Solving a Rubik's Cube is fun!

School has started to pick up fairly reasonably, what with all the exams and homework and whatnot, and since work hasn't been slowing down either, I've found myself with a very sudden need to relax with something other than Reddit and whatever other time-wasting activity I could find on the web. So guess what? I replaced those with yet another time-wasting activity. Except this one is at least slightly more useful (but still pretty useless in the long run).

Solving the Rubik's Cube

Ever since I saw one of my colleagues in 9th grade solve a Rubik's Cube I've felt pretty bad having to use online solver websites to solve a Rubik's cube but I've never gotten around to finding the time to learning all the algorithms. Besides, as far as I was concerned, in the beginning, I thought it would take too long to figure out how to do it.

That is, until I got bored.

Ah, of course, my ultimate motivator! As I was laying in my bed studying for the SATs, I figured "what better way to solve this lack of motivation than by procrastinating?" It didn't take too long until I found something to mess with: my very old Rubik's Cube 2.0 straight from the original brand.

Here it is, although kind of battered.

As I took it off the stand it resided in for almost 3 years completely untouched, I began turning it around, trying to figure out how to solve it until I figured it was absolutely useless. I mean, to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I figured the best way to solve it is to actually learn how to solve it from another more reliable source than my haphazard attempt at trial and error.

Meet CubeSkills! Turns out this a training website made by the Rubik's Cube World Champion Felix Zemdegs! I thought that meant it was good, right? Definitely is. Honestly, I just used the website for free, along with the Training PDFs placed at your disposal there. I used the Beginner's Method first, because I was a beginner after all.

Guess what? After viewing the videos, I was able to solve the Rubik's Cube in a record time of 6 minutes! Wahoo, I did it! But I wanted to be faster. A lot faster.

Picking up the pace

It didn't take too long for me to decide to keep practicing the Beginner's Method in my spare time. Turns out in just about day, I ended up consistently hitting around 1 minutes and 10 seconds worth of solve time. At this point, I realized a stopwatch was ruining my chances at measuring my times, so I decided to get a timer app on my phone and PC. I found one for each respective platform.

For my PC, I found the pretty good CSTimer, which hosts a ton of features, like solve exporting, stats and some cool themes. It also works with official speedsolving timers, apparently, so that's pretty cool.

This is what CSTimer looks like.

Pretty high-end for a simple timer.

I also use Twisty Timer on my Android phone if I don't have my laptop handy, which happens a lot during rides on the subway. It also comes with a neat graph system to make me feel good about my improving times.

Nice graph!

However, even so, I ended up hitting a dead-end on my times. It was almost as if I was limited by something. Even after learning legitimate CFOP (the general method of solving a 3x3 Rubik's Cube) with intuitive F2L (First 2 Layers) and 4LL (4-Look Last Layer), my times were still over 1 minute, which should not happen physically, because I was technically faster than before. I then figured out the problem.

My cube sucks!

My 3-year-old, unlubricated and chipped Rubik's Cube 2.0 moved really badly. It would lock up on any turn faster than 1 a second, it would have its corners twist all the time, it was a complete and total mess. Its screws would get loose once every 20 solves as well. It made me incredibly annoyed that I would get bad times not because of my lack of skill, but because of the cube's incapability to perform. As such, I decided to upgrade.

Honestly, I didn't know what to go to. I wanted the best speedcube I could find on the market, but there were too many choices. Eventually I thought I should buy the one that most people seem to use, which is the GAN 356 Air SM.

After ordering it from Amazon, waiting for it to arrive, getting my money back, ordering it again from a Romanian shop and waiting an entire month for it, I finally got it!

It's beautiful.

It's beautiful.

Of course, as you can imagine, precisely 3 days after ordering it, the next generation of the cube I got, the GAN 356 X, is released, much like with my YubiKeys. Every time.

Regardless, the new cube moves beautifully, with no defects. It's smooth, doesn't twist, and now I move even faster than before. In fact, I even beat my old colleague's personal best, 27 seconds, with my time of 26.69 seconds!

I'm the best (cuber)...around!

What next?

After getting the personal best of 26 seconds, I took a short break from practicing to get back to legitimate work, but I am still cubing to this day. Ever since my little rushed escapade with cubing, my entire class has been taken by storm by the cubing movement. My friends keep bringing extra cubes at school to have fun and improve, I've been teaching my friends some new techniques that they might not know, and in addition, we got cubing competitions in my classroom (I keep losing to one of my colleagues, he's been doing it a lot more than me). Even McDonald's started their Rubik's Happy Meal campaign after me!

In all honesty, this has been incredibly satisfying, but I won't stop now. I'll keep going until I can get times under 10 seconds on solves, and who knows? Maybe I'll even try more complicated cubes then. I am happy with my new hobby, let's hope it lasts.

UPDATE (2019-01-07): Since then, yours truly has managed to be a smart-ass and buy two other cubes, the MoYu Weilong GTS3LM and the GAN 356 X, so I did get the elusive cube eventually. The MoYu is incredibly nimble, while the GAN X is insanely smooth, much smoother than even the Gan Air SM. I also improved my time to have an average of 25 seconds and a personal best of 18.64 seconds, so that's great!