Press "Enter" to skip to content

How is coffee brewed through a commercial coffee maker different from the traditional home brew?

voltmagonline 0

We often have the feeling that coffee from the café or commercial coffee maker is much more delicious than the one prepared at home using traditional methods. Well there can be many reasons underlying to this, which might cause difference in the taste of coffee. To help individuals understand how home coffees are different from coffees from commercial coffee makers, we have brought forth some reasons below.

Tools can be blamed

The best single serve coffee makers available in the market are equipped with the most precious tools, making them perfect for coffee brewing. While on the contrary, traditional home brewing lacks the use of such tools making home coffee a bit different to what is served from the use of coffee makers.


Grinders installed in the coffee makers are much large in size, and are efficient for production of an appropriate coffee. Moreover, with the use of such grinders a perfect taste and flavored coffee can be prepared which is not the case with traditional home coffees. Coffees at home are prepared on stoves which in no ways makes use of grinders to bring in the desired taste and flavor.

Professional Coffee Maker

For individuals who work on coffee machines at the commercial place, they are trained and highly proficient in preparation of coffee. On the contrary, coffee at home is prepared by amateur people who hardly have any knowledge about it. This really creates a difference in the taste of coffee, making coffee from coffee makers really delicious to drink.

Essential Ingredient: Water

The most overlooked ingredient in coffee is water. None of us think about this ingredient while preparing coffee at home, but it really plays an essential role. The amount of TDS in water has an impact, and this is very well taken care of by the commercial coffee makers. The professionals and coffee makers give due attention to the TDS in water in comparison to individuals preparing coffee at home.

Don’t Forget Fresh Coffee Is the Best

It is highly advisable to use fresh coffee beans for preparing coffee. The beans should not be older than two weeks of its roasted date. At home, it gets difficult for individuals to have fresh coffee beans all the time. However commercial coffee makers ensure to roast the beans just before preparing the coffee ensuring that individuals are served with the best coffee in the world.

Use of Best Machines

Traditional brewing involves use of oven and pan for preparation of coffee, which means a simple and plain coffee as per recipe of an individual shall be prepared. On the other hand, coffee prepared by commercial coffee maker is prepared using the best set of tools and equipment proficient in the job. Each coffee maker has a predefined recipe of preparing a coffee, which is perfect in taste, flavor and type to suit an individual. This is not all, the best single serve coffee makers also serve individuals with an option to change machine settings to prepare coffee as per their expectation.

The Last Words

While there are many differences in traditional brewing and commercial coffee makers, it is always good to keep trying new recipes at home and come up with some of the best coffees. However, the individuals who are die hard lovers of coffee can preferably choose from the best single serve coffee makers and keep enjoying the taste of coffee day and night. To make choice of the best, one should scroll down through different machines in terms of features, tools and make, and finally decide to choose the most appropriate one out of it.


Outstanding Ideas For Your New Home Improvement Project

voltmagonline 0

Home ownership is quite rewarding. It allows you to put your own personality within the feel and look of your house. You get to select which improvements to undertake in your own home. This article has lots of advice on how to make these improvements.

Adding insulation to your walls, crawl spaces and attics isn't something that a lot of people think about when it comes to improving your home, but they should. Adding insulation is a great way to make your home cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and more sound proof.
When it comes to home improvement, be sure that you are not causing your home to awkwardly stand out from the rest of the neighborhood. This will ensure you will be able to resell it and also, that you will not receive scorn from your neighbors. Be creative, but try to lean toward conservative with colors. With additions, keep your the total size of your home somewhat near that of your neighbors.

One simple home improvement project that will leave your house looking fresh and new is painting. Choose neutral colors like light blues or subtle greens. Touch up the ceilings in colors like eggshell, white or cream. Top off the look with crown molding and remember that there are kits to help you achieve a professional look even if you have very little experience.

If you have an extensive collection of collectibles or figurines, keep what you display to a minimum. Trying to display everything in one room or area can make your space appear cluttered. Choose a few focal pieces, about 5 pieces at the most and arrange them in a pleasing manner.

Put electrical wire connectors on your tubes of caulking! Those little plastic covers that come with the tubes always go missing! A readily had replacement that works as good or better than the original cap is an electrical wire connector. You can even use special colors for special types of tubes.

Buying new appliances can actually save you money in the long run. Now a days, companies have invested a lot of money in appliances that conserve energy. If you buy a new fridge that uses less electricity, during the life of the refrigerator, you will actually be saving money.

When making outside cosmetic improvements to your home, don't neglect the front door. A cheap, ugly front door can make the whole front appear less attractive. To replace a standard front door, costs less than $200. The improvement you will see in the appearance of your home is more than worth the cost.

Don't throw out your tub just because it has a few hard to remove stains. There is an easy solution that is sure to help your problem. Mix a few teaspoons of baking soda and a few teaspoons of cream of tartar. Squeeze enough juice out of a lemon to create a paste. Spread the paste with a cloth onto the stain. Leave it for about half an hour and go back and thoroughly rinse your tub out.

Removing wall paper is something that may sound easy, but it actually takes some skill. You need to know what type of wallpaper you need to remove, and what type of wall you have. Based on the wallpaper you have, you then either need to dry-strip it or soak it and scrape it off. Make sure you do your research to determine what needs be done.

You can waste a lot of money and hot water by failing to properly insulate your hot water heater. Stop by a home improvement store and purchase an insulating jacket to enclose your hot water heater. Ideally, the insulation will be about 3 inches thick. This is an affordable and easy way to help your water tank to retain as much as 75 percent more heat that would ordinarily be lost.

When choosing colors for your room, decorate 'vertically.' Choose darker shades for the floor, medium colors on the walls and a lighter color on the ceiling. Don't be tempted to use darker colors one one side of a room and lighter colors on the other side. This will make the room appear out of balance, as well as, visually unappealing.

Whether you just moved into your home or have owned it for years, you might think its time for some improvements. The tips written here gave you great ideas on how to start any home improvement project.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing a Tankless Water Heater

voltmagonline 0

As more and more American homeowners make the switch from conventional water heaters to high efficiency tankless models, many opt to replace their heaters on their own, as opposed to contacting a professional plumbing service provider. While it’s certainly possible to install a tankless water heater on your own, you should only do so if you’re absolutely certain you can take on the challenge, and have the right tools and know-how for the job.

Tankless water heaters can help you save dramatically on everyday water and energy consumption, it’s no wonder that, when traditional units start to show signs of age, many make the upgrade. In this blog post, we detail how you can, with the right preparation, install a tankless heater entirely on your own.

Note: this blog details how to install whole house tankless water heaters, as opposed to point of use heaters, which can be installed relatively easily near the fixture they are heating water for.

Step 1: Preparation and Safety Precaution

Installing a tankless water heater on your own is one of the most difficult DIY plumbing projects we’ve discussed in our blog. Tankless heaters typically require a larger supply of power and wider exhaust system, and you may end up with more work than you initially bargained for in your efforts. Additionally, a common gas supply line material, corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST), can become damaged or ruptured in some environmental situations, throwing added complication into your project. 

Read through the rest of this guide to determine if you’re up to the task, and if not, don’t hesitate to have a professional plumber handle the installation for you. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Moving on to the materials you’ll need for the job. When it comes to installing a tankless heater, most of the the tools and fixtures you need will come packaged with the unit:

Your new tankless heater, plus the hardware and instructions that come packaged with it

  • A screwdriver
  • CSST supply line
  • Gas line connector
  • New water lines (as needed)
  • Hanger brackets for the water lines
  • Heat-resistant sealant
  • A bucket

During the preparatory stage, you should also read up on building codes in your state and city to ensure you have the clearance to install a tankless water heater, as well as CSST pipe, in your property.

Step 2: Removing the Old Heater Unit

It should come as no surprise that the first big step in installing a tankless water heater is removing your old, traditional heater unit. Start by turning off the water supply to your home and disconnecting the old unit from the water supply line. As there may be some water left in the supply line, this is where having a bucket on-deck can help. 

Next, you’ve got to disconnect the unit from its heat source. For electric heaters, all you’ll have to do is unplug the heater from its outlet. For gas heaters, shut off the gas supply valve before moving forward. Once you’ve completely freed your traditional water heater from all power and supply lines, get rid of it in accordance with local laws. 

In Sacramento (and all of California), simply trashing old water heaters is prohibited, as they typically contain pilot light sensors - which contain mercury. Instead, you must contact a recycling and waste management agency in your area to dispose of your old water heater. A list of Californian hazardous waste agencies can be found here.

Step 3: Mounting to the Wall and Connecting Utilities

To actually mount the new heater unit to your wall, carefully follow manufacturers instructions and use the hardware provided. Make sure that the unit is properly supported and fastened to your wall. 

Connect the water line to your mounted unit (or install a new one, if necessary), and use hanger brackets to hold the pipe in place and prevent it from touching walls and other surfaces. Solder pipe joints as needed. 

The following instructions are for gas-powered tankless water heaters. With the water line connected, install a gas line connector to your existing line, and run a CSST supply line through the other end. Make sure the gas line is still shut off, and connect the CSST line to your best tankless water heater. 

Tighten all nuts and gas line connections, and turn on the gas. At this stage, you may want to use a gas sniffer to check for gas leaks or loose fittings. If there are no such leaks, you can turn on the gas and pilot light as per manufacturers instructions and test your unit. It may take time to initially heat up water on first use.

For electrically-powered tankless heaters, all you have to do once the water line is connected is plug into a power supply. From here, you can check your unit and enjoy hot water at much higher efficiency - and lower cost - than you would with a traditional heater.

Article Credits:

Why Rise of the Tomb Raider Is An Xbox Exclusive

voltmagonline 0

The latest Tomb Raider game developed by Crystal Dynamics is set to be an Xbox exclusive, after it was announced by Microsoft’s Phil Harrison at their media briefing at Gamescom this week. The title due out “holiday 2015″ will be “the most ambitious Tomb Raider game ever built” according to head of studios Darrell Gallagher, who at the companies blog explained why the latest instalment to what is a popular series on both platforms is now exclusive to one.

“Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011,” he writes. “We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past – we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.”

“This doesn’t mean that we’re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4.”

Check here: Best mountain bike under 1000

Microsoft wants to lure the people it lost amidst the controversy over the Xbox One’s policies and price difference when it launched in the latter stages in 2013, with high profile exclusives

Its quite interesting to see a publisher go exclusive on a platform when their title has good reception on all platforms in this console era and the previous, particularly when the hardware is effectively the same. Each console has its nuances of course, with the Xbox being less powerful graphics-wise compared to the Playstaiton, but it compensates by churning out greater CPU performance. So on that basis you would think that any additional resources on offer would be redundant given this fact, and that the publisher should be looking to maximise the revenue as much as possible. Now, of course you won’t get the visuals of the best gaming monitor but these days, it’s getting close.

But this has less to do with the publisher and the game, and more about the platform. Microsoft are behind Sony when it comes to overall sales of their consoles, with the Playstation now outselling the Xbox One at a three-to-one ratio after the Japanese outfit announced it sold over 10 million units to customers worldwide this week. This is despite the fact that the Xbox One did have more titles at launch than the Playstation in November, but after the controversy with its DRM policies, the consoles “always on” state, and the price difference being £100, it seems that has left a lasting mark on consumers purchasing.

So the best way its clawing back the customers it lost or who were in limbo when they entered next-gen late last year, is by giving them high profile and highly anticipated exclusives. Thats not to say these will be exclusive for life, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has already noted that this is a timed exclusive in an interview with Eurogamer. And with the Xbox One still yet to launch in many territories including some countries in Europe, and many still yet to make the jump to next-gen in places where the consoles are out, this temporary exclusivity could be enough to win consumers over and

Is The iPod Now A Hobby For Apple?

voltmagonline 0

Its quite a famous saying from Apple. Calling a product a “hobby,” indicates that it doesn’t necessarily have the attention that its other product categories have, and that refreshing it is often a rare sight. In my eyes the only “hobby” – with the exception of software – that Apple produce, is the Mac Pro. Other than that, we can see their other products getting updated or refreshed at least every two years. But are we about to add another product to that category?

Looking its the companies iPod sales, we can see two things that stand out. The first is how they stack up against the Mac product lineup. In Q4 2013 we can see the Mac actually outperformed the iPod, with just over 3,000 units being sold compared to over 4,000. The sales did pick up in the quarter just gone, but they are 56 percent lower than the previous quarter year-over-year, with the product line accounting for just $973 million of the $57.6 billion in revenue it gained.

Its still a large amount of money for a company to bring in, in fact, it's nearly more than what Blackberry managed to bring in revenue last quarter. But for a company like Apple and for a product in such a competitive category, its hard to see how its now an appealing option for its target demographic.

The second is how Apple have used cannibalisation to get to this point. By entering the mid-range smartphone market with the iPhone 4S and 5c, the likes of teenagers and kids already have some sort of device capable of doing the same things as an iPod Touch, and some more. Steve Jobs himself called the iPhone the “best iPod we’ve ever made.” Then there is the iPad, another device that kids and teens seem to want more, if only because it offers more features at £100 – £250 extra [depending on the model] and is available in multiple form factors.

There is also the soul purpose of the device. Music streaming services are becoming increasingly popular with people, especially now devices are shipping with limited storage that could be better used up for games, TV shows, movies, or general apps. People have always wanted access to their music, but they don’t want to have to store it on their computer.

Peter Oppenheimer: ”We expect our traditional MP3 players to decline over time as we cannibalize ourselves with the iPod Touch and the iPhone.”

The cannibalisation of the iPod product lineup isn’t unexpected though. As The Vergepoints out , CFO Peter Oppenheimer admitted back in 2009 that “we expect our traditional MP3 players to decline over time as we cannibalize ourselves with the iPod Touch and the iPhone.” Looking at the sales of the iPod, we can see that there has been significant decline in the last five years. Whilst they picked up when the company released new models, it still hasn’t produced the record sales numbers the iPhone or iPad have quarter, after quarter.

The lack of new iPod’s for the last twelve months could be responsible for the recent decline in sales. But the decline has happened ever since the company introduced more and more devices that can pretty much do what the iPod can, but have further internet capabilities [3G].

Does the decline in sales and the lack of attention mean Apple is killing off the product? Not necessarily. As we’ve already established, its still near enough a billion dollar business for Apple. But it could be given less attention in years to come. A great example would be the iPod Classic. Its basically just a legacy product at this stage, and is probably something they make when it gets ordered, rather than on demand like its iPad or iPhone. But if you look at how detached it is from iOS and the next generation of Apple’s mobile devices [no thinner form factor, lack of lightning connector, no fingerprint sensors], we can see that its just a product that has been forgotten about entirely.

We probably won’t see this level of diversity from the iPhone and iPad for the iPod Touch/Nano, but don’t expect to see this product lineup being the first to be updated with new features when they are introduced. Native MP3 players are living on borrowed time. The lack of next-gen cellular internet functions and pretty much every other device being able to play/store music, means that this is no longer the flagship product for the company synonymous with kickstarting the online music revolution.

What Microsoft’s $7.2 Billion Acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services Division Means For Windows Phone

voltmagonline 0

Microsoft have bought Nokia’s devices and services unit, in a move that sees Nokia’s Lumia hardware division finally under Redmond’s roof. The deal, set to close in the first quarter of 2014, includes Nokia’s business and patents and will end up costing Microsoft in total $7.2 billion – thats just $1.3 billion off of what Microsoft paid for Skype in 2010. But its not the numbers that are interesting, its more what Microsoft expect to get out of the deal thats the interesting part.

Ever since the two entered into a partnership together two years ago, industry analysts have predicted Nokia would be in some talks to sell its hardware business to Microsoft, as it looks to grow its Windows Phone platform. And after Nokia’s Lumia lineup managed to invigorate some sort of interest back into Windows Phone, its made a lot of sense for Microsoft to want to work more closely with the company, especially now it sees both a hardware and software company can work in unison with one-another.

Will the benefit of having complete end-to-end control in mobile that only the likes of Apple and Blackberry have enjoyed - to some extent - help them grow its Windows Phone business?

But will the benefit of having complete end-to-end control in mobile that only the likes of Apple and Blackberry have enjoyed - to some extent – help them grow its Windows Phone business? Microsoft’s licensing deal doesn’t include future Lumia models – effectively getting rid of Nokia’s high-end smartphone brand altogether. And with the rumours that Microsoft could be looking at building a ‘Surface Phone,’ we might just possibly see a competitive answer to Apple’s hardware.

Rather interestingly, Nokia’s low-end ‘Asha’ brand which focuses on emerging markets, has been acquired outright by Microsoft, allowing it to focus on bringing the Windows Phone brand to these emerging markets and hopefully make it more popular. But if Apple play their hand in the next couple of days and bring out the hotly rumoured low-cost iPhone model, Microsoft could have headaches if it doesn’t provide a similar software experience to Apple’s.

In their press conference explaining the rationale behind its deal with Nokia, Microsoft stated that it aims to grow its Windows Phone marketshare by three-times what it is now by 2018. How it plans to do that exactly is down to two big businesses that were included in Nokia’s devices and services business deal; Nokia’s HERE mapping technology and its hardware. Redmond sees mapping and geospatial services as core to its strategy going forward, saying that there needs to be “an effective alternative to Google” and “more than one ‘digital map of the world.” It also believes that the companies patent portfolio is valuable, and that the licenses Nokia has in place could give it a valuable income stream in the future.

Redmond sees mapping and geospatial services as core to its strategy going forward, saying that there needs to be ”an effective alternative to Google” and ”more than one ‘digital map of the world.”

The companies ultimate goal for platform growth however, is to create great Nokia products. The best way you can do that is with communication, something Google lacked when they built the MotoX in conjunction with the mobile hardware company they bought last year, Motorola. And whilst Redmond is still committed to its other smartphone manufacturing partners, Microsoft believes that once it gets more attention from the market, more opportunities should start to arise for the partners that chose to stick with the platform.

Microsoft expects the deal with Nokia to bring them in $600 million annually for the first 18 months thanks to cost synergies. Currently Microsoft only makes $10 per-device sold in their partnership with Nokia, but that will grow to over $40 per unit once it finalises the takeover of Nokia’s devices and services division. Whilst that isn’t Nokia’s most profitable division, Microsoft believes it can break even once sales of phones and tablets crack 50 million units. Global Lumia shipments have grown by 40 per-cent per-quarter over the past two and a half years, and with the company looking at branching into the tablet market, its certainly a realistic target for Microsoft to set the company, especially since they have a ten-year license to use the Nokia brand on feature phones.

For $7.2 billion, Microsoft have effectively bought its way into a “devices and services company.” It gives them complete, quality control over their Windows Phone platform, allowing it to further build on what it set to do with Nokia all along, which is show their other hardware partners how to build a Windows Phone device. And with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop joining the company just as longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced he will be stepping down within the year, its certainly looking like a time for Microsoft to make some big moves with its Windows Phone platform.

Could The Wearable Tech Market Be A Way Out For Blackberry?

voltmagonline 0

This week seen the struggling, Ontario-based smartphone maker Blackberry, announced that it is exploring “strategic alternatives” which could mean the sale of the company. This announcement was to be expected at some point this month, as Reuters reported last week that the company are “open” to going private, after years of their share price falling by 90 per-cent after it hit its peak in 2008.

The report by Reutersnoted down Silver Lake Partners , the private equity firm currently in the works of sealing a deal to take Dell private for $25 million, as the potential source of funding that could allow them to make the changes necessary, outside of the public eye. Other reports suggest Blackberry could be bought out by Microsoft, as they look more interested in getting involved in the hardware business after they released the Surface RT. Both sound like solid suggestions, and both involve a partnership of some sort. Which leads me to believe that rather than sell of bits of their business, Blackberry could stay in the game. But how?

The smartphone market is probably the most competitive its ever been

The smartphone market is probably the most competitive its ever been. You have Google, who own over half of the smartphone marketshare, and have recently made their Android OS on par/better in areas than iOS. Then you have Apple, who own around twenty five-to-thirty per-cent of the market, and are currently in the works revamping the visual elements of iOS. Finally its Microsoft, who are trying their best to build out a developer friendly environmentthat draws developers into the expanding Windows Phone platform.

Whats interesting about each of those that I’ve mentioned is their endeavours recently, in the wearable tech industry. Google are breaking in with Glass, and Apple are rumoured to be working on a watch similar to the Nike Fuelband. Microsoft meanwhile, don’t have any offering at the minute. They are instead focused on making Windows 8 right and anticipating the release of the Xbox One. But could Blackberry allow Microsoft to enter this area?

One thing that has to be said about Google’s and Apple’s wearable tech offerings, is that they are both for consumers. They are both designed for consumers, with them in mind. Whilst we haven’t seen an iWatch or any sort of attempt at breaking into the wearable tech market by Apple, you can be sure that like every product they make, it will be oriented at consumers. But what if Microsoft made one for the enterprise market? A wearable piece of tech designed for the modern businessman, designed and built in a joint venture between Microsoft, Blackberry and Dell.

Both Blackberry and Microsoft have the enterprise pedigree, and coupled with Dell who have the manufacturing resources, they might just be able to pull off such an ambitious move on the market. I say this because, like the smartphone market seven years ago, wearable technology is an emerging market, which means all of the marketshare and establishment I mentioned above is non-existant. Sure brand awareness is there, but if the product is good enough, I don’t see why people wouldn’t want it.

Its not just a way out for Blackberry, its a gateway into a market they could gain traction in if done right.

Enough funding could come from Silver Lake and other private equity investors to keep Blackberry in the smartphone business, so they can create hardware in conjunction with Dell for Windows Phone – kind of like Motorola is to Google without the cultural clashes – and Dell could produce quality tablets that have Microsoft and Blackberry enterprise software on them, all the while proving to investors that they still have what it takes to innovate.

Its a long shot, and must be done in such a way that structuring is done carefully in order to avoid clashes and product delays – something Blackberry have a track record of in the last year. And of course, Windows would have to be the front of all this, but the technologies in Blackberry 10 can be implemented into the Windows Blue ecosystem. Ultimately, I think this is something new. Its not just a way out for Blackberry, its a gateway into a market they could gain traction in if done right.

OS X Mountain Lion Review

voltmagonline 0

A year ago Lion came out to us all after we had two years out of a new Mac Operating System. It has to be said, on the surface it was good but as I started to use it more intensively, it lacked some of the handling Snow Leopard had which is why I wasn’t too much of a fan when using it. I expect Mountain Lion to fix most of my problems, whilst they’re largely small I like to think Apple care more about those types of issues when updating OS X than the need to put in new features. For Mountain Lion, they did just that. The little nit picks no longer exist, and the unified experience is even better than ever.



For the most part, installation was the same as Lion. It took me around an hour to actually start the download of the launcher after the servers got hammered, then it surprisingly took a hour to download – If I recall Lion took two hours to download. Once it downloaded, it set about setting up my Mac for the half hour installation process. But once it was installed, gosh it was fast. Think of that clean install whenever you’d get a new computer, it was like that. Boot-up is considerably faster along with the application load times; normally it would be three bounces dead for me now, one bounce.

The installation process was boring but fast. I was surprised at how fast I was able to connect to Apple’s servers given the amount of hammering it was getting from people across the globe. The actual installation part was the same as Lion’s which I thought Apple would’ve fixed given that there wasn’t any space given back and it was only 4GB in total. Then again, I probably need an SSD.

Whats New?

The whole purpose of Mac OS X Mountain Lion is to make the experience of iOS and Mac cross platform. This allows for an easy transition between my computer and iOS device; ergo I don’t have to change my user habits in order to work it. Its certainly a bold but intuitive take on what the user wants.

Notification Center

One of the biggest additions to Mac OS X Mountain Lion is the Notification Center. Taken from the not-so used iOS feature, Notification Center allows you to see events, tweets, reminders, emails, iMessages and more - if you have it enabled - with a rather unusual swipe of the left side with two fingers on your trackpad, or with the click of a button. You can also update your Twitter from it out of the box along with your Facebook which will be added this fall, as well as toggle Notifications on or off till midnight the next day by scrolling up in the window. They will also turn off if you’re doing a presentation in Keynote or mirroring your display so the execs or friends won’t be able to see your next appointment with your dentist at 8:30 the following day. You can also change the order these notifications are displayed in from a time based order to the order you want them to be displayed in. Notifications can be used on nearly every app that wants to utilise them. Rather interestingly, Safari can send notifications to when it needs to, even if that notification is from a 3rd party API with your permission.

Notification Center is not somthing I use largely on my iOS devices simply because I didn’t need it. Sure we needed a new way of displaying Notifications but that was all, not a Center dedicated to catching up on all our missed ones. I never really used Growl on my Mac either because all the stuff I need to see, is open and even if it isn’t I still check the dock to see if there is anything new I need to look at. Granted this isn’t periodically, but its not somthing I need notifications to see and remind me of. I’m guessing I’ll get as much use out of this as I do on my iOS devices. Whilst it will be good for when I’m away from my computer [which admittedly isn't a lot of the time] I see no point in having it active whilst I’m at my computer.

Really, I just want a way to switch it on/off that I will somehow remember to switch back on when I will be away from my computer for more than four hours. Maybe the Notification Center should step into play when my screensaver kicks in, collecting all the important stuff from my most used apps first then all my secondary apps second. That way when I get back, instead of having to go though each app one-by-one seeing what I’ve missed and need to see I can just go to Notification Center and its all there for me to get on with my work.


I have to say, this is one of the more complicated things in Mountain Lion. What was once called iChat has now been renamed to Messages and supports the cross device messaging Apple introduced to iMessages for Mac not so long back this year. You can initiate FaceTime calls from it too along with pick up conversations you have had on your iPhone or iPad that use iMessage.

Unfortunately, thats all this app is good for. Whilst you can still use your Yahoo Messenger, AIM and Google Talk accounts to talk to people on, using Apple’s actual solution that looks like the most economical option turns out to be the most fragmented. For instance, Messages allows me to commence a chat on my Mac then pick it back up on my iPad or iPhone and continue it there. This also works if I want to go from Mac to Mac. But if my iPhone or iPad are asleep the entire time sending these messages, because they don’t update whilst they’re asleep I’ve often woken them up to a slew of unread-marked messages I’ve already read on my desktop.

Another problem is that iMessage on the iPhone is tied to your phone number by default rather than using your email address like your iPad or Mac would. That means messages sent to your phone number won’t show up on your computer or iPad because they’re not connected to the carrier network. Switching your iPhone to use your email address for caller ID solves the problem in a roundabout way — anyone replying to you will send iMessages to your email address, but new iMessages sent to your phone number will still only arrive on your phone.

It will be fixed in the latest version of iOS due out this fall where all your messages will unify your phone number and email address messages together. But for the time being its a rather complex procedure to what is supposed to be a solution to cross device messaging.

Safari 6

Safari 6 is definitely an upgrade from more Safari 4 than Safari 5 which had fairly minimal changes to it. Now the address bar is unified allowing you to both search and enter in a website address like in Chrome. The tabs bar has also had an overhaul, now you can view all of your tabs in screenshot views [above] to determine whether you need it or not. Safari also adds iCloud tabs, which is basically the same as Chrome sync; any webpage you have open on your Mac will - if allowed - sync with your other Macs, iPad and iPhone.

Backend changes include a new scrolling engine, 2D GPU acceleration, and improved JavaScript performance that Apple claims is the fastest around. The loading bar is also a little more smooth, adding a very premium feel to it. Safari 6 is one of the best browsers I’ve used to date, I’m actually happy with using Safari over Chrome – and thats not somthing I usually say. Well done Apple.

Reminders and Notes

Both apps are from iOS and do basically the same thing. Reminders allows you to set reminders and sync them across your iCloud devices, as well as set reminders for specific dates, locations and times. The reminders also show up in Notification Center as well as a banner thats gives you an optional “Snooze” button so it will remind you fifteen minutes minutes later. I personally didn’t use Reminders a lot on my iPhone or iPad because usually I’m not out and around that much to set reminders, I already know when to do somthing and when to do it for. But for the desktop, I’m certainly starting to use it as a good way to work through stuff I want to get done for a specific time like my pre weekend F1 content and scheduled posts for Volt etc….

Notes is somthing I use a lot on my iPad. In fact its what I use to write up my F1 race reports at [sorry about the plugs, its ends here....] because it syncs instantly with my Mac so I can just copy and paste it into the Tumblr editor ready to add all of the other elements like pictures and the previsional race result itself. For the most part its the same as it is on the iPad; I can sync Notes across my iOS devices using iCloud which should prove handy when I want to go out and have notes from my Mac that I may bring up in interviews or for when I’m watching F1 races and I have notes to take into consideration when watching or writing my race review. The only thing that separates it from its iOS cousin is the ability to sync notes with Gmail, Yahoo, and other services that support it.

For all intents and purposes, both are apps I’m more likely to use on my desktop now than on my iOS devices – which I think says a lot about me. I don’t get out a lot.


They’ve renamed iCal to Calendar in the latest version of OS X. Even though it still sports is hideous leather design, the calendar app isn’t all that new. In this newer version, it allows us to turn off different calendars like “Work” or “Home” and change the way it reminds us of an event; normally you can ask it to give you an on screen message with sound, now you can ask it to email you. Apart from those two changes, not a lot going on in the Calendar app.

Game Center

By far the worst looking app since iTunes, Game Center has now made its way over to the Mac. Whilst I can’t say much about the social aspect of Game Center and how it works cross platform, I can say it is the same as it is on the iPad allowing you to find multiplayer opponents, leaderboards, achievements, and now chat in-game with voice chat on OS X. Apple have just started to roll out their Game Kit API, which lets devs quickly make use of all those features, as well as support cross-device multiplayer for both live and asynchronous games. Whilst I don’t think the Mac will ever match the PC when it comes to gaming, I do think tying it into the hugely popular iOS ecosystem is a great way to make the experience more unified. For the time being, Game Center is incomplete.

Sharing – Twitter and Facebook

Sharing is one of the biggest parts of iOS Apple introduced over a year ago. They realised their users wanted to tweet out stuff that are regularly found in their apps, so they decided to integrate it into the experience. Now they’ve done the same in Mountain Lion Facebook, email, AirDrop, Messages, Flickr and Vimeo. Once you pick your service you can pretty much share from everywhere in OS X – even Quicklook.

Apart from being in Notification Center, Facebook and Twitter are integrated across the Mac OS X experience. Most notably in Safari where an iOS style ‘share card’ pops up ready for you to type your message. You can also sync contacts and contact pictures from your Twitter and Facebook list. The problem with Facebook sync is that it will sync all your contacts, some that you don’t want in your address book which you can turn off but would be better if you could sync a particular list such as “Close Friends” or “Work.” I’m guessing with the fall launch date of Facebook integration Apple will have worked on it by then.


When I first saw the feature pictured above, I thought it was going to be a game changer in Mac app distribution. Apple could’ve turned off this feature in GM to stop people from downloading apps from online and only ones from the Mac App store, which would’ve caused a stir amongst us power users. Even though it ships out of the box with the option “Run Mac apps and signed apps only” you can turn on the global “All” setting by going into the security settings and selecting that option.

Gatekeeper is somthing that runs in the background, your machine will download a list of keys from Apple at least daily. The whole purpose of Gatekeeper is not to restrict app development for Macs to just the Mac App Store, but rather make sure the end user knows what he/she is getting into when downloading random apps from the internet. Its safe and secure. That comes at no cost to developers beyond the standard Mac developer program rate, which they could opt out for and still have their apps licensed.

We’ll have to see whether its somthing that ultimately cuts down malware and other infectious diseases spread across open software. But for the time being, Gatekeeper is doing a really good job at balancing open software distribution and the security of the App Store model.

Power Nap

One of the more hidden features in Mac OS X Mountain Lion, Power Nap lets your Macbook Pro or New Macbook Air [at this point] send and receive data whilst they’re asleep. Things like backup your…. I was going to say drive but flash memory is the word I should use, download software updates [thats a biggie!], sync your iCloud stream like notes, mail, calendar, register their location with Find my Mac and a lot more all whilst its asleep. No fans or anything like that come on, it just works ready for you when you next using it. Of corse your battery life won’t be the way you left it, but thats to be expected from this rather gaming-changing and unique feature.

Speech Dictation

Speech diction is another feature taken from iOS and merged within OS X. You can turn speech dictation on by double tapping the ‘Fn’ [Function] key on your keyboard, then once you do the icon to the right of us will pop up ready for you to dictate. I’m actually using it right now to write this sentence. What it will do is take my voice recording, then send it to the Apple servers where they will transcribe it and send it back to me as a sentence – all within three seconds. Ok, back to typing…. As you’d expect it runs just as good on a Mac as it does on an iPad or iPhone, it even briefly turns off the fans if you’re on a Macbook so it doesn’t interfere with your dictation. Whilst it can be slow when the servers are overloaded, it certainly makes for a good companion when you want to put somthing into perspective and not type it as that.

Graphics and Overall Performance

Mountain Lion packs a new version of OpenGL – the industry standard for high performance graphics. Its clearly noticeable in the most recent version of OS X on boot up, the screen just looks soo much more defined. Its as if Apple are extracting and distributing the GPU at its most optimum because everything just looks more colourful. Overall performance across the board is exemplarily. Normally it would take me three or four bounces to start an application with the amount I usually open, now with however many I have open its just one bounce. I will also say, Safari is much more stable with web elements no longer crashing and reloading every webpage all over again is such a luxury.

I’m also a fan of some of the incremental UI updates Apple have made to OS X in Mountain Lion as well. The dock [above] for example looks way more sexy than I ever did, Launchpad looks nicer with the addition of search and one less app icon. Also, loving the new Trash icon Apple.


For £13.99, this is the best piece of money I’ve spent. Mountain Lion has some amazing new stock apps as well as great new iterative features on already existing software. Its not just the price that sets this apart from other OS’, its the fundamental change in how the Operating System is made. OS X is now being conceived with mobile in mind and not in the comedy ‘mobile-on-desktop’ way we’re seeing other OS vendors unify their experiences. I like it.