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Tom's Inflation
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Inflation Calculator
Frequently Asked Questions

Computer Dictionary

Mini Movie Reviews

Tom's Guitar Cheat Sheet

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
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About the Electric Brain

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Recent Movies

Kill the Messenger is based on the true story of a newspaper reporter who linked the Reagan administration's secret funding of the Contras guerrilla war in Nicaragua with drug dealers who exported tons of cocaine to the U.S. in the 1980s. His exposé of guns, money, and drugs initially won accolades but soon was attacked by the rival news outlets he had scooped. Jeremy Renner skillfully plays reporter Gary Webb as a crusading journalist with a flawed character who finds himself overwhelmed by the opposition he stirs up. Although the movie glosses over some inaccuracies in his reporting, it gets the basic facts right in an almost forgotten scandal.

The Giver is a mediocre science-fiction tale about a future society that has eliminated crime, war, civil strife, and poverty by also eliminating emotion, free enterprise, most personal freedom, and all memories of human history. It's a wrap-around society in which utopia meets dystopia. The sole exception is The Receiver, a special person chosen to receive all the memories and experiences of the past in order to offer occasional advice to the political leaders. Despite adequate performances by Meryl Streep (the Chief Elder), Jeff Bridges (the aging Receiver), and Brenton Thwaites (the next-generation Receiver), this movie goes downhill fast after the young man discovers his society's secrets. Huge plot holes start appearing, and the climax veers from science fiction into sheer fantasy. Similar films (The Village, 2004) have suffered similar fates; the classic in this genre is Logan's Run (1976).

Boyhood is a movie unlike any other. Writer/director Richard Linklater (Fast Food Nation, School of Rock, Dazed & Confused) spent 12 years filming the story of a boy growing up to adulthood. No makeup tricks needed here. In 166 minutes, we see the cast of children and adults genuinely grow older before our eyes. Although some documentaries have achieved similar feats, Boyhood is a feature film that required its actors to rendezvous every year to play a few scenes. And it's not just a gimmick—the screenwriting is exceptional, too. Ellar Coltrane stars as the young boy who begins the film at age 7. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are brilliant as his star-crossed parents. The supporting cast, including many child actors, is equal to the challenge. The 12-year story arc dramatizes the difficulties of growing up, of parenting, and of maintaining relationships. It mixes documentary realism with fictional storytelling so successfully that it's almost a new film genre.

Lucy starts with the dubious premise that humans use only 10% of their brains and soon becomes even more dubious as a young woman gradually increases her utilization far beyond that amount. Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy, the innocent girlfriend of a stupid drug courier. When she accidentally gets involved with Taiwanese drug dealers and overdoses on a freaky new substance, her brain goes hyperactive and develops unbelievable new abilities. Most of them defy any extrapolation of existing abilities—but hey, this is a summer action flick, not a science documentary, despite some scenes in which Morgan Freeman plays a brain expert delivering a college lecture. Some people interpret this film as an allegory of female empowerment. But it would serve that role better if Lucy used her new mental skills to outthink her foes instead of overwhelming them with brute-force telekinesis. Nevertheless, it's entertaining if you don't mind the fantasy and some gory violence.

>> See more mini-reviews, including Magic in the Moonlight ... Begin Again ... Godzilla ... Edge of Tomorrow ... Maleficent ... Finding Vivian Maier ... The Grand Budapest Hotel ... The Monuments Men ... 12 Years a Slave ... Her ... 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 ... and many more!


 Tom's Inflation Calculator

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 380 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
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: October 19, 2014

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