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.



#499: Where the Boulder Lives

October 13, 2020 at 2:30PM • 55 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin is reporting live from the show floor; Dan is due for a new phone; nostalgia for buying a carton of cigarettes; praise for Netflix's "Challenger" series; Merlin shares some updates on his big resource-leveling project; gotta find those big rocks, amirite; interruptions are the death of the tech person's day; remember, your work is part of your life—not separate from it.


#498: Soviet Satellite Hair

October 6, 2020 at 1:45PM • 1 hour 19 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin craves an easy visit with Floyd; Spirit's lawsuit no longer winds on down the road; Question: what obligation does a company have to support their developer tools? And for how long exactly?; when are new film editions not "the good one?"; despite swearing not to do so, a popular service for monetizing indie content is, as they say, put on blast; lot of talk about business things; waiters shouldn't lie to people who used to be waiters; exciting developments in the Drafts ecosystem; and, finally, Merlin unleashes an old school stem-winder on taking a recent stab at resource-leveling—using technology!


#497: HBO Plus 98 XP for the Enterprise

September 29, 2020 at 1:15PM • 1 hour 22 minutes

DISCUSSED: the boys update one another on some very good media they're enjoying; everybody loves a movie with a big world; Merlin pitches Dan on the improbable magic of Ted Lasso; talk turns to some new features of Apple's recent OS updates; at length, Merlin makes a case for exploring the amazing new functionalities of widgets, complications, and especially the apps of Underscore David Smith; Guardian gets an exciting update and a pro plan; there's some talk of the challenge in finding a VPN that actually does what you think it's doing; it seems like the show is over, but then there's twelve minutes of movie talk with a focus on children and boobs; finally, Merlin kinda busts a gut about trying to run a Mr. Rogers on the kids you care about.


#496: The Costume Beej

September 22, 2020 at 1:00PM • 1 hour 13 minutes

DISCUSSED: Folks, this one is a doozy, and that's all I'm gonna say about that.


#495: Even the Mammals

September 15, 2020 at 2:30PM • 1 hour 14 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin is reporting live from the show floor; remember to photograph your kid's room; some bearded dragon updates; some thoughts on pets; Merlin's grandfather was a reluctant dog obsessive; Dan wants to read you a label; Merlin met a fellow cadet; check out Dan's videos; Merlin is loving iOS 14, especially the smarter Siri suggestions; speculation on how machines learn; your hosts still want Macs to be Macs; Big Sur notifications are basically a Bop It; are we getting diminishing returns from theoretical Mac improvements?; Dan has a really good analogy involving wrist watches; there's a reason normal people don't like their apps to change; Merlin puts review requests on blast; an edit button would still be nice; Merlin finds himself with an unusual opportunity to field test some disused home tech; and, finally, it is hoped that Frasier will leave of his own volition.


#494: The Sucker’s Sort

September 8, 2020 at 1:30PM • 1 hour 12 minutes

DISCUSSED: California has no shortage of crises; Dan's got a brand new bag; thoughts on exercise as prophylactic medicine; extremely anecdotal data on the rise of fake ratings and reviews on Amazon; the return of "A cool thing I learned this week" brings some very neato apps, tips, and whatnot.


#493: Flimsy, but Useful

September 1, 2020 at 2:00PM • 1 hour 11 minutes

DISCUSSED: Rabbit, rabbit!; Dan wants to be sedated; at some point, Merlin had most of the optimism bred out of him; a lot of problems and small beefs get overlooked for survival and sanity reasons right now; Dan shares listener recommendations for movies like the Missions Impossible; time was, you went to the weird video store and just hoped you got the good guy; Dan wants to remind you that he signed a letter of agreement—a CONTRACT; maybe it's time we abandon that increasingly meaningless term, "screen time"; Merlin thinks you can give a baby a name that's funny in only one way, but never in more than one way; every generation demonizes a new technology that they're sure will corrupt the youths; Dan has strong thoughts on the Indiana Jones trilogy (yes, there are exactly three and only three); no one is as persuasive as Sean Connery; Merlin made some movie lists; sometimes you get something that's "mostly for your kid" when it's totally not for your kid; Dan draws inspiration from Roald Dahl's work setup; this is probably a pretty good time to be risk-averse; a reminder that there are still always opportunities to improve how you operate; this leads to an examination of "desire paths" and learning from what your intuition and previous behaviors are trying to tell you; Merlin's Infrastructure Week is extended as he goes ham on speeding up his Mac; and, finally, Merlin discusses a useful Mac utility before putting it on blast.


#492: Siracusa Daylight Time

August 25, 2020 at 12:00PM • 1 hour 25 minutes

DISCUSSED: Merlin has a lot of infrastructure going on; your hosts share strong feelings on time zone discrimination and its attendant big-timing; Dan has more cool videos coming to his channel; some boring nerd talk on voice recording options; Dan needs your suggestions for more movies like the Missions Impossible; in Follow-Up, there's some good news and some bad news related to both COVID and San Francisco; hurricanes are coming!; Merlin figures out why Safari on his Mac got so slow; thoughts on DNS Server choices; Merlin endorses a podcast episode that involves some very Back To Work ideas; everything is copy; and, finally, some concerns about nicknames plus several important questions about the consensuality of Jake Robert's titular snake.


#491: You and Your Hog

August 18, 2020 at 2:45PM • 1 hour 7 minutes

DISCUSSED: time is hard; X-Men for eight cellos; in follow-up, Dan has some clues for troubleshooting his jumpy screen; it's valuable to understand what problem you didn't solve; then, of course, comes the extended weekly airing of COVID grievances; Merlin needs advice on choosing a Zoom recorder; check out Dan's new thing!; recommendations for Ted Lasso and Ethan Hunt; some lessons to bring home from vacation; plus, some more reckons on life after COVID.


#490: Penetration Engineer

August 11, 2020 at 8:00AM • 1 hour 6 minutes

DISCUSSED: Dan is joining a campaign, and Merlin's eyesight now precludes him from being an AD&D dungeon master; Dan has a concern about his laptop screen and needs your help; then, the boys settle in for a good, old-fashioned recommendations episode; podcasts, pens, video editing apps, a 3D printer, a new SoundSource, hard drives, and even a moisturizing cream for your little patch.