Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fix “popping” audio issue on HP Spectre X360

I have noticed when playing audio such as music from Groove Music in Windows 10 that there would be “popping” from the speakers on my HP Spectre X360. To fix this, I went into the DTS Audio Control Panel app, clicked on “Listening Experienced” and *unchecked* “Audio Enhancements”. The popping went away. I tweeted about this and had some folks on Twitter confirm this worked for them on their Spectres as well.


RSS readers

John Gruber on RSS readers:

RSS readers exploded in popularity a decade ago, and Dan is right that their use has died down dramatically. But I think “RSS is dead” is the new “email is dead”. And I know from my server stats that an awful lot of people still read Daring Fireball in an RSS reader — many of them using NetNewsWire. For me, as a news junkie, an RSS reader is something to get worked up about.

I completely agree (emphasis in bold above mine). I’m a news junkie as well and my RSS reader is extremely important to me. When I see someone doing something interesting with RSS – I do get worked up about it. Right now, I bounce between two RSS readers: Digg Reader and Feedly (I use the app Nextgen Reader on all my Windows devices to access my feeds). I really like Digg Reader’s integration with Twitter for their “Digg Deeper” feature which brings up popular articles people I’m following on Twitter are tweeting about. My RSS reader is as important to me as Outlook is for email. I am constantly reading up on new articles that come through all day long. I also use Flipboard to read up on news too but I tend to be someone who likes the way RSS readers treat RSS feeds you are subscribed to like email – with most recent articles that get published coming through by newest post first, etc. I triage through my RSS feeds like I do email.


Remembering Windows 95

20 years ago today – Windows 95 was released. Windows 95 was the most significant update to Windows ever made at the time – ushering in the transition from 16-bit architecture to 32-bit architecture and introducing a completely brand new graphical user interface designed to make Windows much more consumer friendly. I was only 12 years old at the time but well on my way to being the computer nerd I am today. I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories of Windows 95 in honor of its 20th anniversary.


There are two things about Windows 95 that were big deals at the time for me when Windows 95 was released: it’s new UI and the Internet.

First – a little bit of backstory. In the early 90’s, my dad brought home our family’s first PC: a HP Vectra 486U. It ran Windows 3.1.

Image from the HP Computer Museum

Image from the HP Computer Museum

It was with this PC that I fell in love with Windows. My dad’s job at the time dealt with a lot of computer stuff and I learned to do things on the PC by watching him do things. I had tons of fun. But Windows 3.1 wasn’t exactly intuitive or easy to use. And I quickly got bored with MS Paint. I wanted to do a lot more. You had Program Manager that would be your go-to spot for all your applications and then File Manager to manage your files, etc. But Windows could be so much more easier to use. As a kid – I wanted Windows to enable me to do more.

When Windows 95 came out, my dad and I upgraded our PC together. When I say “together” I really mean I watched him go through the setup experience. And when the upgrade was done and the PC booted into Windows, I can remember being blown away by the new UI. It had a Start button! What did the new Start button do? A taskbar! This was all new! No more Program Manager! So how do I get to all my programs? How do I manage my files? I was so excited to learn the new Windows. I dove right in. The Start menu for me was the single best thing about Windows 95.

The next best thing about Windows 95 was how it made connecting to the Internet and browsing the web much more easier. When Windows 95 came out, I had already been “surfing the web” and checking email. In Windows 3.1, I remember having to use a command line to dial-in and connect to the Internet. With Windows 95, you could do this simply by double-clicking on a connection icon you setup for your Internet service. It also came with a brand new web browser called Internet Explorer. However, my dad didn’t like IE at the time so we kept with Netscape as our default web browser. But even Netscape was better on Windows 95 (they released Version 2.0 after the release of Windows 95). I do remember moving away from Eudora and using the inbox e-mail client Windows Messaging for my e-mail (as a 12 year old and one of the very few kids to even have an e-mail address at the time, I didn’t get much e-mail though).

After Windows 95 was released, I got a huge kick witnessing friends and family all of a sudden in the market for PCs. The PC market exploded with Windows 95 because it made using PCs and connecting to the Internet really easy. And I quickly became the kid everyone wanted to help them learn how to use their PC and the Internet – and I loved it.

Windows 95 helped people DO more with their PCs and I think at its heart – that’s what Windows is all about. And it’s great that Windows 10 has gone back to this.


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.


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.


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.

Screenshot (2)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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:


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.