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How to best communicate the data about which I will later AskMefi?
October 3, 2008 3:11 PM   Subscribe

Question-Asking-Filter: What would be the best way to ASK a question on AskMeFi that I want to ask? Pre-question question-answers within.

So I'm sort-of asking it now, but I want to pose it again using the answer(s) this question reaps. So anyway.

I've got more than a hanfdul of wooden cubes stuck face-to-face together in oddball configurations that, together, form a mystery number of x-by-x-by-x cubes, that I made many years ago and have since forgotten the solutions. How should I present the spectrum of the piece configurations, in a text-based setting like Ask-Mefi?

(a) Is there a freeware PC/web-based program I could use to build a visual representation of them, take screenshots and post for MeFites to mentally assemble?

Would the question be too much to ask, considering I don't know how many x-by-x-by-x cubes the pieces actually form total?

(b) should I instead type out a series of..
XXX // XOX // XXX
XOX // OOX // XOX
XOX // XXX // XXX
..whereas O is the wood and X is absence of wood, for each piece?

I'm truthfully not even certain all of the available pieces are even present, given that I don't know their solution(s), but they were all found in a sealed baggie so I might presume they were the complete set(s).

Things I do know: some of the pieces are shorter in overall cube-length than the entire assmbled-cube's max width. I did make a 4x4x4 cube and a 5x5x5 cube at some point. I am the originator of the puzzle and the solution has not ever been posted on the web by me or anyone else to my knowledge (although the gnomes who often scamper about and hide my keys in random places may have at some point posted the solution). There are 25 pieces, with a maximum piece-length of no more than 5 cubes across.

The question though -- how I could I best communicate the configurations of these pieces, and perhaps secondarily, would anyone even bother answering it, and perhaps tertiarily, would providing a non-MeFi-based incentive for answering it encourage someone to answer it?
posted by vanoakenfold to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Is there some reason you can't photograph the blocks and upload the photos to someplace like Flickr or SmugMug?
posted by cgc373 at 3:16 PM on October 3, 2008


Viewdata?
posted by popcassady at 3:31 PM on October 3, 2008


Use the "pre" tag:
2 2 3 4 5 1 3 3 4 56 6 6 4 56 7 7 4 57 7 2 2 5
Which, due to vagaries of MeFi's HTML rendering, you'll want to use "br" tags instead of carriage returns. My block above looks like this when being composed:
[pre]2 2 3 4 5 [br]1 3 3 4 5[br]6 6 6 4 5[br]6 7 7 4 5[br]7 7 2 2 5[/pre]

That said, I could swear I read that there's some branch of mathematics that deals with these kinds of "cube face" problems. Might be worth looking in to.
posted by rhizome at 3:32 PM on October 3, 2008


I'm not sure why I didn't consider a photograph -- perhaps that I'd have to continually answer clarifications about whether there was a hidden cube behind a column, etc.

a photograph of all 25 pieces
posted by vanoakenfold at 3:41 PM on October 3, 2008


When you say you made a "mystery number of cubes," do you mean you made multiple cubes at the same time (i.e., with no piece used in more than one cube)?

Also, do you mean that all interior spaces in the cubes were filled?

It looks like you don't have enough pieces to, say, make a 5x5x5 and a 4x4x4 at the same time--if I've counted correctly, your pieces have a total "volume" of 173 (1 piece with 10 cubes, 7 with 8, 10 with 7, 4 with 6, 2 with 5, and 1 with 3), while you'd need 189 to make solid 5x5x5 and 4x4x4 cubes at the same time.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:52 PM on October 3, 2008


The assembled x^3 cubes are completely filled with no interior holes, and each piece only fits in one puzzle. The mystery number of cubes refers to completed puzzles.

On further inspection of the pieces, one is labeled 1, another 2, etc up to 17, with a few left over bearing no number, and an absence of #12 and #16 -- so as far as I can tell, two pieces are missing (with an unknown maximum #n, but AFAIK ATM it's #17).

I recall writing the solution down when I was inventing the puzzle to be created, and I fully suspect that I still have the solution, however to be found in a myriad of a multitude of an eon's sifting of loose papers.
posted by vanoakenfold at 4:00 PM on October 3, 2008


Additional pieces (probably 2 or 3) with a combined volume of 16 would give you enough for a 5x5x5 cube and a 4x4x4 cube exactly.

A 5x5x5, 4x4x4 and 3x3x3 would require additional pieces with a combined volume of 43 (probably about 6 more pieces), so that seems unlikely.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:05 PM on October 3, 2008


I will do some additional scouring of junk drawers in aid of finding additional pieces (and possibly the solution though doubtful).. it seems it was good that I had pre-asked! heh
posted by vanoakenfold at 4:18 PM on October 3, 2008


You could model them in sketchup and post the .skp file, using rapidshare or whatever.
posted by signal at 4:29 PM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a numerical coding for all the pieces I can see in the photo.

To decode it, turn each digit into a binary number stood up on its end, with the least significant bit on the bottom. 1-bits then mark occupied voxel positions and 0-bits are empty.

1313
0002
0003

1113
1000
3000

311
101

1117
0100
0100

1111
0001
0011

031
110

001
711
200

100
113
002

111
100
110

1320
0023

1171
0010

1111
0100
0300

11110
10011
10000

11000
01131

111

1113
0102

11000
03000
01100
00110
00011

3013
1110

1110
1010
1011

1311
1000

111
010

1113
0002
0003

0111
1300
1000

3000
1113

111
001
113
posted by flabdablet at 5:14 PM on October 3, 2008


Yeah, I'm gonna have to wiki-up half of the words you just said ^_^
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:06 PM on October 3, 2008


111
010


It looks to me like this one (bottom row, second from left) might actually be:

111
030

but it's hard to tell from the picture. vanoakenfold, could you confirm? Is that piece made of 4 or 5 cubes?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:59 PM on October 3, 2008


I think you're probably right.
posted by flabdablet at 10:33 PM on October 3, 2008


Bottom row second from the left is 1 cube high, in the shape of the familiar tetris piece (T-shaped, 2 cubes tall, 3 wide). The surface I photographed the pieces upon is somewhat reflective =P
posted by vanoakenfold at 7:56 AM on October 4, 2008


I miscounted the cubes in a few pieces earlier--the total volume of the pieces you have is 175, so there's 14 cubes missing, assuming they make a 4x4x4 and 5x5x5.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:11 PM on October 5, 2008


Could you also check bottom row third from left?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:46 PM on October 9, 2008


Miscounted again: there's 174 cubes, 15 missing. In any case, I've found one possible solution. I named the pieces in the picture A-Y, reading right to left and top to bottom (first row: A-F; second row: G-L; third row: M-S; fourth row: T-Y). Meanwhile, "1" and 2" represent two missing pieces in this solution.

BBBJ XXBH AAAH ATAP
BIJJ RXRR RRRH ATPP
BIJI RXJR ATHH ATHP
BIII BXJJ XXPP ATTP



OLLLL UWWW1 UN111 UMGGG 222GQ
OSSLS KN1WW UN1W1 MM1QG 22QQQ
OFSLS KKKLW KN1DG MCCCG 2QQCY
FFSSS KFVVV NNYDY MCYCY QQYYY
FEEEE KEVDV NEEDV MMMDV QDDDV


The layers of each cube are represented "top down" left to right (the leftmost layer is the top layer and the rightmost layer is the bottom layer).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:45 AM on October 14, 2008


I apparently made a grievous error on my previous assertion that the small Tetris piece was merely that. It is, in fact, five cubes: The regular four Tetris T-shaped but with an addition layer of one cube on the bottom stem of the T: (x = space)

TTT
XTX

XXX
XTX

Hopefully, however, that will still fit within the solution..
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:15 AM on January 6, 2009


The piece on bottom row, third from left (piece V), would be:

VVVV
0000
000V

000V
000V
000V
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:22 AM on January 6, 2009


above, the T-shaped correction is for "piece U"
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:31 AM on January 6, 2009


After going thru DA's solution, I've discovered that my above error does conflict, instead of filling an absent spot as I'd hoped. However, after completing the 4x4x4 cube, I'd begun to suspect that an error might already be present:

When making the cubes from the beginning, they fitted together rather perfectly (without forcing them) because I glued them together while they were resting against the other non-glued surfaces. Whilst assembling the 4x4x4 cube solution DA gave, there were many awkward gaps and portions that I had to non-excessively force into place (and did eventually fit, but very tightly) which gave me cause to doubt the solution.

I will revisit the question in the perhaps-near future, and hopefully with the actual solution in tow after I do a thorough sorting of all loose papers for the solution!

As far as the original question, that is, "how to ask" this, I think it has been solved ^_^
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:57 AM on January 6, 2009


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