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Fun and inexpensive pocket-size wood puzzles

I found these matchbox size wood puzzles at a general store in Colorado and bought three of them. There are a bunch of different ones in the series and I plan to get them all because they are almost like magic tricks and it’s fun to challenge your friends by showing them the end result (without letting them see the process of solving them).

The Baffle Board is a miniature version of an old classic known as the Red Goose puzzle. The challenge is to move the three beads from the loop of string on one side of the block to the loop on the other side. The printed solution included with the puzzle isn’t very clear, so here is a YouTube video, if you can’t figure it out.

Push N Pull is similar to the Red Goose, but a little easier to solve. The solution included in the puzzle is clear.

Brass Monkey is the hardest puzzle of all, but also the most fun. The challenge is to make a pyramid out of the six wooden pieces. The pieces tend to roll away as you work with them, so it helps to do this puzzle on a non-slippery surface, like a rubber computer mouse pad, or to support it with something like a stack of Post-It Notes. The included solution is not very clear, so here’s a YouTube video with the solution. – Mark Frauenfelder

Pocket-size wood puzzles

Matchbox Puzzlers
By House of Marbles
Baffle Board $3 Buy one on Amazon

Push 'N' Pull $3 Buy one on Amazon

Brass Monkey $3 Buy one on Amazon

See more photos at Wink.

Subterrarium could become your new favorite puzzle game

Subterrarium is a truly fresh, thought-provoking dungeon puzzle where you play a girl with a soda-powered jetpack and a drill. You earn gold from digging, buy watering cans with the money, and water flowers that help you reach new parts of the (procedurally-generated) level.

It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but once I did I found myself in the midst of a thought-provoking puzzle experience, the kind where every move counts and you always want to be thinking ahead. Every little square of dirt on the vertical levels explodes with a satisfying crunch and ping, but if you just go jamming your drill at whatever you like, you won't make any progress. It feels immensely rewarding to solve a stage: The first time I actually sprouted a flower and climbed it, I exclaimed aloud.

I also think it's pretty cool that its designer, Taylor Anderson, found the spirit of the game by deciding "girl with jetpack" would be the most interesting starting point for the design.


"Subterrarium started off as a generic dungeon crawler where the longer you spent in the dungeon before you left the level the more points you got," he writes to me. "And that was alright, but I hated the dungeon setting so I tried to think of something as far away from that as possible. I also really, really wanted it to be nonviolent. I ended up with a girl and her drill and vending machines underground, which I thought was a nice change. And then like three weeks after that, I arrived at [this] game."

Subterrarium is currently on sale for $2.99 CAD. In writing that I realize it's actually been a long time since I spotlighted a game on Offworld that you even have to buy—this one is sweet, engaging and worth it.

Watch this guy solve a 7x7 Rubik's cube in record-breaking time


Australian speedsolver Feliks Zemdegs has set a new official world record for the shortest time in which to solve a 7x7 Rubik's cube: 2:23.55.

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Pill-popping panic - a good brain teaser


A good puzzle from Futility Closet.

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Isis Adventure: Worst. Puzzle. Ever.

The thing positively oozes mystery and the promise of an exciting intellectual adventure. Alas.Read the rest

Puzzle sheds light on government policy, corporate America and why no one likes to be wrong


Here's a fun puzzle from the NY Times. Try it then discuss your experience in the comments.

Can you solve the 3-switches problem?


Alex Bellos' Monday puzzle in The Guardian is the Three Switches Probem:

Downstairs in a house are three identical on-off switches. One of them controls the lamp in the attic. The puzzle is to work out which switch controls the lamp.

The rules are as follows. You are allowed to manipulate the switches all you like, and then you are allowed only one trip to the attic. How do you do it?

The famously difficult green-eyed logic puzzle

"One hundred green-eyed logicians have been imprisoned on an island by a mad dictator. Their only hope for freedom lies in the answer to one famously difficult logic puzzle. Can you solve it? Alex Gendler walks us through this green-eyed riddle."

Play the number puzzle that launched a thousand clones, now free


My mom loves number puzzles, so I recommended her the laudable Threes, which would go on to win Apple's 2014 game of the year. But it was already too late: The clones had gotten to her first.

She was playing 2048, which was being cheered in the press as "the indie hit made in just one weekend". She didn't know it was a free public mod of 1024, which was a free clone of Threes, a finely-tuned experience designed by the well-respected Asher Vollmer (with well-respected artist Greg Wohlwend), and sold on the App Store for $2.99.

One year after the puzzling and provocative Threes cloning controversy—where the free clones ultimately reached many more players than the premium original—the developers are offering a new free, ad-supported version of the game. Vollmer tells the Verge that Threes' paywall "has always felt like a misstep."

Try the game that started it all for free on the App Store or Android Marketplace. And if you like Vollmer and Wohlwend's work, also check out TouchTone, a puzzle game about the surveillance state.

Math puzzler: can you make a rectangle with one cut?

Presh Talkwalkar of Mind Your Decisions challenges you to "cut the shape into two pieces, using all the area, that can form a rectangle."

WATCH: World record smallest 7x7x7 Rubik's Cube

Puzzle enthusiast Tony Fisher demonstrates a new 3.4 cm-wide cube designed by Matt Bahner. It's half the size width of the original 7x7x7 V-Cube.

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Friday fun: make a paradox card

paradox-cardThe amusement I get from looking at this weird-looking card is worth more than the 60 seconds it took me to make it. No tape, glue, or hidden cuts are needed. If you can't figure out how to make one, someone in the comments will show you how to do it.

Mystery cube-in-a-cube puzzle woodworking project

All you need to make this floating cube-in-a-cube is a cube of solid wood, a drill press, a forstner bit, and a sharp knife. I want to try this!

What is the deal with this parking lot numbering system?


I found this puzzle on Miss Cellania's website.

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The fascination of Rubik's cube

Dan Nosowitz on the obsession with a mechanical toy invented 40 years ago--"simple in theory, it can be tremendously complex to conquer" -- and Google's obsession with it in particular.

New Disruptors 70: Puzzle Maker Chris Yates

[soundcloud url="" params="auto_play=false&show_artwork=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

Chris Yates is a polymath. A sculptor, artist, woodworker, cartoonist, entrepreneur, dog-kennel assembler, musician, and more. He's best known now for his handmade jigsaw puzzles. He's on the show to talk about his zigzag path to making a niche for himself.

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This episode is sponsored by:

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Interactive version of EFF's NSA crossword

Here's a nice little Christmastime Creative Commons and free/open source software success story: yesterday, I posted the Electronic Frontier Foundation's NSA-themed crossword puzzle, which was CC licensed. Shortly after, TheDod posted an interactive version of the puzzle to Github, forking an interactive crossword program written by the Boston Globe's Jesse Weisbeck.

Interactive edition of EFF's Xmas 2013 NSA crossword puzzle (Thanks, Dave!)