Eye in the Sky stars Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman as British military officers waging antiterrorist warfareby remote control. Using real-time satellite links, they coordinate with drone pilots at a U.S. Air Force base in Las Vegas, intelligence officers at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., a national security adviser at the White House, a British cabinet minister visiting Singapore, and Kenyan Army special forces in Nairobi. Their joint mission to capture some high-value terrorists suddenly changes when they discover a suicide-bomber plot. Now they face a decision: Should the drone fire missiles at the terrorists despite the high probability of civilian collateral damage? This tense, well-made drama explores every aspect of this dilemma except oneit's nothing new. All weapons cause collateral damage, and all military commanders waging war from remote locations make decisions that will kill innocent people (including soldiers). Some historical context would have made this good film even better.
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Hello, My Name is Doris stars Sally Field as an aging spinster who becomes infatuated with a much younger co-worker. It's a drama, it's a comedy, and it's good. Leading roles for 70-year-old women don't come along very often in Hollywood, so Field seizes the day. She nails her character's combination of bleak loneliness and residual youthfulness. Max Greenfield plays her object of affection in a cool straightforward fashion, creating room for Field's more lavish performance. Tyne Daly contributes atmosphere as Doris's close friend. Although the story is fairly predictable, screenwriters Laura Terruso and Michael Showalter resist the temptation to be crude or unkind.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is loosely based on Kim Barker, a newspaper reporter who spent years covering the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In this entertaining Hollywood version, Barker is a frustrated TV newswriter who volunteers to become a war correspondent, despite her inexperience. Tina Fey skillfully blends gravity and levity in this role. The focus is on ex-pat life in a war zone, not the war's politics, strategy, or tactics. Between occasional forays into the field, the foreign journalists live in a fortified Kabul "guest house" and engage in drunken parties, casual sex, and tricky relationships with the locals. Change the scenery and it could be the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon in the 1960s or almost any war-correspondent enclave since World War II. Billy Bob Thornton is great as a U.S. Marines general but can't quite match Robert Duvall's U.S. Cavalry general in Apocalypse Now (1979).
Anomalisa is an unusual independent film that uses puppet stop-motion animation to tell a rather bleak story of a man with a bleak life. The main character is a semifamous author of a business book on customer relations. During a trip to deliver an inspirational talk to customer-service reps, he has a potentially life-changing experience. Although he suffers from a disorienting brain disorder that makes every person's face and voice seem identical, he meets a young woman whose actual face and voice are distinct. To him, she's an anomaly, and her name is Lisa (thus "Anomalisa"). This interesting film was funded as a Kickstarter project and is thoroughly professional, but it's vaguely unsettling. Be forewarned that it's not an animated movie for kids. The language and sex scenes are definitely for adults.
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Tom's Inflation Calculator includes the latest U.S. government inflation data plus alternative data sets. Both calculators are free and should automatically run in your web browser after clicking on the links above. By using historical data and forecasts, they can adjust U.S. dollar amounts for retail price inflation either forward or backward in time for any years between 1665 and 2100. (The alternative data sets have narrower ranges.)
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Here's an index to more than 400 of Tom's articles in Microprocessor Report, Networking Report, and Mobile Chip Report, the insider's guides to microprocessors, networking chips, and mobile-phone chips. Learn about embedded processors, microcontrollers, digital-signal processors, and other chip-related topics. (Subscription required for most articles.)
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How safe is your system from hostile Java applets? Find out with JSecure, one of Tom's free applets. JSecure harmlessly tests the security manager of your Web browser or applet viewer by trying to access information from your computer's operating system and hard disk. Try it today!
Here is an index to more than 180 of Tom's computer articles from BYTE Magazine published from 1992 to 1998. (BYTE ceased publication in June 1998.) Most articles are still available online and include the original photographs, figures, and screen shots.
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- Fujifilm X20 Camera Review. An illustrated field test of a high-quality compact camera, the Fujifilm X20.
- Tom's Oscar Contest. An annual tradition for 25 years, Tom's Oscar Contest is both entertaining and challenging. Hundreds of people have tried to guess who will win an Oscar in each Academy Award category. Competing against them is the computer brain of Tom's famed OscarCalc program, which sometimes wins the contest and always places near the top.
- The Death of BYTE Magazine. In 1998, after 23 years of operation, BYTE Magazine was shut down by its new owner, CMP Media. A year later, CMP launched BYTE.com as a very different web-only publication. To learn the inside story about what happened to the world's second personal computer magazine, see Tom's Unofficial BYTE FAQ: The Death of BYTE Magazine.
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