Back to Work

Back to Work

United States

Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more. Hosted by Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin.


294: Sufficiently Advanced Friendship  

TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly. Dan's a little under the weather. Maybe kids should be in balls. Who knows? "Wrap a hot towel around your head." Westworld. It's definitely a thing. Follow-up… TaskPaper 3.5 is awesome. Yes. There are good board games. Sorry about that. How Merlin made Candyland more interesting. But only a little. Followup on smoke detectors. What a mess! More advice on covering up dumb LED lights. Merlin has an amazing rice cooker. Harry Potter talk. Movies we like, etc. Cool new Harry Potter prints. MAIN TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly. Trouble getting a response: what's the real problem here? Merlin learned a lot from being an unsuccessful project manager. If your results are at odds with your expectations? Something isn't working. Dan talks about his new interest in informal journaling. Writing is a 3D printer for your thoughts.

293: The Frame for Our Relationship  

TOPIC: The Minimum Viable Waste of Time. Some awesome odds and sods, a great new Markdown editor for OS X, and a main topic on dealing with those aggressive email follow-up people. Dan's Concern™ regarding his annoying smoke detectors Why things seem to get worse and more diverse Evaluate the credulity of Amazon reviews with Fakespot Scary edge cases for Samsung Note fires Cary's great DNS switching trick Merlin is loving Typora, a clever and powerful new desktop Markdown editor Pandoc does many file conversion things Homebrew makes Mac package management a doddle Brett Terpstra's Markdown Service Tools are essential TableFlip is a cool app for making and editing Markdown tables Fountain and Slugline are awesome for Markdown-like screenplay writing Also, hey. Editorial for iOS can totally handle Fountain files. Turns out! Merlin and Dan are still really liking iOS 10 It's definitely worth the time to prune your iOS notifications Main Topic: How should we deal with all those "just circling back" people? iPhone spam call blocker Hiya seems to be working now

292: Rat King of Crush  

TOPIC: A Surfeit of Merlin Mannsplaining. This week, Dan and Merlin produce an undisputed instaclassic odds and sods episode. When technology makes you feel crazy. Are retweets endorsements? Universal New Yorker captions. Cursed Images is amazing. Vatican Cameos! A totally smooth way to stop talking about someone when they walk into the room. iOS 10 call-blocking apps. Do they even? How to send an 'E mail' - Database - 1984 - YouTube BIG ACTUALLY-USEFUL SEGMENT: Two super-interesting matrices. How to plan your day. What Percentage Alcohol? WHAT PERCENTAGE? We still miss Phil Hartman. A recommended RSS option. Apple caters to Dan's News needs. Dim your LEDs! "Alexa, who is the Mother of Dragons?" Fast gloss on Plex's very interesting new Cloud Sync offering. This is one for the books.

291: Three Healthy Holes  

TOPIC: The Unreliable Narrator of You This week, Dan and Merlin talk about weather, compost, small changes, plus some Sling TV followup. The main topic involves Merlin helping Dan sanely enter the Philips Hue Light ecosystem. It's not just for nerds any more. (Although, sure, yeah, it's still mostly for nerds.)

290: Table Scraps for Cable Cutters  

TOPIC: Nobody's favorite thing. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about update failures, magic, and attention. Their ongoing dive into the fractured and frustrating world of the modern cord-cutter ecosystem continues. It's ponderous.

289: John Rhetoric  

TOPIC: Every week (and every time you think of it) This week, Dan and Merlin start by talking about some of the great updates iOS 10—alongside the usual strident advice about backing up before you do anything. Merlin also shares the late-night debacle of trying to order a new iPhone. There's some talk about weird 80s Budweiser commercials and then a deep dive on how (and whether) to setup and use the neato Plex DVR.

288: History is Not Made for Horses  

TOPIC: Find My Mac. Please. With Apple's big iPhone event coming tomorrow, Dan and Merlin discuss what makes this particular day such a black box in Apple's history. This is likely to be the last day for some time when we will know SO very little about where Apple is heading. Also, there's some discussion of which kinds of technology we're most resistant to and maybe why that is.

287: You Are Now Cleared for Salad  

TOPIC: Frantic SM 10 Pieces This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the problem with wraps, the problem with notebooks, and the problem with Amazon reviews.

286: Secret Rap Name  

TOPIC: Hey, try this. This week, Dan and Merlin have a shortie, so they talk about stuff they're loving right now and make some recommendations on gadgets, music, movies, and more. Also, the scientific link between chemtrails and morgellons can finally be revealed.

285: A Baller VCR  

TOPIC: Kids don't need VCR Plus+. This week, Dan and Merlin continue their series on updates. The topic this week is all about media consumption—in particular, the massive changes to how they learn about, locate, obtain, schedule, and consume media over the past decade or so. Sure, there's the usual old man talk about how How It Used To Be, but there's a heavy focus on how these changes are changing the way media is funded and produced. What's that media landscape gonna look like when a 5-year-old playing with an iPad becomes the producer of media in a very few years?

284: Wake Up, Van Hœt  

This week, Dan and Merlin open with an unintentionally deep dive on how Merlin has been tricking out his house with home automation stuff. The main topic this week returns to the theme of updates; in this case, how ubiquitous devices have changed pretty much everything.

283: Cognition to Completion  

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their series on updates, talking about the evolution of electronic task management in their lives. Hint: simplify, simplify.

282: Boring and Yet Wonderful  

TOPIC: Orinoco Flow This week, Dan and Merlin continue their series on updates, focusing on the difference between the days before and after ubiquitous wifi. Also, lots of fun odds and sods on Scrivener and surviving summer with kids.

281: The Mayor of Chocolate Sundaes  

TOPIC: Way of the future. This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion on updates to their systems and their productivity worlds. In particular: how have new technologies and critical masses of users led to wanting or needing fewer intermediary communications layers? For years, email was more than just the lingua franca; it was that one internet communication protocol that every user could be counted upon to have and use. But, today? Options, baby, options! Sometimes for worse, but, so often, for much better.

280: The Big Filter  

TOPIC: Updates on Productivity and a modern Kobayashi Maru Scenario This week, Dan and Merlin start a new series on updates. Which sounds really boring, but it isn't, we swear. This time out, the boys start by diving deep on how and why just so much of their productivity systems have changed over the years. Innumerable ways in which technology and life has evolved to where so many of the old systems seem fiddly, unnecessary, or both. [This is a good one.]

279: The Fishery Loophole  

TOPIC: …and, then what happens? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the unexpected cognitive benefits of ritual, repetition, and thinking through the fascinating question: "…and, then what happens?"

278: Yelling at an Idea  

TOPIC: People, amirite? This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the complexities of communicating with each other. And, brother, is it ever complicated.

277: Everything's Hard  

TOPIC: Varieties of pain. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's progress on building and its imminent beta release. Lots of fascinating details on why he's made it and who it might be great for. Then, there's discussion of the unexpected mental benefits of physical training, and the influence that various sorts of pain (real or imagined) can have on us.

276: Do You Even Lift?  

TOPIC: Merlin's never sent his heartbeat. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some of this week's WWDC announcements, the past and future of Apple, and that awkward feeling of wondering whether and when new technology is personally relevant.

275: The Lies of Big Shoe  

TOPIC: Fill one bag. This week, Dan and Merlin talk about our relationship with the stuff in our lives and how overwhelming it can be. Solutions are offered—throw out that old cinnamon!

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