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Microprocessor Report
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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

Tom's Oscar Contest
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Recent Movies

99 Homes is an outstanding drama of the housing-bubble collapse that triggered our recent Great Recession. Although it can be criticized for barely mentioning the high-finance schemes hatched by big banks and derivatives traders, the intricate details of collateralized debt obligations and credit-default swaps would only confuse most viewers. Instead, writer/director Ramin Bahrani focuses on the personal story of an evicted homeowner and a predatory real-estate agent who flips foreclosed houses in Florida. It would be easy to cast these characters and good guys and bad guys, but 99 Homes depicts a more complex morality. The victim becomes a predator, and the predatory agent has his reasons. Andrew Garfield as the former homeowner and Michael Shannon as the real-estate agent have their starring roles down cold in this skillfully made film.

Grandma stars Lily Tomlin as an eccentric grandmother whose teenage granddaughter desperately needs $630 for an abortion. Both are nearly broke, so they embark on a journey to collect old debts or borrow money from friends. It sounds depressing, but the movie is pitched as a comedy-drama that finds dark humor in quirky personalities and relationships. Much of the humor, though, revolves around the Hollywood cliché that coarse language and outrageous behavior are endearing in older people. Tomlin steals the show, as intended, and it's a good show. But it would be much better if writer/director Paul Weitz (About a Boy, 2002) had exploited more dimensions of Tomlin's comedic talent.

Rikki and the Flash stars Meryl Streep as the middle-aged leader of an L.A. bar band that never won fame but that rocks a few dozen ragged fans every night. Although Streep performs several songs, the plot revolves mainly around broken relationships with her estranged family. These characters include her ex-husband (Kevin Kline), an adult daughter (Mamie Gummer, Streep's real-life offspring), and two adult sons. Kline's performance is carefully calibrated, and Gummer is excellent as a woman severely depressed by her husband's infidelity. Streep, as always, is Streep. The dialogue is sharp, having been penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, 2007). Although the climax is predictable, this is an above-average comedy-drama.

Inside Out is the brainiest animated feature ever made. Literally. Its main characters are four basic emotions inside an 11-year-old girl's brain: Joy, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust. Contending with each other for control, they steer the girl's behavior as she navigates her family's difficult move from suburban Minnesota to urban San Francisco. When a mishap leaves Fear and Disgust in total command, things go awry. Like almost all Pixar movies, Inside Out is intelligent enough to keep adults interested without going over the heads of children. In fact, it's fairly educational, but don't tell the kids that. (Its metaphors for memories are particularly clever.) Pixar keeps pleasantly surprising us and enlarging the once-tired genre of animated films.

>> See more mini-reviews, including Amy ... Jurassic World ... Love & Mercy ... San Andreas ... Tomorrowland ... Ex Machina ... 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 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: October 3, 2015

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