Quid est?: Spells and More From Harry Potter

Latin, though dead through and through, has undoubtedly pushed its way into the English language in an important way. Not enough of us these days know how to wrangle it properly, though. “Quid est?”, or “What is that?”, will help you with Latin lingo and lore.

(Sidenote: Spoilers to the Harry Potter series.)

We know that it takes some serious magic words to actually do something with your wand–Ron has already proven that you can’t recite a perfectly rhyming quatrain and get a yellow rat. Cries of “Expelliarmus!” and “Expecto Patronum!” may be more familiar and more potent charms. But did J. K. Rowling just string together elegant gibberish to create these famous spells? Of course not. A large portion of the magical incantations and other peculiarly-named objects found in the Harry Potter series derive their names from Latin.

Rowling attended the University of Exeter, where she studied Classics. Presumably adding Latin to Harry Potter creates a more ancient air and a more authentically magic impression. It is to be noted that many of the Latin-derived spells in the series are not true Latin; rather, they altered and pieced together to sound magical and Latin, with little regard to true spelling or grammar.

Here are explanations and translations of some of your favorite Harry Potter Latin:

  • Expelliarmus: The disarming charm introduced in book 2 is derived from the Latin verb expello, meaning “I thrust out, eject, dislodge.” Figuratively, expello can also mean “I drive away, expel”, pointing to what happened to Snape in the Shrieking Shack as the subject of three simultaneous charms.
  • Incendio: The closest Latin verb to this is incendo, which means “I set on fire, burn, kindle.” Arthur Weasley uses this spell in the fourth book, when visiting the Dursleys, to light a fire in the fireplace through which he had just arrived. The most notable use of this spell in the movies are Hermione’s and Harry’s attempts to destroy the locket Horcrux.
  • Petrificus Totalus: A highly guessable spell, it seems to directly mean “totally petrify!” The word “petrificus” comes from the noun petra, which means “a stone, rock”, and the verb facio, which means “to make”, thus, “to make one like a stone”. “totalus” isn’t actual Latin either; totus would be the adjective which describes the “whole, entire, complete” part of something. Most famously, Hermione uses this curse on Neville Longbottom on the night Harry must escape the Gryffindor tower to get to the third floor. Draco Malfoy also uses this to try to trap Harry on the Hogwarts Express in his sixth year.
    • Interestingly enough, this curse does not actually Petrify (as students were in the second book); it only immobilizes, rather than freezes all seeing, hearing, and thought functions.
  • Expecto Patronumpatronum is actually Latin, being a direct object form of the noun patronus, which means “a protector, patron”. expecto is a form, and an easier one to pronounce at that, of the verb exspecto, which means “I wait for, expect.” Thus, when you cast this charm, you “wait for a protector”.
    • Quite appropriately, the silvery material which is produced by this spell is called a Patronus. Too bad the plural wasn’t Patroni; this might have been the most accurate Latin in the entire series.
  • Sectumsempra: The curse invented by the Half-Blood Prince, “for enemies”, seems to be a compound word, created from sectum and semprasectum is a form of the participle sectus, which means “cut, divided, amputated,” and by extension, “wounded, injured.” On the other hand, ‘sempra’ sounds closest to the adverb semper, meaning “always”. Thus, the etymology of this word doesn’t immediately point to its effect, but the alliteration is kind of cool.
  • Wingardium Leviosa: Ah, the spell which created the first major rift between Ron and Hermione. Neither of these words seems to be actual Latin–‘w’ isn’t even a letter in Classical Latin! “Wingardium” seems to be a fabricated ‘Latinized’ version of “wing”, pointing to the flying, and “leviosa” is closest to the Latin adjective levis, meaning “light”. As to the pronunciation of “leviosa”, Hermione’s way most closely follows Latin syllable emphasis (not to mention girls are always right!).
  • Protego: Coming straight from Latin, the Shield Charm protego means “I cover, protect, defend.” An all-around defensive spell, it has been used to absorb and deflect spells, split up quarrels, and enchant protective coats for sale in the Weasleys’ shop.
  • Priori Incantatem: Coming from the Latin prior, meaning “former, previous,” and incantatio, meaning “enchantment, spell, incantation”, this spell calls up the “previous spells” a wand has cast. It can be used directly on a wand, as Amos Diggory did on Harry’s wand to try and solve the crime of the Dark Mark, but it takes a more automatic, locking form when two wands which share the same core are around each other.
  • Lumos and Nox: nox comes directly from latin, meaning “night”, but “lumos” is made-up, from the actual Latin word for “light”, lux (or, if you like, lumen). Together, they provide a convenient flashlight, perfect for sneaking around the Hogwarts corridors at night time.
  • Accio: Again straight from Latin, accio means “I summon, call for, fetch.” Hermione teaches this charm to Harry in preparation for the Triwizard Tournament, and it was also later famously used by Harry to get the Triwizard Cup to escape Voldemort.
  • Levicorpus: From the verb levo, meaning “I raise, elevate, lift up,” and the noun corpus, meaning “body,” the jinx invented by the Half-Blood Prince suspends the target in midair, hanging by his ankle. It was most usefully cast by Hermione during her, Harry’s, and Ron’s break into Gringotts.
  • Imperio: The Imperius Curse comes from the Latin verb impero, meaning “I command, give orders to, rule, govern.” The bewitchment of this control can be crippling, making it one of the three Unforgivable Curses.
  • Cruciocrucio is, in fact, a straight-up Latin verb, meaning “I crucify, torture.” The most famous victims of this Unforgivable Curse are Alice and Frank Longbottom, who were tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange.
  • Minerva McGonagall: Professor McGonagall shares her first name with the goddess Minerva, the Roman version of the Greek goddess Athena. Minerva is foremost the goddess of war, but also the goddess of justice and wisdom. (McGonagall, on the other hand, is a Scottish surname.)
  • Remus Lupin: Lupin’s name reeks of wolf-ness, leading to a curiosity for how he was given such a name before he became lycanthropic. Lupin seems to derive from the Latin lupus, for “wolf”. Even more specifically, the Latin adjective meaning “of or relating to a wolf, wolfish” is lupinus. Remus is the name of one of the brothers raised by a wolf in a Roman legend, who fight to the death for the control of the new empire.
    • Romulus, the name of the other brother, happens to be Lupin’s code name on Potterwatch (the radio program from the seventh book).
    • In the struggle between Romulus and Remus for the rule of the new city, Remus is the brother who dies, possibly foreshadowing Lupin’s eventual death. (The city is named Rome after Romulus, but this is irrelevant to Lupin.)
  • Severus Snapeseverus is a Latin adjective meaning “grave, serious, strict, rigid, stern, austere.” I’ll leave it at that.
  • Veritaserum: Another one that can be roughly guessed due to English words having also been derived from Latin, verita- sounds most like veritus, a noun meaning “truth”, and serum is as it is in English; a liquid, or water.
  • Inferi: Inferi is one of the few properly pluralized Latin words in the series, and that’s because it only takes on the intended meaning in its plural form (it’s one of those plural nouns that is used as a singular noun, such as news, data, or measles). inferi means “the dead, the lower world”, and refers to the bewitched corpses that they are in the Harry Potter universe.
  • Felix Felicis: Actually the same word in two different forms, felix means “fruitful, favorable, fortunate, lucky, happy.” Together, the two words might mean “Luck of Luck,” or “Fortune’s Luck,” and so on.

This is nowhere near a comprehensive list–most spells are too insignificant to mention, and many character names can be given multiple derivations and meanings. However, you can always search for more etymological information on the internet; the Harry Potter fan following must have done their research by now. If there’s anything nontrivial I’ve missed, let me know.

As to other famous spells, such as Alohomora, Stupefy, and Avada Kedavra, they’re unfortunately not derived from Latin. Naturally, Rowling could not stick only to Latin, but diversity in the origins of Harry Potter terms gives it more historical depth.

Hopefully this quick list will help provide another layer of insight to your next reread of Harry Potter; I thoroughly enjoyed the series, looking for the meanings behind the Latin, and perhaps you can do so now too.

Quid est?: Spells and More From Harry Potter

Tech Toolbox: Sublime Text

I will never be able to truly consider myself as well-versed in technology; very few people have seen it all. But I do love searching out the best I can find, and once I find it, I stick with it. In my Tech Toolbox you can find my favorite software, applications, and occasionally gadgets.

Sublime Text is a relatively new code editor on the market, being initially released in 2008. Its newness, however, has nothing to do with how popular it has become in recent years, and for good reason. Sublime Text has a streamlined interface and basic, easy to customize-features.

sublime-text-2-screenshot

I don’t like to say it, but I will pick the nicest UI when I can, over the more “hardcore” yet functional choices. Perhaps this is only because I am personally not very “hardcore”, but when I find a combination of great functionality and great UI, it’s a winner. Sublime Text is both of these.

Currently Sublime Text 2 is the stable version, yet the beta Sublime Text 3 is off the charts in terms of features and interface. Currently, it is free to download and the trial is unlimited, meaning you may use Sublime Text 2 or 3 as long as you want, no catch, and buying the $70 license doesn’t change the experience, except that you’re supporting the developers. However, they plan to only release Sublime Text 4 and future versions to those who pay.

So what’s so great about Sublime Text? Why do I use it?

  • The file control is amazing; the auto-updating sidebar contains a directory for folder navigation; there are projects, so that one can combine multiple folders which do not actually reside in the same parent directory into the sidebar, and the Goto Anything tool lets you bring up a file in seconds (even jump to a certain line in a file! They mean it when they say ‘Anything’). Files open in fully draggable tabs at the top, which you can reorder and even drag into new windows. On the side of each file, you can use the minimap to quickly jump hundreds of lines in a long document. Of course, all these features can be turned on and off.
    • The one complaint I have about the otherwise amazing tabs is that the shortcuts Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab don’t shift forward and backward tabs based on the current order on top, but a counter-intuitive algorithm based on which tabs have been most recently viewed.
  • Built for the coder, text control is superb; besides nearly-perfected automatic indentation, bracket autocompletion, and even bracket deletion, you can put your cursor/selection in multiple places, quickly editing multiple lines at once. With a simple dialog in the corner, you can change tabs to spaces and spaces to tabs, or change the width of them based on a number of spaces.
  • The syntax highlighting is excellent. You can quickly apply syntax libraries using the Command Palette, or save the file with an appropriate file ending and the colors just happen. There are different colors for functions, strings, rules, tags, parameters, and even escaped characters. Rifts in the coloring alert you of a missing quotation mark or parenthesis very quickly. I’m quite sure there is a way to customize the colors you use, as well.
  • As well as being able to highlight different languages fluently, Sublime Text hosts knowledge of libraries of functions for those languages. Functions can be brought up with a shortcut, autocompleted and ready for parameterization, and even HTML tags autocomplete themselves. Type <html>, hit tab, and watch a complete html skin appear, complete with head, title, and body tags, all indented. The amount of native functionality that Sublime Text holds, untouched and uncustomized, is the main reason coding in this environment is so fluid.
  • Sublime Text even has a Python plugin API, which means you can write your own functionality into the amazing text editor. Many plugins already exist–you can integrate Git right into the editor, or add a linter, or even a color wheel.
  • It’s getting there on this part, but Sublime Text can even display basic image file types right in the editor. Amazing.
  • There’s so much more I haven’t mentioned here. There’s distraction-free and full screen modes, tons of text control tools, collapsible code blocks, and, I believe, ability to compile some languages.
    • That’s one thing; Sublime Text is not an IDE. It’s not built for heavy compiling or running of programs. You’ll have to do that with a command line, or search for a plugin. However, I don’t currently work with many languages which require compiling, so this isn’t a problem for me.

The main reason I use Sublime Text is because it has amazing text control, and it meets all my needs. I’ve been using it for years now, and I haven’t needed to look for anything better in the meantime.

Convinced? Go to the website and download for Windows, Mac, or Linux (try the beta ST 3, rather than ST 2)! Not convinced? Look around the website for even more convincing. There are more screenshots and demos of the amazing functionality.

Resources:

Image credit Wikipedia, credit another blog.

Tech Toolbox: Sublime Text

Yarn Over: Blocking Acrylic

It’s my personal belief that every knitter will eventually learn more about the mechanics of knitting just through knitting itself, if you’re willing to look for little lessons to learn. Knitting has taught me quite a lot of these small things over seven years of doing it; Yarn Over is just a couple of those tips.

They say it can’t be done–it’s plastic, you’ll kill it–doesn’t have the same properties as natural fibers–it’ll all be wrecked–but have you ever tried it? Only listened to these dire warnings? Yes, I’m here to tell you it’s possible: you can block acrylic.

Unlike wool, angora, cotton (!), hemp, and countless other yarn fibers, which are all animal- or plant-based fibers, acrylic is a synthetic fiber. More simply, you can think of it as plastic. This is the main reason people say you cannot block acrylic; because they think the heat will melt the knitting to create a shiny, dried-looking melted piece of plastic. (They term this “killing the acrylic,” although I assure you you can avoid the horror.)

I like to steam block my acrylic projects, since it’s a relatively quick and easy method. The other main option for blocking acrylic is wet blocking. Although it is nearly as easy, it isn’t always as effective. I’ll go over both methods in this post.

If your project’s shape and size is satisfactory, you can proceed right to applying the water. However, the magic of blocking is that you can stretch and reshape the project while it’s wet, and it’ll permanently keep its shape (yes, even through washing and drying!). It’s amazing how much extra length you can stretch out of a too-small project; depending on how large it is already, you can get anywhere from 2 to perhaps even 5 extra centimeters. This also largely helps out with regulating the sizes of squares for a quilt or similar projects with units to them.

Another thing that blocking helps fix is those annoying curling and non-flat projects. For example, the very nature of stockinette stitch is to curl up and just be generally disagreeable when it comes to lying flat. Blocking will help fix that. Applying moisture, and if using steam, heat, will relax tight stitches and and even out the yarn, allowing it to lie flat. Of course, one needs to consider the flip side of the flattening effect–blocking will flatten any texture you’ve got, so don’t heavily block ribbing, cables, and other bumpy stitching.

The last, and, admittedly, the least of the benefits of blocking is that the project does become softer. It’s a noticeable, but not a huge difference.

Steam blocking is my preferred method of blocking acrylic; it’s quite easy if you have the materials (which, admittedly, may not be quite as easy to obtain if you don’t already own them). Here’s what you’ll need:

I block on an ironing board, which has unfortunately got a problem with its legs. So it's on the floor. Hooray!
I block on an ironing board, which has unfortunately got a problem with its legs. So it’s on the floor. Hooray!
  • An iron with a steam setting (there’ll be a place to store water in the iron, and a button to either emit steam in jets or to open or close off the steam flow; if yours doesn’t have these, it’s not a steam iron)
  • Blocking board, ironing board, or other heat-resistant surface
  • Pins (any kind you use for sewing is fine)
  • (optional) Towel
  1. Start by warming up your iron (hot enough for steam; there’ll usually be an indication, but if in doubt, crank it up to the highest setting (this is because water boils at above 100C, and the highest setting will ensure you’re over this threshold).

    Here's my steam iron. The green plastic houses a reservoir for the water, and the bottom on the top turns the steam output on or off. I keep a bit of distilled water in a water bottle for quick refills.
    Here’s my steam iron. The green plastic houses a reservoir for the water, and the button on the top turns the steam output on or off. I keep a bit of distilled water in a water bottle for quick refills.
  2. Go ahead and pin your project down to the blocking board or other surface. If you don’t have a blocking board or an ironing board with a cloth covering, you can pin it to a towel. If you’re looking to get extra length by stretching your project, stretch it now. Be careful when putting pins around the edges; use enough of them that you don’t have half
    moons straining to unstretch. Any shape that you pin the project down in will likely be the final, permanent state of it.
  3. Pick up the iron, and hold it over the project, suspending it in the air approximately 2 centimeters above the project. It’s important to get close enough to saturate the project with steam, but never to touch the iron to the project itself. That is the sole proprietor of killed acrylic, touching the plastic yarn itself with the hot iron. Start letting out the steam, moving the iron around to cover the entire project. Being careful not to steam your hand, you can periodically smooth the project, helping the pins with the stretching, and adjusting the shape of the project to make sure it comes out correctly. Don’t handle the pins too roughly; most pins will be a bit pliable under the very hot conditions.
  4. Hold the iron over the project, don't press it to it! The gap here could be lessened a bit, but it's tricky to do such photography while holding the iron.
    Hold the iron over the project, don’t press it to it! The gap here could be lessened a bit, but it’s tricky to do such photography while holding the iron.

    Continue steaming until you’re satisfied with the end product. In the case of stretching, it may take much longer to get the desired dimensions. Hopefully you will notice a much flatter, somewhat softer, and kind of “professional-looking” clean finish to your project.

Some other tips:

  • Don’t underestimate how much steam blocking makes your project lie flat. If you’re looking to block round objects such as hats or mittens, you can first fill them with stuffing (again ensuring you have the desired shape; it’s permanent!), and then block them.
  • Be careful to get your project moist, and even damp, but do not drench it. If you find it’s getting too wet, put a towel under the project in order to absorb some of the extra water.
  • If you, for whatever reason, have problems with the procedure described above, you can instead place a damp towel over your project and press the iron right to the towel.

Wet blocking is the other of the main options for blocking acrylic. Although admittedly much more basic, and in general, not as effective, it may provide more control over not harming complicated texture. You’ll need:

  • A spray bottle filled with water
  • (optional) A blocking board and pins
  1. For the most basic blocking, or perhaps for particularly delicate projects, go ahead and spray your project to a damp degree, and shape it with your hands. Get it quite wet, but don’t saturate it. You may have to watch it until it dries completely, to make sure any changes to dimensions are not reverted upon.
  2. The other option is to pin your project down to a board, once again watching the shape (and avoiding those annoying half-moons), and spray. After drying, the project should come off the board in the exact shape it was pinned.

For this post, I did an experiment in blocking. I made five more-or-less squares; two red ones in garter stitch, two yellow ones in stockinette stitch, and a brown one in moss stitch. All I did was knit them up, eyeball the squareness of them, and weave in the ends. Then, I blocked them. For each of these squares, there is a before photo (in which I’ve made it lie as flat as possible), possible intermediary photos, and an after photo.

Pre- blocking, as curly and uneven as they come off the needle.
Pre- blocking, as curly and uneven as they come off the needle.

Red Square One: This square was mostly in the correct dimensions, but the casting off was a bit tight, causing it to curl initially. By pinning it down and steam blocking it, I was able to get it to lie flat. It was also much softer afterwards.

Red Square Two: This square was initially shorter than it was wide, making it, well, not a square. From top to bottom, it measured 11cm. I decided to stretch this one as far as I could. After all the stretching I could get and a lot of steam blocking, the square was much more square-like, and measuring 13.5cm from top to bottom. The opacity of the square was quite obviously decreased, but not sacrificed. However, this could probably be fixed by a different selection of yarn weight and needle size. Lastly, this square did become softer.

Yellow Square One: At first, this square, made of the infamously curly stockinette stitch, would do nothing but roll into a sausage shape. After steam blocking, only the edges would not completely lie flat. The square will no longer roll into a sausage shape at any sort of prodding.

Yellow Square Two: Like the Yellow Square One, this square rolled up unforgivingly at first. I wet blocked this square to compare the flattening effects of the two types of blocking. Although it no longer aggressively rolls up, a larger border of this square (as compared to the Yellow Square One) still curls a quite a bit. The other immediately noticeable differences is that the wet blocked square is nearly the same thickness as off the needle, and not much difference in texture has occured. The steam blocked square is very flattened and much softer than the wet blocked one.

Brown Square: After subjecting the highly textured moss stitch to steam, the prominent bumps on the square were quite flattened. The texture is still there, it’s just nowhere near as bumpy as it was before blocking.

So after all the blocking, the difference in finished quality is very noticeable (the colors aren’t different; that’s just the lighting).

Before and after pictures. Ah, comparison.
Before and after pictures. Ah, comparison.

In all, what did I set out to demonstrate, and what did I learn from my blocking experiment? With the red squares, I did a simple finish with no special techniques, but the second one was stretched as far as it could go for extra dimensions. With the yellow squares, we can see how they evolve from rolly sausages to flat pieces, and we see that steam blocking is more effective in doing this than wet blocking. With the brown square, we confirm that texture is indeed flattened considerably by steam blocking.


Here are some resources to further advise you in blocking:

  • Here is a great video tutorial on blocking acrylic. Although it seems slow, it’s necessarily thorough and clear. The video creator also seems to be on hand to respond to any comment you make to the video.
  • Here is a tutorial for making your own blocking board from another blogger. I haven’t actually tested it out, but it looks like a cheap and feasible DIY project.

Although I only learned of the technique a couple months ago, once I learned I could do this to acrylic knitting, I’ve been blocking everything that needs it. I admittedly don’t have as much experience with wet blocking, but steam blocking is extremely fast and convenient, and I love the finished look it creates. Good luck with your endeavors in blocking.

(Yay for lighting changes and horrible camera quality.)

Yarn Over: Blocking Acrylic

Around Cubes: Fangshi Shuang Ren Review

Rubik’s Cubes are on the rise again within the new generation. Speedsolving and twisty-puzzle wrangling are becoming more commonplace hobbies. To help you keep up to date, I detangle this seemingly impossible puzzle for you in “Around Cubes”.

The Fangshi Shuang Ren is the third 3x3x3 I’ve owned, one of six working 3x3x3s I own, and the first speedcube I’ve owned. Ever since I got it approximately a year and a half ago, I’ve been using it out-of-the-box and it’s proven itself to be a sturdy option.

My Fangshi, scrambled and looking photogenic and stuff.
My Fangshi, scrambled, and looking photogenic and stuff.

I have the Fangshi Shuang Ren v2, and I bought it assembled from Amazon. I have not lubed or tinkered with the tensioning. Here’s a rundown of what I think of it.

  • Construction: The Shuang Ren is built differently than other cubes; unlike many, which have 20 corner and edge pieces which intertwine into a six-centered core, the Fangshi has corners and edges that are locked into a core, without stickers, or faces to affix the stickers to. Instead, the stickers are put on piece caps, separate pieces altogether, that are inserted onto the cubies. No doubt this is an unusual construction, but there is no particular disadvantage to this method of building a cube.
  • Durability: The plastic is not a particularly hard one; it looks and feels like a soft one. Nevertheless, my Shuang Ren has only received a couple nicks in a year and a half of heavy use. The stickers are not in “new” condition, but
    On the left is the most battered face of stickers on my used cube, which has seen perhaps two thousand solves. The right cube is practically new, having experienced perhaps ten solves. There are subtle differences, but for the most part, the used stickers are in great condition.
    On the left is the most battered face of stickers on my used cube, which has seen perhaps two thousand solves. The right cube is practically new, having experienced perhaps ten solves. There are subtle differences, but for the most part, the used stickers are in great condition.

    they look much better than many stickers would look after perhaps two thousands solves. In terms of physical durability (rather than performance degradation, which I am terming “aging effects”), the Shuang Ren does notably better than other cubes.

  • Aging Effects: Out of the box and new, the Shuang Ren has a very smooth, paper-against-paper feel. Over time, however, it does become considerably less pleasantly-textured, feeling more like other cubes with a normal feel. The insides of the cube grind together a lot, creating plenty of plastic dust inside (everywhere inside, I might add!). This contributes to the loss of that paper texture, as well as hindering performance a bit (less fast in turning speed, and less smooth corner cutting).
  • Handling: The Shuang Ren is a very easy-to-handle cube, but depending on previous experience with other speedcubes, some people may find it too fast. Another review has claimed that they had problems with frequently
    I've taken some of the piece caps off here; if you look carefully, you can spot the tons of dust that is not only cropping up between cubies, but inside them as well.
    I’ve taken some of the piece caps off here; if you look carefully, you can spot the tons of dust that is not only cropping up between cubies, but inside them as well.

    overshooting turns, although I’ve personally never found the handling hard. Something to note is that, especially when it’s old, the cube is noticeably harder to control when the plastic is physically cold (rather than warm).

  • Turning Speed: To be honest here, I have very little variety in experience with other cubes, but the Shuang Ren seems to be up to par in turning speed. At the very least, there is no resistance when I take it as fast as I can go.
  • Corner Cutting: The corner cutting on the Shuang Ren is satisfying; for “outwards” corner cutting, it can make up for just less 30 degrees of misalignment at the maximum (although I don’t recommend that much inaccuracy while solving). In the face of top-speed triggers, the Shuang Ren has never stopped from doing any outwards corner cutting that I want to. On the other hand, “inwards” corner cutting is a bit weak on this cube. One has to come down to less than 10-15 degrees to get inward corner cutting to work. The Shuang Ren is by no means exceptional at corner cutting, but is not stunting in this aspect of performance.
  • Piece Popping: An interesting thing to note is that because of the peculiar cubie construction with the sticker caps, the Shuang Ren is unpoppable. I have never so much as gotten a piece out of the cube, whether on accident or pulling by force. I really should get to experimenting, but I suspect the only way to disassemble the cube is to take the center caps off and unscrew the core. Unfortunately, the cube is not invincible in this aspect; a good drop on a hard floor can dislodge the caps (the edge caps in particular).
    On the left, my heavily used cube. On the right, the basically new cube, with the replacement caps missing. Yes, that's a banana sticker.
    On the left, my heavily used cube. On the right, the basically new cube, with the replacement caps missing. Yes, that’s a banana sticker.
    • I have, in fact, lost two caps because I left the cube in the hands of a stranger for ten minutes. He dropped the cube (on accident, I presume), and fled the scene. I was unable to recover all the popped caps, and the only solution for replacing them was to buy a second cube for spare parts.
  • Corner Twisting: If, for any reason, you would need to, it is possible to intentionally twist corners without removing the caps (even with the tough core construction). However, I have never twisted a corner while solving.
  • Lockups: If there’s any weak point in the Shuang Ren’s performance, it’s lockups as a result of inaccuracy. These become very prominent with aging; two misaligned layers can be a problem, and as mentioned before, inwards corner cutting is a common cause of lockups. The lockups are not very severe at all, though, and the occasional hiccup in turning is able to be dealt with. Middle layer turns, however, are great, and never lockup on their own.
  • Price and Buying Options: The Shuang Ren can be purchased in quite a few convenient online retailers, such as Amazon ($11, assembled), The Cubicle ($15, assembled; $16, DIY), hknowstore ($17, DIY). Overall, it’s not a very pricey cube; it’s pretty reasonable for the quality.

So what do I think of it in all? The Shuang Ren, with its unusual construction and uniquely exceptional durability, has average specs for a good speedcube, helping a 20-40 second solver to their best. However, its performance glory fades quite a bit after many solves, posing issues with long-lasting. (I often speculate whether lube would help cut back on the grinding the pieces do to each other, but I think the effect, if any, would not be particularly preventive.) Altogether, the impression is an amazing all-around cube, but gaps in its specs lead me to guess that many other cubes are better than it. You could call it “on the low end of the high end”.

Should you buy it? For the newbie, you can do better than the Shuang Ren for the same price and quality range, but if you’re not very particular about getting the best, or if you don’t plan to be a heavy user, the Fangshi Shuang Ren is still a good choice. For more experienced cubers, the purchase of a Shuang Ren will be of little use to you–if you’ve learned on a very good cube but need a new, better cube, the Shuang Ren is little of an upgrade. If you’ve already got a great cube and are hovering somewhere around sub-twenty times, the Fangshi will not meet your needs for faster times or better quality.

Personally, the Fangshi Shuang Ren has served me well for one and a half years, introducing me to the twenty-second club, but as soon as I find the money, I will be moving on to something more advanced and “fancy”.

More resources:

Around Cubes: Fangshi Shuang Ren Review