Back to Work

Back to Work

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 and Dan Benjamin.

#295: I’m Not Talkin’ for Clapping

October 25, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 19 minutes

  • Dan's still a little under the weather
  • What home automation is good at right now (and what it mostly isn't)
  • Updates on Hiya and call-blocking apps not working so much
  • Merlin is getting pretty good at making Trump hands
  • Hey! Follow-up and listener questions!
  • Listener Greg wisely reframes the communication problem
  • If you want to help people: offer something specific
  • John Siracusa just wants toast in a reasonable amount of time
  • Listener Johnathan has trouble getting timely responses from his busy manager
    • Tip: It pays to ask around and maybe escalate
  • Everybody feels vulnerable about something
  • Listener Brian doesn't want to pester people about his side project
    • Tip: Scale up and act like a magazine editor
  • Ooooo…The Monty Hall Problem!
  • Listener Matt needs tips on being a new dad
    • Tip: You're not as bad at this as you think (or fear)

#294: Sufficiently Advanced Friendship

October 18, 2016 at 5:30PM • 1 hour 48 minutes

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

October 11, 2016 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 49 minutes

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

October 4, 2016 at 1:30PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

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

September 27, 2016 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 31 minutes

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

September 20, 2016 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 26 minutes

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

September 13, 2016 at 4:45PM • 1 hour 40 minutes

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

September 6, 2016 at 3:30PM • 1 hour 38 minutes

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

August 30, 2016 at 3:15PM • 1 hour 29 minutes

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

August 23, 2016 at 3:45PM • 1 hour 18 minutes

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.