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Tom's Guitar Cheat Sheet

Microprocessor Report
(article index)

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

Shutterbug Archive
(magazine articles)

(JavaScript applet)

(Java applet)

(Java applet)

Tom's Oscar Contest

Tom's Oscar Contest
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Recent Movies

Love & Mercy is an outstanding biopic of Brian Wilson, the troubled musical genius who wrote most of the Beach Boys' songs. Paul Dano expertly portrays the young Brian in the 1960s who crafts intricate pop hits while struggling against inner and outer demons. John Cusack doesn't look as much like Brian but plays him with grace in middle age—a barely functional man who is overmedicated and dominated by a quack doctor. The highlights of this film are the studio recording scenes, which show the measure of Brian's talent in arranging music that sounds light and breezy but is heavily layered and lovingly wrought. Paul Giamatti has a good turn as the overbearing shrink, and Elizabeth Banks convincingly plays the Cadillac salesperson who becomes a guardian angel. No Beach Boys fan should miss this.

San Andreas is an exciting summer blockbuster about earthquakes wrecking California, but don't take it too seriously. Not content to destroy just one city, the filmmakers invent a network of hidden faults that wreaks destruction on Hoover Dam, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and just about everything in between. Meanwhile, our hero is an L.A. helicopter-rescue pilot (Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock") who shirks his job responsibilities when he's most needed. Ignoring the beleaguered citizens of his own crumbling city, he first saves his estranged wife, then steals a car, an airplane, and a boat to search for his daughter hundreds of miles away. We're not supposed to notice his reckless behavior or other anomalies, such as the speedboat's ability to zoom through debris-strewn waters without fouling the propellers. Never mind ... it's all in fun.

Tomorrowland is more likeable for its theme than for its filmmaking. It's a shame, because a better movie is hiding in this jumble. George Clooney and remarkable child actress Raffey Cassidy star in a time-travel story about a bright future that may or may not happen, depending on our actions today. The theme is that pessimism and apocalyptic visions become self-fulfilling prophecies if we fall under their spells. But time-travel stories are always potentially disorienting, so special care is necessary to keep the narrative coherent. Unfortunately, writer/director Brad Bird fails on that count. It's not for lack of talent—Bird has written and directed several successful animated features for Pixar. In this live-action feature, though, he stumbles through the opening acts and dwells too long on gratuitous fight scenes. The second half is better, but a straightforward narrative would have made everything more comprehensible without diluting the suspense or the message.

Ex Machina is an intriguing science-fiction film about a wealthy Internet entrepreneur who's trying to invent an artificially intelligent android. To test his invention, he recruits one of his brightest young programmers to conduct a Turing test—an evaluation of artificial intelligence first proposed by Alan Turing, the British math genius who helped crack the Nazi's secret codes in World War II. From the start, this eerie film hints that neither the programmer nor the movie audience should take things at face value. And sure enough, the plot soon begins to unwind. Some twists are expected, but clever misdirection leads to surprises. This film is artistic without being arty and uses special effects without being flashy. It could almost be a prequel to the classic Bladerunner (1982).

>> See more mini-reviews, including Danny Collins ... Cinderella ... Chappie ... Jupiter Ascending ... Selma ... American Sniper ... A Most Violent Year ... Wild ... The Imitation Game ... Big Eyes ... Nightcrawler ... The Theory of Everything ... Interstellar ... Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) ... Before I Go to Sleep ... Fury ... Kill the Messenger ... The Giver ... 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 nearly 400 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.)


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: June 27, 2015

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