Snowden dramatizes the true story of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who fled the U.S. in 2013 and revealed the government's classified mass-surveillance programs. While he was changing planes in Moscow en route to Latin America, the U.S. revoked his passport, forcing him to seek asylum in Russia, where he still lives. Oliver Stone directed this fictionalized but essentially truthful account of Snowden's intelligence career and the conflicting loyalties that led him to expose the secret programs. Depending on your viewpoint, Snowden is either a patriotic whistleblower or a dangerous traitor, but this movie is an unalloyed defense of his actions. Like all of Stone's films, it is fast-paced and powerfully made. Stay after the credits roll to see the coda.
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Sully recounts the "Miracle on the Hudson," when USAir pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger successfully ditched a disabled jet airliner in Manhattan's Hudson River in January 2009. Everyone survived, and the few injuries were minor. Tom Hanks (who else?) plays the heroic pilotalmost a reprise of his role in Captain Phillips (2013). Despite an ending not in doubt, screenwriter Todd Komarnicki and director Clint Eastwood manage to wring suspense from multiple portrayals of the harrowing flight in flashbacks and various viewpoints. But in a quest for more suspense, they overemphasize the National Transportation Safety Board's routine investigation. NTSB officials are drawn as ruthless persecutors eager to blame the mishap on pilot error. In this unbalanced film, Sully's triumph was beating the rap, not landing the plane. Once again, Hollywood can't resist embellishing a true story that needs no embellishment.
Star Trek Beyond goes beyond anything imagined by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the 1960s, and that's not entirely a good thing. The characters' names are the same, and their starship is still the Enterprise, but the spirit of the classic TV series and feature films is gone. In its place is relentless violence, incomprehensible action, overcooked computer graphics, and silly videogame physics. Star Trek Beyond strives for relevance by offering a bioweapon plot to destroy the United Federation of Planets and its hug-me philosophy, but it's just drapery for the frequent fights. This "reboot" story arc needs a reboot.
Finding Dory is a cute sequel to Pixar Studio's Finding Nemo (2003) and has even better computer animation. It won't matter if you haven't seen or can't remember the previous film, because the plot is pretty simple: a memory-impaired fish named Dory (perfectly voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) tries to find her long-lost parents. She gets help from two clownfish (voiced by Albert Brooks and Hayden Rolence), a shape-shifting octopus (Ed O'Neill), and various other sea creatures. It's fun but repetitive and overlong for a kid's movie. Viewers young and old alike may get restless as each scene basically repeats the same theme.
>> See more mini-reviews, including The Jungle Book ... Eye in the Sky ... Hello, My Name is Doris ... Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ... Anomalisa ... The Revenant ... The Big Short ... Star Wars: The Force Awakens ... Brooklyn ... Spotlight ... Steve Jobs ... The Martian ... 99 Homes ... Grandma ... Rikki and the Flash ... and many more!
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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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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.
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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.
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!
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