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

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(Java applet)

Tom's Oscar Contest

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Recent Movies

Spotlight is an excellent fact-based drama about the Boston Globe's investigation of pedophile priests—and the cover-up by the Boston diocese. Published in 2002 after months of dogged research, the stories exposed scores of Boston priests as child molesters. More important, the Globe revealed how the local bishop and other clergymen squelched the scandals and routinely reassigned the guilty priests to other parishes, where they repeated their crimes. This movie avoids sensationalism while realistically showing a team of newspaper reporters working hard to break a difficult story. It even faults the Globe for ignoring leads that could have broken the story sooner. Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci headline a strong cast that brings this sordid scandal to life.

Steve Jobs is an unconventional biopic of Apple's late cofounder. Instead of compressing his entire life into two hours, it focuses on just three days: the Macintosh product launch in 1984, the Next Cube product launch in 1988, and the iMac product launch in 1998. And it doesn't actually depict those events, either. Except for a few brief flashbacks, all the scenes happen backstage, before the events, as Jobs (Michael Fassbender) verbally battles with his administrative aide (Kate Winslet), former Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), cofounder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), an aggrieved ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston), a harried engineer (Michael Stuhlbarg), and his rejected daughter, Lisa Brennan (played by three actresses of different ages). Jobs appears as a combative, arrogant, impatient, intense, and demanding person who poisons his business and personal relationships. It's not a wholly false characterization, but it doesn't explain his undeniable charisma or his phenomenal business success. Although the acting is uniformly excellent, Fassbender doesn't much resemble Jobs, which is distracting. Like a famous Apple Macintosh advertising campaign, this film dares to "think different." And like the Mac, its appeal is narrower than that of a more-conventional product. Maybe some personalities are too large for one biopic to contain.

The Martian is a survival tale that surpasses Robinson Crusoe: an astronaut is stranded alone on Mars with short supplies, and the next mission isn't due to arrive for four years. How can he survive? Luckily, he's a botanist! This refreshing science-fiction movie emphasizes the science, not the usual conflicts with space aliens, although it does stretch the truth at times. (Mars's atmosphere is too thin to generate the hurricane-force winds depicted.) Nevertheless, The Martian is a well-made drama starring Matt Damon as the lonely castaway and Jessica Chastain as his steely mission commander. It's a cross between Apollo 13 (1995) and All Is Lost (2013). Worth seeing in 3D, too.

>> See more mini-reviews, including 99 Homes ... Grandma ... Rikki and the Flash ... Inside Out ... Amy ... Jurassic World ... Love & Mercy ... San Andreas ... Tomorrowland ... Ex Machina ... Danny Collins ... Cinderella ... Chappie ... Jupiter Ascending ... 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 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.)

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, both Inflation Calculators offer 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. Learn to speak geek!


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 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.)


Scramble Text With ROTator

ROTator is an applet that lets you encode and decode text in the popular Internet format known as "ROT 13." Lots of other programs do that, but my applet goes further by allowing you to encode and decode text in any rotational letter-substitution format. You can shift the letters left or right, and you can shift them by any number of letters from ROT 1 to ROT 26. Use my all-new JavaScript version (recommended) or the original Java version.


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!


[ 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
My guitar teacher:   Dave Creamer
Almost-forgotten history:   Commodore Computer
Family nutrition adviser:   Marsha Kunz, M.S., Give Me Five
World's foremost CPU authority:   Microprocessor Report
Kick-ass info about PCs:   Maximum PC Magazine
Practical photography:   Shutterbug
Contact the webmaster:   Feedback page

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Last site update: November 14, 2015

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