Alien: Covenant is technically impressive and well acted, but the story is a depressing rehash of the much better original film in this long-running series (Alien, 1979). Again, the plot centers on a crew of civilian space travelers who encounter vicious alien creatures that instantly attack everything they see. One problem, however, is that only Alien fanboys will know how this installment fits into the story arcis it a sequel, prequel, or midquel? Another problem is that it doesn't have the great Sigourney Weaver, although Katherine Waterston tries admirably to create another female character who battles the aliens. But the biggest problem is that the crew and their captain are implausibly clueless. Would they really explore a mysterious planet without first determining if it has dangerous predators or pathogens? And would they remain so clueless even after discovering the dangers? In one scene, the captain was so stupid that I was rooting for the aliens.
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The Circle stars Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) as a new customer-service rep at a near-future social-media company. Her initial thrill of landing a good job at a lavish high-tech firm soon turns chilly as she is drawn into a cultlike corporate culture. The genial CEO (Tom Hanks) wants to obliterate personal privacy by live-streaming everything and everybody online, all the time. Is he visionary, misguided, or evil? This thought-provoking film, based on the novel by Dave Eggers, seems eerily plausible and prophetic. Although the climax is predictable, the drama is well played, and I can't help wondering if it will make Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg feel a little uncomfortable.
Moonlight was the surprise Best Picture winner for 2016, upsetting the heavily favored La La Land after an embarrassing snafu on the live Academy Awards broadcast. Whereas big-budget La La Land dazzles audiences with dance and music, low-budget Moonlight is a much quieter, darker film with an all-black cast and a gay theme. Detractors say its victory was merely Hollywood's reparation for overlooking African-American films and performances the previous year. But the acting in Moonlight is undeniably first-class, and Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor despite his relatively short screen time. Writer/director Barry Jenkins skillfully tells the story of an inner-city boy's rough road to manhood in three parts spanning about 20 years. The casting is impeccable, as three different actors play the same central characters at different ages. Although Moonlight didn't do big box office, it's more proof that some of today's best filmmaking is coming from unlikely sources.
>> See more mini-reviews, including Hidden Figures ... Manchester by the Sea ... La La Land ... Collateral Beauty ... Hacksaw Ridge ... Loving ... Arrival ... Snowden ... Sully ... Star Trek Beyond ... Finding Dory ... The Jungle Book ... Eye in the Sky ... Hello, My Name is Doris ... Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ... and many more!
Tom's Inflation Calculator
Tom's Inflation Calculator is now updated with the latest data for 2016!
My calculator includes the latest U.S. government inflation data plus alternative data sets. It's free and should run automatically in your web browser after clicking on the link above. By using historical data and forecasts, it 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.)
Tom's Inflation Calculator also includes the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, which the Federal Reserve uses to guide its monetary policy, and an alternative data set from ShadowStats, a private company. It's the best inflation calculator on the Internet!
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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 420 of Tom's articles in Microprocessor Report, the insider's guide 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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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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- 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.
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