Collecting Designer Series Greg Capullo action figures from DC Collectibles

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been the masters of DC Comic’s Batman series since it re-launched in 2011 as part of the “New 52″. Scott serves as the writer for the Batman comics and Greg is the artist that draws the stories. I’ve been a HUGE fan of their run with Batman. They’ve done some fantastic stories such as Death of the Family, Court of Owls, Zero Year (a reimagining of how Bruce Wayne became Batman) and Endgame which features the epic final battle between Batman and The Joker – for good. Now, they’re hard at work on a brand new storyline that features an All-new Batman, new characters, and new villains – which has been interesting to read (I’ll write more about this in another blog post). I’ve been collecting the DC Comics Designer Series Greg Capullo action figures from DC Collectibles which do a great job celebrating Greg’s fantastic artwork on Batman. I’ve nearly completed the entire collection! I’m only missing Two-Face.

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I also discovered that DC Collectibles sells action figure base – which you can order here from Amazon for $12 for 20 bases. I just got these today as well and they work awesome (however, I have an issue where the Catwoman action figure doesn’t like to stand properly with these bases).

At SDCC 2015 last week, DC Collectibles unveiled two new action figures to come as part of this series – Wonder Woman and Endgame Joker. You can bet I’ll be picking these up one they are out but apparently we’ve got a long wait for these as they won’t hit until next summer.

Electric cars need to be cheaper AND have more range

I recently purchased a new car – a 2015 Ford Focus – and love it. And I am a huge Ford fanboy. However, it’s not the electric Ford Focus. Just a regular fuel-powered version. I briefly considered the electric version but the biggest reason why I didn’t choose it was because of it’s range – only 76-miles. I like to drive and go on road trips – that wouldn’t work for me. And I certainly couldn’t justify the price of 30k for a car that had a range like that. No way.

I caught an article today on MSN that featured electric cars that promised the most range. If you go through the slideshow – you can see there is a HUGE gap in range between electric cars by BMW, Chevy, VW, Nissan. Mercedes. Fiat, and Kia and several Tesla models. Everyone else is building electric cars with a range of around 80 or so miles. But Tesla jumps up a 200 mile range. Ford wasn’t even on the list. Sigh.

I started thinking about this a bit. If I want a electric car that has a range of 200+ miles – I would have to pay over $50,000 to buy a Tesla. So you’re either stuck with being able to afford a electric car with shitty range, or dishing out a lot of money for one that has great range. This puts electric cars out of reach for the majority of consumers. This issue needs to be solved.

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I think the automotive companies need to really think hard about (and truly invest in) improving the range of their electric vehicles at the same time keeping the car affordable to most consumers. The first automotive company that does this really great will help spur a sort of electric-car-revolution I think. Yes, Tesla is certainly helping push this. And rumor has it, Tesla’s Model 3 will be priced at $35,000 and have a 200-mile range. That’s a great start but I think more can be done.

A electric car with a 200-mile range at around $25,000. Yup.

Tesla clearly has the edge here. Their technology has proven it has the range needed for a good electric car. And they have made their patents for all their technology available for anyone to use. So why isn’t more automotive companies taking advantage of that to develop better range electric cars? Ford recently opened their patents to competitors too

Ford says by opening up their patents to competitors, they want to help “accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles”. But Ford… you only make an electric car with a 76-mile range!

Ford should seriously consider utilizing Tesla’s patents to improve their own electric cars. Seriously. As should other car companies.

Ok so I digressed a little from my original point of this blog post but as I mentioned, I am a Ford fanboy. I want a electric car. I want it to have awesome range. And I want it to be a Ford.

The reality is, ALL car companies should be doing more – whether its utilizing Tesla’s patents or doing their own R&D – to improve the range of electric cars and make them more affordable to consumers.

 

Testing out the OneNote Publisher for WordPress plug-in

Today, the Office Team has announced the OneNote Publisher for WordPress plug-in. You just download and install the plug-in on your WordPress blog and you can start using OneNote to write blog posts.

NOTE: When setting up the plug-in on your WordPress blog – make sure you follow the instructions especially the part about configuring the plug-in to work. At first, I neglected to do this and just assumed it’ll work by simply installing the plug-in and turning it on but no, there is additional configuration needed. 

How it works: You write whatever blog post you want to publish on your WordPress blog as a page in one of your OneNote notebooks. I’ve created a new notebook specifically for blog posts. After you’re done writing up your blog post, just go into your WordPress Dashboard and start a new post. Then click the OneNote icon in the menu.

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It will fill the post title with the page title from OneNote and add whatever you have written in that page from OneNote into the body of the post. It works pretty good. If you’ve added images into the page in OneNote, it’ll even add those images!

I wrote this blog post using the universal OneNote Preview app on Windows 10 (Build 10122 we released yesterday). I did find some issues using this with Microsoft Edge and flagged for the Microsoft Edge Team to look at. I also found some weird formatting issues with my theme but I think its just because I hacked up this theme too much.

Try the OneNote Publisher for WordPress plug-in on your blog!

The Batman Exhibit on the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Batman by DC Comics. I have always been a huge Batman fan as a kid and loved Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. I’m currently reading the latest Batman comics. And yes – I’m also excited to see Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. As part of the 75th anniversary of Batman, DC and Warner Bros. have been doing a variety of activities to celebrate. One of those is a special Batman exhibit as part of the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour. I’ve done this tour at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank a few times and it is simply awesome. But with the new Batman exhibit only running through the end of this year, I had to get down there. And I did two weeks ago!

Photograph The Dark Knight by Brandon LeBlanc on 500px

They had all the costumes from all of the Batman movies all the way back to Tim Burton’s Batman first Batman movie in 1989 right up to The Dark Knight Rises. They also had props from all these movies and all of the Batmobiles (although the Batmobile from Batman and Robin was not out for some reason when I did the tour). I was in Bat-nerd heaven. It was amazing to see all this together and in person. As you can imagine, I took quite a bit of photos.

You can check out my entire set of photos from the Batman exhibit at Warner Bros. Studios here on 500px.

One of my favorite technology writers joins one of my favorite technology publications

From Harry McCracken on Technologizer:

On July 21, I will join Fast Company as technology editor. Why Fast Company? Well, I’ve been a fan since its first issue appeared almost two decades ago. But what I’m excited about is its future. The publication is committed to excellence in print and online, a fact which its peers in the American Society of Magazine Editors recently celebrated by naming it as Magazine of the Year. Just as important, it’s produced by people who are scrappy, curious, and willing to experiment, traits which are reflected in the fact that much of the brand’s web presence consists of excellent specialized sites such as Co.Design. It’s going to be a fun, challenging place to be. (I’m going to stay based in San Francisco, but will visit my NYC colleagues regularly.)

Fast Company is one of the best technology publications both online and in print. They are one of three magazines I would physically buy/subscribe to. They have some of the most fascinating and thought-provoking articles on technology. And adding Harry to the mix just makes Fast Company even more awesome. Looking forward to seeing what he writes there!

Looking for a new camera

While I absolutely love the amazing quality of photos my Lumia Windows Phone stake (Lumia 1020 and Lumia Icon) – I am looking to dive a little deeper into photography. I previously had been using a Sony NEX-5 and a Nikon D5000 camera. But I’m looking for something new. My intention is to get a new camera to take with me later this summer when my fiancée and I embark on our honeymoon to Europe after our wedding. Here are some of the cameras I am looking at right now:

Follow Brandon’s board Cameras on Pinterest.

I’m very interested in hearing what people recommend on the cameras I am looking at our any suggestions on cameras I’m not currently looking at. While some of the cameras I am looking at are quite pricey (like the Leica M) – I’m hoping to keep the price down a bit. Looking forward to hearing what people have to say!

The Official Star Trek Starships Collection from Eaglemoss

As a die-hard Star Trek fan, I have always wanted to see small scale models of all the various starships seen in the various Star Trek movies and TV shows. And a company called Eaglemoss is doing exactly that.

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Called the Star Trek Official Starships Collection, Eaglemoss is producing highly detailed die-cast models of popular starships from Star Trek paired with a magazine for each starship. The magazines give you all the details on a specific ship including awesome background and design work from the shows or movies.

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You can buy these issues with the starships in stores like comic book shops, etc. But Eaglemoss also lets you sign-up for a magazine subscription. And this is REALLY awesome. They release 2 starships every month and with a subscription, you can get those two starships delivered to you. Having a subscription essentially means you are part of the “Collector’s Club” and that brings benefits:

  • You get digital copies of the magazines.
  • A binder for all your physical magazines.
  • On your 6th shipment of issues/starships you will receive a U.S.S. Enterprise dedication plaque (these are the bridges of most starships in Star Trek).
  • On your 10th shipment you will receive the future U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-D as seen in the episode “All Good Things…”
  • On your 16th shipment, you will receive a (giant) Borg Cube that lights up.

As part of having a subscription, another really good perk is you’ll also receive variant model starships. Recently, they released Deep Space Nine as Special Issue #1.

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The starships are actually made with a combination of die-cast metal and high quality ABS which are then hand painted to get the right details. And the details on these starships are incredible.

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For example, on the Enterprise-D you can see windows, escape pods, and the hull paneling.

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On the Romulan Warbird, you can see varying colors of green on the ship and all the tiny windows.

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And look at all the detail on the Klingon K’Tinga-class battlecruiser!

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I have noticed however that the level of detail can vary between the starships. You saw all the great details I noted on the above starships but when you look at the U.S.S. Voyager, you’ll notice that the detail isn’t as good. You don’t see painted windows for example.

I pre-ordered a subscription right before the Star Trek Collection launched in the Untied States so I am receiving the latest and greatest starships as they are released in the United States. I received my 5th shipment (U.S.S. Defiant and Borg Sphere) last week. For my next shipment, I am expecting to get my U.S.S. Enterprise dedication plaque, the U.S.S. Reliant and Akira class starship. Over 70 starships are planned. You can see the list here. I highly recommend a subscription if you’re a Star Trek fan like me!

I did want to offer up some additional thoughts and feedback to Eaglemoss and general thoughts about having a subscription.

Eaglemoss launched the Star Trek Collection in the U.K. first then the U.S. a few months later. So there is a few months of a gap between U.K. subscribers getting their starships and the U.S. subscribers. I believe Eaglemoss is a company based in Europe so it makes sense that they would launch in the U.K. first but it feels like the gap between the U.K. and U.S. is really big and could be smaller. Folks in the U.K. have already reached their 16th shipment and receiving their Borg Cubes while here in the U.S. we’ve just had our 6th shipment. Unless for some reason I’m behind on my shipments, seems like a big gap to me. I pre-ordered before the U.S. launch to make sure I get the latest and greatest starships once they hit. I see a lot of shit on their Facebook page from folks complaining about this very issue (and doing so very rudely). I think an easy solution to this is simply better customer communication overall.

On Special Issues, for Special Issue #1 which was DS9 – we (in the U.S.) were supposed to get DS9 right around the holidays but subscribers received an email from Eaglemoss saying that DS9 would be delayed. This was great customer communication. However, Eaglemoss has announced Special Issue #2 which will be the U.S.S. Enterprise as seen in the J. J. Abrams movies and a date for the U.K. and Ireland (March 6th) but no date for the U.S. First off: I would love to see more direct email communication with subscribers to keep them informed on releases. Second, it would be great to have communication as a U.S. customer on when I should see Special Issues since its a perk of the subscription, right?

And finally, I need to say that Eaglemoss’ customer support has been phenomenal. I’ve had a few shipments in which starships arrived broken. My first shipment actually arrived with the engines disconnected from the Enterprise-D for example:

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Eaglemoss promptly responded to me via email and replaced the shipment with new starships. This has happened a few more times and each time, the customer service in replacing the broken starships has been great. My DS9 Special Issue came with a broken docking pylon. But I ended up being able to easily glue it back to place and all is well. These starships are well built but are small and have tiny parts connecting things together due to their size. As they are tossed around in transit, some damage is bound to occur. In my opinion, this should not reflect poorly against Eaglemoss. I applaud Eaglemoss for their support in this regard.

So I stand by my recommendation on getting a subscription if you want the most kick-ass detailed collection of starships from Star Trek ever made.

Note: Photos of the starships used in this blog post were taken of my collection using my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone.

Dear Sony, please don’t make Ghostbusters 3

With the passing of Harold Ramis yesterday, naturally the next Ghostbusters movie is a topic of discussion amongst the movie sites today. Harold Ramis played the character “Egon Spengler” in the original Ghostbusters movies and my favorite Ghostbuster.

Ghostbusters 3 is in the works at Sony and was supposedly scheduled to shoot this year with director Ivan Reitman directing who directed the first two Ghostbuster movies. Apparently the script for Ghostbusters 3 is going to be “tweaked” due to the death of Ramis according to THR. The involvement of the original Ghostbusters has been said to be “minimal” – likely as cameos with the story focusing on a new group of younger Ghostbusters (Bill Murray has actually opted out to appear in Ghostbusters 3 all together). Here is what Dan Aykroyd says the plot of Ghostbusters 3 is:

“It’s based on new research that’s being done in particle physics by the young men and women at Columbia University… Basically, there’s research being done that I can say that the world or the dimension that we live in, our four planes of existence, length, height, width and time, become threatened by some of the research that’s being done. Ghostbusters — new Ghostbusters — have to come and solve the problem.”

Dear Sony, DO NOT make this Ghostbuster film. I’m begging you. This isn’t Ghostbusters. This is a completely different movie. Ghostbusters is about 3 crazy scientists (parapsychology professors in the original) who figure out a way to catch ghosts and then market themselves like pest control but for ghosts (which makes it all fun and entertaining). Not stopping threats to our existence from other dimensions and things like that.

There are critical things you must have for Ghostbusters that is part of the magic formula that captured people’s imagination back in the 80’s and early 90’s. Catching ghosts is one of those things. Then you’ve got the proton packs, PKE meters, Ecto-1, their firehouse headquarters, Janine, and Slimer. Not to mention the amazing dynamic all the characters. You’ve got the smartass ladies man Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz who is overly excited about ghosts and catching them, Egon Spengler who is super nerdy and brainy, and Winston Zeddemore who is there just because it’s a job.

Sony, if your intention is to expose a new generation to the Ghostbusters, you mind as well reboot and start over and take the best parts that made Ghostbusters what is was – the characters, the proton packs, the catching ghosts – and do it again with a modern twist. How would Ecto-1 look today in 2014. How would proton packs look in 2014? That would be interesting to see. But the movie you are supposedly planning to make as Ghostbusters 3 based on what Dan Aykroyd has said is not a Ghostbuster movie.

Thoughts on the Fitbit Force voluntary recall

One blog post I’ve been meaning to write over the last few months is on using Fitbit over the past year. A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about using the Nike+ FuelBand. A few months after I published that blog post, I was exposed to the awesomeness that is Fitbit and its service and gave up my Nike+ FuelBand and haven’t looked back. In the course of the last year, I’ve used the Fitbit One, the Fitbit Flex, purchased the Fitbit Aria scale, and now am using the Fitbit Force. As I’ve upgraded myself to the newest Fitbit tracker, I’ve given my old trackers to friends and family who are now all using Fitbit. Right now, my 57 year old dad is destroying me in steps and activity. Clearly, I have some work to do to beat him. But I really do like what Fitbit offers with their products and service. I plan to write more on using Fitbit soon.

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As a Fitbit Force user, some important news came today from Fitbit about the product. Fitbit’s CEO James Park wrote a letter to the community regarding reported skin irritation from a small portion of Fitbit Force customers. Despite affecting only a small amount of customers, Fitbit took the matter seriously and did an investigation. They found that some people are having an allergic reaction to the nickel in surgical grade stainless steel they are using on the Fitbit Force. And others might be having a reaction to the materials used in the strap or the adhesives used to put the Fitbit Force together. Based on their investigation, Fitbit has decided to stop selling the Fitbit Force and is doing a voluntary recall where Fitbit Force customers can send in their Fitbit Force for a full refund, Fitbit’s CEO promises some news soon on their next-generation tracker, which I assume will be the replacement for the Fitbit Force.

I applaud what Fitbit is doing to take care of this issue and Fitbit Force customers and think its the right thing to do. The Fitbit Force was essentially their top-of-the-line tracker amongst their tracker products and to stop selling it altogether and to do a voluntary recall on such a high-profile product is one of those things no company wants to do. That’s not to say customers having skin irritation from using the product isn’t a big deal either. Despite this issue though, you will continue to find me recommending Fitbit to anyone who is looking for a activity tracker with an excellent service to help you be active, fit and healthy. I have no doubt that Fitbit will come out with something to replace the Fitbit Force that will be just as awesome, or more awesome. In the meantime, I highly recommend the Fitbit One or Fitbit Flex trackers as both are great.

I am still wearing my Fitbit Force. Fitbit is doing a voluntary recall so it’s up to me to send it in and get a refund. I love my Fitbit Force and wear it every single day. It hasn’t given me any of the symptoms of skin irritation some customers have reported. I don’t have any reason to send it in for a refund.

However, I am very interested in what Fitbit comes out with next to replace the Fitbit Force.

To Fitbit: It would be great that for customers like myself who don’t have any problems wearing the Fitbit Force today and don’t need to send it in now for a refund to be able to somehow trade it in eventually when you release your next-generation tracker and get some sort of credit.

Dell Venue 8 Pro and USB adapters

I spent some time today figuring out USB adapters for my Dell Venue 8 Pro so I thought I’d share what I learned with everyone else so they don’t have to go through the same thing. The Dell Venue 8 Pro comes with a Micro-USB port. In order to be able to plug in something that uses full USB, you need an adapter. There are various types of adapters out there but not all will work the way you want (or expect).

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You will need a USB On-The-Go adapter to transfer data, music, photos, etc. from a device using full USB to your Dell Venue 8 Pro. If it is not a USB On-The-Go adapter then it won’t work and you won’t be able to transfer anything.