New Camera Test – Edge Flip

Vixia HF R400I’m a bit of a shutterbug, with a couple nice SLR bodies and a collection of Canon L glass at home. Once upon a time I had a really nice video camera that we used to film the kids doing kid stuff — you know, first steps and all that jazz. Well, the passage of time made that that camcorder seem prehistoric. Time to get a new one to record the goings-ons with the kids….

Enter a Canon VIXIA HF R400, a compact camcorder packing a big punch on a digestible budget. This blog is an unintended beneficiary.

As the owner of an SLR that falsely-claims noise-free 3200 ISO shots, I assure you that I approached the R400’s low-light claims skeptically. Less skeptical was I of the solid slow-motion claim, based on the option of recording at 60fps. I tested both in this quick video:

(cube: Moyu Weilong with Cube Specialists fitted Bright+ stickers)

Continue reading


Megaminx Beginner’s Walkthrough, ECE Trio Tutorial (no last layer)

I’ve been on a Megaminx kick for the past 10 days. After posting that 10-minute (plus) non-last-layer solve, I practiced a bit more and finally did learn the last layer (beginners’ tutorial coming soon). I’m down to about 6 minutes now for a full solve. With one exception that I’ll point to in my upcoming last layer post, I couldn’t find many good Megaminx tutorials online. Instead, I kept bumping into statements that solving a Megaminx is just like solving a 3×3 — but with a bunch more F2L steps. Yeah, that is basically right. But not entirely.

On a cube there are just 4 F2L slots. Except for some incremental efficiency gains, there’s really no magic to the order in which you fill those slots. On a Megaminx, order does matter — at least, I found that certain face/slot orders flows more smoothly, with a lot less potential for accidentally destroying already-solved portions.

I also found that there will always be one tricky V-shaped slot formed by an edge-corner-edge (ECE) trio. In the end, it turns out that’s it’s not that hard to form and insert the trio without breaking up the solved neighboring faces. I just wish someone would have created a clear tutorial one it, since it’s not entirely intuitive. Having figured out a technique that worked well for me, I decided to do a quick walk-thru video showing the face/slot order I use and then explaining the way I fill that ECE trio:

This is a beginner doing a beginner’s work; there’s some inefficiency and excess hunting throughout. Continue reading

F2L – Corner Placed, Edge in U

As though quoting Scripture, the entire community seems speaks in one harmonized voice when it comes to F2L:

Learn F2L intuitively. Don’t memorize F2L algorithms.

Yeah, ok. I get the point. Intuitively, it’s not hard to grasp pairing corners and edges and then inserting them. And it’s not hard to see how to do that in many instances — splitting pairs, using empty slots, etc.

But I do contend that certain F2L cases are anything but intuitive. In particular, I found completely non-intuitive the cases in which a corner is inserted (but flipped), with the corresponding edge in the U layer. Indeed, I’ve gotten in the inefficient habit of simply getting the corner into the top layer without regard to where (with a R U R’, for example), and then treating it, ahem, like an intuitive F2L case.

No longer. I’m committed to learning the four cases below. The first one is easy — a Sexy Move plus an easy peasy insertion. But the others are so damn similar that I find it nearly impossible to keep them separated in my head. Any suggestions?

setup pairing insertion
(R U R’ U’) (R U R’)
y’ (R’ U R U’) (R’ U R)
(R U’ R’ U) (R U’ R’)
y’ (R’ U’ R U) (R’ U’ R)

F2L Edge Flip

I just posted last week about some fancy edge insertion techniques I had learned. With those down, I realized that I was missing a good algorithm for addressing edges placed in the correct F2L slot but flipped. I finally came across this one, which works fantastically:

r (R U R’ U’) r’ U2 (R U R U’ R2)

I’ve got it down to about 2 seconds now, as shown in this quick video:

(music: Umphrey’s McGee covering Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”)

I previously had used (R U’ R’) d (R’ U2 R) U2′ (R’ U R) for edge flips. Continue reading

Tricked-Out F2L Edge Inserts (Hello, S Moves!)

It’s been a few weeks now since I posted my PLL attack video. It’s not that I’ve been cubing less, but just that I haven’t had a lot of time for documenting things. A particularly busy month at work and family stuff — including a couple great birthday celebrations for my boys — evaporated my free time.

As of my last post, I had learned all PLLs minus the Gs. Since then, I’ve learned Ga well and Gb poorly. The two being inverses, I’m now able to practice them more fluidly.

I also stumbled onto and subscribed to TellerWest’s Youtube channel, featuring some really great “tricked out” algorithms that are far faster and more efficient (for the more advanced and dexterous of cubers). This particular F2L video caught my eye, since F2L edge inserts have been especially slow for me. (Edge inserts are when a corner is properly placed, but the edge is in the top layer.) After watching a few times, I realized that they weren’t the longest or hardest algorithms. So I gave them a try — and, in so doing, encountered my first S slice.

Continue reading

road trip: F2L revisited

Just back from a family road trip. I found myself in the passenger seat for the first and last 8-hour legs — the car seat behind it makes the legroom too small for my wife to sit there comfortably. Boredom. Good thing I brought a cube and Andy Klise’s awesome cheat sheet summarizing Badmephisto’s F2L algorithms.

Learn F2L intuitively. Those seem to be the F2L watchwords. And so I did. Intuitively. The basic idea of setting up pairs in the top layer and then inserting them into a slot made sense. And the basic approaches for hiding a corner while moving an edge eventually became second nature. But not efficient. With half the edge/corner pairs (on average) in the front/left faces, I had to do the exceptionally awkward (F’ U’ F) trigger to get them into the front-right slot or do a y turn to get the pair into the left/back faces for a (L’ U L) trigger. Either way, I’d have to slow down, switch hands, re-position, etc. No surprise, my fastest solves are the ones with all or most of the insertions resulting from pairs in the right/front faces with the super easy (R U R’) trigger. Continue reading

39 seconds (on camera)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted a series of personal bests — culminating in last week’s 34 second solve.  But none of those PBs were evidenced by anything other than a screen capture.  So, it was nice just now to record (on my hastily set up iPad) this 39-second solve before diving into my work day.

This was on my re-stickered Dayan Zhanchi, with my custom (homemade) G‑sticker.  This nicely showcases my slow but steady evolution — with no remnants of the Beginner’s Method. Advanced cross, F2L, Antisune (OLL 26), and the just-learned Ub Perm for the PLL edge cycle.