James Taylor Life Highlights


My top 5 James Taylor moments:

  1.  Meeting him in Massachusetts
  2. My first JT concert in 1994 when Grandma Judy gave me her ticket
  3.  My first time hearing “You Can Close Your Eyes”
  4. A thrift store in Petaluma, CA where we did service hours during my mission. The manager was a JT fan and had him playing on the store speakers all day. It had been over a year since i heard his songs.
  5. This morning, seeing this clip for the first time:

A Griffin Twenty Review


A well-designed way to power your speakers for Airplay or Bluetooth

As we designed our new house, I had wires ran all through the walls and ceilings. When I told the low-voltage designer that I run a data center for a living, he replied, “Oh, now this makes more sense.”

A portion of the wire runs were in-ceiling speakers to patios, garage and master bathroom. I want to have good audio in these places. These were locations that we wouldn’t be watching video so I didn’t want to do a full receiver setup. I also didn’t want to mess with zones on the receivers in the television room. I had been looking for a simple way to power these speakers for Airplay. I was glad to find the Griffin Twenty.

The Twenty is a simple amplifier that can bring a pair of speakers to life. They can be in-ceiling or bookshelf speakers. The name comes from having 20 watts per channel.

I think the Twenty has a really nice design and it feels sturdy. For those who care about tactile interaction (me), the dial has a great feel to it.

The back of the amplifier has an optical input (more on that later), left and right channel connectors, and an RCA subwoofer connector. It’s refreshingly simple compared to the back of a full receiver.

The unit has built-in bluetooth and connects really easily and quickly. You can pair two different devices to it. Once paired, it’s always ready for you to push your audio via bluetooth. However, I was looking for an Airplay option. That’s where the Airport Express gets involved.

An Airport Express has a 3.5-mm audio minijack for optical digital sound. Conveniently, the Twenty comes with a TOSLINK connector and 3.5 mm adapter so you can go straight from your Airport Express to the amplifier.

Once you have it connected, you can name the speaker set in Airport Utility and then it shows up as an airplay option.

In the image to the left, you can see my Garage option, which I setup with the first Airport Express and Twenty. I’ve ordered a few more so that I can add the rest of the locations to the AirPlay list.

Overall, I highly recommend the Twenty. It’s given me a really clean and simple way to get these speakers powered up and sounding great. You can find the Twenty on Amazon for about $149 with free shipping on Amazon Prime. And of course the Airport Express is there as well, but who doesn’t have one of these little guys laying around already?

My Little Shadow Named Cole


I always looked forward to the day that I would have a son old enough to play with me. Cole has hit that age.

During the day, if Cole hears my office door open, his ears perk up. He hops to his feet and comes running down the hallway. Today, I went out of the office to get a bottle of water and when I came back Cole was sitting at my desk, “working like dad.”

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Every night, he’ll sit on my lap as we watch the Red Sox games. When I do a home run dance, he does a home run dance.

On Saturdays, when we are doing our outside work, Cole insists on having his own tools and shovels. I love to have the little helper, even when he gets in the way. Last Saturday, we were fixing our sprinkler piping and each time the water would bubble up the PVC , Cole would be there to clear it away.

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Of course, the benefit of of a Cole shadow is it reminds me that I’m an example to Cole and Will. What dad does, so also does these boys. So in addition to WWJD, my conscious recites WWCC. (What Would Cole Copy)

Keeping Our House In Sync


For the last few weeks, Candace and I have been testing an iPhone app that helps us get all kinds of things done. It has really been working well so I thought I’d share it with others.

There is a free service online called Zenbe Lists. It has a real nice interface for keeping different lists of to-dos, or anything else you need to list out. They also have a really nice iPhone application. So, here is our setup and how it works for us.

First, I created an account online with Zenbe Lists.

Then, I purchased the $2.99 Zenbe iPhone application (iTunes link) and downloaded it to my iPhone and Candace’s iPhone. Once installed, I entered the same login credentials on both of our phones.

So now, I can create a list, on my iPhone and it syncs automatically to the online site. Then, when Candace starts the app up again, my lists and items will sync to her phone. And of course this works from her phone to mine as well. Here is an example of our lists.

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As you can see, if I need something at Target or from the grocery store, I can just add it here as I think of it. Then, when Candace starts up the app at the store, everything will sync and she’ll see all of my items along with the ones that she has listed.

This works for more than shopping lists. For instance, while we were prepping for our trip last week, we made a list called, “Todos for Trip” throughout the week. Then, we just made sure everything was checked off before we left. This saves the feeling of “I know I forgot something.” as you pull out of the driveway.

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So, it’s a pretty basic setup, but I thought I’d share it in case any other households are looking to keep in sync. There’s just one rule. Wives are not allowed to make a list called, “Projects To Do Around The House.”

Boyhood Dream Fulfilled


When I was younger, my favorite book was Where the Wild Things Are. I read it, and had my parents read it to me, all the time.

So, I was happy to see that they are going to make a movie based on the book. There have been a few articles on what to expect, but just recently they released a trailer. (embedded below, nice HD copies here)

Just seeing those different characters makes me feel like a boy again. I can’t wait to see this movie. It’s supposed to be released in October.

The Stucki Boys


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Many of you know already, but Candace had our second son on Tuesday. His name is Will and weighs in at 9lbs and 7oz.

Cole went to meet his brother last night so here is the obligatory hospital photo. So far, Cole is glad to have “Baby Wiw” and just wants to hold him and pat his face.

Candace is doing well after the planned c-section. She should be able to come today. And that’s a good thing because we miss mom.

Playing With iLife 09 and Faces


One of the best things about owning a Mac is the iLife suite that comes free with all new Macs. It is a collection of great applications for videos, photos, making websites, etc.

One of the most popular applications in iLife is iPhoto. It is an application to organize, clean up , and publish your photos.

The 2009 version of iPhoto was announced a few weeks ago and just shipped yesterday. Among the new features is a technology called “Faces.” With it, you can add a name to someone in a photo, and then iLife will scan all the rest of your photos and try to find that person in any of them. It’s a very simple way to organize your pictures.

I installed iLife 09 last night on my iMac. I thought I’d show some quick screenshots of how cool this technology is in iPhoto.

First, you open up iPhoto and so you can see all your different film rolls.

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Then, choose one of the rolls and a photo in the roll. Here I’ve chosen Cole on a trolley car in San Francisco.

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Once you’ve picked a photo, the software will help you find prominent faces in the picture. You can then tag the people. Here I’ve added Cole.

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Once you’ve tagged the person, you can go to the “Faces” part of the application. iPhoto will then scan all the photos where it believes Cole is pictured. You’ll then be asked to confirm them. This step is amazingly accurate. In the hundreds of pictures of Cole, there were just a few photos of other fat little baby faces. If you choose to work with an adult in the pictures, it is quite a bit more accurate because features are usually more distinctive.

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Once done, you’ll see that iPhoto will organize your photos by who is in them. Very neat.

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The whole iLife suite has a ton of new features, but I thought this one was just too cool not to share.

My January Stockpile


Here are random things to post that don’t deserve their own post:

A few weeks ago I wrote about the new In-Ear Headphones from Apple. Since then, we’ve also bought a pair for Candace because they are really great. But a couple more observations:

  • The headphones themselves are made from a totally different kind of material than what came with your iPod or iPhone. They feel like a thicker rubber. The incredible side benefit of this is that you can put them in your pocket or bag and they won’t get in knots. (If you have the current headphones, you know what a pain that is to have happen.
  • I think these headphones may be too good. I’ve made a rule for myself on what music I can listen to while in my my data center. I’m not allowed to listen to live albums from Dave Matthews or Dashboard Confessional cover songs. The reason is because the headphones block out all other noise so well that I get totally lost in the music. By the time Dashboard’s Overkill gets to the 2 minute 30 second mark, I’m pounding air drums like I’m being attacked by killer ants. Of course, the problem with this is that I have a webcam here in my cage accessible by all my customers.

Salesman regret coming to my house. I’ll usually let them give me their door approach. If I’m interested, I’ll talk further. If I’m not, then I’ll usually help critique their door approach. I suppose this habit comes from all the training given in the mission field. By the time I’m done, they wonder why they ever knocked on my door.

Next week I get to go see Merle Haggard.I’m going with my dad and a friend. This will let me cross one more artist off my list of People I Want to See in Concert.

We are two weeks from our next baby coming. I’ll have some more thoughts on this soon, but I am getting quite excited for another little pal to play with me and Cole.