Thursday, June 14, 2012

Skies of Arcadia, Shenmue coming to Xbox Live Arcade?


It happens regularly – just when I’ve decided that wasting my money on an Xbox 360 was a bad idea, something comes along to give me hope for the console.

Now, don’t get me wrong – the problem with the Xbox 360 has nothing to do with the console. Rather, the video game market isn’t exactly tailored to 43-year-old married guys who grew up on the Atari 2600 and hate Halo with a passion that borders on irrational. While it stinks to realize that it seems I’ve outgrown video games, that’s exactly what’s happened (well, when it comes to the latest batch of consoles, at least).

At any rate, one bit of news that has given me hope is an announcement that Sega might be working on high definition versions of both Skies of Arcadia and Shenmue to release for download through Xbox Live Arcade. That’s great news for those of us who still think fondly of our old Sega Dreamcast systems and count Skies of Arcadia as one of the greatest Japanese RPGs in the genre.

I’ll not get too excited until I see the games actually show up, however. Those of us who have been waiting for a sequel to Skies of Arcadia have been teased in the past. Sure the video game was ported to the Nintendo Gamecube in 2002 as Skies of Arcadia Legends, but that game wasn’t terribly different from the original.

If Skies of Arcadia does show up on Xbox Live Arcade, one can only guess whether it will be a substantial update to a 12-year-old game or merely the same thing with high definition graphics. The truth of the matter, however, is this – if it shows up for the Xbox Live Arcade, I’ll probably buy it regardless of whether it’s substantially different from the original or not.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Foreclosure bottleneck opened?

Over the past few months, we’ve seen foreclosures down drastically in Arkansas., a company that keeps up with foreclosures, reported those had dropped by around 79 percent in the Natural State compared to the same first three months of 2011. Was the decrease due to a booming economy?

No, not exactly. Foreclosure rates started falling last year in the wake of In Re Johnson, a chapter 13 bankruptcy case in the Eastern District of Arkansas, Jonesboro Division. In that case, the court held that a lender not authorized to do business in the state of Arkansas could not take back homes through the state’s non-judicial foreclosure statute.

Out-of-state banks claimed they were authorized to do business in Arkansas because they had been chartered nationally by the federal Officer of the Comptroller of the Currency and, therefore, had no need to register with the Arkansas Secretary of State or anywhere else. An appeal was filed and the Eastern District took up the matter again in May.

On May 11, the Eastern District reversed the earlier decision and held that, indeed, those banks that are nationally chartered are also authorized to do business in the Natural State.

So, where does that leave us and why should anyone care?

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind there are two types of foreclosure actions in Arkansas – judicial and non-judicial. Lenders prefer the non-judicial route as they are less expensive than going through the courts system and the foreclosing on a home through that method typically doesn’t take as long.

When the non-judicial option was tossed out the window for a lot of lenders, the foreclosure rate slowed considerably. That does not mean that financial woes vanished for people who couldn’t pay their mortgages.

It does, however, mean that title companies were reluctant to write insurance on transactions involving foreclosed homes when there was a question as to whether those houses were taken in line with Arkansas state law.

In other words, a lot of people purchased homes that were taken prior to the decision and were left in limbo. They couldn’t close on their purchases because they couldn’t get title insurance on the homes.

So, the murky foreclosure picture may get cleared up before long. It certainly appears that it will if the reversal stands.

Having said all of that, it’s important to point out that no one wins in a foreclosure. The borrower is left without a home and banks almost always lose money when they have to take a home through foreclosure and then sell it.

That being the case, buyers should know that there are options for them when they fall behind on their mortgages or are in danger of doing so. Your mortgage banker is well aware of those options, so feel free to call to find out what they are. Banks prefer to work with borrowers rather than file a foreclosure, after all, so finding out what your options are if you’re mortgage is at risk of falling into default is a good idea.


Home Sweet Home is distributed weekly by the Mortgage Bankers Association of Arkansas. Visit the Association on the Internet at

Spice rack heaven


Just head on down to your local retailer and see what spice racks are available.

The chances are good you’ll find a typical, wall mounted spice rack and maybe one of those “lazy Susan” things. The fact of that matter is that retailers behave according to the laws of supply and demand – since there’s likely not a huge demand for spice racks in a given area, the supply of those items will be limited.

Ah, but that’s one of the reasons the Internet is great. While that wall spice rack at your local retailer might suit your needs, you might want to expand beyond the limited selection your retailer probably has. If you want plenty of kitchen spice racks to choose from and find some great prices to boot, just click one of the links in this article and get ready to shop like crazy.

The laws of supply and demand still apply to Internet retailers, but here’s the difference – those retailers market to a huge customer base, while that’s not the case for regional stores. More demand equals more supply, after all, and that’s very good for customers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Music Monday: The Replacements

Here's one of those things I'm really glad I got to see in my youth. When I was 16-years-old, the Replacements appeared on Saturday Night Live, played "Bastards of Young" and "Kiss Me on the Bus" while stinking drunk and then got banned from the program.

You've got to love the irony -- one would think the folks in charge of a comedy program would have a sense of humor. Alas, that was not the case. At any rate, I did get to see this performance back in 1986 and I'm glad I did -- it was like a big, middle finger from a band that deserved a lot more success than it got. When you watch the clip, make sure to watch Paul Westerberg right before Bob Stinson's guitar solo -- apparently, dropping an "f bomb" on live TV guaranteed an SNL ban. Here's a bit of history, so enjoy!

For the curious, the below is the album version of "Bastards of Young." The video is noteworthy as it reflects the band’s “don’t give a damn” attitude quite well.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

The cure for the low power blues


A few months ago I went ahead and got an iPhone 4S.

Folks, don’t be fooled by Apple’s hype about how long a battery lasts in one of these things. Mine sucks down power at an alarming rate. That’s not problem, really, as I’m typically at my home, office or in my car often enough to keep the battery in the iPhone charged.

Ah, but there is a problem when I need to be away from a charger for an extended period of time. Simply put, the battery in my phone will not last a full day under normal use. The solution to that problem? A portable USB battery charger. That device is priced very reasonably and is simple to use – just pull it out, slap the Apple charging on it, connect the phone and you’re rolling.

Of course, Apple isn’t the only company guilty of making a battery-sucking device (just ask a friend of mine about how fast his HTC Thunderbolt smartphone can drain a battery). Smartphones suck power, tablets and a whole host of things do. If you can charge it through a USB port, the chances are good that USB battery chargers will work out very well for you.

Click one of the links in this article to find out about a low-priced device that can charge two USB ports at once, holds a lot of power when charged and is very convenient.