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Microprocessor Report
(article index)

BYTE Magazine Archive
(article index)

Unofficial BYTE FAQ
( R.I.P. 1975-1998 )

Shutterbug Archive
(magazine articles)

(free Java applet)

(free Java applet)

Tom's Oscar Contest

Tom's Oscar Contest
2014 results

Tom's Oscar Contest
Hall of Fame

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Recent Movies

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a stylish comedy written and directed by Wes Anderson. Like his previous film, Moonrise Kingdom, it combines elaborate art direction with quirky characters, a starry cast, and a lively plot. It's placed in a fictional world based on 1930s Eastern Europe during the rise of fascism. Ralph Fiennes stars as the conniving concierge of an ostentatious hotel catering to Old Europe aristocracy. Tony Revolori co-stars as the Lobby Boy, a lowly assistant who gradually gains the concierge's trust. The sudden death of a wealthy widow (played by an almost-unrecognizable Tilda Swinton) throws them into conflict with her greedy heirs and the changing political climate. The brilliance of this picture is its odd combination of absurdity, fantasy, and realism. It's like a cartoon that really happened. It also avoids gross-out humor and respects its characters' humanity.

12 Years a Slave fully deserves its Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay of 2013. It's based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, a free black Northerner who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, and Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong'o won an Oscar for her supporting role as a young slave frequently used and abused by her master. British director Steve McQueen and writer John Ridley pull no punches in bringing this harrowing drama to the screen. When its authenticity is hard to watch, the camera does not waver, giving these skilled actors time to wear their roles like skin. Northup's ordeal is a rare first-person account of slavery authored by an educated black man who was born a free American before falling into America's holocaust.

The Monuments Men is a worthy World War II drama about a U.S. Army unit recruited to save art, cultural artifacts, and important buildings from destruction or theft. Based on a true story, it stars George Clooney as the unit's inspirational leader. The skilled cast includes Bob Balaban, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, and Bill Murray. With that lineup, only clumsy writing or direction could bomb this picture. But Clooney was the co-writer and director, and he tells the story well. Although cramming a year's worth of action into two hours of screen time is a challenge, the real people who tackled this mission were hurried, too, as they scrambled to rescue artifacts from the desperate Germans and reparations-minded Russians. Clooney persuasively argues that preserving art and culture is a vital wartime goal—one that the U.S. Army forgot 58 years later when it entered Baghdad.

Her stars Joachin Phoenix as a lonely dot-com worker who falls in love with the artificially intelligent operating system on his cell phone. Voiced by Scarlett Johansson, the OS is a clever computer program that learns and adapts to the user's personality. It's also capable of phone sex—between the user and the phone, that is. Although this story certainly has its comedic and romantic moments, the overall tone is rather morose. Writer/director Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) explores the meaning of love and the depth of object personification. His premise is not as far-fetched as it may seem. The technology is attainable, and emotional attachments to nonpersons are as common as household pets and religions. In the end, this cerebral film makes the point that love really is a two-way street.

>> See more mini-reviews, including August: Osage County ... Lone Survivor ... The Wolf of Wall Street ... American Hustle ... Inside Llewyn Davis ... Nebraska ... The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ... All Is Lost ... Ender's Game ... Captain Phillips ... The Fifth Estate ... Gravity ... Elysium ... Blue Jasmine ... Despicable Me 2 ... The Heat ... Oblivion ... The Place Beyond the Pines ... Much Ado About Nothing ... Star Trek Into Darkness ... The Great Gatsby ... The Company You Keep ... 42 ... Oz, The Great and Powerful ... On the Road ... and many more!


Tom's Oscar Contest

First Place Prize: Christopher Null
Second Place: Computer Average (ineligible)
Second Place Prize: Allison Hensley
Booby Prize: David Hensley
Booby (tie): Leslie Mizell
Booby (tie): Computer Booby

Christopher Null has won Tom's 31st Annual Oscar Contest. Computer Average was close behind in Second Place, and the second-highest human scorer was Allison Hensley. Allison's husband David Hensley finished in a three-way tie for last place but won the Booby Prize by submitting his ballot before the other two contestants who scored a perfect zero: Leslie Mizell and Computer Booby. Read the thrilling story of this year's contest, check the final scoreboard, see how Tom's OscarCalc program fared with its Oscar predictions, read the winners' acceptance speeches, and view the Oscar contest Hall of Fame.


 Tom's Inflation Calculator

NEW! NEW! NEW! Now there are two versions of Tom's Inflation Calculator—the original Java version and an all-new JavaScript version for wider compatibility with web browsers, smartphones, and tablets!

Tom's Inflation Calculator includes the latest U.S. government inflation data plus alternative data sets. Both calculators are free and will 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.)

The JavaScript version includes a new data set—the Social Security Wage Index. In addition to using the U.S. government's official inflation data, the Java version of Tom's Inflation Calculator has an alternative data set from ShadowStats, a private company. These are the best inflation calculators on the Internet.


Computer Dictionary
Common Terms Defined

Are you baffled by a technical term or acronym you've never seen before? Or just curious about the latest techie slang? Tom's Computer Dictionary may have the answer. From "AAC" to "zoo virus," it defines more than 800 terms in plain language.


[ FUJI X20 IMAGE ] Fuji X20 Review

Read my in-depth review of the new Fujifilm X20 compact digital camera on the Maximum PC magazine website. Access is free!


Guitar Cheat Sheet

Do you want to learn the most common major and minor guitar chords? Instantly transpose songs from one major key to another? Find out which major and minor chords go together? Play scales in any major key? Learn the notes on the fretboard? It's easy! And it's free! Just download and print Tom's Guitar Cheat Sheet.


Index to Tom's Articles  


Here's an index to more than 350 of Tom's articles in Microprocessor Report and Networking Report, the insider's guides to microprocessors and networking semiconductors. Learn about embedded processors, microcontrollers, digital-signal processors, and other chip-related topics. (Subscription required for most articles.)


Test Your Java Security

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!


Scramble Text With ROTator

ROTator is a Java applet that lets you encode and decode text in the popular Internet format known as "ROT 13." Lots of other programs do that, too, but Tom's ROTator applet goes further by allowing you to encode and decode text in any rotational letter-substitution format. With ROTator, you can shift the letters left or right, and you can shift them by any number of letters from ROT 1 to ROT 26.


[ BYTE JUNE 1998 ] BYTE Articles

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.


And more stuff...
  • Tom's Mini Movie Reviews. Snappy reviews of recent movies, like those in the blue column on the left. Reviews that scroll off the column end up on the Mini Movie Reviews page.

  • Shutterbug Articles. More than a dozen of Tom's photography articles from Shutterbug magazine are now online. Learn how to personalize your film speed, banish dust from your darkroom, make professional-looking postcards, find the best deals on used cameras, create special effects with open flash, and more.

  • 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.

  • Tom's Favorite Web Links. Find information about personal computers, microprocessors, Java, and other technologies. There are quite a few photography-related sites, plus some offbeat places you've never been. Lots of new links!

  • Tools for Web Builders. The hardware, software, programming tools, and books used to build this web site might be useful to you, too. Most of these tools are linked to their vendors' web sites so you can find more information.

Cool hobbies:   Phil's Old Radios
Buy hardware:   OsoSoft Mineral Collection
My guitar teacher:   Dave Creamer
Straight dope on PCs:   Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor
Almost-forgotten history:   Commodore Computer
Nutrition adviser for family health:   Marsha Kunz, M.S., Give Me Five
World's foremost CPU authority:   Microprocessor Report
Kick-ass info about PCs:   Maximum PC Magazine
Online archive of tech articles:   BYTE Magazine
Practical photography:   Shutterbug
Contact the webmaster:   Feedback page

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Last site update: March 31, 2014

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