to the
    Electric Brain

Site Directory

Tom's Inflation
(JavaScript version)

Tom's Inflation
(Java version)

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)

(JavaScript applet)

(Java applet)

(Java applet)

Tom's Oscar Contest

Tom's Oscar Contest
2015 results

Tom's Oscar Contest
Hall of Fame

Favorite Web Links

Tools used
to build this site

About the Electric Brain

Contact Me

Who is Tom?

Recent Movies

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).

Danny Collins is loosely based on a true story about a 1970s folk singer who didn't receive an encouraging letter from John Lennon until 34 years after it was mailed because it was intercepted by a Beatles collector. Al Pacino plays the singer, who's now a famous but fossilized performer who hasn't written an original song in decades. When the long-lost letter finally arrives, it makes him reflect on a career that's financially successful but creatively irrelevant. Annette Bening plays a hotel manager who urges him to rediscover his muse. Although this movie is well acted, a cliché family subplot soon demotes the main plot, spoiling what could have been a more interesting story about the conflict between art and commerce.

Cinderella remakes the classic French fairy tale in lavish fashion. Lily James as Cinderella and Cate Blanchett as her cruel stepmother are perfect foils. They get amusing supporting performances from Helena Bonham Carter (fairy godmother) and Sophie McShera (one of the step-sisters, more famous for her servant's role as Daisy in Downton Abbey). Highlights include the spectacular grand ball at the duke's palace and magical special effects when Cinderella's carriage reverts to a pumpkin. The story avoids excessive meanness and preaches forgiveness. Although it's rather long for young children, it's lively enough to keep them interested.

Chappie is a violent but fascinating science-fiction film about artificial intelligence. Dystopian director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) places this near-future story in Johannesburg, South Africa, shortly after the world's first robotic police have halted a crime wave. The robot manufacturer employs a brilliant but poorly supervised engineer (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire) who secretly endows a badly damaged robot with his new AI software. The machine awakens with a childlike intelligence but is a very fast learner. Soon the story becomes a morality tale that pits nature versus nurture (favoring John Locke's "blank slate") and poses age-old theological questions ("Why did you create me if I have to die?"). However, the philosophizing is nearly lost in a cacophony of action-movie violence and special effects. The best effect is Chappie himself, a remarkably lifelike creation who nearly outshines the human actors.

>> See more mini-reviews, including 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 ... Boyhood ... Lucy ... Magic in the Moonlight ... Begin Again ... Godzilla ... Edge of Tomorrow ... Maleficent ... Finding Vivian Maier ... The Grand Budapest Hotel ... The Monuments Men ... 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

Visitors to this web site since August 29, 1966: [ 92594723961803476394125947239618 ]
Last site update: May 22, 2015

Hosted By Web Hosting by FatCow
 [ Windmill logo ]