Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cubers Aren't that Smart

I just want to clarify a few things up about the stereotypical cuber.
1. If one can solve a rubik's cube, one is not automatically a genius.
2. There is more than one way to solve a rubik's cube.
3. You cannot have only 5 sides solved...
4. A cube has more than one solved state.
Which leads to
5. Professional companies are not intelligent.

Now a breakdown:
1. I cube and I feel that I'm fairly intelligent, but not all cubers are. Cubers generally either have a really good memory, or they're just very apt at spacial reasoning.
2. There are many many methods for making every face a solid color. The beginner's method, Petrus, Pochman, Waterman, Fridrich, ZZ, to name a few.
3. If you have 5 faces solved, that means that one edge is mis-oriented. Edge pieces have TWO sides and colors. If it is misaligned on one side, it is misaligned on the adjacent side. That being said, you can't even have ONLY one misaligned edge piece. You must have AT LEAST two misaligned pieces, and thus the maximum number of solid sides aside from 6 is FOUR!
4. I was reading an ad on THE Rubik's brand website, and it said this:

"With "43 Quintillion" possible moves and only "ONE" solution... it provides hours of mind boggling fun and a way to carry your keys." Rubik'

a) 43 quintillion isn't the exact number, but that's totally fine, since no one really cares and it's obvious that it's just an approximation
b) The issue comes when it's juxtaposed by the "ONE" a few words later. There are many more solutions than just one. every center piece on a rubik's cube can be rotated in four directions. There are 6 independent faces on a cube, and thus, collectively there are 4^6=4096 possible permutations of the center pieces. So, really, there are FOUR THOUSAND NINETY SIX solutions. Again, I would let this slide if not for the capitalization of the "ONE."

5. Asian countries and third-world nations in general are often flamed for unprofessional-ism in product marketing and patenting. Take for example the Sharpie and Shoupie. America is the "cream-of-the-crop" when it comes to professional marketing - flawless advertisements and perfect products. Rubik' is no different. Admittedly, looking at the website, the UI is more than clean, and the ads are pretty decent. However, they pretend people know nothing about math or cubes (which is kinda fair, as discussed in 1.). Furthermore, the product is far from immaculate. Rubik's brands are notorious for their lack of function. Furthermore, their prices are insanely higher than the DIY cubes the rest of the world uses.

It's all about the image.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cubing is Quite Difficult

So, hey. I've been cubing a lot lately and I've dropped my time down from 27ish seconds to 22-24 in two weeks (today's A5 was 22.46). In my opinion, that's okay, but I feel like I've hit a barrier. Here's a breakdown of my steps.

Cross - 3 sec
F2L - 13 sec
OLL - 5 sec
PLL - 3 sec
Total - 24 sec

Looking at this, I have my things-to-do list:
1. Shave F2L down to 9-10 seconds
2. Learn full OLL, thus dropping that to 3 seconds.
3. Cross to 1 second.

Doing this will lead to 18-19 second solves...SUB 20!!!

School's about to start and I don't really want to commit to memory the rest of the OLL's (I know 19/57 right now). So I'm going to work on F2L lookahead and BLD cross. Sub 20 will be hard with this, but it'll be an improvement.

Sorry for the lack of meat in the recent posts, but this post, in particular, is more for my logging than your reading pleasure.


Thanks for reading,

Sunday, August 15, 2010 is Pretty Awesome

So hey. A pretty short update post here. Basically, I've reached a new PB avg of 22.90 seconds. Still not great, but it's a one second improvement from two days ago. Also, I've joined the Speedsolving forums. I find myself more addicted to that than Facebook...then again, I've never cared for FB that much.

That's actually about it.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Lepao 3x3 Rubik's Cube is Decent...Meh

I've been looking online for a review on the Lepao Rubik's Cube, but haven't been able to find one. Thus, here's my thoughts on it.

Stickers/colors: The coloration on the Lepao 3x3 is the standard American color scheme. However, the green side is more of a turquoise, a minor issue. The stickers in general are nice in that they're very bright, and the contrast between opposing sides is nicely distinguishable. On the other hand, they started peeling after one day of use. The material used is similar to the stickers on a regular Rubik's brand cube, where there's a film covered over the paper sticker. These stickers will have to be removed at some point.

Turning: The turning is a little disappointing in that the cubies respond very poorly to silicone lubricant. The cube has a "sticky" texture when turning, and when it's turned slowly, the side jerks instead of glides smoothly.

Corner cutting: The corner cuts on this are amazing, although not state-of-the-art. Compared to my Maru 3x3, the corner cuts are similar, but stiffer. Then again, the Maru DIY is fairly epic. The corner cutting is effective for any quasi-accurate cuber. Just make sure your turns are accurate enough, say 30 degrees off max, and you'll be in good shape.

Jamming: Uh oh. The Lepao cube CANNOT counter-corner cut. Once it jams, it jams. Of course, many cubes have this same issue, and you can check out my other post on how to resolve jams.

Weight: The construction on the cube is really quite nice. It has a nice heft to it, and the plastic is seemingly very sturdy.

Other: One note about the center caps: They're flush to the center pieces. This means that it's extremely difficult to remove them. I recently had to readjust the screws, and I used a precision flathead screwdriver to chisel out the caps. Luckily, the plastic is very durable, and I didn't feel like it would crack in half.

Holistic: This cube is a bit of a let-down. For the price ($12?), the cube doesn't perform as well as similarly priced cubes. The stickers are shoddy, and the cube doesn't turn as well. That being said, it's still speed-cube worthy, it just won't be my primary.

Just another note before I sign off, the Lepao cube, along with many other Asian brands, are dubbed magic cubes instead of Rubik's cubes. This actually makes a lot of sense; it's just a direct translation of how you say Rubik's cubes in Mandarin Chinese (and I'm sure a lot of other languages, too).

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Avatar is a Mediocre Movie

I saw Avatar awhile back, hoping for something amazing; all my peers gave it two thumbs up, so I was all hyped up. After looking at a screen for nearly three hours, I left disappointed. Not only did Avatar fail to be unique, it was downright terrible.

Where to begin? I suppose with the largest flaw present - the plot. James Cameron could not have picked a cheesier, unoriginal focal point. As one of my friends coined it - "Pocahontas in space." That statement is spot-on. Not only is the plot identical, the only "twist" to the original Disney animation is the environment, consisting of chemiluminescent organisms and smurfs. This plot made the movie a no-brainer, every aspect of the movie was predictable, and the tale was drawn out for far too long.

Next, goof-ups. According to the Colonel, the Pandoras is a small planet, thus you have to work out to keep from "getting soft." Okay, fine, but how do you explain the gravity being the same as it is on Earth. There is no apparent difference in gravity. Then again, I'm no free-fall expert.

Moving on, as much as I dismissed the last claim, this next one is definitely a flaw. Based on the prevalent use of masks, I assume that Pandoras has an oxygen deficiency (do correct me if I'm wrong). Thus, humans have to travel outside with the gas masks on in order to survive. This leads to two flaws in the movie. Why does Trudy lack a mask when she pilots the copter?! And how does fire work in on Pandora? Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but that was a huge torch that Sulley had when he first stayed in the forest.

Now for the pros. There's not much except for the immaculate detail in the CGI. Admittedly, the effects in this movie were astounding. However, to counter that, this movie was in production 15 years prior to the release date.

In all, this movie is a mediocre reenactment of Pocahontas with CGI on steroids. The lack of originality makes it seem like plagiarism by the media, that is, content that is not one's own, but is not called out since it brings in cash.

Avatar was a successful movie from an economic standpoint, but really no more. I was thoroughly disappointed.

Final Rating: C+

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hello World! 2.0

First and foremost - the reference: the title is supposed to allude to Justin Bieber's album.

Secondly, the update. Since I'm so new to blogging, I took some time surfing around the Internet to figure out the general feel for a blog. From what I gathered, it's fairly open; people talk about their daily lives to listing "Top 10's."

That's all fun and well, but I need my niche, and I think I've found it. Initially I wanted to use Blogger as a way to evade society with what I thought about certain topics, both planned and spontaneous. However, I realized that any opinion I would deem valuable would be more or less a rant and I certainly don't need to disparage among passing readers.

Thus, instead, I've narrowed down my topic(s) to the three most relevant things in my life. School (Education), and two hobbies: Rubik's cubes and movies/cinema. That's not to say those are my only hobbies (for that would be a rather drab lifestyle), but it's definitely what I want to most blog about.

So there's my update.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why the Common Application Sucks

I'm currently a rising senior, and college applications are starting to flood my life. I'm applying to a few colleges which use the Common Application (CA). At first glance, I thought it was an amazing thing - a somewhat universal application to make the college admission process easier. In some ways, this is true, it does add a sense of ease to the hectic process. However, in retrospect, the College Application is rather discriminatory, "limiting," to put it lightly.

When filling out the biographical portion of the CA, I feel a sense of oppression, namely when specifying the languages I know or speak. Being born in the U.S. and having Taiwanese parents, I know three languages fluently - English, Taiwanese, and Mandarin Chinese. The CA on the other hand lists "Chinese" as a language...period. This is rather repulsive in a couple of different ways. One, what's Chinese? and two, what do I fill out for "Other proficient languages?"

Educators, in my experience, have always been the ones to distinguish between Mandarin and Cantonese, emphasizing that Chinese is NOT a language. Luckily, I don't speak both. On the other hand, I speak Taiwanese; where does that go? So, being the lazy type, I thought whatever, I'll just put down Chinese. Well, that became an issue - What would be my answers for the next query?

The next section on the CA wants people to list the other languages they are fluent in. So I got somewhat excited, because I could say the other languages. That hope was immediately flushed down the academic toilet. The entry lines were, again, supposed to be answered from the same list of languages available. So I picked Chinese twice (one for Taiwanese, and one for Mandarin). Not only is this incorrect information, but how stupid do I look?! "How many languages can you speak?" Three! English, Chinese, and....Chinese.

I actually considered defending the CA by saying Taiwanese isn't a language since it has no written characters. Making a quick search on Google, my subconscious was right - a language is simply a spoken way of communication. Nowhere was writing a prerequisite.

At this point, you probably get the idea. I could go on with other limiting factors, such as parental background or sibling information. However, these are pettier concerns since their circumstantial to me.

Make sure to check out the poll on the right hand side

Thanks for reading,

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hello World!

Hey internet.  This is a test blog to see what the hype is all about.  As a high school student, I have many opinions on the current education system, including curriculum and college applications.  I also love Rubik's cubes.  I know, nerdy, right?  Everyone has their niche, and this is mine.  Once in a while I'll post new expeditions of what I figured out, but I want this blog to be more or less my views on American schooling.

This was for sure a short blog, but I'm a complete foreigner to the blogging culture.
Thanks for reading,