All the Podcasts I Listen to

This is an update to a post from four years ago with the same title.

Regular listens

Occasional listens:

It will be fun to see how these have shifted around or disappeared in the next four years.

Alto’s Odyssey Review

I place the first game, Alto’s Adventure, high in the echelons of great iOS games. Alto’s Odyssey builds on the simplicity of Adventure in just the right ways. While I still greatly recommend the first game, after playing all the way through Odyssey I’m starting to think you should skip it entirely.

The core difference between the games is the terrain, there are three new “zones” Dunes, Canyons, and Temples. Each have their own unique set pieces and corresponding tricks you can do in that zone. For some examples: Canyons has cliff faces you can do wall rides on, it’s really satisfying to chain these however if you’re not paying attention you can end up beginning a flip and soon crash. You can only wall ride when in the standing orientation not in the middle of a flip like the wing suit. In the Temple zone there are waterfalls who’s water runoff is similar to the ice flow feature in Adventure. Sometimes, at the end of these flows are pools which act as trampolines if you land in them with enough force. The Dunes are pretty plain but has many air balloons which have lines you can ride between them, being non-fixed points the lines oscillate, making them a little more challenging to land on. The variety of landscapes is simply a joy to endlessly ride through, where going over 20km in Adventure becomes quickly repetitive, 20k in Odyssey is a cool breeze on a hot day.

The next three paragraphs are for if you have played all the way through Adventure. There is a potential spoiler about an unlockable character’s abilities in the second paragraph.

If you have played all the way through Adventure, be prepared to do it all over again with the same characters and similar power-ups. For having completed Adventure you get nothing, I was hoping for maybe some extra currency, maybe half of the power-ups I’ve already grinded for or not having to go through roughly the first 10 levels of essentially the same challenges all over again. (Let’s face it, you won’t use anyone but Maya until you unlock the final character or a challenge requires someone else.)

In the theme with swapping old mechanics for new yet similar ones, instead of disturbing elders who then chase you, there are lemurs you startle. (I guess that cements the game’s setting in Madagascar?) The chases are shorter but more dangerous, the lemurs are a bit faster, can run on rope lines, and will jump at you even if you aren’t on the ground. However, the final character is immune to these leaping lemurs! A great addition to the game, Elder chases are the number one reason why my runs would end in Adventure and it’s a relief I don’t have to pull the same acrobatics to avoid late-game lemurs here.

There are no more llamas and I miss them. Birds of Paradise will fly with you for a minute or two and nearby collect coins, but it’s not the same as wrangling a herd after running over a horn in the first game. A radio beacon replaces the llama horn, running over the radio drops some vessels with coins and power-ups in them, if you level the beacon up twice it can be significantly lucrative.

Adventure is still a joy to play to this day, only until the final character was unlocked did Odyssey replace that for me. I expect I’ll be playing it as much in the coming years. The early drafts of this review were rough on Odyssey, perhaps it was that I could not get fully used to the new and sometimes unfair terrains, or maybe the grind of getting all my characters and power-ups back soured me, but once you get through it Odyssey becomes much more rewarding to play than Adventure. (It’s so tempting to end this review with “See you on the slopes!“ but then again I guess I just did, sorry.)

Will it Improve your Life?

This last weekend I was the victim of news overdose as delivered to me by my preferred tech blogs and news aggregates.1 If there’s an equivalent for obesity of the mind, this is it. My subconscious has turned gluttonous, ready to spew out any irrelevant fact that it may have retained. Looking back I can barely remember a story or meme that was worthwhile or interesting beyond the news that Amazon will try shipping stuff with drones. While it’s not like I feel like I didn’t do anything worthwhile this weekend, it’s that I could have done much less of things that have no overall effect on the quality of my life.

Catching myself reading Buzzfeed’s “The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs Of All Time” inspired this post. The futility of it all struck me while watching #39 “diving corgi“. All of this is the same, and none of it is improving your life. That immediate thought was referring to the post, I had seen plenty of dog gifs before. Then the rest of it hit me too, I get nothing from news.

All of this is the same, and none of it is improving your life.

Sure there are important bits, but checking the same sites five times a day just so you can be the most caught up with the news from California isn’t worth it. It was the TV-esque crap my parents had told me about, it’s everywhere, constantly churning out new stuff, and I’m addicted to it. I thought reading more would be of some benefit, not this kind. I feel like I’ve read the first chapter in a book twenty times now, it never really changes.

It’s decent journalism usually, I just don’t need it 24/7. There are a lot of books I haven’t read that are in the mind of popular culture. I think I’ll take spend some time finishing up those instead of reading “Why Your Startup is Dead if You Can’t Enchant”.

  1. TheVerge, HackerNews, TheNextWeb,, /r/technology

Rowe Hessler now in the FiveAwesomeCubers

The title pretty much sums it up, and I guess I’m getting at this late, but the 2009 American Champion is now on board with the FiveAwesomeCubers. He’s made two videos so far, both highly entertaining and bloody fast. Of the two I recommend the first one, great one handed tips. Click here to see it.

In the meantime, I haven’t posted in two weeks, I got some ideas for this Friday for sure though, see you then!

Thanks for reading!


I did some work for DemandStudios for a bit, didn’t get accepted past the approval process. However just looking through some of the articles I found that some of them were very very miscategorized.

My assumption for this happening is that their algorithm isn’t totally precise. yay algorithms.

V-Cube 5 Full Review

This is a little over due now, the video that probably made you want to go here was filmed maybe a week too late, like I said, I filmed over it. All the challenges and stuff I did last week prevented me from making the ones I really wanted to. So then here are my full thoughts on the V-Cube 5 (the black one mind you, not white… black).

The scructure, design, and turning clearly takes from the V-Cube 6, or rather the other way around. The whole internal mechanism is one large spherical structure allowing the pieces to smoothly rotate around them. The outer edges click a great deal for the amount they turn, I’ve seen a mod reversing this effect if necessary, apparently its the corners, but it doesn’t really bother me at this point I can still easily cut corners, without the fear of it exploding unlike the Eastsheen 5×5 and the Rubik’s 5×5. Matter how I turn it I really can’t get it to pop like a normal cube. As the picture below shows.

You can do some wierd stuff with it
You can do some wierd stuff with it

Needless to say, because it’s not popping it’s rather tight right now, I have only gotten a few sub-3 times with it in the past week. Despite this, the turning definitely makes up for this. Doing the centers and edges has never been so fun as I can cut the corners in a whole new dimension without it popping (again, as the picture shows). The stickers have the same qualities as the 6×6 they chip a little bit (as the picture here and the one below does) but at least they don’t peel like Rubik’s brand ones do.

The biggest con, and the most frustrating one yet that I’ve encountered is some weird oily stuff that was already in the cube, I have no idea what this is or how it got there. What I am certain though is that it’s not just because it’s black. I’ve gotten messages from people on YouTube asking me what to do about their excessively oily cube. So apparently I got it on a minor scale, but despite my cleaning efforts I can’t really get it out right now. I have an idea to run all the pieces but the core through my dishwasher, but not sure what effect that will have on the stickers. So if anyone knows anything about that then comment it below and I will be grateful.

So in conclusion: if you have big hands, you can’t get a good Rubik’s 5×5 to work out for you, and you are frustrated with the limiting turns on an Eastsheen. Then you should consider getting this if you’re going to pursue this puzzle more competitively. After I started to average <6 mins on the 6×6 and <1:30 mins on the 4×4 I really wanted to get my times between 2:30 or 2:00 at this point those times seem very far off but the V-cube seems to be a pick in the right direction, it just needs to be looser for me right now.

To finish I’d like to touch on something a little older. I’ve read a lot of comments on my original V-Cube 5-wrong-color video when I received the wrong product, saying that white is actually better? I cannot deny or confirm this, I don’t have a great amount of cubes or time to experiment this concept. I wanted black because I really like the classic look and I can recognize the contrast between the colors more easily. Sure I have some white cubes (a Minx of the Pyra and Mega variety, and a 6×6) and they work fine, but when it comes to the 2xx-5×5 I really can’t use anything but black effectively. I furthermore don’t see why a white cube would be faster, if you present some scientific evidence behind this I might believe you (like coefficients of friction and chemical reasons why white cubes are faster) and consider switching to white cubes.

and Eastsheen 5x5, the V-Cube 5, Rubik's 4x4, and a Rubik's 3x3
An Eastsheen 5x5, the V-Cube 5, Rubik's 4x4, and a Rubik's 3x3

Mac’s Galore

Sitting in my high school’s library now, looking around it’s slightly surprising to me that Apple only has an 8% market share. I see two MacBooks, two MacBook Pros, and 5 various models of the iPod.* Many of you may or may not know in the end of October 2008 I bought the $1600 MacBook, and even dual booted Windows XP on it. While yes I admit the prices on their hardware is pretty ridiculous, and I could have gotten a much more powerful components, a much larger screen for the same price or even less, and the glass screen is a good warning mirror in case anyone sneaks up on me, what I got for the price I paid seems a little more fair now.

Having had it for almost three months, I can sufficiently say that I am rather satisfied. Windows runs games and such perfectly on the 70gb partition I made for it, and although the trackpad isn’t very compatible that is easily fixed with a good notebook mouse.

Yesterday, some friends and I pitched in $25 in order to split  4/5 licenses of iWork ’09. Originally I was skeptical about the software, I watched the Apple keynote revealing the revised Office suite and wasn’t too impressed. However actually trying it out on my own computer has been an experience. Initially I had used Open Office write, which while works, can be difficult sometimes, I got it so I wouldn’t have to pay more re-purchase MS Office and I considered it to out rank the suite overall. Now having tried iWork extensively, the ranks of Word Processors go from worst to best: MS Office, Open Office, iWork. For anyone who has a Mac already and is tired of using a clunky interface on such a beautiful machine, I recommend that you switch over, again you can split up the licenses as you wish.

The other software that comes on the Mac side, iLife ’08 in particular is also impressive, I have already used Garageband multiple times to create soundtracks for my videos, and I feel that they have come out with a level of professionality that a copyrighted song could not have given. iMovie is really a joy to use for short simple videos, responding to challenges on YouTube has never been easier, before my process would be slowed down over the course of about two hours per challenge.

My verdict: if you’re a fun loving student like me who games and does whatever whenever, then get a mac, you won’t regret it. If you’re just looking to get a good portable computer though just for browsing and word processing, get an HP Mini, I’ve tried them out from friends and in stores and they’re second to none in portability.

*I don’t care Zunes are still better, just wait until Songbird supports more mp3 players.

Videos Galore!

Last week (the 13th through the 20th) I posted a staggering amount of 8 videos, I believe the most I ever have in a week (or at least spread out in a week)!! Five of them were Challenge responses, one was just a 6×6 solve, and the final two were actually rather vlog-like.  Not many comments on the  challenges, then again they are challenges, however I put some effort into making sure that they (only 3 of them) were different from the regular vs. video.  So I hope everyone liked what I posted, and keep your comments coming it’s always nice to hear good feedback!