What’s New in FiveTimer 1.2

cube

(cool, the title rhymes) So there’s a lot less that I had hoped would be in this version as described in this post, but significant enough to push a version+0.1 release. Here goes:

  • New icon – yeah the old one was not so great, I think this one is at least a little better.
  • Support for iOS 6 – iOS 6 changed a lot of things under the hood, even without some of the added features this was very important.
  • New screen resolutions, iPad compatible – I never got complaints or requests for this but it’s been something I’ve been wanting to do.
  • New Feature: Minimal Mode – I’m very excited about this. The idea behind this mode is that you should only focus on the current solve on hand, there have been countless times where I have the intention of doing an average but because I get a bad start I just keep deleting and resetting. Now you can hide the controls and just do solves, if you mess up or are curious what your average is, you can always bring the controls back up.
  • Support dropped for iOS 3.2 – i.e. dropped support for 1st generation iPod touches and iPhones.
  • Bug Fixes – The standard deviation that was written in emails was for the entire session not that set of times. The start or stop button would not properly bind on first install. iOS6 bug fixes, it just really changed things.

The best part is FiveTimer is still just 99¢ in the iOS App Store. I have plenty of ideas for 1.3, including one more mode, 15 second countdown, and a few more. As always if there’s a feature you want to see send me a message here. Enjoy.

Montage and Thoughts on US Nationals 2012

This was the easily largest US Nationals ever, and in one of the most visible venues possible, Las Vegas. From all the great cubers from around the world and the country, the excellent competition heat system, and the prize money in $2 bills, simply put the competition was one of the best I’ve ever been to. I was skeptical about how the competition would go since it was announced, and nothing is perfect, below is a small list of what I think worked well and what didn’t.

  • Lighting, I didn’t think it was the best, I asked other people and no one else had complaints about it, so it’s probably just me.
  • Expensive stuff, a ATM ate my debit card the day before I got there so I was paying for everything with the cash I had and a credit card. Food was unexpectedly expensive, you always hear about Subway’s $5 footlong subs, in Las Vegas they’re $10 footlongs.
  • Venue layout, the side rooms were just in the right place, the tables in the main room were laid out such that spectators could easily watch, competitors could wait behind the stage, and others could congregate around the circular tables. The side stage too was in a good place.
  • Seminars, I only went to one of these, there were about three every night though, in the one I did go to the person speaking delivered information that cannot be directly found anywhere and was thus very helpful and insightful, I hope they do these again.
  • Heat System, they did this at US Nationals 2011 in Columbus, OH. It’s essentially the smoothest way to handle a large number of competitors. The staff is comprised of judges, runners, scramblers, and recorders. judges stay seated, while runners call people and run cubes to and back from the scrambler’s table where they’re scrambled. When an average is done the runner takes the scorecard to the recorder. It worked great in 2011 and worked even better here, so much so that some events even went ahead of schedule.
  • Age limits, if you’re under 21, what you can and cannot do in Las Vegas is limiting. I thought this would be a short coming of the venue, but for the younger cubers seminars and cube mettings through the night took care of this. For the older cubers though, there were a few days where hangovers definitely affected some performances.

World Championships 2013 will be in the same city July 26-28th. I will not be going as I will be in a different country. I’m not too disappointed about this, there will always be more World Championships, and one trip to Las Vegas in a lifetime, being the city it is, is enough for me.

ShengShou 7×7, Non-Pillowed Cube Advantage?

Dan Cohen made this post in the speedsolving video section of a simple 7×7 single solve with the ShengShou 7×7. The time of the single solve was 3:17.05, three seconds under the current world record average and four seconds above the single solve world record. I’m not typically someone who is vaguely interested in the 7×7 event but this one sparked my interest simply because the 7×7 Dan is using is not pillowed. Compare these times to his in the wca database, his official single and average is 3:44.xx and 3:57.xx respectively. So if you’re following he got a single time on video 30 seconds under his normal average and uncomfortably close to the world record (uncomfortable if you’re Lin Chen)!

I think this is saying something more. Not just about the new 7×7 and ShengShou’s big cube innovations, but about pillowed vs non-pillowed cubes. This 30s jump for Cohen could easily go to show that pillowed cubes are generally slower. Although it’s a jump with only one firm data point, think to your own experience with non-cubic cubes (weird wording but you get it right?). My experience at competitions with pillowed 3x3s haven’t typically resulted in faster times and the pillowed V-Cube 2×2 wasn’t that much faster for me. The curved sides on the V-Cube 7×7 may feel better in your hands, an experienced cuber just dropping 30s in a solve says something huge, nay, screams it. The 7×7 world record is going to plummet this summer.

Further Reading/Viewing: