Steam keys for Elite Dangerous’s early backers coming soon

I’m not sure why it took so long for them to do this, but here’s the official news:

From May 28 you’ll be able to generate a Steam key from your account page, and we’ll have full instructions right here on the forums closer to the time.

For those of you who haven’t tried the game yet, here’s a pretty good primer:

I think it’s safe to say that if the genre hasn’t gotten its hooks into you when you were younger, you probably won’t like Elite Dangerous. Most of the time you won’t be having fun, per se, but it’s still a very satisfying experience for people who already have the acquired taste.

My newest toy: the Lionel CDV-700 6B Geiger counter

Here’s a short list of the things I’ve been shocked by:

  • Electric fence charger (I had the misfortune of holding it in both hands when it bit me)
  • Wall socket (horribly stupid school prank gone wrong)
  • Coverless light switch (felt around in the dark for said light switch)
  • Water heater (gas water heater, but it had an electronic thermostat)
  • A 9V battery taser (worthless for protection, by the way)
  • Bare house wiring in a customer’s attic (didn’t bite me until I grabbed a copper pipe)
  • A ton of other things I can’t remember at the moment

As of about an hour ago, I can add “Cold War-era Geiger counter” to the list:

Ain’t it a beauty? Came with the original headset, too.
Yes, I knew the insides were high voltage. No, I didn’t take the proper precautions when poking around inside. Yes, I felt the jolt right in my heart. I would rate this shock between the bare wiring (surprisingly mild) and the cattle fence charger (surprisingly strong).
I’ve been trying to get one of these for about a year and a half, but most eBay listings were either a little too damaged or a little too overpriced. I suspect the current price on these units is due to Fukashima-concerned consumers trying to screen their produce. Just so you know, most Geiger counters are pretty much worthless for this application. If you have no interest in using a Geiger counter properly, don’t buy one.
I got this one for $60 because the seller didn’t know what was wrong with it or how to operate it. Aside from battery corrosion (I have an $8 replacement compartment on the way from, which also sells refurbished units for $180 a piece) and a bit of rust on the can, the unit is in good condition. A sticker indicates the civil defense calibrated it in 1983, the year I was born, and I wanted the Lionel-manufactured unit because A) it uses two D-cells instead of four, and B) it’s just cool that a toy company (well, model train company) manufactured it.
Baseline readings at my own house are a little higher than average (in my admittedly limited data set, anyway). The “hottest” thing I found was an old breadbox my parents used to keep our pills and vitamins in. The second hottest was a mysterious box in my father’s garage. The thrill of opening the newspaper-packed box up was more exciting than anything that ever happened to me while metal detectin’, but I was disappointed, if not relieved, to only find lantern mantles inside.
As is, it’s a pretty good unit for detecting potential sources and listening to that great Geiger counter sound, but I imagine it will be a while before I purchase a newer check source and get it properly calibrated. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty piece of Cold War history for my shelf.

Fury Road: George Miller’s masterpiece

a trailer that manages to leave the best bit unspoiled

Movies used to have balls, even the expensive ones which opened during the summer. Nowadays you might get something like The Expendables, which tries to recapture that magic, but they always feels too slick and disingenuous.

Fury Road is as authentic as you can get. It’s a two hour movie with about ten minutes of dialogue and comes from a filmmaker who—thank God—hasn’t learned the “right way” to make a summer blockbuster. Movies as brilliant and hard hitting and mind-fuckingly maniacal as Fury Road makes me retroactively hate the more standard stuff like Avengers 2. I’m not so naive I don’t understand why movie execs don’t make movies like this anymore. No, what amazes me is a movie like Mad Max 4 can be made after 9/11 at all. It has a hell of a bite for something intended for such an increasingly sensitive society.

It’s worth noting Tom Hardy and Charlize Theoron share an equal title credit; it’s every bit “Imperator Furiosa’s” film as it is Mad Max’s and Theoron’s more than up to the challenge. Another surprising cast member is Hugh Keays-Bryne who also played the villain in the first film. This time the villain is so good he’ll remind you of no less than the likes of Hannibal Lector and Darth Vader. Nicholas Hoult (yes, the kid from About a Boy) is unrecognizable as Nux, the white-faced character who proclaims in the trailers: “Oh, what a day! What a lovely day!”

Within minutes of the opening shot, Max’s famous car gets smeared across the wasteland by the War Boys, presumably the biggest, baddest gang around. Max is thrown into captivity, turned into a walking, talking blood bag for Nux, and chained to the front of a souped-up car when he isn’t hanging upside down in a cage. Meanwhile, the villain teases the malnourished citizens of his compound with his abundance of water and Furiosa is gearing up for a trip to Gas Town she has no intention of completing; when she veers off course the chase begins. And it never, ever stops.

Director George Miller has been trying to make this movie for twenty years. It shows. You can see the decades of thought enriching each action sequence, each of which is different than the last despite using the same three elements throughout: a desert, some cars, and a handful of maniacs. I always cherish a movie that shows me something I haven’t seen before. Fury Road does this not once, but several times over.

Fury Road is easily the most exciting movie of the twenty-first century. It’s a movie that’s been hyped beyond the moon, but will pay back every ounce of that hype with pure ingenuity and the kind of thrills we got when Schwarzenegger said “I’ll be back” for the first time, when Ellen Ripley came face to face with the queen alien. Jesus, it’s been so long since we’ve had one of these movies. I came out of it feeling like I’d just survived a trip down Niagara Falls.