Archives for April 2013

Portable iOS Music Maker: IRIG KEYS

irig-keysiRig KEYS is the ultimate portable keyboard players and producers companion, it is the first ultra-slim and highly portable universal MIDI controller keyboard for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac/PC. It can be powered by the device you connect to, simply plug it and start playing. You can use iRig KEYS for live performance or for songwriting and composition with the included app and software or with a multitude of other MIDI compatible instruments and recorders on any iOS, MacOS or Windows system. It takes minimal space on your desktop and can easily fit in a backpack or a carry-on bag. watch the video



HARP 2.0 more effective than previous version

Real estate rescue. Isolated 3D image on whiteThe Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) underwent some significant changes in 2012, evolving into HARP 2.0 and spurring a surge in refinances under the government-run program. Based on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) 2012 report, HARP volume represented 22 percent of the total refinance volume in the fourth quarter. Additionally, 1,074,755 refinances were completed through HARP in 2012, bringing the total number of HARP refinances to over 2.1 million since the program’s inception.

So what specific changes attributed to the growth in HARP refinances? HARP 2.0 gives better access to borrowers who are at risk of losing their homes, particularly those who are severely underwater, reports Ilyce Glink of CBS MoneyWatch. Meg Burns, senior associate director for housing and regulatory policy for the FHFA, wrote in an email that “removing the 125 percent loan-to-value ceiling, waiving certain representations and warranties for lenders, eliminating the need for a new property appraisal and eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages has proven successful.”

According to CBS MoneyWatch, HARP 2.0 appeals to more lenders in part because the program does not hold the new originator responsible for anything that occurred with the first loan. “The limited success of HARP 1.0 can be attributed to a lack of lenders that embraced the program,” said Spencer Llewellyn, executive director of Loans 101, a company that provides data to the public about the mortgage industry.

As a result of the revamp, the market has seen a 600 percent annual increase in the number of underwater homeowners who received HARP loans.To find out what HARP 2.0 can do for you, check

From House Hunter to Homeowner

It’s true that buying your first home can seem like an overwhelming process, but you can help make your journey from house hunter to homeowner a little easier by having the proper documents in order. Take a walk through this first time home buyer flowchart that can help answer questions about the kind of documents you need to have prepared before you apply for a mortgage.


Use your iPhone to control your entertainment center: Logitech Harmony Smart Control

Logitech will soon allow you to control your entire home entertainment system from your iPhone using its new Harmony Smart Control system. Centered around a small black box called the Harmony Hub that connects to up to eight devices through Wi-Fi, the Harmony Smart Control lets users control their television, sound system, game console and media players using Logitech’s iOS app.

Control your home theater devices from the iPhone or Android mobile phone you already own. Anyone in the house can download the Harmony iPhone or Android app turn their mobile phone into a personal universal remote control, including 50 favorite channel icons and gesture control.

Although it comes with a remote, the power that this system is supposed to have really centers on the app, which requires iOS 5.0 or later. You can set up the Harmony Hub through the app using Bluetooth, and then configure your devices individually. Then you can use the app to do things like change the channel and control movie playback on a game console. Logitech makes a point of saying that the Harmony Hub can be hidden in a cabinet or on a shelf, getting out of the way. The Harmony app will be free, while the Harmony Smart Control, the Hub with a basic remote, is available for pre-order for $129, and is expected to be released in May.

Source: Logitech

Energy Efficient Home

Is your home as comfortable as it could be? Giving your home an energy overhaul isn’t just about reducing your environmental footprint – it’s also about achieving a better quality of life. A deep energy retrofit is a holistic approach to making a comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient home. Check out our infographic to find out what a deep energy retrofit can do for you.


Pending Home Sales Index Up 7% Over 2012

market_recoveryPending home sales increased in March and remain above year-ago levels. However, contract activity in recent months shows only modest movement, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. 

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 1.5 percent in March, over a downwardly revised figure in February. The index is 7 percent above year-ago numbers, reflecting the fact that pending sales have been above year-ago levels for the past 23 months.

“Contract activity has been in a narrow range in recent months, not from a pause in demand but because of limited supply.  Little movement is expected in near-term sales closings, but they should edge up modestly as the year progresses,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Job additions and rising household wealth will continue to support housing demand.”

In the Northeast, the index was unchanged in March, but is 6.3 percent higher than in March 2012.  In the Midwest the index increased 0.3 percent, 13.7 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 2.7 percent, which is 10.4 percent higher than March 2012.  In the West the index increased 1.5 percent, but is 4.3 percent below a year ago.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

The Fine Art of Coffee Portraiture [video]

Meet Mike Breach, barista extraordinaire, who “paints” everything — and everyone — into his lattes.

Here are some pictures of Latte Art that fascinated me. You can find more at:

japanime2 3d_cat

Spring Patio Spiff-Ups: 12 Doable DIY Projects for Your Outdoor Space

Prettify your porch or patio with these time-sensitive decorating boosts you can do yourself.

With advance planning and perhaps a few friends to help (bribe them with dinner out), you can make a big difference in your patio in a single weekend. Arranged from fast and easy (hang lanterns, make a repurposed table) to more time- and labor-intensive (create a canopy, paint the floor) projects, these DIYs are sure to offer something to suit your time commitment and style.


 As the weather improves, take the opportunity to enjoy your outdoor spaces. A little tweak here and there can make a big difference.

patio 2read the article here at


Noisy Gutters and Downspouts? Quiet Them With Some Rope


I live in the Pacific Northwest. You may have heard, occasionally  we get a little rain around here. Even if you live somewhere with less precipitation, you may tire of hearing the  noisy drip-drip-drip of water pulsing down your rain gutters. Here’s a tip to help quieted them with a nylon rope and a bit of caulk.

The DIYers over at the Family Handyman share this useful tip for when your gutters keep you from sleeping:

Here’s a better way to solve the problem. Caulk around the gutter drain and install a length of nylon or poly rope (Figure A). The water will wick down the rope instead of free-falling and hitting the elbow.

Quieting Gutters and Downspouts | The Family Handyman