Spotlight is an excellent fact-based drama about the Boston Globe's investigation of pedophile priestsand 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.
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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.
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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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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!
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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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- 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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