Story Time with Uncle Tyson

Cube stories from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘macky

You Can Thank/Blame Me for…

with 4 comments

Author: Shotaro Makisumi (macky)

I went to a couple of European competitions this spring while studying abroad in France. At one of these competitions, I met a cuber who used my site back in the day to learn PLL. Apparently, he still does the T-perm as FRU’R’URUR2’F’RURU’R’ (the inverse of the current standard) because that’s how I used to do it until Stefan corrected me. Oops. Come to think of it, I also heard this once from someone in the U.S.

I held a bunch of world records in 2004-2005, so a lot of cubers at the time probably at least occasionally visited my site, Cubefreak. Because of this, there are a couple of notable things in cubing today—not contributions or influences, but rather quirks and accidents of history—that I seem to have inadvertently popularized, or that can be traced back to me. Depending on your view, you can thank or blame me for these things.

The JSCC OLL Numbering System

I frequented the JSCC (Japan Speed Cubing Club) forum (now basically dead) when I made my website in 2003. For my OLL/PLL pages, I adopted the numbering system used by all the Japanese cubers, most notably Katsuyuki Konishi (Planet Puzzle), numbering the unsolved OLLs from 1 through 57 and PLLs from n1 through n21. The prefix n- for PLL stands for naitsu, the screen name of the JSCC founder and the first sub-20 Japanese cuber, and serves to distinguish this system from the system, which used P1 through P21. Although Jessica Fridrich’s lettering system has become the standard for PLL, there seems to be no clear consensus for OLL because of the larger number of cases. The closest thing we have to a standard is the wiki’s OLL page, which uses the JSCC numbering. Along with Katsu, whose site was also popular among English speakers, I was responsible for popularizing this system in the western cubing world. Sorry.

Oh, and some of you probably know OLL 22 as the Air Jeff because of me.

The w Notation

JSCC also had their own extension to the standard David Singmaster notation (UDRLFB MES 2′ xyz). They used (f) etc to indicate rotations (Katsu, being the maniac that he described himself to be, even used (f15) etc for tilts) instead of xyz. For wide turns, JSCC had the -w (“double”-u) suffix for double-layer (for 3×3 and up) and -t for triple-layer turns (for 4×4 and up). For my site, I stuck to xyz for rotations but adopted the w notation because it avoided the conflicting use in big cubes of the alternative lowercase notation. Again, Katsu and I were probably largely responsible for first familiarizing this notation to the rest of the world, though it received renewed exposure through the CUTEX team’s website around 2007. Among notable historical cubers with websites, the w notation was used by Gungz (Yu Jeong-Min) and Sébastien Felix. While many American cubers understand but don’t use the w notation for 3×3, it’s been adopted by the WCA as the official wide-turn notation for 4×4 and 5×5. Sorry.

OLL Images

Since I brought up the wiki’s OLL page, I’ll talk about these images:

OLL 46

You’ve probably seen this style of OLL images on a couple of different websites. Well, I made these back in 2004 or 2005. That’s right, I took the blank 3×3 image from Katsu’s site, carefully added twelve lines on the sides, then for each OLL, erased and shaded the appropriate lines and facelets…in Microsoft Paint. I made my PLL images around the same time using Paint and PowerPoint, but those didn’t get around nearly as much. You can thank me for this one.

3OP Edge Orientation Definition

My “A 3-Cycle Guide to 3x3x3 Blindfold Cubing,” first written in 2005,  was and probably still is the most widely-read (so non-video) guide for 3OP (3-Cycle Orientation Permutation). The method involves defining a correct orientation for each piece as one that can be brought to the correct position and orientation using moves within a certain subgroup of the Cube Group. While there’s only one obvious choice of subgroup for the corners, there are two for the edges: <U, D, F2, B2, R, L>, meaning no quarter turns on the F/B faces, or <U, D, F, B, R2, L2>, meaning no quarter turns on the R/L faces. For the first two versions of the guide, I used <U, D, F, B, R2, L2>, which was also used in stiff_hands cube page, where I had learned 3OP. In 2006, Leyan Lo and others pointed out some advantages of using <U, D, F2, B2, R, L>, and I updated the guide to use this subgroup. The change turned out to not matter much because the next years brought the BLD revolution, with Stefan Pochmann’s M2/R2 and freestyle popularized by Chris Hardwick and others, but many blindfold cubers who learned 3OP before 2006 still use the other definition because of my guide. It certainly sucks if you want to learn ZZ. I’m actually kind of sorry about this one. My bad.

The cubing community is still small enough that there are many random things that can be traced back to certain individuals. So, what can we blame/thank you for?

Happy Holidays,


Written by macky

December 27, 2010 at 11:22 pm

The Rants of a Bitter Old Man, or: A Brief Interlude on the Evolution of Cubing Technology

leave a comment »

Author: Vincent Sheu

“Type-A? What is that?” Andy, Alexei, and I had recently started a cube club at our high school. Andy, the fast one, had lofty goals of eventually going to tournaments (back then, I thought there was no way I would ever reach the holy grail of sub-15 seconds). Despite my exclamations of doom, the three of us progressed, albeit rather slowly. I always felt that we were limited by hardware. The best cubes any of us had ever touched were the Rubik’ DIY’s (not including the original cube that Andy had gotten for 40 bucks on Ebay, and immediately destroyed with WD-40). Studio cubes were viewed as rare artifacts, to be displayed rather than played with.

Due to our limitations, we trained ourselves to turn slowly. “Lookahead above all!” Macky’s adage about most cubers having the most to improve in F2L lookahead was always at the forefront of our thoughts.

One day, Andy brought up the Type-A, B, and C cubes. The B version, apparently, was disgusting. The C was a Chinese knockoff of the Rubik’ DIY’s that we had been faithful to. But the Type-A: words could not begin to describe how that cube supposedly was going to transform cubing. Apparently the top cubers had tried it and many were considering switching, we heard (keep in mind that we were a small isolated pocket of cubing; much of what we heard was probably false). We eagerly ordered a few, and awaited magic.

I confess, I was disappointed. The new Type-A cube was hard and heavy. Compared to my Rubik’ DIY cube, it seemed unwieldy. I stayed resistant to change. The Type-D and Type-F came out. The A-II. New type-A. Through all this, I stuck with my trusty Rubik’ DIY. Little did I know: a revolution was occurring. No longer did cubes lock up every other move. No longer did cubers strain muscles trying basic fingertricks. Cubes could now be described as “creamy” or “crispy”. Screws were no longer a feature in cubes – they were a standard. Cubies were given teeth to prevent them from popping too easily. Others had built-in track guides to achieve a similar effect. Cubes came in light hollow varieties, as well as dense, heavier models. Sticker manufacturers printed stickers in a multitude of colors, giving cubers choices to allow them to optimally distinguish pieces during solves. In short, cubing technology had improved to the point that the new generation of cubers could have an insanely high TPS count and get a sub-15 average with average look-ahead skills.

Today, there are so many different brands of cubes on the market that whole websites have been devoted to exhibit the selection available to the average cuber. Endless debates rage about the “best” cube. From the GuHong to the Ghosthand, to the Edison, to the former Type-A series: a cube seemingly exists for every possible cuber, with every possible combination of strengths and weaknesses. It amazes me how the “little kids” at the tournaments at run can keep track of them all.

I’m happy that the influx of cubing innovation has made it possible for a new wave of cubers to improve their times relatively quickly. At the same time, I feel nostalgic; as well as saddened, that a style of cubing, which once dominated the landscape, now seems to be ebbing in influence. Foresight and look-ahead have fallen prey to blinding fast turning, made possible by new technology. One day, when I have the time, I, too may convert.

Written by macky

December 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm