Cover art for podcast Back to Work

Back to Work

615 EpisodesProduced by 5by5Website

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

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Episode 616: Archipelagos of Functionality

May 23rd, 2023


Dan dives deep on his Sonos setup, and Merlin explores official state things.


Episode 615: An Attractive Nuisance

May 17th, 2023


DISCUSSED: Merlin's family doesn't understand him; an extremely funny TV show is recommended; your hosts address some of the trade-offs that continue to hinder easy smart home adoption; Dan teases a big smart audio …

Episode 612: See All of Your Face

April 12th, 2023


Dan's house continues to get smarter, and Merlin has some very good media picks.


Episode 611: Running FFMpeg on Myself

April 4th, 2023


Dan has big updates about his smart home setup, and Merlin is getting intimate with a robot.


Episode 610: Hero Light

March 23rd, 2023


DISCUSSED: Steve Buscemi is celebrated, and The Big Lebowski is congratulated; the guys continue their dive into the state of smart home hardware …

Episode 609: A Reverse Egg

March 14th, 2023


Dan is curious about AI voice transcription, and Merlin has yet more smart home advice for a new homeowner.


Episode 608: Charles Entertainment Berry

March 1st, 2023


DISCUSSED: Merlin has some been analyzing a very misleading song about beaches, and Dan has been visiting more with ChadGPT.


Episode 607: Age of Garbage

February 21st, 2023


DISCUSSED: Dan has a new iPad keyboard, and Merlin is intrigued by ChatGPT. Also, Merlin almost tunes his guitar.


Episode 606: Goodnight, Night

February 7th, 2023


DISCUSSED: Dan's takes some smart baby steps into home automation, and Merlin has a lot to say about everything.


Episode 605: A Case for a Life

January 31st, 2023


DISCUSSED: Dan begins a new journey into smart home living, and Merlin is excited about common misconceptions.


Episode 604: Grandpa's Automation

January 24th, 2023


DISCUSSED: After settling some confusion about Anna Borg, the boys settle into an amble about the state of voice assistants and the future of the theoretically smart home. As ever, Merlin is pretty excited about music, …

Episode 603: A Jaws of Life for Playgrounds

January 17th, 2023


DISCUSSED: Merlin is extremely happy with a suggestion that Dan made, and Dan has a bunch of apps he's excited about.


Episode 602: Apple Juice Flood

January 11th, 2023


Typing on an iPad, rhyming compulsively, default media, and taking a young foodie out on the town.


Episode 601: Big Broom

January 4th, 2023


DISCUSSED: Merlin is excited about reading, and Dan sometimes puts his time in a box. Also: Breaking Bad.


Episode 600: The Trauma of My Chumby

December 20th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Merlin recommends an exciting new beta; Dan gets a new e-reader; and Merlin has a lot to say about taking notes.


Episode 599: Self-Involved at Scale

December 6th, 2022


DISCUSSED: a classic odds n' sods episode encompassing a missing remote (and a failed system), some wallet FU, cool help with playlist management, …

Episode 598: Chewbacca Credit Union

November 29th, 2022


Merlin is still on Island Time, so discussion is mostly limited to Columbo, Star Wars, Merlin's playlists, Ellsworth, and, of course, wallets.

Episode 597: The Bronze Hour

November 16th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Dan has a new concern; some thoughts on resistance; Merlin shares a new insight on creativity and sleep; Dan has FU directly from the Nosferatu band; Merlin serves a turducken of suggestions related to text …

Episode 596: Turkey Legs in the Renaissance

November 8th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Merlin is playing with his new dingus; Dan almost talks about wallets; try Tailscale to make your stuff work better together; why you (yes, you) need a VPN; Dan is getting enthused about Obsidian; Merlin is …

Episode 595: Blessèd Vessel

November 1st, 2022


DISCUSSED: Halloween Follow-Up; exit interview for Season 4 of What We Do in the Shadows; how Apple could build users' confidence and stimulate their …

Episode 594: Honey Sun Bear

October 18th, 2022


Fortunately, Merlin had thoroughly prepared for 62 minutes of lizards, Morgellons, animal powers, and Tom Cruise.


Episode 592: Dirt Cat

October 4th, 2022


Dan has Covid, so Merlin agrees to carry him, and yet Dan improbably carries them both.


Episode 591: A Closeted Magical Thinker

September 30th, 2022


There are a few odds and sods, but, yeah, it's mostly about adjudicating Peak Cruise.

Runner-Up Titles
  • Bespoke Slime Hole
  • Gavin Assumed
  • Nom De …

Episode 589: The Outgassing of Ancient Woods

September 6th, 2022


From choosing a pencil to relocating your ladder, one big and complex part of Knowledge Work is deciding how to do what you do.


Episode 588: Quid Pro Crow

August 30th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Your hosts talk about some of their favorite Mac apps available via Setapp.


Episode 586: We Have Met the Audience, and He Is Us

August 9th, 2022


DISCUSSED: A very moist man's lawyer learns how Dropbox works; Merlin introduces "The Bump"; Dan has a cool new calendar technology; and Merlin …

Episode 585: The Wahlberg Uncertainty Principle

August 2nd, 2022


Frankly, it was a bit of a fever dream, but your hosts discuss sportsball, collective singular nouns, Coleridge's trap street, LEGO, and a handful of …

Episode 584: Groomsman Gifts for the Funeral

July 29th, 2022


Merlin has thoughts on survival, aging, and whether to bother trying to understand whatever NFTs are. Next up, the triumphant return of "Cool Thing I …

Episode 583: The Dentist Picks the Chair

July 15th, 2022


Your hosts discuss dramaturgy, package managers, and monospaced fonts.



Episode 582: Dadsplaining

June 28th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Dan misses going to the movies; cool ways to save your bacon in Git; and Merlin is excited about a (new to him) app for personal tracking …

Episode 581: A Frog That No One Saw

June 21st, 2022


DISCUSSED: Merlin runs the table this week with: unseasonable heat; the joy of realizing when someone obviously loved (and probably had to fight for) the thing that they made; and finally, an extended meditation on a …

Episode 580: Not All Avenues

June 14th, 2022


A classic odds n' sods episode. Merlin needs help with a journaling via voice solution; your hosts look at password enhancements in the Apple betas; …

Episode 579: Memento Morey Amsterdam

June 7th, 2022


Dan & Merlin are live from the show floor, sharing their thoughts on the WWDC 2022 keynote address.


Episode 577: Transylvanian Meditation

May 24th, 2022


Considering the value of finding something new to suck at.

Runner-Up Titles
  • Stop Trying to Meditate and Just Breathe
  • I’m That Guy in My Own Head

Episode 576: People Who Don’t Want to Talk to a Lamp

May 17th, 2022


It's a very special "Oops! All Automation Check-ins" episode. But, of course—as always—there's also a philosophical component.


Episode 575: You're Being Scared Wrong

May 10th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Dan's new tenants flip him the bird, and Merlin has strong feelings about email.

Runner-up titles:

  • Glass Surfing
  • I Don't Believe in a …

Episode 574: Tired and Fourteen

May 3rd, 2022


Your hosts are finally back in action with vital updates on #productivity and #creativity. Also, ginger ale and egg substitutes.


Episode 573: Shovels, Not Teaspoons

April 13th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Updates on new Plex functionality; praise for Severance; plus some updates on Merlin's new setup—and pursuing the life that you'd like to …

Episode 572: My Open Source Thomas Edison Film

April 5th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Big news from Plex; Merlin has an expansive new computer project; and Dan continues to make his way at a new gig using his trusty calendar.

Episode 571: Open Faced Sandwich of Reality

March 29th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Dan is doing new things that require a new approach to his calendar. Merlin proposes some appropriate Calendar Kyber Crystals.


Episode 570: Toilet Experiments

March 21st, 2022


DISCUSSED: Dan is back from reporting on the show floor; recommendations for some Back to Work-adjacent podcast episodes; incidental thoughts and advice on presentations as performance; everybody wants a better email …

Episode 569: An Incurious Outsider

March 8th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Dan and Merlin talk about Apple's latest event and consider what the future looks like from Cupertino.


Episode 567: Sit on Me

February 22nd, 2022


DISCUSSED: the Russians are coming; Dan has thoughts on Marvel TV shows, and Merlin has thoughts on Hawkeye specifically; Merlin bravely and boldly …

Episode 566: Vice-President of Doing It Wrong

February 15th, 2022


DISCUSSED: your hosts can't complain (but, sometimes, they still do); a provisional craving for secular pre-cana; what are your canonical family …

Episode 565: The Injustice of Youth

February 8th, 2022


DISCUSSED: boiling ATX water and the long-term return of the Bang-Bang Machine; thought-provoking insight on youth, hustle, and work-life balance …

Episode 564: The Elephants of Style

February 1st, 2022


DISCUSSED: 🐇🐇; Dan shares follow-up on surviving his Covid week; a listener emails the show with a fascinating offer; your hosts discuss childhood …

Episode 563: Bang-Bang Machine

January 25th, 2022


An epic journey that begins with Dan's viral week and ends with a misunderstanding about the first Chicago album.


Episode 562: No More Attempts on My Father’s GitHub

January 11th, 2022


DISCUSSED: Memories of Super Dave; KEYnote by LockPickingLawyer; Dan gets conspiracy theory-curious; the tapestry of entertainment by cults; Dan …

Episode 560: The Cat of Amontillado

December 28th, 2021


Wrapping up the year with thoughts on unearned Covid optimism, defining "normal," Roomba training, Microsoft Visual Studio, plus a new (and decidedly …

Episode 558: Pseudism

December 14th, 2021


Merlin's Best of 2021™ kicks off with the return of "Cool Things I Learned This Week."

Links for this episode:

Episode 557: Food Court of Pain

December 7th, 2021


A classic odds and sods episode covering: Rush lyrics; personal pronoun tips; Fitness+ meditation; more melees with various voice assistant ecosystems; a big shout-out to the iconic Listener Rachel A.; and Merlin's …

Episode 556: The Only Way Out Is Claws

December 3rd, 2021


The Boys are back, and they're not sure how big this thing gets.

Links for this episode:

Episode 555: The Accretion of Non-Essential Things

November 16th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Dad stuff; flying too close to the smart home sun; appreciating the magic of Wes Anderson; the virtues of UPS battery backup; and, finally, Merlin starts tentatively sketching a unified field theory for …

Episode 554: Not the Water's Problem

November 9th, 2021


DISCUSSED: please stop changing the clocks; our kids are not us; the people of England have spoiled or corrupted several very good words; The Ellis Island Bit; surnames mean things; getting pelted with rocks and …

Episode 553: Bioavailable Chambers of Flexibility

November 2nd, 2021


This is what happens when Merlin stays up til 2 a.m. watching a movie and then has to record a podcast at 9 a.m.

Because, your day is a continuum.

Episode 552: Youth is the Anomaly

October 27th, 2021


Dan has all the waiters singing at him, and Merlin tries to buy the non-existent SIMS 4 for the Mac.

Main topic is considering how best to set up a device that provides structure and motivation without all that …

Episode 551: Life Is for Using

October 19th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Your hosts talk about music, Apple Watch, and getting out of your kid's way. Also: life and MacBooks Pro.

Links for this episode:

Episode 550: Ampersands and Raisins

October 12th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Dan and his son are up to Daniel Craig in their Bond journey, and this leads to an exploration of how our feelings about movies and their characters can change over time; considering the media you're scared …

Episode 549: A Typical Feisty Boy Child

October 6th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Exploring rural voices; the things that kids (and we) have had stolen away over the past couple years; what movie would get your butt back …

Episode 548: The Results of This Dog

September 27th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Merlin considers a black market medical purchase; the anatomical anomalies of the problematic sleeper are considered; some favorite YouTube finds are discussed; and, finally, your hosts begin scratching the …

Episode 546: Snow Day for Nerds

September 13th, 2021


Reporting live from the show floor and looking at options for time tracking.

Links for this episode:

Episode 545: The Cat's Fine

September 7th, 2021


DISCUSSED: The rules of "Rabbit Rabbit"; exploring the magic of Domino's probability-altering powers; forests versus trees and past versus future; …

Episode 543: Clownitentiary

August 24th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Nicholson movies; Synology yums and yucks; difficulties of shows about music; upcoming rabbit rabbit plans.

Links for this episode:

Episode 542: MRSA Mann

August 17th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Catching up; Merlin's Travel Results; praise for Best in Show, SCTV, and public libraries; Dan has a new computer.

Links for this episode:

Episode 541: Proprietary Escape Key

July 27th, 2021


A celebration of M1 devices, the benefits of learning how to learn, and considering when a new learning curve might be worth the climb.

Links for …

Episode 540: Extreme Medical Sloth

July 20th, 2021


Find the tool you need—but, keep asking yourself, "Soooooo…

Episode 539: Where the Ghosts Live

July 13th, 2021


Things get pretty silly, yet somehow land on some extremely Back to Work points about time management, compression, values, and moving your own …

Episode 538: Tossed Salad of Remembrance

July 6th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Dan begins a journey into new worlds of voice control and home automation.

Links for this episode:

Episode 537: Insane Corner of My Own Design

June 29th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Some ups and downs of living the smart speaker lifestyle.

Also: the dramatis personae of The Land of Make Believe; feeding the demon …

Episode 536: Fonzie Slap

June 22nd, 2021


DISCUSSED: Merlin and his wife realize the moment they crossed a line; in Follow-Up, your hosts celebrate the late great Fred Willard; in further …

Episode 535: Long-Term Play Value

June 16th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Dan finally gets more three-six-five, and Merlin gets extremely deep in the stack. Also, just a little more calendar talk, including a …

Episode 534: Manga and Others

June 9th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Merlin runs into some problems reporting live from the show floor; is social media making us as happy as we'd like to think?; thoughts on pro wrestlers and the films of John Carpenter; finding the triggers …

Episode 531: Where Grog Got Eaten

May 18th, 2021


DISCUSSED: A classic, old-school “Odds ’n Sods” episode that includes: Apple’s audio upgrade announcement; AirTags and the promising future of UWB; …

Episode 530: Nouns in America

May 11th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Merlin has been cracking nuts, and Dan is enjoying a beverage; in Follow-Up, Dan has made great progress with his new voice assistant; …

Episode 529: Different Flavors of Fear

May 4th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Dan is actively gaslighting Merlin, and this can be proven; please stop stealing focus; praise for Ferris Bueller in general and the knees …

Episode 528: Half a Parachute

April 27th, 2021


Merlin has a whole new setup, and Dan has a whole new TV.

Links for this episode:

Episode 527: Classic Mentos Situation

April 20th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Merlin is reporting live from the show floor; sleep is complicated; food is complicated, too; Dan tries to build muscles the right way; he also has strong feelings about TV shopping; Merlin just wants someone …

Episode 526: Above-Average Practices

April 13th, 2021


DISCUSSED: some important movie follow-up; films (and other media) can be a powerful way to talk about things we aren't supposed to be talking about; …

Episode 525: The Pollution of Modernity

April 6th, 2021


DISCUSSED: fake southern accents lead to some movie talk; Merlin apologizes; Dan does not want to spend a night in The Box; please utilize the …

Episode 524: The Silver Linings Guy

March 30th, 2021


DISCUSSED: iOS has gotten really good; still, there's some Apple stuff we'd love to see get better; some Covid updates; anxiety and OCD in these fraught times; finally, Dan and Merlin need your advice for some …

Episode 523: My Fingers Know It

March 23rd, 2021


DISCUSSED: DST and rebooting sleep; some quick documentary talk; a challenging H.R. Giger poster; updates on sane prepping, looking at some interesting sources for electric power; on rational prepping; oh, boy, …

Episode 522: Where All the Memories Go

March 16th, 2021


Diving deep on the power of infrastructure. Yes, for you, too.

Links for this episode:

Episode 521: Nozzle Tov

March 9th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Merlin has a lot to say about fizzy water and the drugs of Florida; someone please help Dan get his old Twitter name; talking recent media …

Episode 520: Preemptive Punishment Food

March 2nd, 2021


Preparing isn't just for preppers. But, how do you incorporate scope and infrastructure without turning into a nut?

Links for this episode:

Episode 519: Designated Toilet

February 23rd, 2021


DISCUSSED: Dan has updates on Texas's recent weather events and the unanticipated cascading effects on complex and interconnected infrastructures; then, for dessert, your hosts explore the delights and insights of the …

Episode 518: 10% of a Headache

February 16th, 2021


DISCUSSED: As The Lone Star state struggles with a surfeit of anomalous weather events, your hosts dig into the challenges inherent to all sorts of …

Episode 517: How Daddy Make That Paper

February 9th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Doing pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good; Dan discovers a shark is menacingly circling one of his product names; there's a reason Merlin is not in the corner office; your hosts fondly recall the Avon …

Episode 516: The Steely Dan Dad

February 2nd, 2021


No way am I even going to attempt a description this week.

With that said:

[this is a good one]

Links for this episode:

Episode 515: Please Do Not Tapdance for Me

January 26th, 2021


DISCUSSED: There are things that one wants to see less or fewer often; is this particular button actually hooked up to anything?; there is literal …

Episode 514: Chicken Wipe

January 19th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Dan continues to explore the exciting possibilities of his latest hardware acquisition.

Links for this episode:

Episode 513: A Preferred Testicle

January 13th, 2021


DISCUSSED: life's relentlessness continues apace; Cash enjoyed Dan's modified Godfather trilogy; celebrating Lil' Inappropriate Books; a terrific recent use of "Layla"; some Inside Baseball talk about a recommended app …

Episode 512: You Have a Mustard Fetish

January 5th, 2021


DISCUSSED: Merlin looks at a shelf and then, for some reason, discusses it; walls and Japanese beds and jokey-sized dishwashers all benefit from wheels; life is different when you live on a boat; it's important to find …

Episode 511: One Ringy-Dingy

December 29th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Making a problem go away is not the same thing as solving the problem.

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Episode 510: I Cannot Afford Your Loyalty

December 22nd, 2020


DISCUSSED: The generational struggle to understand things we can't understand, dealing with other people, and Star Wars.

Links for this episode:

Episode 509: The End of the River

December 15th, 2020


Sometimes, no one can see the ball—let alone reach the ball.

Episode 508: Oscarbation

December 8th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Habits, cycles, and patterns of thinking. Why it's difficult to rehearse success—but surprisingly easy to rehearse failure.

Links for …

Episode 507: Voltron of Luck

December 1st, 2020


Discussed: the paths of thought and emerging from a rut the size of the Grand Canyon.

Episode 505: Everything is Everything

November 24th, 2020


DISCUSSED: From Jerry Lewis to a drinking bird in a scant 80 minutes.

Links for this episode:

Episode 504: Double Wrong

November 17th, 2020


DISCUSSED: lot of projects going on!; praise for Nicki Minaj; some recent TV shows that are important to your hosts; Merlin is a little obsessed with a new Mac productivity app; interrogating problems with deliveries …

Episode 503: My Emotional Porthole

November 10th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin's additions to Bunch have him stepping on his own dingus; maybe it's time to invert the permissive legacy model for who gets access …

Episode 502: Lifestyle Billy Butcher

November 3rd, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin has a lot to say about the benefits of making lists; this leads to an old-school stemwinder on "Journal" calendars, functional …

Episode 501: You're Sad Wrong

October 27th, 2020


DISCUSSED: hey, it's an advice episode!; San Francisco has a lot of available office space; a musical unguent for your soul; a cool font that makes …

Episode 500: The Legacy of Guessing

October 20th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Sending good vibes to The Dude; Merlin has a couple awesome app recommendations; some Follow-Up on the Apple Event, including what your …

Episode 499: Where the Boulder Lives

October 13th, 2020


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 …

Episode 498: Soviet Satellite Hair

October 6th, 2020


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 …

Episode 497: HBO Plus 98 XP for the Enterprise

September 29th, 2020


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 …

Episode 496: The Costume Beej

September 22nd, 2020


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

Links for this episode:

Episode 495: Even the Mammals

September 15th, 2020


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 …

Episode 494: The Sucker’s Sort

September 8th, 2020


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 …

Episode 493: Flimsy, but Useful

September 1st, 2020


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 …

Episode 492: Siracusa Daylight Time

August 25th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin has a lot of infrastructure going on; your hosts share strong feelings on time zone discrimination and its attendant big-timing; …

Episode 491: You and Your Hog

August 18th, 2020


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 …

Episode 490: Penetration Engineer

August 11th, 2020


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, …

Episode 489: Not a Monkey Man

August 4th, 2020


DISCUSSED: the joys of a movie that reveals itself over multiple viewings; good storytelling is difficult but so rewarding; as you know, Bob, a lot …

Episode 488: Uncle Dad

July 28th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin has discovered a unique new voice emerging from the medical and spiritual communities; your hosts interrogate the implications of this new material; Dan and Merlin have media recommendations; as a main …

Episode 487: Nostradamus Pants

July 21st, 2020


DISCUSSED: There's really only one topic right now, and it's not going away any time soon. Many analogies and historical echoes are explored. The …

Episode 486: The Ballad of Danny Knife

July 14th, 2020


DISCUSSED: knife talk and flea market nostalgia; a deep dive on state knife law; knife tips from listeners; Merlin reinstalled Homebrew; comfort viewing amidst these challenging times; also, a healthy fear of Australian …

Episode 485: Travis County, P.I.

July 7th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin has flies in his bathroom; Dan's town is really going through some times; there's some COVID talk, duh; Merlin solved a very …

Episode 484: Default Settings for America

June 30th, 2020


DISCUSSED: the things we can and cannot do anything about; the things that can and cannot change; and the wisdom to know all of the differences.

Episode 483: You Are Free to Leave

June 23rd, 2020


DISCUSSED: Dan and Merlin take a first look at Apple's recently-announced iOS and iPadOS updates.

Links for this episode:

Episode 482: Two Pills Only

June 19th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin is nauseated, and Dan has advice on what you definitely should or should not buy at a gas station; Merlin says he'll be brief, but, …

Episode 480: A Gracious Dyad

June 2nd, 2020


DISCUSSED: not everything can be everything; pain accumulates; getting weepy about a cool teacher; expanding on our new thought technology for …

Episode 479: Use or Avoid

May 26th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Skype struggles; nobody likes parsnips; Dan remotely teaches Merlin to cut his own hair; Dan introduces a new game show, and Merlin is …

Episode 478: Morbidly Obese Clemenza

May 19th, 2020


DISCUSSED: discussion of The Freshman and thoughts on what makes a movie "hold up"; has anyone ever craved a three-star movie?; what Merlin really

Episode 477: The Immediacy Filter

May 12th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Here we are in Spain; a lot went on behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz; also Modern Problems existed; further discussion of 80s movies; they used to make more movies; B-MO gets a show?; secrets of the …

Episode 476: Paul Williams Sat Alone

May 5th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Dan has concerns!; every road has many parts, but you seriously need to show your humanity; stop signs are really just velocipede serving suggestions; not all wood floats; too soon; an ambitious crossover is …

Episode 475: ¿Why Not Dos Otros?

April 28th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin is having a strange day, and Dan notices everything; please remember that fear and stress and anxiety are pretty terrible motivators; praise for On Becoming a God in Central Florida and 1Password; …

Episode 474: The Confidence to Keep Pedaling

April 21st, 2020


DISCUSSED: our perception of value is definitely personal and maybe even a little generational; sometimes, the only thing you can afford is the best; a listener question about where your hosts are with comics; further …

Episode 473: French on Tom Sawyer

April 14th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Dan loves it when things just work and so does Merlin; Dan is composting, and Merlin is down to clown; ¡repita después de mi!; massive …

Episode 472: Sunday Afternoon Feeling

April 7th, 2020


TW: very brief mention of suicide around minute 24.

DISCUSSED: a classic three-act episode! Expertise is difficult to explain—let alone to teach; …

Episode 471: One-Drawer Project

March 31st, 2020


In this very intimate episode, Dan and Merlin share some ideas for positive yet do-able projects to improve your life and world in these dumb, scary times.

Also, covered in this episode: recommendations for Max …

Episode 470: Battery Car Man

March 24th, 2020


Difficult times and the Venn overlap between anxiety and OCD. Hang in there, everybody.

Links for this episode:

Episode 469: Israel, Jr.

March 17th, 2020


DISCUSSED: “CATS — Now and Forever!”;; on civic responsibility; Dan browses worms, and Merlin finds him a spider; Dan wants some keyboard advice, and Merlin just needs a ride; some thoughts on engaging versus …

Episode 468: Cancellation Christmas

March 9th, 2020


DISCUSSED: heck, yeah, there's a lot of uncertainty; the woeful knock-on effects of COVID-19, from SxSW to presidential handshaking; Dan graciously …

Episode 467: I Loved My Garden

March 3rd, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin's uvula thing is back; some handy one-liner suggestions; the boys are loving uBar, and this leads to a dive on how they use the …

Episode 466: The Maturation of Pillow Forts

February 25th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Skype steals focus, and Merlin ate your poem; music is pretty great; some odds and sods and recommendations; everyone should have a bell; …

Episode 465: That 20-Minute Sting

February 18th, 2020


DISCUSSED: Merlin isn't quite awake yet and has some audio struggles in the midst of a new project; Dan is bringing back The Podcast Method; …

Episode 464: Winter's Not Done with Me Yet

February 11th, 2020


DISCUSSED: new muting!; infrastructure is hard; on dogs; Dan gets a podcast recommendation from his fish guy; who we're 'shipping on Star Trek; a free musical performance for a beloved sponsor; some good TED talks; do …

Episode 463: Begloved in Otherness

February 4th, 2020


DISCUSSED: thoughts on hand-washing and habit-building; Dan has a really good scarecrow joke; Merlin still can't figure out how many 12-year-olds Dan …

Episode 462: A Contract About Your Future

January 28th, 2020


Merlin is pretty out of it this week, and Dan shares some listener questions.

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Episode 461: Dead Noon

January 21st, 2020


DISCUSSED: strongly-held podcast preferences; Skype hates you; praise for Rogue Amoeba and Strong Songs; a small B2W milestone passes; Dan likes 1917; what Jack did; praise for Match Game; a couple app and font reccos; …

Episode 460: Listen to the Jar

January 14th, 2020


DISCUSSED: A fun and creepy new face swap app; Twitter is not creating much new happy; this leads to a discussion of generational perceptions about what's acceptable or even desirable (especially with Apple products); …

Episode 459: Alley Oop to Yourself in the Future

January 7th, 2020


Merlin needs help in the NOC; Dan discovers sensitive sauce; there are thresholds; hurting your roller skating muscles; new printer; and, finally, …

Episode 458: 2 Fury 2 Road

December 31st, 2019


For this very special end of the century, fin de siècle episode, Dan and Merlin make bespoke personal recommendations for music, podcasts, apps, TV …

Episode 457: A Buddhist Gift

December 24th, 2019


DISCUSSED: holiday lizard talk; some benefits of using "Environment" and "Journal" calendars; nostalgia for the Palm family of products in general …

Episode 456: Urinal Cup

December 18th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan presents a curious new bathroom project; some thoughts on OCD, procrastination, and empathy; praise for Fury Road, Inglourious Basterds

Episode 455: Talc Mandala

December 10th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Drafts for Mac is out!; check out Damon Lindelof on The Watch; suggestions for HomeKit power strips; and responses to listener letters on rediscovering the joys of physical media and getting started with …

Episode 454: Enough Women Nation

December 3rd, 2019



  • the commercials you get in your head
  • listener feedback on music management
  • first results of Merlin's own deep dive on music management …

Episode 453: Shoulder the Brunt

November 27th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin has an email confession; Dan steps up with a shoulder; listeners have given your hosts a season of the show; praise for HBO's

Episode 452: Wine is My Travel Drink

November 19th, 2019

  • updates on travel and packing
  • a new notebook Merlin likes
  • finding a notebook that accommodates both your brain and the shape of your day
  • Merlin's …

Episode 450: Slow-Motion Hypocrisy

November 5th, 2019


Dan is getting a Synology, Merlin has been making stuff, plus the return of "Cool Things I Learned This Week."

Links for this episode:

Episode 449: Tom Hardy Blindness

October 29th, 2019


DISCUSSED: coincident birthdays; mathowie's gigantism and very online Ex Machina house; extensive actor and media talk; you probably hadn't heard, …

Episode 448: Spaghetti on Spaghetti

October 22nd, 2019


This week, Dan and Merlin dive into the benefits (and fun) of a NAS project. Also, Merlin goes off about the horror show of letting old people …

Episode 447: Mating for Life

October 17th, 2019


It's Infrastructure Week! Dan and Merlin start with California's power crisis and end up pivoting to phones, cable TV, and, of course, Apple.

What …

Episode 446: Charm Offensive

October 8th, 2019


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about living in a world of hardware choices.

How do you decide which device is best suited to a given task? Which ones do you find yourself preferring to use because they're …

Episode 445: Hipster DMV

October 1st, 2019


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Apple's OS rollouts, changes in Apple retail, and week two with the new Apple Watch.

Links for this episode:

Episode 443: Immediate Electric Smugness

September 19th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin has a cool new voice from talking to friends late last night; Dan has an automotive collision anecdote, while Merlin has thoughts …

Episode 442: Dog Eating Chair Digestion

September 10th, 2019


Dan and Merlin discuss the upcoming big Apple event and why this one's potentially interesting. Also, dog anecdotes.

Links for this episode:

Episode 441: Boggle, Boggle!

September 3rd, 2019

  • hurricanes!
  • hyperactivity
  • exposing kids to the canonical films
  • that weird, affected Hollywood accent
  • a name for that time comparison phenomenon

Episode 440: It's Never Been About the Suit

August 27th, 2019


Lots of talk about the changing media landscape, plus some odds and sods.

Links for this episode:

Episode 439: Servant of the Red Badge

August 20th, 2019


DISCUSSED: finding an actor's age and height; time analogies; Merlin needs help naming two critical phenomena; Dan is dissatisfied with how cars …

Episode 438: The Mashed Potatoes Need You

August 13th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin has a little visitor today. Dan has some thoughts on conference scheduling. This leads to a broader discussion of the sensitivities …

Episode 437: The Credit Section

August 6th, 2019


Dan and Merlin explore the complexities of personal style. Not personal style as in fashion, but as in preferences, identity, and modes of interaction. How do we let others know how we are?

How do we derive a sense of …

Episode 436: Better Than a Lipstick

July 30th, 2019


DISCUSSED: the admirable candor of B.B. King; the simple joys of the Ordinary Night; movies that are or are not dated and how that affects your enjoyment; how sci-fi seemed to mostly miss the internet; our embarrassment …

Episode 435: Scanner of Horizons

July 23rd, 2019


DISCUSSED: kindness; eyeglasses, at length—including eyeglasses indignities, discounts, and injuries; a renewed surfeit of dingalings, fake friends, and a dumb podcast hit piece; and, finally, your hosts respond to a …

Episode 434: Grist for an Unnecessary Mill

July 16th, 2019


Show notes are short this week because Merlin had to go buy contrast paints for his figs.

Main topic is speculating about speculation.

Links for …

Episode 433: The Muscle of Worry

July 2nd, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan has found a terrific solution for his son's iPad case; on the benefits (and challenges) of getting away from our devices for a while; …

Episode 432: Fingerspace Pollution

June 25th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin is a little hoarse; but what's an actual pony versus an actual little horse?; there's a lot of sadness and housing problems in the Hundred Acre Wood; the challenges of recommending starter media; the …

Episode 431: Costly Branded Waiting

June 20th, 2019


First and most importantly, Dan is back! Woo!

Second, now, listen: please bear with me, and do not leave. Because, when I say we talked mostly about Disney—and especially Disney properties—it's way more interesting …

Episode 430: Shiny Red Cleric

June 14th, 2019


Dan's away this week, so Merlin tries going it alone.

Topics include lessons from painting D&D minifigs, listener letters, and some …

Episode 429: A Seer of Trees

June 4th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin has a catastrophic off-by-one-week error; Roderick's June is very triggering to your hosts; sometimes, it's nice to be exposed to stuff you didn't expect, but…; at a certain point in life, you mostly …

Episode 428: Prepare for Draculas

May 28th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Nobody got enough sleep last night, but they're gonna power through anyhow; your hosts fawn over the amazing Chernobyl miniseries; various hardware mute button options are discussed; Merlin can't draw but is …

Episode 427: C. Thomas Hobbled

May 21st, 2019


DISCUSSED: nasty, brutish, and short sleep; watching TV with a game controller; Dan has to deal with suite concatenation; your hosts crave the …

Episode 426: New Wave Night

May 14th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan has a new setup, and Merlin randomly recommends a kids' book; your hosts remember too much; Dan realizes he took the wrong shop class, and Merlin realizes why Generation X was (and remains) mostly …

Episode 425: Off the Cushion

May 7th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan explains what the photos he sends mean; Merlin encourages Dan to air a beef, and Dan kindly assents; Oh, boy, Windows! My old nemesis…

Episode 424: A Roach Riding a Rat

April 30th, 2019


DISCUSSED: the restorative tonic of a good night's sleep; a return to sleep as video game; it's okay to tweet your hosts about hoagies and Publix; concerns about butt cancer; Dan recommends a Netflix series; Merlin …

Episode 423: It Only Hurts for a Minute

April 23rd, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan and Merlin get hungry, but they've had it with all the bread; the trough food is so costly; no one is sweating Polycyclic Aromatic …

Episode 422: Magic Rub

April 16th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan has just started a new pen; there's some pen, pencil, and eraser talk; Dan has an important anecdote about utilizing eraser-based people skills; Dan's iMac is working fine, but he's concerned about the …

Episode 421: Black Dress Cowboy Boots

April 9th, 2019


DISCUSSED: What we talk about when we talk about optimism; the power of "Act as Though"; on edibles; a YouTube recommendation, then more YouTube recommendations; how even do we tell YouTube what we never want to see …

Episode 420: Baby Thorin

April 3rd, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin is back on his old cans; Dan is pivoting to video; Cash stepped in paint, and kids are terrible storytellers; a book …

Episode 419: The Elephant in the Sword

March 26th, 2019


DISCUSSED: allergy attack!; big anniversary today; elegy for Two Cats Comics; some D&D talk; Dan got a sword!; yet more D&D talk; key commands for line-moving; Dan got his YouTube URL back; a Theranos book …

Episode 418: This Man…This Monster!

March 19th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Top o' the Morling!; praise for the home release of Spider-Verse; Dan and Merlin offer some more TV recommendations; Merlin endorses an excellent "turns out" podcast; a deep dive on slow-rise squishes and …

Episode 417: Fish Bishop

March 12th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin is trying some new things and probably needs to adjust his DIP switches; audio equipment is discussed; remembering Hal Blaine; German words; fish dropsy; dining at Alamo Draft House; kids and crafts; …

Episode 416: A Squishy for the Ages

March 5th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Merlin is living the Domino lifestyle; R.I.P. Two Cats Comics; praise for iA Writer; Merlin needs help with his sudden Gmail spam; a meditation on comics as some awesome fun and an ugly damned business; …

Episode 415: Fifty and Monogamous

February 26th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan has an awesome new video; Spider-Verse is out!; Merlin's dorky Segway is discussed; app recommendations for a clean new Gmail and an even-smarter Dark Sky; Dan spills the beans on his new sound bar setup; …

Episode 413: Bumbleditch Cumperdam

February 12th, 2019


DISCUSSED: It's the optimistic day, but Merlin really screwed up an edit; there's some Inside Baseball about how podcasts get made; it's nice to have someone notice the shaving cream on your jowl; movie ratings are …

Episode 412: A Hobo in a Cartoon

February 5th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Gong Hei Fat Choy!; follow-up on the FaceTime bug and the complexity of getting bug and security reports from normals; the weirdness of …

Episode 411: It's Not Butt

January 29th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Dan's fighting his computer and explores font corruption; Merlin hates pebbles in his shoe; Dan has an anecdote about massages; Merlin has an anecdote about the FaceTime exploit; this leads to discussion …

Episode 410: The Childhood Cocktail

January 22nd, 2019


DISCUSSED: dreams and whether people like hearing them; turns out: Merlin recommends a podcast episode about mental stuff; practice vs. rehearsal; …

Episode 409: He Says Hard

January 15th, 2019


DISCUSSED: moisture; kids and watches; some recent media consumption; encouraging kids to have good taste; memories of watching VHS movies in school; …

Episode 408: The Pwn Key

January 8th, 2019


DISCUSSED: Optimistic Tuesdays; office cleanup; a grave bleach mishap; follow-up on Wirecutter; a listener suggestion on, of all things, acupressure; …

Episode 407: The Wad-Shooter Option

January 3rd, 2019


DISCUSSED: "Rabbit Rabbit!"; partial shutdown and the toilet problems it creates; updates on options for Bluetooth keyboards; some extremely random and anecdotal reckoning about the recent Big Apple News; your hosts' …

Episode 406: Peak Burger Decay

December 24th, 2018


It's the most wonderful time of the year, so the boys answer listener mail and get a little silly.

Happy Holidays, jackals.

Links for this episode:

Episode 405: Can You Feed Coke to Rocks?

December 18th, 2018


Discussed: the harsh mistress of holidays, Hanukah presents, Cash's cool gift, the joys of good UX, some excellent very good recommendations, an …

Episode 404: Very Advanced Camping

December 11th, 2018


Discussed: Merlin worries that Dan is getting ground down; web sites are getting very thirsty; Dan thinks it's like pads in football; Dan has updates and more thoughts about doing development work on an iPad; Merlin …

Episode 403: It's Just a Salad

December 4th, 2018


Discussed: Why Tuesday is the optimistic day; pourover coffee for Dan's wife; confirm shaming; updates on iPad keyboards and covers; approximately annual history of "Bawk Bawk!"; some thoughts on Frank Zappa and Captain …

Episode 402: Watches & Barbecue

November 27th, 2018


Discussed: Thanksgiving; spatchcock chicken; kids and their stupid eating; Dan's concern about how we talk to each other; Merlin encourages people to try not to be terrible.

Also, some odds and sods on iPad Pro …

Episode 401: Carrier Fluid

November 20th, 2018


Discussed this week: Dan's MOSH setup on iPad; Dan's new NEW iPad; ease of setup on iOS; some iOS photo editing app recommendations; two things Merlin learned this week; and a little rant about how everybody apparently …

Episode 400: In The Penal Colony

November 12th, 2018


Dan and Merlin talk about their first week using the new iPad Pro.

Links for this episode:

Episode 399: Blue Whale Salt

November 6th, 2018


Discussed this week: coffee water, voting, inertia, new iPads on the way, difficult buying decisions, returning merchandise (as a thing), some TV …

Episode 398: So Much Unnecessary Beauty

October 30th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Apple's Fall event in Brooklyn today. They liked the event.

Brought to you by:

Episode 397: My Manager is Water

October 23rd, 2018


Discussed: nailing it, the optimistic valence of Tuesdays, difficulties finding replacement parts on Amazon, headphone preferences, Alexa's service …

Episode 396: Bean in the Sleeve

October 16th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the FitBit Charge 3 and where it fits into their worlds—as well its place in the larger tracker and smart watch ecosystems.

Excursions also include: BroBot, weather stations, …

Episode 395: My Sleeves are Dynamic

October 9th, 2018


Discussed: the tyranny of earliness, the benefits of timeliness, an interesting horology episode about Apple Watch, more watch talk, a blog …

Episode 394: Dead or Angry

October 2nd, 2018


This week: some TV and movie stuff, Dark Mode and accessibility, OS stability and beta temptation, Merlin has an anecdote, the powers and frustrations of Siri via Apple Watch, updates to the Fitbit family, tech that …

Episode 393: Legacy Meat Stuff

September 25th, 2018


This week, Merlin's got a LOT going on. Full Catastrophe Living!

Discussed: booger colors, some tv and movies, a dream deferred, various X-Persons, …

Episode 392: Gentleman's Calling

September 18th, 2018


A classic odds-and-sods episode, featuring important discussions about sleep tracking, the Apple Watch, Succession, sound bars, Chris Nolan's Batman, …

Episode 391: The September Issue

September 11th, 2018


Discussed: upcoming Apple announcements; do people with bigger screens use more apps more often?; some follow-up on adaptive testing; and comics for …

Episode 390: A Festive Merry-Go-Round for the Very Lonely

September 4th, 2018


Skype gets way too ambitious; sprinkling sauce on a service; a mandatory social network for doorbells; Dan acquires a new deity; some excellent

Episode 389: Butt Baking

August 28th, 2018


Discussed: homework and testing; wallets and wallet philosophies; things to learn from wallet philosophy; how to fall asleep; watching Star Trek; Dan's new smart speaker; Merlin yells at Alexa several times.

Links for …

Episode 388: Defcon Water

August 21st, 2018


Discussed: courting a vegetarian; The Information Problem; FU on Dan's new slide remote and keyboard; also, belts; travel pre-screening options; a recommended article on hypocognition; Dan saw IT; thoughts on Twiki and …

Episode 387: Deploy the Dongle

August 17th, 2018


Discussed: tech that's gotten so much more dependable (and, yeah, so much less dependable); Dan needs a new presenter remote; Marvel's First Family …

Episode 386: Cherry Brown

August 7th, 2018


Discussed: Merlin sounds like a saxophone, keyboards are extensively discussed, pros and cons of various MacsBooks Pro, Dan likes using one monitor, pining for best-of-class hardware from Cupertino, Merlin has dorky and …

Episode 385: A Picture of a Clown

July 31st, 2018


Discussed: current monospaced font preferences, experimenting with text sizing, getting on the sucker list, old McDonalds had some styrofoam, new …

Episode 384: Cosmic Jazz Hands

July 24th, 2018


Merlin really likes the ones where Dan prepares.

Discussed: four-twenty in The Mile High state, some tv and movie recommendations, the creativity that comes from constraints, The Information Problem, plus thanks for …

Episode 383: Funding the Unicorn

July 10th, 2018


This week: Dan may or may not be sanguine, and Merlin is having another meetup; comics, movie and TV discussion (and recommendations) abound; Cash is …

Episode 382: Bad Tech Dad

July 3rd, 2018


Dan's ex-cold, some media recommendations, strobe light problems, Dan's new phone, bad eyeglasses, your fault versus your problem, plus listener …

Episode 381: Sandwich Doctor

June 26th, 2018


Discussed this week: head colds, Florida, vitamin shots, Pleiades, Pigeon Pose, a new kind of spam, some media recommendations, iOS 12, and a …

Episode 380: Chung Chung Machine

June 12th, 2018


Follow-up on the Benjamin family phone plan, what it's like to use a phone that's not a phone anymore, excitement for Siri Shortcuts, an AR …

Episode 379: Permanent Hole

June 5th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some of their favorite announcements at the big computer show.

They also deep dive into how to handle the …

Episode 378: A Hong Kong Phooey Situation

May 29th, 2018


Discussed this week: media dustups, the deleterious career effects of social media, a week or so of Instagram, love of dogs, a podcast appearance, two great services for spotting fake Amazon reviews, some Netflix …

Episode 377: Packs a Lot of Lux

May 22nd, 2018


Discussed: trust my method, beards, foo bar baz, casting Mysterio, villains of Peter Spiderman, an unpaid debt to Dan, medieval electric billing, endorsing Evil Genius and Belief, the power of Spotify podcasts via …

Episode 376: Alexa, Light It Up!

May 15th, 2018


Discussed: lame patents, Salvador Dalí, allergy season, backpack discrimination, friend cosplay, things Dan can't say, AT&T woes, Merlin saw a …

Episode 375: Night Punching

May 8th, 2018


Discussed: time flies, nesting dolls, cloud saves for Switch, oy vey the service subscriptions, wheat and chess boards, WiFi and health, abdomen …

Episode 374: Pouchboy

May 1st, 2018


Discussed: places that are closed, dinosaur eyes that follow you, a TV show about makeup, some thoughts on Infinity War, the joy of content that …

Episode 373: Red Cheekums

April 24th, 2018


Discussed: Dan's gummi vitamins, vitamins in general, the childhood shame of those weird plaque pills, exotic sickness images, Fifth Disease comes to Austin, Dan's car troubles, Faraday Cages and how to build them, a …

Episode 372: Hole That Rabbit

April 17th, 2018


This week, the boys discuss Drafts, The Archive, Merlin's love of Spotify, some great playlists, and weird rules for cheerleaders.

In extensive …

Episode 371: Avocado People

April 10th, 2018


Bula vinaka, bee tee dubs nation! This is an epic odds and sods episode, replete with TV follow-up, font follow-up, and Wild, Wild Country follow-up, …

Episode 370: King Jeremy the Wicked

April 3rd, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin discuss Jessica Jones and the problem of super power constitution, plus some more Netflix recommendations ("Look away! Looooook awaaaaay!"). They also do a dive into updates on the monospace …

Episode 369: Comic Blood

March 27th, 2018


This week, your hosts say "Bula Vinaka!" They also discuss phone cards, some Netflix recommendations, Merlin's phone usage, and "accidentally" …

Episode 368: Call the Mouse Guy

March 20th, 2018


This week, your hosts discuss Steely Dan, digital mastering, The Police, Dune, high-quality VCRs, and Dan's brother-in-law's close call.

Next, they …

Episode 367: A Favorite Child

March 13th, 2018


This week, your hosts talk about some stuff they're doing, loving Spotify, some Echo podcast-listening tips, the attraction of Google Drive, some …

Episode 366: Five Sides of the Street

March 6th, 2018


This week, your hosts talk about using Windows, technology modalities, making sane decisions as a developer, reality TV, 20th anniversary of The …

Episode 365: Volume Eight

February 27th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about weather as a thing and giving up on Cash's dumb iPad problem. This leads to discussion about the risks, opportunities, and frustrations of having lots of data in different places …

Episode 364: The New Fudge

February 20th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk a little too much about Harry Potter, but also manage to cover some other media properties as well as the shockingly limited options for British casting. Dan has a new task management app, …

Episode 363: She's My Horcrux

February 13th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about lots of recent experiences with the weird and often-frustrating world of streaming TV. What a mess.

There's also some discussion of sauna suits, The Eagles, Mummers, and Dan's …

Episode 362: A Yuck and a Yum

February 6th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the Eagles' big win, what constitutes a catch, Dan's cool new shirt, Merlin's surprisingly positive interactions …

Episode 361: Caveman Arithmetic

January 30th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about crazy kids' homework, Dan's exciting nerd field trips in the Bay Area, the magic of PIXAR, a handy Netflix companion site, and using Siri on Apple TV.

Things get a little heated …

Episode 360: I Haven't Lost My Knife

January 24th, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk a lot about writing and respond to feedback from listeners.

Links for this episode:

Episode 359: You Can't See Inside the Dog

January 16th, 2018


This week, Dan has some weather, Cash makes a battery, homework can be a silly drag, management is about scalability and quantification, how to figure out how much you have to do, 80s movies can be problematic, …

Episode 358: Dumb Ohio Mouth

January 9th, 2018


This week, your hosts cover some odds and sods, share some recommendations, design some fantasy podcast apps, and introduce an exciting new feature …

Episode 357: Scrolling Carousel of Pain

January 2nd, 2018


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why they're trending, an exciting update on the Mr. Robot ATV bug, the frustrating opacity of using Apple's stuff, Dan's love for Nintendo Switch, nostalgia for NASA, Merlin's love …

Episode 356: Politics or Gender or Iron Man

December 29th, 2017


The boys wrap up a big year—a huge year—with an unintentionally thematic episode about feelings, expectations, nostalgia, and the black boxes of …

Episode 355: Eleven Dollars and a Bottle of Yoo-hoo

December 19th, 2017


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about keyboard preferences (and their noises), Merlin catching Dan's weird "Mr. Robot" bug on Apple TV, feedback about "inside jokes," exclusion as a weapon, more good Robert Wright …

Episode 354: One Whale

December 12th, 2017


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about (partial) resolution to Dan's Apple TV bug, some venting about delivery problems, general complaining about …

Episode 353: Superagency

December 5th, 2017


This week, Dan and Merlin discuss theories on Dan's Mr. Robot/Apple TV bug, living in an opinion bubble, an update on flu shot efficacy, Dan's recent …

Episode 352: Get Away From My Formular!

December 1st, 2017


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about…so many things. Merlin had a lot of coffee.

Big topics include:

  • Flickr nostalgia (and smart photo backup tips)

Episode 351: Your Chest Is a Tunnel

November 21st, 2017


This week, your hosts discuss: holiday disruptions, life patterns, the joys of regularity, discovering unnecessary existential vulnerabilities, …

Episode 350: Stacking Stones and Inspiration

November 14th, 2017


TOPIC: Integrity and Fear.

This week your hosts discuss: sandwiches, solar power, some recent movies and what makes them memorable (or not), the …

Episode 349: The Kid Who Never Won Anything

November 7th, 2017


TOPIC: Trials, Trophies, and Trying Harder.

This week, the boys arrive from either the past or future to talk about Dan's spoon problem, the refuse racket, the slog of incremental improvement, the perils of black and …

Episode 348: Optionitis

October 31st, 2017


Dan and Merlin talk about Halloween, the Chromebook, Apple, WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux), and hair removal.

Links for this episode:

Episode 347: Beast Coast

October 24th, 2017


TOPIC: Too much ambiguity in time.

This week, your hosts discuss hot weather adjustments, Merlin's Skype woes, the state of the union on Skype replacement contenders, ruminations on Mac troubleshooting, the fraught …

Episode 346: Disagreement of the Genders

October 23rd, 2017


TOPIC: Turns out.

This week, the boys talk about audio problems, hot dogs, kegeling, Merlin's next meet-up, Tsum Tsums, comic suggestions, Battle of the Sexes, excellent recent TV series, All the President's Men, the …

Episode 345: Chow Mein Hour

October 10th, 2017


TOPIC: Surface Tension.

This week, Dan and Merlin discuss names of cities in Florida, wireless neckbands, elliptical bikes, chore systems (and …

Episode 344: The Microwave Moment

October 3rd, 2017


TOPIC: You're not supposed to pet the car.

This week, Dan and Merlin discuss Nest Cam updates, Ring doorbell tracking, Echo family additions, HDMI questions, the fraught landscape of 4K HDR TV stuff, and how shopping …

Episode 343: Lo Sierra Mucho

September 26th, 2017


TOPIC: Publix Hustle

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about grocery store promotions, transactional help, the racket of school photos, Occam's Razor …

Episode 342: Ultraman Scenario

September 19th, 2017


After some Followup and Front Matter, your hosts dive into iOS 11. (Spoilers: it's really good.)

Links for this episode:

Episode 341: Rich Boy Phone

September 12th, 2017


This week, Dan and Merlin convene to talk about today's big Apple event.

Links for this episode:

Episode 340: It's-a Me, Dan!

September 5th, 2017


This week, Dan has useful updates on Windows backup options and answers questions about building a Hackintosh. Both of your hosts extoll the virtues …

Episode 339: True Love Weighs

August 29th, 2017


TOPIC: Don't provoke Dan.

This week, Dan and Merlin (once again) complain about what works and what just kiiiinda works with smart devices. Who's …

Episode 338: Ambush Site

August 22nd, 2017


TOPIC: It's like elevator buttons.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk a lot about komodo dragons. Also, homework sucks, seed codes rule, and @Movesapp

Episode 337: Cognitive Bottleneck

August 18th, 2017


TOPIC: How do you know when you're legitimately overwhelmed?

This episode, your hosts catch up on Florida, schedule and sleep consistency, ladders …

Episode 336: Town Centre Plaza Spot

August 18th, 2017


TOPIC: Keep your hand away from the giant's mouth!

This week, Dan and Merlin look back on summer and forward to the new school year. Also, some …

Episode 335: Personal Assistant to Darius

August 1st, 2017


TOPIC: Start treating yourself like a dummy today.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about iOS 11, the trade-offs of running betas, and waking up to how we're using devices differently. Merlin has thoughts on the …

Episode 334: The Little White One

July 25th, 2017


TOPIC: Mapping Your Focus and Motivation

This week, Dan talks about a cool new addition to his service, and Merlin interviews him about …

Episode 333: Your Whiteboards Will Not Survive Reality

July 18th, 2017


TOPIC: Help! My bosses are doing a really dumb thing!

This week, Dan and Merlin help a listener and his youngster get started with Spider-Man. Also, …

Episode 332: Piggybacking on Anger

July 11th, 2017


TOPIC: Making the spice flow.

This week, Dan and Merlin dive into the thriving ecosystem of Florida's ad hoc roofing and lawn care professionals. Merlin gets The Boeing Contract, and Dan leaves a check under the mat.

Episode 331: Hidden in Wigs

July 7th, 2017


TOPIC: Time Tetris in Difficult Mode

This week, Dan and Merlin do a VERY deep dive on one listener's question about life with an excruciating shared …

Episode 330: Frowny Face for You

June 27th, 2017


TOPIC: Drawing effective water.

In this week's tight and bright episode, Dan and Merlin do dome followup on food bars and CBD oil, then discuss how …

Episode 329: Stop all the OTUS

June 20th, 2017


TOPIC: Thirty cable boxes.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about beloved late night talk shows, Planet of the Apes, and the future of TV. Dan …

Episode 328: Donkey in a Biscuit

June 13th, 2017


TOPIC: Asterisks and Question Marks.

This week, Dan and Merlin cover corgis (and other pets), asking for lettuce wraps, high-floor sandwiches, bread …

Episode 327: Slightly Semitic Bird

June 6th, 2017


TOPIC: She was only 15 years old!

This week kicks off with some thoughts on yesterday's WWDC Keynote and some potentially promising signs for …

Episode 326: The Ronald McDonald of Feeds

May 30th, 2017


TOPIC: "The results have been increbidle."

This week, Dan and Merlin opine about various Apple feelings and wondering where the heck things are …

Episode 325: The Real Celebrity Chefs of the Hollywood Hills

May 23rd, 2017


TOPIC: Again with the motivation.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about what motivates the companies who make set-top boxes vs. the providers of the content for those dinguses. What attracts fans to a given platform, …

Episode 324: Delivery Status Not Updated

May 16th, 2017


TOPIC: Odds 'N Sods

In this sprawling "odds 'n sods" episode, Dan and Merlin discuss: superheroes, scary movie trailers, (yes, more) egregious package delivery drama, customer service Buddhism, some excellent kids …

Episode 323: A Horse Named Chili

May 9th, 2017


TOPIC: Lady in a tube.

This week, Dan and Merlin unexpectedly end up doing a pretty deep dive on Amazon voice products and the evolving ecosystem …

Episode 322: The Passive Voice of Water

May 3rd, 2017


TOPIC: Curiosity before fear.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the experience of Apple stores and repairs, The Handmaid's Tale, Dan's …

Episode 321: Need Some Velocity

April 27th, 2017


TOPIC: Velocity!

This week Dan and Merlin talk about lice, Kenny Rogers, strange memory phenomena, an intriguing new oil, and popcorn nugs pricing.

A question from Listener Ben leads to suggestions for finding …

Episode 320: Log Cabin Portal

April 25th, 2017


TOPIC: Triangles Everywhere!

This week, Dan and Merlin shuck and/or jive about stealing, Publix, airlines, driver’s ed, douchebagerié, Twitter bots, and more.

Main topic this week is a question from Listener Brian …

Episode 319: Contract with the Universe

April 11th, 2017


TOPIC: Oh my GOD, this is torture.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about—amongst other odds and sods— the Mean FedEx Guy, the weird future of gig economies, and Adventure Time.

Then, there's some handy tips on how to …

Episode 318: Emotional Goggles

April 5th, 2017


After some brief shucky-jivey, the boys resign themselves to discussing the big Apple announcement. They ponder why and how the message was delivered in the way it was as well as what it means. Dan has thoughts on …

Episode 317: Zero Gun Salute

March 31st, 2017


After some very important follow-up, and more than a little shucking and jiving, your hosts answer questions from listeners.

This is a good one!

Episode 316: Corona MacGuffin

March 21st, 2017


This week, Dan and Merlin have one of their beloved "odds and sods" episodes. Something for everyone in this diverse and bewildering episode.

"Same …

Episode 315: The Nakamichi Deal

March 14th, 2017


TOPIC: "Delivery Attempted."

This week, Merlin struggles with his coffee-making options, and Dan recalls his days of fishing lures. USPS deliveries, …

Episode 314: Which Fellini You Want to Be

March 7th, 2017


TOPIC: "Remember this film is supposed to be a comedy."

This week: Dan struggles with his progressive lenses, but he really liked the movie, Logan. Merlin's daughter has made four piles, and he finally accepts that he …

Episode 313: Parents, Old People, and Perverts

February 28th, 2017


TOPIC: You can't perfect life.

This week opens with the carnage of today's Amazon S3 problems and why so much of the internet seems broken. A brief history of outage monitoring is provided and a praxis for improving …

Episode 312: Snake Eating Its Own Goodwill

February 21st, 2017


TOPIC: You're living in the future!

This week, Merlin is in a bit of a tizzy as he tries to make coffee, redo his ads, and change his productivity …

Episode 311: A Fair Eight

February 14th, 2017


TOPIC: Alice hopes to hear from you.

This week's episode is packed—literally, packed—with useful tips, tricks, and even a crazy challenge.

Psyching …

Episode 310: Nominally Mine

February 7th, 2017


TOPIC: My place is here—I fight with you!

This week, Dan and Merlin cover a meetup announcement, Merlin's Les Mis obsession, Dan's new Hackintosh Method, and the Benjamin Family's slippery bar problem. Merlin advocates …

Episode 309: Hard Pass

January 31st, 2017


TOPIC: Celebrating your successful failures.

This week, Dan and Merlin kick off with discussion of night bears, the ascendance of Netflix, and some

Episode 308: When Does the Fork Go on the Sat?

January 24th, 2017


TOPIC: Act like you're somebody that you like.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the evolution of voice recognition and touch interfaces and …

Episode 307: #43 on The Ladder of Kindness

January 17th, 2017


TOPIC: Youth is the aberration.

This week, Dan provides updates on his Hackintosh project, which leads to a discussion of finding reviews and advice with context. The hosts realize, acknowledge, and quickly move past …

Episode 306: Sunday Pant

January 10th, 2017


TOPIC: Reframing the conversation with yourself.

This week, Merlin talks about his weird mortgage ads and compliments the literally fancy pants he got from the silver underpants people. Suggestions are offered for …

Episode 305: Quadruple Down

January 3rd, 2017


TOPIC: This is a feeling I'm feeling.

This week, your hosts look at the announcement of Dish's new Air TV box, along with the rapidly evolving …

Episode 304: The 2016 Compilation Episode

December 31st, 2016


This is the Best of 2016 Compilation Episode, featuring your favorite moments of the show over the last 12 months. Each clip was suggested and submitted by you, our amazing listeners.

Have a great new year!

Links for …

Episode 303: A Liver Runs Through It

December 20th, 2016


TOPIC: Is Tim firing us?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenge of dealing with email that's only kind of from a real person. There's …

Episode 302: Rabbi for the Rabbi

December 13th, 2016


This week, the boys talk about slicing sand, unboxing videos, Overwatch, and some recommended TV viewing. Odds and sods, as you say.

Main topic is …

Episode 301: Not on My Timeline

December 6th, 2016


TOPIC: Vaio Life!

This week, Dan and Merlin respond to listener feedback and talk about the tightrope walk of caffeine consumption.

Merlin suggests a new AudioDharma talk, which leads to a discussion of whether you …

Episode 300: A Room Where I Don’t Matter

December 1st, 2016


TOPIC: Kipple and Boomboxes

This week Dan and Merlin start by talking about purging junk and answering listener feedback about kids and phones and teachers dealing with email.

Main topic this week is whither Apple? …

Episode 299: Unhook from the Comparison

November 23rd, 2016


TOPIC: Your "backstage" vs. their "onstage"

This week, Merlin shares some useful thoughts (via Patrick Rothfuss) on being careful about how we …

Episode 298: Night Boot for Big Beef

November 15th, 2016


This week, Dan and Merlin do another of their beloved Odds 'n Sods episodes, with tons of great recommendations for movies, TV, apps, services, and …

Episode 297: It Takes Craftspersonship

November 11th, 2016


This week, Dan and Merlin are a little out of sorts, so, after some chat and followup, they talk about some of the things that make them happy. Plus, …

Episode 296: Surely You Can't be Sirius

November 1st, 2016


TOPIC: Leaving Dropbox Vegas

Merlin survives a sleepover, and Dan has a concern about Dropbox.

Links for this episode:

Episode 295: I’m Not Talkin’ for Clapping

October 25th, 2016

  • 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 …

Episode 294: Sufficiently Advanced Friendship

October 18th, 2016


TOPIC: How to pester people responsibly.

Episode 293: The Frame for Our Relationship

October 11th, 2016


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 …

Episode 292: Rat King of Crush

October 4th, 2016


TOPIC: A Surfeit of Merlin Mannsplaining.

This week, Dan and Merlin produce an undisputed instaclassic odds and sods episode.

  • When technology …

Episode 291: Three Healthy Holes

September 27th, 2016


TOPIC: The Unreliable Narrator of You

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about weather, compost, small changes, plus some Sling TV followup.

The main …

Episode 290: Table Scraps for Cable Cutters

September 20th, 2016


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.

Episode 289: John Rhetoric

September 13th, 2016


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 …

Episode 288: History is Not Made for Horses

September 6th, 2016


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 …

Episode 287: You Are Now Cleared for Salad

August 30th, 2016


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 …

Episode 286: Secret Rap Name

August 23rd, 2016


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 …

Episode 285: A Baller VCR

August 16th, 2016


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 …

Episode 284: Wake Up, Van Hœt

August 9th, 2016


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 …

Episode 283: Cognition to Completion

August 2nd, 2016


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

Episode 282: Boring and Yet Wonderful

July 26th, 2016


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 …

Episode 281: The Mayor of Chocolate Sundaes

July 19th, 2016


TOPIC: Way of the future.

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion on updates to their systems and their productivity worlds. In …

Episode 280: The Big Filter

July 12th, 2016


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 …

Episode 279: The Fishery Loophole

July 5th, 2016


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?"

Links for this …

Episode 278: Yelling at an Idea

June 28th, 2016


TOPIC: People, amirite?

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

Episode 277: Everything's Hard

June 21st, 2016


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, …

Episode 276: Do You Even Lift?

June 14th, 2016


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, …

Episode 275: The Lies of Big Shoe

June 7th, 2016


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 …

Episode 274: A Goat in the Pipe

May 31st, 2016


TOPIC: Disruptions in Service

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about that ineffable but growing feeling of disconnection from the collections we used …

Episode 273: Knives and Spoons

May 24th, 2016


TOPIC: True or false dilemmas?

This week, things kick off with a discussion of how to be helpful. Especially at your kid's school, but really just …

Episode 272: Surprise Endoscopy

May 17th, 2016


TOPIC: Such small hands.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's acquisition of an iPhone SE and how much he's loving it. This leads to some ruminative discussion about how we pick devices based on how we prefer to …

Episode 271: Gravy Dumpster

May 10th, 2016


TOPIC: Grow what? Grow HOW?

This week, Dan and Merlin have a surprisingly passionate discussion about growth.

Companies gotta "grow," right? But…what the hell does that really even mean?

Lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta …

Episode 270: According to the Cabinet

May 3rd, 2016


TOPIC: Opinion at Scale.

This week kicks off with a confession that Dan and Merlin are increasingly less interested in coverage of Apple's finances …

Episode 269: 65 Cigarette Butts

April 27th, 2016


TOPIC: Finding stories and insights hiding in your data.

This week, Dan and Merlin dive deep into the new world of personal tracking. Dan has a new …

Episode 268: Tumblo Drylo

April 19th, 2016


TOPIC: Putting an Overt Stake in the Ground.

This week, Dan and Merlin end up talking about the surprising stuff a Fitbit can do for you. Dan even buys one.

Also, some discussion of pope hats, NASCAR, (the amazing) …

Episode 267: Dear Iowa, I Have Enjoyed Your Corn

April 12th, 2016


TOPIC: But, alas.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Smile's updated announcement about TextExpander and the ugly problem of blind internet rage.

Episode 266: European Bachelor

April 5th, 2016


TOPIC: Wow, times change.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenges and opportunities of subscription-based payment models. When do they work (or not) and how quickly does autopay fatigue kick in?

Links for …

Episode 265: Especially Doris

March 29th, 2016


TOPIC: Welcome to Costco. I love you.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about breakfast sandwiches, the pain and suffering of dealing with Apple IDs, managing kids and their iOS devices, Merlin's weird week with …

Episode 264: This Made Me Think of You

March 22nd, 2016


TOPIC: Serving the super-motivated super-fan.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about:

  • a modest request from Merlin
  • some interesting new options for …

Episode 263: The Working Definition of Love

March 15th, 2016


TOPIC: No one cares about your demo anymore.

This week Dan & Merlin talk about realizing when life isn't all about you and getting better at learning how to say "thank you."

Also, lots of great practical (and

Episode 262: Large Platinum Spoon

March 8th, 2016


TOPIC: Staying out of Technology Detention

This week, Dan and Merlin do another giant-size grabbag episode that covers a lot of ground, including:

Episode 261: The Illusion of Ease

March 1st, 2016


TOPIC: That's Not How the Future Works.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about evolving technology culture, the weird landscape of semi-smart devices, …

Episode 260: Stuck in Green Forever

February 23rd, 2016


TOPIC: Grab Bag.

This week, Dan and Merlin cover the waterfront. This wide-ranging episode covers lots of listener feedback, corrections of egregious errors, D&D alignment, the danger of guessing why people are how …

Episode 259: The Transitive Quality of Misunderstanding

February 16th, 2016


TOPIC: Epistemology and Parenting as Dumpster Fire

This week, Dan and Merlin end up talking a lot about what they don't know and how they know they …

Episode 258: Means of Egress

February 9th, 2016


TOPIC: Feelings, Slide Rules, and The Franklin Test

This week Merlin hasn't had enough coffee and may have early-onset toxoplasmosis, so he and Dan …

Episode 257: Homemade Science Mayonnaise

February 2nd, 2016


TOPIC: Information, Context, and Courage.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the reaction to last week's episode about work and identity and …

Episode 256: Every Minute Weighs the Same

January 26th, 2016


TOPIC: Coder, Kayaker, Father, Person.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's attempt to vastly rejigger his schedule in the interest of mental …

Episode 255: A Ladle of Ladling

January 19th, 2016


TOPIC: Say something funny.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about entertainment as a career and how difficult it can be to know whether you're suited …

Episode 254: Fixed Points in Time

January 12th, 2016


TOPIC: Budgeting the Primary Secondary Project

This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on a very old and very thorny topic: managing time.

Thing …

Episode 253: Ty Lambo

January 5th, 2016


TOPIC: Elephants all the way down.

This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on communication, perception, persuasion, empathy, and understanding, as illustrated by everything from The Force Awakens to Don LaPre to PR …

Episode 252: The Chocolate Boys

December 23rd, 2015


TOPIC: Something something the things we own.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the way shopping changes how we buy stuff—and how buying is changing what we can actually shop for.

Then, there's a ruminative …

Episode 251: Manna Goy

December 15th, 2015


TOPIC: Maybe quit being so "busy."

This week, Dan and Merlin drop a lot of science on the miraculous taxonomies of Judaica. Mazel Tov!

For the big …

Episode 250: Don't Dress Like the Hamburglar

December 8th, 2015


TOPIC: Sunrise, Sunset.

This week, Dan and Merlin celebrate their 250th episode with an extensive discussion of McDonaldland and its horrific …

Episode 249: A John Nash Moment

December 1st, 2015


TOPIC: Personal Crazy Walls

This week, Dan and Merlin start by covering a lot of things that you might actually be thinking of.

The meat of the episode focuses on a listener question about deciding what things go …

Episode 248: A Rye Bread Made of Birds

November 24th, 2015


TOPIC: More Songs About Buildings and Food

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about transitions, microwave ovens, air conditioning, and the likelihood …

Episode 247: On a Farm with a Monkey

November 17th, 2015


TOPIC: A Mark on a Page

This week, Dan and Merlin kick off by talking about Dan's recent interview with "Weird Al" and how he's such an interesting harbinger of changing times for media and platforms.

Next, Merlin …

Episode 246: Venn Diagram of Confusion

November 10th, 2015


TOPIC: Medieval or Renaissance?

This week, Dan and Merlin start out by helping listeners learn to identify the subtle differences between all things Renaissance and Medieval.

The remainder of the show is split between …

Episode 245: The Least Broken

November 3rd, 2015


TOPIC: First impressions of the new Apple TV

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the triumphs and travails of their first few days with the fourth …

Episode 244: You Have to Be a Stag

October 27th, 2015


TOPIC: You are who you choose to be.

This week Dan and Merlin talk about making buying decisions, dealing with unsolicited email, preventing stupid …

Episode 243: The Device at Hand

October 20th, 2015


TOPIC: It's Business All the Way Down.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about joys and frustrations of contemporary consumer technologies. So great …

Episode 242: Not My Bird

October 14th, 2015


TOPIC: Procrastination is a life sentence.

This week, after some high-level discussion on the topics of Marvel and media reduxes, Dan and Merlin (maaaaybe) wrap up their initial and very positive impressions of iOS 9 …

Episode 241: We Went to Princeton

October 6th, 2015


TOPIC: iOS Amazement

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's new iPad Air 2 and continue their discussion of how much iOS 9 on modern devices is already changing how we do our work.

Also, some nerdy updates on how …

Episode 240: The Third Phase Is Now

September 29th, 2015


TOPIC: Speed, Reliability, and Expectations

This episode, Dan and Merlin talk about this week's massive leaps forward with the pairing of iOS 9 and …

Episode 239: Starving African Child

September 23rd, 2015


TOPIC: Block! Block! Body blow! Uppercut!

This week, Dan and Merlin talk less about ad-blocking and more about what kind-of feels like (but might not actually be) a point of change for web advertising, podcasting, and …

Episode 238: A 100-Year Problem

September 15th, 2015


TOPIC: Knowing what you'll need to know.

This week, Dan and Merlin answer a listener question about how the "slow your roll" thought technology can …

Episode 237: Slow Your Roll

September 8th, 2015


TOPIC: Stop that train!

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some ideas for noticing and then battling the surfeits of negative thought that …

Episode 236: Finished for Now

September 1st, 2015


TOPIC: Practice, practice, practice.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the perilous wonders of practice of all kinds.

Links for this episode:

Episode 235: This is a Thing

August 25th, 2015


TOPIC: Losing hit points.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the stuff you have to do to stay healthy and well—and the rocky path to realizing …

Episode 234: Two Inches Behind the Board

August 18th, 2015


TOPIC: Compensatory muscles

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about how much emotions can become like physical injuries—and what happens when we try to …

Episode 233: Emotional Density

August 11th, 2015


TOPIC: Can I ask you a question?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the complexities of communicating effectively via email. They also begin to sketch out a unified field theory for escalating communication media …

Episode 232: You Got This.

August 5th, 2015


TOPIC: Don't just be the meatbag in the room.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about "the fill-in guy," TV shows they're loving, listener feedback, …

Episode 231: Hot Rod Hospital Ship

July 28th, 2015


With Merlin on sabbatical (returning next week), Dan is once again joined by John Roderick. They discuss the significance of dreams, sleep paralysis, unexplained phenomenon, alien abductions, a relationship with magic, …

Episode 230: My Emotional Reservoir

July 21st, 2015


With Merlin on sabbatical, Dan is joined by John Roderick to talk about being a candidate, taking care of yourself, managing introversion, trying on ideas without fear, the Thirty Years War, and the struggle of being a …

Episode 229: Shrimp in the Desert

July 14th, 2015


TOPIC: The perils and joys of just getting started.

This week's episode is chockablock with awesomeness, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It ends …

Episode 228: Tibet's Next Top Buddha

July 7th, 2015


TOPIC: What kind of "perfect" can you tolerate?

This week, Dan and Merlin have a big week. A huge week.

Opening with a thank you to generous …

Episode 227: The Treasure Room

June 30th, 2015


TOPIC: Learning to shut up and relax.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenges and benefits of getting out of your own head.

Links for …

Episode 226: Only Child*

June 23rd, 2015


TOPIC: Hitting and sharing and dietetic lunch.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about having and not having siblings (and what it may or may not actually mean) as well as addressing some of the rapid changes coming to …

Episode 225: A Different Kind of Happy

June 16th, 2015


TOPIC: You can't have ALL the phone calls.

This week, Dan and Merlin battle Skype to talk about Dan't hissing floor, text editing on iOS, plus more …

Episode 224: Sugar Pills and a Pack of Cigarettes

June 9th, 2015


TOPIC: Poundsign Communication

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about evolutions in how we do and don't communicate with each other.

Links for this …

Episode 223: Normal is Whatever is There

June 2nd, 2015


TOPIC: Interstitial time and why you want it back.

This week, after some preliminary discussion of smoking and the children who throw rocks and run track, Dan and Merlin answer questions from listeners.

Links for this …

Episode 222: Full-Stack Obsessive

May 28th, 2015


Merlin and Dan use The Aviator as a jumping-off point to talk about OCD as it relates to perfectionism, creativity, and drive in the workplace. They discuss rituals and their consequences, the importance of mise en …

Episode 221: Minimally Viable Interruption

May 19th, 2015


TOPIC: Time, Stones, and Giving Yourself a Break

Just…give yourself permission to not feel like a dick today. Especially if you think you don't …

Episode 220: Canadian Gentle

May 12th, 2015


TOPIC: Hopeless and Impossible.

This week, Dan and Merlin, delve deeper into the impossibly hopeless nature of email.

Links for this episode:

Episode 219: At Sixes and Sevens

May 5th, 2015


TOPIC: Jumping Over the Precipice.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about what to be courageous about and when. It's rarely as easy or as simple as it …

Episode 218: The Tigers in Your Kitchen

April 28th, 2015


TOPIC: Fear, Anxiety, and Existential Whack-A-Mole

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Color Guard, the science of binge watching, and the …

Episode 217: The Worst Most Advanced Teenager

April 21st, 2015


TOPIC: Take it personal and make it personal.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about culture, solipsism, hiring, and needle-moving things.

Links for …

Episode 216: Safety Sword

April 14th, 2015


TOPIC: Kremlinology and Verbing

This week, Dan and Merlin follow-up on Dan's neighbor and The Trailer Incident. They also undertake a rather …

Episode 215: Legacy Cat

April 7th, 2015


TOPIC: With great power comes…uh, uh, what-have-you.

This week, Dan and Merlin cover a lot of ground. What makes a great comics movie. What movies to show (and not show) your kids. The majesty of The Big Lebowski. And, …

Episode 214: Destroyed by Farm Equipment

April 1st, 2015


TOPIC: Youth as exception.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about chess, the problem with SEO, and why getting old is normal (if you're lucky).

Links …

Episode 213: That's Not Where Rogue Goes!

March 24th, 2015


TOPIC: Thinking Patterns and Thinking Bias

This week, Dan and Merlin talk in detail about how our unconscious patterns of thinking can damage our …

Episode 212: That Tuesday Feeling

March 16th, 2015


TOPIC: A lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous.

This week, Dan and Merlin are all thrown off since they're recording on a Monday. Weird, right?

They mostly talk about the respective states of comics and …

Episode 211: Squeeze the Teabag

March 10th, 2015


TOPIC: The weather is not the sky.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about discovering the challenges that help you to thrive—and grow.

Links for this …

Episode 210: Fighting with Garbage Can Lids

March 3rd, 2015


TOPIC: Less of an Island.

This week Dan and Merlin talk about time, negotiations, and what we want (and don't want) from our email apps.

Links for …

Episode 209: Habitual Ritual

February 25th, 2015


TOPIC: Throwing Stars and Managers

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about working in a beehive and discuss whether they played D&D properly.

Episode 208: Don't Touch Daddy

February 18th, 2015


TOPIC: Illness, Late Night TV, AI in the home, and Talking Baby Dolls

This week, Merlin battles the flu to talk with Dan about late night …

Episode 207: Vampires in the Wallpaper

February 10th, 2015


TOPIC: Scoping the Minimally-Viable Me

This week, Dan and Merlin catch up on illness, Marvel comics, and what-have-you, but end up talking a lot about who we really are—who "I" actually am. Merlin eventually slips into …

Episode 206: Talking to Santa

January 27th, 2015


TOPIC: Work as Practice

This week Dan and Merlin chew on some of the numerous eternal imponderables of creative work—with a special focus on "work …

Episode 205: Obsolete, circa 1993

January 22nd, 2015


With Merlin on sabbatical, Dan is joined by John Roderick to discuss his recent visit to Africa, the military, corporate friends, strategic thinking, the Internet, digital books and albums, echoes, playmobil figures, …

Episode 204: Space Geisha

January 13th, 2015


TOPIC: "I am NOT talking about bartending."

A kind of two-parter this week.

First up, a meditation on invasive thoughts, how they can take over our lives, and how we can maybe learn to deal with them.

Second …

Episode 203: I Blame the Media.

January 6th, 2015


TOPIC: The things you did or didn't say.

This week, Dan and Merlin sympathize with their pal Marco's recently becoming "way too popular for a day."

Episode 202: Choosing is a Radio Button

December 30th, 2014


TOPIC: The Life You Actually Want.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about organization, multitasking and new year's resolutions.

Links for this …

Episode 201: Never Enough Bathrooms

December 23rd, 2014


TOPIC: The Opacity of the Stack

In this depressing holiday episode, Dan and Merlin talk about how tenuous our modern infrastructures feel. How great …

Episode 200: Blitzkriegscheiße

December 16th, 2014


TOPIC: He'll only do three of these.

This week, Dan and Merlin mark their 200th episode by responding to listener feedback and talking about Led …

Episode 199: Merlin Mann's Best of 2014

December 9th, 2014


TOPIC: When You Love a Voice.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about podcasts they're loving right now. And, yeah, Merlin rants a little about …

Episode 198: Gardening Leave

December 2nd, 2014


TOPIC: Time to reboot.

This week, Dan and Merlin respond to a note from Listener Tim on how to stay busy and active during his garden leave. The Boys encourage him to experiment with the personal rebooting that's …

Episode 197: Way of the Brown Lego

November 25th, 2014


TOPIC: Mail Bag.

This week, Dan & Merlin respond to listener email and toots. Specifically, dealing with passive-aggressive team members, …

Episode 196: The Circle of Lice

November 20th, 2014


TOPIC: Hakuna Matata.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about home pest control, misleading beef jerky, and becoming a more conservative electronics …

Episode 195: Prima Facie Butter Coffee

November 11th, 2014


TOPIC: Working alone together.

This week, Dan and Merlin look at the many ways workplaces have changed over the years, and how they can be great or …

Episode 194: The Company of a Clown

November 4th, 2014


TOPIC: What gets us on the moon?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about varieties of clowns, rogue walruses, bloody elevator buttons, taking risks, …

Episode 193: Disappointment Delivery Mechanism

October 28th, 2014


TOPIC: You Are That Little Dot.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about notifications, beeps, bloops, flashes, and all the stuff we have zero control …

Episode 192: Party City Trophies

October 21st, 2014


TOPIC: Reinforcement, Aikido, and Fear

This week, Dan and Merlin try to tackle positive versus negative reinforcement.

Links for this episode:

Episode 191: Heisenberg Uncertainty Dog

October 14th, 2014


TOPIC: People, amirite?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about neighbors, dogs, Macs,, and flavors of reinforcement.

Links for this episode:

Episode 190: C-3PO's Beard

October 7th, 2014


TOPIC: The Ultimate Existential Investor

This week, Dan and Merlin vent about Apple as only its superfans really can. What happens when things…don't…

Episode 189: That's How You Roll When You're a Lobster

September 30th, 2014


TOPIC: Starting the stuff we haven't started.

This week—after some entertaining random talk and a handful of hardware and software …

Episode 188: The Smell of Snake Anxiety

September 23rd, 2014


TOPIC: Media, Rarely Well Done

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the modern consumer media landscape and how we seem to be changing almost as …

Episode 187: Peeling a Dangerous Onion

September 16th, 2014


TOPIC: Knowing What You'll Need to Know

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about a recent presentation Merlin gave on expertise and curiosity. They also …

Episode 186: I Wish John Siracusa Were Here

September 9th, 2014


TOPIC: Grab bag.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about—what? Well. They talk about privilege, empathy, bikes, bass players, Merlin's new mic, more bathroom signs, and a controversial anecdote about how Apple was maybe …

Episode 185: David Foster Wallace Morning

September 2nd, 2014


TOPIC: The Durable Impossibility of Email.

This week, Dan and Merlin return to an evergreen topic: the impossibility of email.

Chaotic, paradoxical, debilitating, frustrating, buoyant, and occasionally capable of …

Episode 184: Days of Bathrooms Past

August 26th, 2014


TOPIC: Is there anything else you want to tell me?

This week, Dan and Merlin discuss what bathrooms can teach us about learning, expertise, and …

Episode 183: Remember Who Has the Cannon

August 19th, 2014


TOPIC: Wait, what'd I DO?!?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about anger, misunderstandings, and trying to do the right thing. How bewildering (and emotional) it can be to feel misunderstood—as well as trying to better …

Episode 182: Non-Canonical Suspenders

August 12th, 2014


TOPIC: Thinking, Thinking, Thinking.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the inextricable links between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They also take some time to fondly remember Robin Williams.

Links for this …

Episode 181: A Broom Pusher for Johnny Carson

August 6th, 2014


While Merlin takes a short sabbatical, Dan is joined by special guest David Sparks to talk about presentations, making your thing, balancing acts, …

Episode 180: Deus Ex Machina for Your Gut

July 22nd, 2014


TOPIC: Stupid can't stick to me.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the distinction between being against something vs. not having an opinion about it vs. just choosing not to let the world stick to you.

Links for …

Episode 179: 7 Most Important Breasts for Your Re-Fi

July 15th, 2014


TOPIC: A Personal History of Personal Publishing

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the constantly-changing landscape of online publishing. How we got from home pages to blogs to social media and beyond. Things move …

Episode 178: Fake Laminated Bull Poop

July 8th, 2014


TOPIC: Yes. Yes.

This week, Dan and Merlin follow-up on their recent 5by5 at the Movies episode about Glengarry Glen Ross, talking more about sales …

Episode 177: Motivation Has Pit Stains

July 1st, 2014


TOPIC: Motivation

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about their upcoming 5by5 at the Movies episode on Glengarry Glen Ross, which segues naturally into a discussion of the many aspects of motivation.

Carrots, sticks, …

Episode 176: "ENJOY YOUR MEAL"

June 24th, 2014


TOPIC: (Not) Solving People Problems With Technology.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the challenge of finding business workflows that…actually …

Episode 175: Andy is the Stuff of Nightmares

June 10th, 2014


TOPIC: "Creativity" where you din't expect it.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about PIXAR, creativity, and FoldingText before finally succumbing to …

Episode 174: I Dont Deal in Abstractions

June 5th, 2014


TOPIC: Dan & Merlin in Fancy San Francisco

This week, Dan and Merlin visit across a table in a darkened room to talk about WWDC, San Francisco's lesser-known features, and how to spend less time bogged down in …

Episode 173: The Best Days End in Tears

May 27th, 2014


TOPIC: Culture is what we DO.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about processing a hotel room and leading by example.

Links for this episode:

Episode 172: Somewhere Between a Habit and a River

May 22nd, 2014


TOPIC: How to undig a river.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about an email message from a listener who's having trouble getting away from his inbox …

Episode 171: Put a Sweatshirt In My Wallet

May 13th, 2014


TOPIC: It's like wallets and backpacks.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about H.R. Giger, Dan's latest Android experiment, more on app privacy, and why we need both wallets, backpacks, and suitcases. You know. Analogies.

Episode 170: Useful, Creepy, Gross

May 6th, 2014


Merlin and Dan talk about Marked, Drafts, MLKSHK shutting down,, routers, Hong King Phoey, poisoned meatballs, and more.

Links for this …

Episode 169: Upgrade Your Skateboard

April 29th, 2014


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about comiXology and the future of online digital purchases.

Links for this episode:

Episode 168: It's Okay for Cats to Wander Around on Planes

April 22nd, 2014


TOPIC: Standing up to Attention Bullies.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the world's impossible expectations regarding each of our own time, …

Episode 167: Second Banana

April 15th, 2014


TOPIC: Ubi Sunt, LCS?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the uneasy future of local comic shops—especially in light of Amazon's announced …

Episode 166: 404 - Friends Not Found

April 8th, 2014


TOPIC: The future we can't know.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about how quickly technology is evolving, how janky that evolution can be, and how …

Episode 165: The Opposite of Attrition

April 1st, 2014


TOPIC: Words mean things.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the blight of buzzwords, jargon, and douchespeak writ large.

Links for this episode:

Episode 164: Back in the Medieval Village

March 25th, 2014


TOPIC: Curiosity & Creativity

This week, Dan and Merlin talk more about expertise and how it relates to the ineffable qualities of curiosity and creativity. Can curiosity be inspired or taught? Or, is it just …

Episode 163: -(

March 18th, 2014


TOPIC: LEGO and Expertise

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about LEGO and what becoming a Master Builder can teach us about expertise.

Also: tooth fairies, binder clips, and the pedagogical warning shot.


Episode 162: We're All Waiting in the Same Line

March 11th, 2014


TOPIC: ““Experiencing Issues”” with Customer Service

This week, Dan and Merlin analyze what's really going wrong when we get bad customer service. Spoiler: The brand is only as sound as its day-to-day implementation.

Episode 161: Zeitgeist Helmut

March 4th, 2014


TOPIC: Time, Sleep, and Aspirations

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about impossible trade-offs and the benefits of remembering this is actually your …

Episode 160: Reverse Spider Sense

February 26th, 2014


This week, Dan and Merlin talk about shaving, lights, and Dan's amazing new superpower.

Links for this episode:

Episode 159: You Become Your Catch Phrases

February 18th, 2014


Merlin and Dan talk about Library Elf, app launchers like Quicksilver and Alfred, Stanley Kubrick, pushing people to create greatness, not knowing what you like until you see it, the typefaces of Moon, and more.

Links …

Episode 158: Merlin-Sized Hole

February 11th, 2014


TOPIC: Why We Have Doors.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about internet nostalgia, hacking vs. whacking, and why we have doors for a reason.

Links …

Episode 157: Non-Dominant Hand

February 4th, 2014


TOPIC: The Spreadsheet of You

This week, Dan and Merlin talk more about sleep and how self-quantization can goose your mindfulness.

Links for this …

Episode 156: Not the Monk I Used to Be

January 28th, 2014


TOPIC: Better Sleep Habits

This week, Dan and Merlin do a deep dive on building better sleep habits with a focus on the paradoxes and planning of daily activities that can make all the difference.

Links for this …

Episode 155: Newton's Fifth Law of Politeness

January 21st, 2014


TOPIC: Isolation and Identity

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about civility, identity, Florida, and how you can't unsee Idiocracy.

Links for this …

Episode 154: Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

January 14th, 2014


TOPIC: The Attention Stack

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about—what?—maybe the attention stack. How what we pay attention to (and, yes spend our time on) can't help but affect how we see, think, feel, and decide.

Not …

Episode 153: Anxiety's a Goat

January 7th, 2014


TOPIC: The thoughts we think. And think. And think.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about anxiety, compulsive thoughts, and how to at least crack an …

Episode 152: Tiny Hands, Large Desires

December 31st, 2013


TOPIC: Consistency, Change, and Counting-Down

This week, Dan and Merlin return to the evergreen topic of new year's resolutions. Remember: in the …

Episode 151: The Christmas Pants

December 24th, 2013


TOPIC: Christmas and Control

This week, Dan and Merlin meander through holiday matters, including the Winter Warlock-like impotence of having your …

Episode 150: Ask for John Klumpp

December 17th, 2013


TOPIC: Enough.

This week, Dan and Merlin meander around the meaning of, "enough," pondering the deep existential pit we dig for ourselves and maybe how to get out of it.

Merry Christmas. Get your head out of your ass.

Episode 149: Vixen Haler

December 10th, 2013


TOPIC: Criticism and Its Discontents

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about criticism, people who don't like you, and how much to let each have …

Episode 148: Activity Seat

December 3rd, 2013


TOPIC: Gooseneck Options

This week, with Dan re-sick and Merlin full of beans, the boys do a deep dive on hand washing, purpose-built bathroom …

Episode 147: Five-Dollar Murray

November 26th, 2013


TOPIC: Perfectionism and Procrastination

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why the classic meanings of perfectionism mostly miss the mark; it's less about being scared to finish and more about being terrified to …

Episode 146: Phantom Bell Syndrome

November 19th, 2013


TOPIC: Going Mobile-er.

This week, Dan and Merlin are very sick, so they talk about being sick. Then, they talk about what it would take to move to …

Episode 145: Nine-Thousand Words of Holden Caulfield

November 12th, 2013


TOPIC: Grab bag

This week, Dan takes a minute to sit down with Merlin to talk about bathroom GIFs, Marvel movies, private school ejection, and a new …

Episode 144: Habituate a Goat

November 6th, 2013


TOPIC: Perception and Perspective.

In their second ever live, face-to-face episode, Dan and Merlin talk about goats, noise gate, and taking a step …

Episode 143: Chimpanzee Scallop Throwing

October 29th, 2013


TOPIC: Preparation

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about preparation.

Links for this episode:

Episode 142: 86 Jam Pack

October 22nd, 2013


TOPIC: Traveling Like a Gentleman.

This week, Dan and Merlin revisit the travails of air travel. How to prepare, how to survive--and how to be a …

Episode 141: Counterclockwise. Like a Gentleman.

October 15th, 2013


TOPIC: Learning the Wheres and Whens of Productivity

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about learning from how you work to improve your basic productivity infrastructure, with specific attention to using Perspectives in

Episode 140: Silicon Circus

October 8th, 2013


TOPIC: Special Guest, Matt Alexander

This week, Merlin is joined by Bionic co-host, Matt Alexander. They discuss ““technology ecosystems,”” life as …

Episode 139: Tap Your Meat Stack

October 1st, 2013


TOPIC: Grab Bag, plus Tasks vs. Calendar Items

This week Dan and Merlin administer an epic grab bag episode, chockablock with new app, book, podcast, and music suggestions.

Also, a return to the evergreen topic of

Episode 138: Mindfulness...Whether I Want It or Not

September 24th, 2013


TOPIC: Informal Background Self-Quantization

This week Dan & Merlin discuss the merits of self-quantization. Which is fancy way of saying, "Merlin got a new Fitbit."

Why is anecdotal self-reporting a sucker's bet? …

Episode 137: Alice Two Arrows Bob

September 17th, 2013


TOPIC: Etiquette, Intros, and Endorsements

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the surprisingly complicated topic of email introductions.

Who emails whom? Who gets cc'd and for how long? How much homework are we …

Episode 136: Scared of Your Own Life

September 11th, 2013


TOPIC: Fear of Your Own TODO List

This week, Dan and Merlin cover a topic suggested by listener, @jeff_nordstedt: not wanting to look at your todo list.

From capture to completion, there are a million ways to fall off …

Episode 135: There's No "I" in Success

September 3rd, 2013


TOPIC: Joss Whedon GTD; Meeting Redux

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about getting specific with your productivity and why every meeting needs an …

Episode 134: A Boss You Don't Even Know About

August 27th, 2013


TOPIC: Talk Shows, Baseball, and Inboxes.

This week, Dan and Merlin cover a range of topics related to expertise, experience, professional …

Episode 133: I'm Glad Your Computer Died

August 20th, 2013


TOPIC: How many keys do you really need?

This week, Dan and Merlin return to the question, "What do you want ten times more of?" and weigh the risks and benefits of increasing the amount of complexity in your life.

Episode 132: C+ Objective Stack

August 13th, 2013


TOPIC: Fraud vs. Failure

This week, Dan and Merlin dive into what makes us feel like frauds and what makes us feel like failures.

Links for this …

Episode 131: The Peacock Dance of Men

August 7th, 2013


TOPIC: Power, Yelling, and Airport Kung Fu

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of power and how it does or doesn't work.

Do real leaders actually talk like the douchebags, serial entrepreneurs, and …

Episode 130: Cobb Salad Lawyer

July 30th, 2013


TOPIC: Delays

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about delays, agency, power, and why yelling at people about your problems rarely helps anyone.

Links …

Episode 129: Putting Your Meat by the Pool

July 23rd, 2013


TOPIC: Lists

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about 3½ kinds of lists that can change your game.

Merlin knows a lot about Productivity.

Links for …

Episode 128: Eating Scones in the Closet

July 19th, 2013


TOPIC: Time Awareness & Scope Wormholes

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why we (and Frank) are terrible at estimating time, as well as what …

Episode 127: Loki Situation

July 9th, 2013


TOPIC: Employers, Bosses, Leaders, and Managers

This week—in what may easily turn into a multi-episode arc—Dan and Merlin talk about bosses.

Episode 126: Howard Chicken

July 4th, 2013


TOPIC: How many Saturdays do you get?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about time. Its scarcity, its passing, its tyranny, and its possibilities.

Episode 125: Hakuna Potato

June 28th, 2013


TOPIC: There are Only Two Prices: Free and What It Costs

This week, Dan and Merlin return to the classic lineup and some classic topics, including knowing your value, learning what to charge, and realizing what you can …

Episode 124: The Tuesday Afternoon Version of Me

June 24th, 2013


TOPIC: The Chinese Symbol for 'Pants' Inside of The Chinese Symbol for 'Jury Duty.'

This week, Dan's away, so Merlin goes solo, taking a break from …

Episode 123: I Want to See Your Face the Whole Time (LIVE)

June 11th, 2013


TOPIC: First Meeting, Gifts, and Grifts

This week—after 122 episodes, plus almost a decade of internet pal-dom—Dan and Merlin finally meet and record in a room together for the first time.

With only passing nods to …

Episode 122: The Crowbar of Loyalty

June 4th, 2013


TOPIC: Loyalty, Altruism, Reality Check, or Extortion?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about what we talk about when we talk about "loyalty."

Links …

Episode 121: I Just Had a Dog Delivered

May 28th, 2013


TOPIC: Dan's Recent Bathroom Incident, et al.

This week, Dan and Merlin exhale. Don't search for secret doors.

Links for this episode:

Episode 120: Egg MacGuffin

May 21st, 2013


TOPIC: What would you do differently if you had a "safety net?"

This week, Dan and Merlin congratulate their pal, Marco, on the acquisition of a …

Episode 119: Big Bag of Pandora's Potatoes

May 14th, 2013


TOPIC: Macintosh Nostalgia and Utter Apple ID Madness.

This week, after an entirely appropriate amount of very important follow-up, Dan and Merlin …

Episode 118: One-Step Corn Kerneler

May 7th, 2013


TOPIC: Toward an (Admittedly Dubious) Unified Field Theory of Creativity

This week, Dan and Merlin consider a framework for understanding the basic …

Episode 117: The Flu Shots of Siracusa County

April 30th, 2013


TOPIC: Offices, and when to get out of them.

This week—in what will surely be remembered as the greatest Back to Work episode of all time—Dan and Merlin eventually talk about working at a desk and when to take it …

Episode 116: Beagle Removal Service

April 29th, 2013


TOPIC: Quit & Analyze, and Marvel Character Speculation.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about Dan's "Quit & Analyze" episode, then proceed …

Episode 115: Invitation to a Blame Party

April 26th, 2013


TOPIC: Fixing the Culture of Meetings

This week, Dan and Merlin address the problems with meetings, and how we can each choose to improve them.

Ten …

Episode 114: I'm Moving to FudgePacker

April 17th, 2013


TOPIC: Quicksilver and the OS X App Launcher Landscape

This week, Dan triumphantly returns from two weeks of crippling illness. So, the boys ease …

Episode 113: Entropy's Gonna Do Its Business

April 2nd, 2013


TOPIC: Drafts for iOS, and Who You Want to Be

This week, Dan and Merlin cover two very different topics.

First, there's a detailed discussion of one of Merlin's favorite iOS apps, Drafts, including a deep dive on the …

Episode 112: Touching Pizza and Robotron

March 26th, 2013


TOPIC: Choosing Your Forks.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about some of the deeper and more slippery issues behind changes in our career and life.

Episode 111: You Get There Early for Pancake Day

March 19th, 2013


TOPIC: Memory.

This week, Dan and Merlin try to tackle the complexities of memory.

Why do we remember things from childhood with unimpeachable detail, but then forget our own phone number or PIN code? How can the same …

Episode 110: Okay, Then.

March 12th, 2013


TOPIC: Stupidity.

This week, Dan and Merlin tackle stupidity. And, brother, there sure are a whole lot of flavors of stupid.

Are we really talking …

Episode 109: Two Paragraphs on Bourbon

March 5th, 2013


TOPIC: Not So Much

This week, Dan and Merlin eschew ““topic”” to freely discuss razors, beef, They Might Be Giants, prolapse, Genesis, dogs, …

Episode 108: What Can I Spray?

February 26th, 2013


TOPIC: Shaving a Yak

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about The Hierarchy of Fiddling. When does self-improvement silently shade into navel-gazing, and how do we realize that it's happening?

Some fixes mean applying a …

Episode 107: Pull Out Your Dingus

February 20th, 2013


TOPIC: Compression

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about compression. What happens when we don't account for how long something really takes to do? And, worse still, what if we don't think about what has to happen

Episode 106: Enough Candy to Last Forever

February 12th, 2013


TOPIC: Duplicates, duplicates, duplicates.

This week, Dan and Merlin conclude their discussion of media management by focusing on dealing with duplicates. Just so many duplicates.

Music, Photos, Contacts, and Finder …

Episode 105: Fissures of Men

February 5th, 2013


TOPIC: Cool stuff Merlin loves.

This week, Merlin is delirious and may be in a fugue state, so he and Dan talk about a bunch of cool apps and …

Episode 104: Grab Your Revolver

January 29th, 2013


TOPIC: Modern Media Management: Metadata and Smart Playlists

This week Dan and Merlin continue their 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making …

Episode 103: Lotta Little Knives

January 23rd, 2013


TOPIC: Modern Media Management: iTunes Match

This week Dan and Merlin begin a 3-part series on Modern Media Management: handling your iTunes Library, iOS Devices, and iTunes Match without making yourself crazy.

In …

Episode 102: Hunter Ready to Write

January 15th, 2013


TOPIC: Creative Costumes vs. Pushing Out Product

This week Dan and Merlin talk about how the legends and mythologies around creative people and …

Episode 101: Sprinting Straight Into a Wall

January 8th, 2013


TOPIC: Those New Years When We're Not Actually Resolved.

This week, Merlin and Dan step back from resolutions and shooting yourself in the face with …

Episode 100: Go Ahead, Caller.

January 3rd, 2013


TOPIC: Yes. The caller is there.

This week, in celebration of their hundredth episode, Dan and Merlin do the first call-in episode of Back to Work.

A bevy of the beloved jackals and nerds ask questions about GTD, …

Episode 99: Nobody Wants to Live in a Scaffolding

December 22nd, 2012


TOPIC: Troubleshooting for Saner GTD

This week, Dan and Merlin wrap up their epic summer crossover series on David Allen's book Getting Things Done, …

Episode 98: Bagged and Boarded

December 18th, 2012


TOPIC: Working Getting Things Done to stay current, complete, and creative.

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's Getting Things Done system.

Learning how to leverage GTD's modality to …

Episode 97: Pope of the Office

December 11th, 2012


TOPIC: Using GTD to sanely and intelligently decide what to do, and when, and where.

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's Getting Things Done system.

Hopping over the basic workflow and …

Episode 96: Compensatory Muscles

December 4th, 2012


TOPIC: A Better System for Dealing with Life's "Stuff"

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their discussion of David Allen's book, Getting Things Done

Episode 95: She's Five for a Living

November 27th, 2012


TOPIC: Intro to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”

This week, Dan and Merlin start a long-overdue three-part storyline on David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.[1]

How do you unwad that giant crapball of stuff

Episode 94: A False Sun

November 20th, 2012


TOPIC: How to be a proper list-maker

This week, Dan and Merlin discuss the pros and cons of lighting your environment properly, how we fall into …

Episode 93: 67 Points of Articulation

November 13th, 2012


TOPIC: Florida, Education, and Peaking

This week, Dan and Merlin continue their purging personal odyssey through the state of Florida. Isolation, …

Episode 92: The Florida Episode

November 7th, 2012


TOPIC: Florida.

Hinted at since Episode 1—and repeatedly threatened nearly every week since—here, at last: The Florida Episode.

The heat, the …

Episode 91: Compiling Stallman From Source

October 30th, 2012


TOPIC: The tech you want, and the tech you can live with.

On our second Last Show Ever™, Merlin and Dan talk about parenting, Gatsby hats, note taking and sharing, the Techno-Organic virus, and more.

Links for this …

Episode 90: Quit!™

October 23rd, 2012


TOPIC: Sleep and How to Get It

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about sleep—why we need it, why most of us don't get enough of it, and why we all strain to find a million excuses for perpetually walking around like a sad …

Episode 89: Burlap Sack Full of Oranges

October 16th, 2012


TOPIC: Programming Your Kid's Danger Room.

This week, Dan and Merlin discuss the parenthood racket: the advice and expectations, the doubt and the fear, the assessment, the concentric circles, the snow cones.

Episode 88: So Many Reasons to Cry

October 9th, 2012


TOPIC: Finding Grit.

This week, Dan and Merlin return to a popular topic from last week: grit.

Why is it we stick with some things but totally …

Episode 87: Nothing to Declare But My Coconuts

October 2nd, 2012


TOPIC: Grit, Confidence, and Intuition.

This week, Dan and Merlin begin a conversation on what researchers and educators are learning about why students of all ages do or don't succeed. Yes, it's about intelligence and …

Episode 86: The Talmud of Claremont

September 25th, 2012


TOPIC: Anxious about the Change

This week Merlin updates Dan about his schedule changes. They're going to come, but it's probably the anxiety, not …

Episode 85: Schrödinger's Soap Holder

September 18th, 2012


TOPIC: One Operational Paper Towel; One Safety Paper Towel.

This week, Dan and Merlin discuss how to use a public restroom.

There's some other stuff, too. But, yeah. Mostly Dan and Merlin discuss how to use a public …

Episode 84: Every Genie is an Actuary

September 11th, 2012


TOPIC: Superpowers, Madness, and the Pursuit of Interesting Problems

Dan and Merlin talk about the superpowers you have and can't control as well as …

Episode 83: Way of the Future

September 4th, 2012


TOPIC: Obsessions, Compulsions, Obsessions, and Compulsions. Also, Obsessions—and Compulsions.

This week, Dan and Merlin lick the doorknob five …

Episode 82: Blue Food in Your Refrigerator

August 27th, 2012


TOPIC: Capture, Contracts, and Mapping the Territory.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about keeping an honest calendar and ensuring you regularly …

Episode 81: LAMP for Your Productivity

August 20th, 2012


TOPIC: Honesty and Sociopathy Go to Work

Merlin and Dan talk about the cultural divide between you and your work. Coping with work is a little like …

Episode 80: Cascading Wave of Bad

August 13th, 2012


TOPIC: Kicking and Screaming

Merlin has been dragged kicking and screaming into at least two things this week. Sometimes, that works out, and sometimes it doesn't. But, how many of those things do we need? How many can …

Episode 79: Mayor Pro Tem of Hoboville

August 6th, 2012


TOPIC: Adapting to the Danger Room of Life

Dan and Merlin talk about how the protagonist of your story handles change in personal and work environments.

How do you respond in the face of change you haven't anticipated …

Episode 78: Scream, Poop, and Run

July 30th, 2012


TOPIC: Gut Churn, Pointing Arrows, and Recognizing Change

This week, Dan and Merlin talk at length about a recent article by Radiolab's Jad Abumrad, …

Episode 77: Sadness Harmonica

July 23rd, 2012


TOPIC: Motivation, Hardware Stores, and Fighting the Last War

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about motivation—how it changes, how it doesn't, and how it can be fueled by anxiety and cognitive dissonance.

There is also …

Episode 76: The Avatar of Dorian Gray

July 16th, 2012


TOPICS: Better Meat & Working Backwards

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the many strategic and tactical benefits of reverse-engineering your next project.

There is also extensive discussion of choosing, …

Episode 75: The Mayor of Perspective

July 9th, 2012


TOPIC: Feeling Stuck in the Middle

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about a topic suggested by listener, @toddsandends: what happens when you're stuck …

Episode 74: Cheap Liberal Arts Relativism

July 2nd, 2012


TOPIC: How Much Honesty Can We Stand?

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about how ridiculously complex "Honesty" can be. Do "Candor," "Transparency," …

Episode 73: Permission to Unclench

June 25th, 2012


TOPIC: Aspects of Letting Go

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about two very different viewports into doing what you want to do and being who you want to be.

There's the non-fiddly value you earn from getting junk out …

Episode 72: Rocky Balboa Moment

June 18th, 2012


TOPIC: Confidence, Courage, and the Problem with Thinking

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about why we may or may not feel confident to do stuff. How do other people seem to get it so easily, and where do they find the …

Episode 71: Sorry to Lose You as a Son

June 11th, 2012


TOPIC: The Problem with Passive-Aggression. If that's okay with you.

This week, Dan and Merlin apologize if they've made you unhappy with an episode …

Episode 70: Expectation Zero

June 5th, 2012


TOPIC: Recalibrating Expectations

This week, Dan and Merlin talk more about struggling with expectations. Everybody's expectations. Including yours.

Why it's worth recalibrating your own expectations, managing …

Episode 69: Seven Dwarfs of Bad Emotion

May 29th, 2012


TOPIC: Boogers and Expectations

Are you making perfect reports when your boss just wants them on time? Are you making crème brûlée when you should …

Episode 68: The Black Queen is Killing Me

May 21st, 2012


TOPIC: Incentive, Inspiration, and Motivation

This week, Dan and Merlin are inspired to talk about the incentive and the motivation to make something.

Inspiration is marketed as something you're missing, but it has a …

Episode 67: Ad Hoc Bra

May 15th, 2012


TOPIC: Trying On The Change

This week, Dan and Merlin (who might not have mentioned he didn't sleep much) discuss the balance between placing nickel bets versus going all-in—or at least thinking all-in.

You might be …

Episode 66: Horseradish on My Raccoon

May 7th, 2012


TOPIC: The Pete Campbell Problem

Ever notice how you never really "arrive?" Or, have you ever noticed that right when you think you've "arrived," …

Episode 65: A Light Dusting of Life

May 3rd, 2012


TOPIC: Stressing Out About Stress

Dan and Merlin talk about what happens when stress meets stress, anxiety feeds anxiety, and 10 guys maybe try to jump you in the woods.

Which kinds of stress are simply unavoidable? …

Episode 64: Frozen Poster

April 23rd, 2012


TOPIC: The Surprising Problems of "Doing What You Love"

Merlin has some follow up on Agency: be in control of what you give away and why you charge …

Episode 63: Bold with the Scissors

April 16th, 2012


TOPIC: Agency, Independence, and Outing Your Makebelieve "Partners."

Dan and Merlin return to the topic of agency.

Who's allowed to speak and act on your behalf? And, what happens when you discover people who've …

Episode 62: Cultural Molasses

April 9th, 2012


TOPIC: Karmasucks, No-Sayers, and Black and White Thinking

Dan and Merlin consider the karmasucks and black and white thinking that lead to inertia …

Episode 61: I Handed Him My Luke

April 2nd, 2012


Dan and Merlin talk about Dancing Han Solo, going to college in Florida, and developing smarter patterns for Getting Things Diaried.

Whether you're …

Episode 60: Living Inside an Unfinished Thing

March 26th, 2012


Dan and Merlin consider how to rethink your work as a platform. It's not just a job, or just a career, or (God forbid) just a brand--it's about deciding when you need to take your time and attention pro.

How the stuff …

Episode 59: Brains All the Way Down

March 19th, 2012


This week, Dan and Merlin tackle the problem of changing cultures at work. It's not a snapshot, it's not a kitchen table, and it may actually have …

Episode 58: Girl with the QR Tattoo

March 12th, 2012


TOPIC: Changing Inputs

Dan turns Merlin's technical difficulties into a discussion of discovering and paying attention to things that have a high …

Episode 57: Start with Anger, End with a Sign

March 5th, 2012


Merlin and Dan talk about successful lawn care secrets and getting angry over dog poop, paper towels, duck crossings, and the Dark Side.

No one ever …

Episode 56: One Giant Beholder Dinosaur

February 28th, 2012


Merlin and Dan talk about your attachment to old coffee cups, Captain America glasses, and Grandma's underwear cabinet—all the physical (and …

Episode 55: The Pickles Never Touch

February 21st, 2012


This week Dan and Merlin ponder why there's so much variability in the quality of our work. 

Whether we're making code, scrubbing toilets, or stinking up the Arby's, what explains our individual drive to do something …

Episode 54: Freemium Mason

February 16th, 2012


Merlin and Dan talk about returning to paleo, the nature of wieners and discouragement, crown vic habits and anxiety addiction.

You won't beat it without a cocktail of grit and care with just the right amount of …

Episode 53: The Wages of Security

February 7th, 2012


In the most average episode ever, Merlin and Dan talk physical and digital work environments so you can get going in the right direction and don't have to spend all day on it.

And, when do you know you don't want 10 …

Episode 52: Walk the Coastline, Bitches

January 31st, 2012


TOPIC: The Hidden Cost is the True Cost

Merlin is back from MacWorldPipeiWorld to talk with Dan about the True Cost of iceberg lettuce, an anchor tenant, 20 minutes of your time, and how much of your life you're going …

Episode 51: Living Inside the Nonsense

January 24th, 2012


TOPIC: Slipping on Dates, Sliding on Days

Merlin and Dan talk about managing projects, scheduling calls, and being home when you scheduled a party. …

Episode 50: The Pork Soup Paradox

January 18th, 2012


TOPIC: What to do if you fear a layoff.

Merlin and Dan talk about rumors of layoffs—when the fear gets you, and you start filing in the narrative with a panther, even if you're developing the best-of-breed cereal …

Episode 49: The Field of Completion

January 10th, 2012


John Gruber joins Merlin to talk about blog engines, Lego, bias, credibility, the project triangle, and (duh) Star Wars

Links for this episode:

Episode 48: An Abrupt Existential Jerk

January 4th, 2012


TOPIC: How habits get made. 

Dan and Merlin are back for 2012 to discuss how habits are like little hairs or inertia or homeostasis or something. How we build habits, how they get built for us, and what we can learn …

Episode 47: Utter Failure & Hotel Steak

December 28th, 2011


TOPIC: Resolving to skip the New Year's resolutions.

In the last episode of 2011, Merlin and Dan talk about fresh starts and modest changes rather …

Episode 46: Not Counting the Mezzanine

December 20th, 2011


Topic: The Meta-Distractions of "Minimalism"

This week, Merlin and Dan get all "Zen" about bias and minimalism. Your background won't get any blacker, so stop burning cycles arguing on the internet or worrying about …

Episode 45: Finagling the Tree Bag

December 13th, 2011


Topic: The Narcissism of Small Differences

This week, Merlin has a quiz for Dan to determine whether Ben Franklin, "The Immigrant Song," or Quantum …

Episode 44: Circuitous Bridge of My Own Design

December 7th, 2011


Topic: Moving from dumb nouns to awesome verbs.

This week, Dan and Merlin talk about the problem with Capital Letter Nouns; how real and specific verbs will always trounce Excellence, Effectiveness, and Mission …

Episode 43: I Return Null

November 30th, 2011


Topic: Asking questions in order to find better questions

This week, Dan and Merlin pick up their discussion of asking better questions and how sometimes the point of asking a question isn't to get an answer, but to …

Episode 42: Coconut Headphones

November 22nd, 2011


This week Dan and Merlin talk about asking good questions instead of massaging your real problem until it fits the comforting solution you found on …

Episode 41: Carpal Tunnel Diem

November 16th, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk more about why we get stuck and how might re-think getting "unstuck." Looking at process over product, remembering how you got here, and getting clear about what you're really trying to make.

Episode 40: Dirty South Is Off the Menu

November 9th, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about what it means for Google to change the meaning of "plus," and how it might bolster the production of "stuff and needy."

Episode 39: A Source of Rice with Velocity

November 1st, 2011


On strength and tolerance.

Dan and Merlin talk about the many facets of strength, including the complexity of knowing what to be strong about, to …

Episode 38: Sorry. You Can't Have a Candle.

October 25th, 2011


On improving presentation culture.

Dan and Merlin talk about bombing the deck, advancing the slides, and striving to improve the self-perpetuating …

Episode 37: It's Never Not Everywhere

October 18th, 2011


This week, Merlin loves and hates iCloud while loving and REALLY loving Dropbox. He and Dan observe angry corn, discuss emailing files to yourself, wonder what to do with an ugly photo, and explore Mr. Noodle's brother, …

Episode 36: Writing on the Wind

October 12th, 2011


Merlin Mann talks with Dan Benjamin about his dogged obsession with the flexibility of index cards—for propping up tables, giving very small cuts, and getting babies hygienically removed. Then, there is much talk of …

Episode 35: Why My Pants Were On Fire

September 27th, 2011


How to handle job interviews.

Merlin and Dan can't solve the problem of interviews being dumb, but Merlin will tell you what is wrong with you, how …

Episode 34: Rectangular Door Conspiracy

September 20th, 2011


How to say "no."

Merlin talks with Dan about saying No to toilet paper diamonds, mints on pillows, and things you don't have the wallet for instead of saying Yes to a crate of bananas you don't have enough information …

Episode 33: The Hypocrite You Can Live With

September 13th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin have a totally natural emotional reaction to the unreasonable demands they place on themselves after reading The …

Episode 32: The Beertruck Scenario

September 6th, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about Dan's sabbatical, hotdogs, services, triggers, Quicksilver, Launchbar, and why there's no 'I' in 'ordnance.'

Sponsored by MailChimp and Smile.

Episode 31: You Can Polish AC/DC All Day Long

August 30th, 2011


With Dan on sabbatical, Merlin is joined by John Roderick of The Long Winters to talk about life as a bull in a china closet, craving real-world …

Episode 30: I'm Not Working in an Abattoir

August 23rd, 2011


With Dan on sabbatical, Merlin is joined by Jonathan Coulton to talk about traveling, horn sections, and Jonathan’s new album, Artificial Heart.

Episode 29: I Download FLAC

August 16th, 2011


With Dan on sabbatical, Merlin is joined by TV’s Rob Corddry (Children’s Hospital, The Daily Show, Hot Tub Time Machine) to talk about Getting Things Done, writing, fear, and finding success as a blood-soaked clown.

Episode 28: One Little Red Egg

August 9th, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about kid stuff, including the threat of Hot Wheels® donation, the inevitability of skinned knees, the nefariousness of the hospital gift basket, plus an important way every Dad has to go pro.

Links …

Episode 27: Danny, Hold the License Plate

August 2nd, 2011


Merlin and Dan discuss the shameful state of film school, the realities of Ape Law, Merlin's rock opera, and the subliminal downside of Spongebob's …

Episode 26: Spaghetti Guy Hits Close to Home

July 29th, 2011


This week Wutang Dan and The MZA bring the ruckus to finding a job, selling your Mustang, and putting your house on the market: remember that you can't negotiate with reality, Merlin can't do anything to make you love …

Episode 25: My Food Court of Functionality

July 22nd, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about nerds getting problems and about using Markdown in BBEdit, Textmate or any text app because you need to find tools that …

Episode 24: The Daddy for your Destiny

July 12th, 2011


Dan's in a closet, but Merlin has a lot of FU from the last show: good jobs don't get posted on Craigslist and while you may not know what's gonna happen next, you're not just gonna install Xcode and retire on your …

Episode 23: Failure is ALWAYS an Option

July 5th, 2011


This week, Dan and Merlin determine that even the Chico Marx of notebooks is the right one if you're writing in it, failure is ALWAYS an option: …

Episode 22: My Baby Likes Aluminum Foil!

June 29th, 2011


This week, Merlin and Dan share their Pick: The Macintosh Computer.

Also, a 17-minute experimental startup sound, catching conflicts, shivving the stagecoach, machine-gunning with SoundMaster, the dangers of ResEdit, …

Episode 21: Assistant TO the Regional Monkey

June 22nd, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about the problem of permanent zeroes, desiring not to desire, why "hypocrisy" is killing you, stepping back on the path without …

Episode 20: Muscle of Failure

June 14th, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about getting started, putting on your shoes instead of shopping for pedometers, false dilemmas, doing as much work with your …

Episode 19: Corner Casey Kasem

June 7th, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about mindful tool adoption, screwdriver museums, why Vi users may (or may not) be cannibalistic insects—plus debate on whether a …

Episode 18: Forking the Question

May 31st, 2011


Merlin and Dan talk about educating "That's Just a Button Guy," practicing more humane pushback, asking better questions, why laundromats don't accept "focus," plus what happens when you put WAY too much crap in your …

Episode 17: Brick Building Full of Lies

May 27th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about checking email under the table to catch up on your 27 high priority tasks, a good time to use the word …

Episode 16: Bracing for the Blow

May 18th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin aren't afraid of lawyers, dentists, negative feelings, or of not being afraid of something.

Sponsored by Rackspace and Shopify.

Episode 15: Marionette of my own Design

May 10th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin are here to discuss the awareness of fear, asking yourself why, and knowing the problem instead of chasing fake …

Episode 14: Velocity of Disappointment

May 3rd, 2011


Merlin Mann joins Dan Benjamin to talk about problems that are impossible, problems that are boring, problems that you're scared of, and why you need to differentiate between fear and anxiety so you can be scared of …

Episode 13: The Kid's Great

April 26th, 2011


Dan and Merlin talk about "Cranking" - Merlin's latest post at

Links for this episode:

Episode 12: Chewie's Medal is Not Canonical

April 19th, 2011


Merlin Mann has some "followup" before he and Dan Benjamin discuss entrusting your agency to others, how to reclaim it, and picking the right balance …

Episode 11: Johnny Heuristic

April 12th, 2011


Merlin Mann joins Dan Benjamin to talk about futureproofing your passion by finding your obsession and voice, putting away your buggy whip and …

Episode 10: At Last the 'Inspiration' Show

March 29th, 2011


Dan and Merlin try to remove the airquotes from "inspiration" by talking about what it's great for (shipping better and more interesting stuff), what it's terrible for (getting started). Also covered: Dan's Old …

Episode 9: Out of Scope!

March 22nd, 2011


Dan and Merlin improvise topics this week and get from Synechode, NY to dopamine, being scared and being safe, believing your thoughts and coloring …

Episode 8: Little Velvet Hands

March 15th, 2011


This week, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin eighty-six their restaurant jobs—emptying grease traps, handling logs of meat, and sharing what they learned by bringing mostly bad food to America's table. Dan burns velvet …

Episode 7: Vocational Wheel

March 8th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin relate to Richard–a listener in the middle of a quarter life crisis working jobs he doesn't like–with stories from their pasts, suggestions to combat the cascade of seriousness, and some …

Episode 6: Expectational Debt

March 1st, 2011


Merlin Mann is back from Webstock and ready to recap with Dan Benjamin, which leads back to caring first, performance and fear, meditation, hypnotherapy, and why you really need the hard answer instead just more tips.

Episode 5: Chigger Bites on the Bus Driver

February 15th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about the black art of paying attention to the right things, how lamps are no substitute, that it's hard whether you’re working from home or a cube, being honest about your expertise …

Episode 4: Failing with Style

February 8th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about trying to change other people, how things really aren’t that bad, balancing fear or being driven by fear, leaving capacity for when you get The Pitch, procrastination …

Episode 3: The Second Arrow

February 1st, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discuss ADD, Buddhism, mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

Links for this episode:

Episode 2: Picture of a Boat

January 25th, 2011


Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin formulate a five-minute warning tactic before discussing the reality of bringing change to your company, some patterns …

Episode 1: Alligator in the Bathroom

January 18th, 2011


In the inaugural episode of Back to Work, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discuss why they’re doing this show, getting back to work instead of buying berets, the lizard brain, and compare the Shadow of the Mouse to San …

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