who live on the course. At least that’s what I do.
And, metaphorically, that’s what I did when I decided to submit an entry into an online competition administered by cyoubx and Mitchell Lane. They provided scrambles for several events (2×2, 3×3, 4×4, pyraminx) and invited people to “compete” by submitting video responses showing their solves. It would be based on the honor system (no way to prevent people from filming themselves multiple times and submitting only their best), and there would be no prizes. The express purpose was “to ‘meet’ other cubers,” “to encourage personal improvement,” and to strengten “a sense of community” among cubers.
I knew there was zero chance I could win this thing, averaging around 42 seconds (with my better solves in the mid-thirties). But I dug the concept and the chance to try something different as part of the community. Minimally, like folks who film their golf swing for analysis, I figured that I could learn something about my technique.
Video Submission, Results
Here is the 3×3 video I submitted, with a best solve of 37 seconds and an average of five of 39 seconds I realize that the edits between each solve give the appearance of multiple attempts. And there were. But not the cheating of multiple solve attempts; worse, it was multiple scramble attempts!?! Half-way through each of the scrambles, I caught myself reversing (or at least worrying that I had reversed) the inverse/non-inverses for Ds, Ls, and Bs. So I had to keep starting over to make sure I got each scramble right. Trust me, if I were going to cheat, I would have submitted better solves without glaring mistakes!?!
I haven’t really posted many hardware reviews on the site, mostly because, as a mediocre solver, I’ve tended to feel like my opinion and knowledge of cubes was not very valuable. But I do think I have a discerning eye (or, as it were, touch) and that, in some ways, an average cuber’s views are more interesting (as we are still wading our way through hardware and techniques). So, sheepishly I proceed….
I’m excited to have purchased a Camcuber Zhanchi SE, which is an OEM Dayan Zhanchi that has received Cameron Browns custom “tune up.” Cameron sells them at his shop for $39.99 (plus $5 more for the Special Edition). When I tried to buy it a month ago, the site listed it as sold-out. I emailed to see about pre-orders, and got a near immediate response. Cameron was working on a new batch, and they’d ship soon. So, I pre-ordered, got a shipping update about three weeks later, and the cube arrived two days after that. I was surprised to find it nicely wrapped in holiday paper with a bow and candy cane and all. A really nice touch over the holidays.
Before I get into the review, here’s an excerpt from the description page: Continue reading →