I learnt to solve the Rubik's Cube during the first craze by reading this book: The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube by James G. Nourse.
It was 1981, I was 12 years old, bored out of my brain holidaying in a very rainy Wales and using a cheap micro sized cube - actually a novelty keyring, not much more than a couple of inches in width.
Sometime soon after, I forgot a few of the algorithm solutions but would muddle through with what I could remember and still solve the cube, albeit taking longer than necessary. I couldn't relearn the correct algorithms as I'd lent the book to someone, I can't remember who now, but I never got it back.
So, I've spent the past 30 years solving the cube with my messed up method. Knowing that it wasn't quite right but also knowing that it would always work - eventually. (There's a moral in there somewhere.)
Recently, I holidayed in Madeira, this time taking a new book: Speedsolving the Cube by Dan Harris. The intention was to master a new and better cube solving technique. The book is easy to understand and provides simple and complex solutions for cubes 2x2, 3x3, 4x4 and 5x5 (which I can all complete using my inefficient half forgotten method, though, doing the 5x5 can take me about 2 hours, or more, to complete).
But, whilst reading this new and improved book, I realised I was doing the wrong thing. I already had my own method, I haven't the time nor patience to learn a new method; instead I would simply work out where the algorithms I used where going wrong. It would be more satisfying solving the 30 year old mystery I'd lived with.
It didn't take long to realise when and why I should use some of the half remembered algorithms, they were quite obvious in the end. Now, the sense of knowing exactly how to approach a particular pattern with a specific algorithm is very satisfying. But, I knew that I didn't have the complete method for my solution - I could remember the book demonstrating more algorithms than I used; or that is what my faded memory told me - who can say what was in a book that you've not seen for 30 years.
Last night, I decided to try and find the method used in the book. I knew it was an unpopular method, cube solving has progressed over the years, but I thought that after a lot of searching online I'd find some mention of this outdated solution.
Surprisingly, it didn't take long at all. I searched on eBay for Rubik's Cube books and spotted the book cover in the results (or what I thought could be the cover). Enlarging the image of the cover then revealed the author of the book, so another search was done - eventually I found a downloadable version of the book: in .djvu format (something I've never heard of before). After downloading a reader program for the file I scanned through the pages and saw the black and white cube diagrams I'd not seen for 30 years - A M A Z I N G.
I've now waiting for the real book to arrive from an order I placed using Amazon Marketplace (quite a few old copies are for sale on there).
So, after all that, why I have troubled you with this little tale?
It's taken 30 years to pass for me to find that book, a genuinely special book that must have influenced the person I became (I hated school and studying so I didn't read any books as a child, yet I persevered with that one). I could have searched for the book sooner, I could have tried to work out where I was going wrong with my cube solution sooner. It didn't matter until now.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that the Internet is amazing - within just a few short minutes last night it managed to transcend 30 years and show me something I doubted existed anymore. It's just an old book - with a less than perfect solution inside (there's a moral in there somewhere).