Archive for May, 2012

New Cube Order!

Posted in Blog, Cubing with tags , , , on May 31, 2012 by slateman

A student of mine was fascinated with the Windmill Cube I purchased some time back and asked me to get one for her. I shopped around and decided to return to Lightake. As I placed her order, I decided to get a add a tiny order for myself. While it is actually three new puzzles it’s actually a cheap and minor addition to my puzzle collection. Overall it cost almost nothing but I’m still pretty psyched. Let’s see what’s a’comin’.

Super Floppy 3x3x1
I’ve always been interested in getting a Floppy Cube but it’s never been a priority. As this is a real cheap order, I decided it was time. However, I’m glad I looked into it enough to know to get a Super Floppy instead as it can shape shift. This is going to be a novelty cube but it should be fun.

LanLan 2×2 – This time I’m getting it in black. I’m fairly certain someone stole my original LanLan 2×2 and while I don’t really use it much, I can’t not have one in my collection. I’ve never gotten into speed solving a 2×2…but that doesn’t excuse a vacant spot on my puzzle shelf! I’ll be happy to have this again though it’ll likely get less love than the other two.

Fisher’s Cube – So similar to the Windmill Cube, I figured it was time to test this out. I’m not too excited about this though I can’t say precisely why. Hopefully my Windmill Cube algs will help solve this. It doesn’t look as cool as that cube, but I’m building my collection so this should be in there.

RiDo’s Hunting Story

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Guides on May 28, 2012 by slateman

I’ve tinkered with F2L for quite some time and I’ve never really felt comfortable with it. While I realize it will actually slow me down at first, I think that becomes discouraging. Watching others do it however, makes me feel like I’m really missing out. Yesterday I came across RiDo’s Hunting Story and was impressed. Perhaps this can help me remember it all? For what it’s worth, I’m making a link for myself to remember. I really have to get on this…F2L would just rock!

New Cubing Record: 4×4 – 2:48.12

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records with tags on May 27, 2012 by slateman

Incremental new best times, I realize, but hey, I’ve never solved it faster! There were a few sure-thing solves that fell into disgust. One had me taking about a minute to solve the last layer alone. Pathetic. However, today, it’s good news. A new record, a second faster than the last. 2:48.12. I won’t complain!

Uncharted: Why Golden Abyss Is Better Than UC3

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Reviews, Uncharted with tags on May 27, 2012 by slateman

I love me some Uncharted. I’ll go as far as to say it’s the best game this generation. It helps that I prefer 3rd person games. But there’s no disputing the level of care the four UC games have been given. The settings, voice acting, stories and gameplay are all polished and pristine.

When Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception came out in November, I was disappointed. It did a lot right, let’s clear the air there. However, when looking at its single-player experience, it was inferior to UC2. That’s not a surprise, really, as UC2 is the aforementioned best game of this generation. There was something more though…something more disappointing than the fact the game was disappointing. It failed to move forward in a lot of ways. It failed to make me care.

So, as I started to play Golden Abyss, I knew we were looking at a side entry into the series. They’re never as good. And, once again, to be clear, it is less grand in several ways.

The visuals are clearly not as fantastic as the third game. The controls are lacking both a second pair of shoulders and the clicking of L3/R3, that’s 4 buttons lost. This makes reloading more cumbersome and you cannot zoom in through most gun scopes. The touch-screen controls are totally unnecessary and add zero to the game’s value. And there are never as many enemies on screen as on the consoles, though the endless hordes towards the end of UC3 was apparently one of the only picking points to its stellar scores.

Spoilers To Come BTW!
With those basics out in the open, it appears (about 3/4 of the way through the game) Golden Abyss is better in almost every other way. The story in 3 may have been large, but like I mentioned, I didn’t care about Marlowe and Talbot. Cutter was a grunt and Chloe and Elena were barely in the game. I was really disappointed in the cast and settings of UC3. Right from the get-go, I felt passionate about Dante. He was slimy and deceitful from the outset and I disliked him greatly. However, you are tied with him, which makes you hate him more. Chase started out just so-so, but as I progressed, I actually cared about her search for her grandfather. The Chase/Nate chemistry is there too, replete with his trademark charm and tongue-in-cheek comments. Then…Sully!!! I really didn’t know he’d be in the game. His appearance is perfect. There is a ton of dialogue between him and Drake, the camaraderie and history is blatant. There are jokes about ‘that time when…’ and Nate picks on Sully’s age. It’s all just like it should be. It has virtually everything UC3 has.

We’re talking about a handheld game that is, through its story and gameplay just as good if not better than the huge-budget console brother! I am totally digging Golden Abyss. It is flawed but IMO not as flawed as UC3 was. It’s exciting and delivers a great story and explosive moments. Where UC3 gave me the ‘been-there, done-that’ feeling, this feels fresh and exciting. You may disagree with one being better than the other, but it’s hard to deny this is one of the biggest handheld adventures ever. I’d, once again, go as far as to say it’s the best portable game I’ve ever played. And I’m not even done yet! And, I’ve already thought about subsequent playthroughs.

I figured I’d share some more pics. I love the screenshot option and these sure are beauts.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss = Friggin’ Sweet!

Posted in Blog, Games, Reviews, Uncharted with tags on May 22, 2012 by slateman

Golden Abyss!

OK, Golden Abyss is flawed. The controls can be a little shaky. The motion/touch-screen controls are gimmicky and at the outset, it feels like a side story.

With that out of the way, however, we can get into the rest. Now, I’m about 8 chapters in, so I think that’s about 1/3rd. It’s a reasonable time to make some sort of basic ‘conclusions’. Beyond those issues listed above, Golden Abyss is the best handheld title ever. It’s gorgeous. Its voice acting is top-notch. Beyond the voice-overs, the audio is spectacular. It’s fun. It’s Uncharted!!!

The story, which loses its ‘side-story’ feel as time goes on, is pretty cool and very quickly I identified with Nathan again. It helps that they didn’t outsource his voice, as it returns me back to the series I adore so much. The tale of Dante and Chase (pretty generic adventure names at this point) is not bad. I kinda like this Chase chick and Dante is as sleazy as he should be. I don’t trust him and I’m curious about her. Perfect…they’ve pulled me into this tale 100%. I’m overlooking the downsides, because at this point, I haven’t a clue why I’m collecting all this shit. There are treasures and there are pictures (lame) and then these archaeological things and for some reason you have to clean them. Why am I cleaning a pick-axe? Umm, ok, and then there are other puzzles like torn-up sheets of paper and then the rubbings…whatever. They’re gimmicky no doubt, but they’re not painful. The motion controls are horrible. Umm…there’s a reason they were removed after the first Uncharted game.

However, I’m having a blast with this game. Playing with headphones allows me to hear everything in its perfect, high-budget glory. This is not the ‘ting ting’ sound of yesteryear’s handhelds. It’s amazing. The gameplay, while definitely dumbed down from the PS3 outings (no analog click zoom, no swapping shoulders, grenade tossing sucks) is still Uncharted at heart and it’s fun. I’m finding the dialogue with Chase interesting and Drake just mentioned how he needed to show something to Sully. I may have dissed UC3 a bit a few months back, but I love the world and the series. I’ve already thought about subsequent playthroughs to pick up all the stupid crap I missed.

Ultimately, there’s still plenty left. I plan on enjoying it as I go through the game. I’m pretty psyched that it has turned out so well and may report back with final thoughts in a little bit. For now, some cool artwork from the game. I captured these with the Vita itself. I love this system!!! Enjoy!

Pan’s Labyrinth Poster = Awesomeness!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Movies with tags on May 17, 2012 by slateman

So Awesome!

New Cubing Record: 4×4 – 2:49.17

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records with tags on May 16, 2012 by slateman

After my record-setting run of yesterday I noticed a dilemma…I don’t think it was my record! I found an older time that would’ve been the true record! Alas, there is no real problem, just break it again! I quite enjoy my 4×4 but after Aiden chewed on it, the stickers are a mess. I need to buy more. I also need to re-tension it. However, for now it’s still great, and was good enough to help me break my record! Not bad!!!

New Cubing Record: 4×4 – 2:50.96

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records with tags on May 15, 2012 by slateman

I haven’t been speedcubing much lately but I decided to grab my 4×4 and give it a go. My living room was too stuffy, dark and hot so I went to the kitchen, turned the fan on and enjoyed a cool spring breeze. I have been frustrated as of late so it was so refreshing to see my record broken by a few seconds. My centers were really fast (sub-30 I believe) but my middle layers were horrible. At one point I just stared for several seconds, lost. I had a great final layer though, which was my saving grace. No parity and a lucky draw = a new record!!! 2:50.96!

(Best Times)

What I’m Reading: May 2012 Edition

Posted in Blog, Books, Game Of Thrones on May 13, 2012 by slateman

I most certainly do not have time to read as much as I’d like. It’s quite sad, as I used to read a ton. In my Tolkien days, I was out of control. However, even with four children, I try to find time here and there. Currently I’m reading three books. None are coming along too quickly…

Spoiler Free BTW.

Book #2

The first Hunger Games book was enthralling. It was not well-written, but for what it was, I loved it! All my students were reading it and so I grabbed it. It took me just a few days to tear through the tale of Katniss and Peeta. It was a pretty basic story but was compelling and a fun romp. Katniss was a likeable character and the buildup to the final climax was quite exciting. The final decision made against the Capital was something I didn’t see coming and made a sequel possible. I’ve been hesitant about Catching Fire but my students swear it’s great and while I’m only a few pages in, I look forward to getting back into the swing of things.

An English Classic

I have always wanted to read Beowulf. In fact, I’m embarrassed that I never got around to it. Seeing as how it is a classic and a basis of so many modern tales, it is a must. That it was a great influence on Tolkien really doesn’t hurt. As with Catching Fire, I have barely started this, but it doesn’t look to be a very long read. The Heaney translation came highly recommended and the illustrated edition is actually quite cool. Culling from all sorts of medieval artifacts, it really adds depth to the reading and gives contextual visuals to a world that is oh-so-different from what is familiar.

Book #1

After watching season 1, I was sold. I went out and grabbed this book on sale back in August and only got 200 pages into it. Unlike The Hunger Games, this is HEAVY reading. Even being familiar with the character, it was a struggle sometimes. However, it adds so much depth that the show can never capture. More than halfway into season 2, I’m noticing how lacking the show is on details. It’s not a negative, it’s a necessary part of making a TV show out of such a magnum opus! If I can get through this first book, I will surely get A Clash Of Kings. Until then, I have a lot of reading to catch up on!!!

New Cubing Record: Megaminx – 7:52.85

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records with tags on May 13, 2012 by slateman


In the past month I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my Megaminx and Windmill Cube. They are fantastic additions to my puzzle collection and provide a reasonable challenge. I have done both for time but don’t have an official time for the Windmill Cube yet. It’s like 2:30 or so. However, I did go for a Megaminx time run twice. The first was better than the second, but both hovered around the 8-minute mark. I’ve updated both my Best Times Page and my Milestones Page. I’ll say…while I’ll never be good enough to even take part in competitions, I’ve come a long way since first solving a cube 15 months ago.

Next up for the collection? I made a To-Buy List but I’m leaning towards a Gigaminx. They’re expensive though. I’ve seen the larger ShengShou cubes and I’ll have to say they look solid. I never use my V-Cube 6 any more because it’s so annoying. The 8×8 and larger will have to be purchased…but we’re talking big bucks. However, I’m thinking a Gigaminx might be fun. Anyways…it’ll all have to wait for now. Oh…and I seem to have lost my 2×2. I’m not happy about that.