I’m Guy Raz, Author and Podcaster, and This Is How I Work

If you’ve listened to National Public Radio at all over the years, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Guy Raz’s voice. Formerly the host of All Things Considered, he made the jump into podcasts nearly a decade ago, hosting shows like the TED Radio Hour, How I Built This, kids series Wow in the World, and Wisdom from the Top on Luminary.

Most recently, he released a book called How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs, in which he distills many of the lessons that he’s learned over the years hosting the titular podcast, exploring a wide range of ideas that have helped build some of the world’s most successful businesses. I spoke with Raz about how he has built his own career, and how he manages to juggle so many projects.

Tell me a bit about your background, and how did you get to the place where you are today?

I started out as a student journalist in college, and I kind of came to NPR by accident in the ‘90s. I really wanted to be a newspaper reporter, but I couldn’t get a job in newspapers at the time because they were very hard to get. These are the most competitive jobs in the U.S. So I ended up getting an internship at NPR in the ‘90s.

My intention was to become a newspaper reporter but I became a radio reporter. I really began my career there: I started out doing everything from a production assistant, to an assistant to Daniel Schorr, who was a wise old man at the time at NPR as a news analyst. I eventually started writing freelance articles for newspapers in the DC area, like the Washington City Paper and then The Washington Post, and at the same time, became an NPR reporter.

[I then] went overseas for about six-and-a-half years, covered the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war. I was based in Berlin, in London and in Jerusalem. It was a very different world than the one I live in now, spending much of my time in conflict zones.

When I was overseas, I left NPR and went to CNN, where I was a television reporter. I came back, rejoined NPR as a reporter, and then eventually became an anchor on All Things Considered.

And then I left the news world in 2012 and began to focus on this new space, podcasting. I collaborated with TED to create a show called The TED Radio Hour, which was a very big departure from what I had been doing, because it was a show about ideas and science and human behavior. It really transformed my life and got me into the world of podcasting. So I left broadcast news in 2012, and that’s how I I got into the world that I’m in now.

Take us through a recent workday. How do you work, and how has your routine changed since the time of the pandemic?

I wake up around 5:30 a.m. and have some water. And then we have a team meeting at 6:15 a.m. I’m in the Pacific Time Zone and most of my team is in the Eastern Time Zone, so it’s 9:15 a.m. for them. We have a 15 minute Zoom chat, and when that ends, I try to exercise every day from sort of 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. Then I shower and shave, and oftentimes at 8:45 I have to be in front of my laptop computer in my studio for a live interview that I do for How I Built This. We do this twice a week—every Tuesday and Friday at 9 a.m., we have about a 45 minute live interview with a different founder.

On the days when I’m not doing that, I’m still usually in the studio by 8:45 a.m. I might interview somebody for How I Built This — those interviews can last two, three hours. I might have a recording session for Wow in the World, which starts at around that time, and that lasts about an hour. I might have to write an introduction for a How I Built This episode, I might have an interview for another podcast I do called Wisdom from the Top.

So every day begins differently, once I’ve gotten through the routine of my team meeting and exercise—the day is different every single day. But essentially, it’s a series of interviews and conversations that I have from my studio (which is currently in the garage behind my home), which is where I do all of my interviews right now because of COVID.

In some ways, my routine is much more predictable now, because in normal times, I’m on the road three or four times a week. I’m on airplanes for live shows or for interviews or for other work that I do. Now, given that I’m not doing any traveling, for obvious reasons, we’re not doing any live shows. We’re doing everything virtually and remotely. I spend most of the day in my studio, with a break for lunch—when I have those breaks. But usually my day is jam-packed; every half-hour is full. It’s either an interview that I’m going to be doing or a recording session for one of my shows or a writing block for when I need to be writing, or a pre-interview call with every guest that I bring on to How I Built This.

And then there are calls with my partners, for my children’s production company Tinkercast, the company that produces Wow in the World. Some days I’ve got calls with other people who have been working on projects with us, whether it’s connected to a book or our television projects.

I also try and make room for calls with people who are looking for mentorship. I can’t do as much of it as I would like, because I just don’t have the time. But I try to make space for it and I obviously prioritize people at NPR—interns and others. I’m not an employee of NPR, but I’m very connected to NPR because I’ve worked with NPR for more than 20 years, and because it’s such a part of my life.

I make dinner; I do all the cooking in the house. My wife handles the dishes. I try to do cooking for our two boys on the weekend so they have food during the week. And then oftentimes, I’ll come back to the studio to do things like answering emails. I’ve got multiple email accounts and I wait to do that until the end of the day. That alone is a full time job.

I will say that I’ve been much more efficient during COVID because I’ve had to be, and despite the fact that it’s been difficult and challenging, I’ve actually been more productive because I’ve been at home and I haven’t been on the road.

How do you keep track of your workflow? Do you have any tools or systems to keep yourself on track?

Mainly it’s people who keep me accountable. I have multiple deadlines and multiple partners I work with. I have a wonderful assistant who is on top of those deadlines and is very good at reminding me when to meet those deadlines. And my Outlook calendar is my bible. Why Outlook and not Google Calendar? Because the NPR team uses Outlook, and they need constant access to my calendar. So that is why I use Outlook. It is not… great, but it is what I use. I look at that calendar every day. It changes all the time; in the middle of this conversation, a calendar entry changed. That really is what also keeps me accountable: just following that calendar and making sure that I’m ticking everything off that list.

You’ve conducted thousands of interviews over the years: How do you go about planning them? What type of routine have you settled into for researching a subject, coming up with the questions, and actually going about asking them?

I have a wonderful team. A small team makes How I Built This, but [they are] very amazing and wonderful and efficient producers. One member of our team is assigned to create what’s called a research packet. They will basically look for every single article—anything written about the person that I’m going to interview. They will compile that in a packet—usually a 20-page (minimum) document. That is what’s called a pass off, and [it] is full of very detailed biographical information, including a timeline. I will read all of that material before the interview. Sometimes it takes three hours, sometimes it can take seven or eight hours or more. And even more if the person has a book. I try to read as much of their material as I can so I’m prepared and know their story, hopefully [better than] they do by the time we go into the interview. I usually do that reading at night and on weekends.

How do you come up with the questions?

You know, I’ve been doing this so long that I don’t come in with prepared questions anymore. And part of that is I’ve been standing at the free throw line throwing baskets for 23 years, and for the first 10 years, I missed a lot of those shots. And now I make a lot more of them because I’ve just practiced. I can go into an interview with [anyone if] I’m well prepared. I have some notes in front of me of things that I really want to tick, but I don’t have prepared questions anymore.

Is there a favorite thing that you’re always looking to get out of a person?

I’m trying to get inside their head and inside their experience. There are multiple ways to do that—there’s no single right way to do it, and it doesn’t work the same way with every person. So I will often ask version of the same questions many times.

What is your workplace setup?

In Oakland, California, I have a studio. It is a physical room that is inside of another room that is inside of a converted garage. It’s called the whisper booth. It’s a very quiet space. Anybody who tells you that they’re in a soundproof booth is not being accurate, because there are, as far as I know, only one or two truly soundproof booths in the world, and they are like sensory deprivation chambers. It’s impossible to make something completely soundproof. Even a perfect recording studio might have pipes or some slight sound, but you can get them very close. The Whisper Booth does that, and it essentially prevents outside sounds from coming in.

So that’s where I work. It’s outfitted—you can see a photo of it if you do a Google Video search of my name.

It’s got orange acoustic panels all around, so it’s a nice bright color. That orange paneling is made from recycled jeans, that work really well. We bought from a cool company. And then I’ve got my laptop in there. It’s about 6′ x 8′, so it’s a small space. I am there for much of the day, but I go in and out because it gets hot. It has circulated air, but no air conditioning to keep the sound down.

Do you have any like tools or gadgets that you just can’t live without?

Most of them are kitchen gadgets. My favorite tools in the kitchen are kitchen shears. I use them all the time, like [the] Benriner Japanese Mandoline, which is great for slicing vegetables—but watch your fingers!

In terms of my work in my studio, I really rely on a few really important tools that have made my life easier. Some of them are very simple. I hardwire my computer into the internet router instead of using wifi, which gives me a much more reliable connection, especially when I do video and live content. It’s a little dongle adapter that I plug into my Mac and that enables me to plug [in] an ethernet cable. That thing is like it’s like 10 bucks, but I can also plug an external mic into it, and that thing is just really awesome.

I use my iPhone as a camera to make videos. I have a really cool clamp that clamps to the edge of my desk that can hold that—it’s like an arm that I can put my iPhone into, and then I can adjust it and use that to make videos. Also, because I do a lot of video, I have a ring light in my studio, but I use reflectors that I clamp to the acoustic paneling, and the reflectors kind of [accomplish] what a window would. They create the appearance of natural light in the studio, rather than have a light shining on me.

Do you have any favorite life hacks or shortcuts that make your life easier?

I would say my life hack is I do not use any electronic devices one day a week. We chose Saturday because it really feels like the weekend day, and Sunday’s the day when people start to kind of ask questions about things that are going to happen on Monday. So on Friday night, my wife and I take our devices, we take our children’s devices, and we lock them up. And we spend Saturday like a family in the 1990s or ‘80s or ‘70s, a time before screens. And we are bored sometimes, and we play board games and we go for hikes. And we sit around, we talk, our kids complain about being bored, and it’s great because kids don’t get the opportunity to be bored anymore. So that’s something that we’ve been doing for about a year and it has vastly and dramatically improved my life.

Do you have any side projects that you’re working on? Any hobbies that you use to recharge?

I have many side projects that I work on. I mean, I have my main thing, which is How I Built This, and Wow in the World, and everything else is connected to those things in some way. But I’ve got many balls in the air—I’m juggling different proposals and ideas and people are pitching.

I love to cook and I try and spend time every week and weekend cooking. I love experimenting with different ingredients and grow a lot of vegetables in planters. We do lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. We have a pear tree, so this summer I’ve been making a lot of pear-based things at home. With an ice cream machine, I’ll get the fresh mint from our garden and soak that overnight in milk and then make mint ice cream. I love experimenting with cooking and foods. That’s a really big part of my life outside of work.

To of blow off steam, I spend as much time as I can with my children and my wife, and we really work on making sure that we do at least one outdoor hike or outdoor activity every week.

Between How I Built This and Wow in the World, what is something that you’ve learned in one project that you’ve been able to apply in the other?

So much. With all of my shows, I try and think about them in a very simple way. People have a limited amount of time during the day for non-work activities. Let’s say it’s two, three, maybe four hours—call it personal time, maybe they’re working out. In normal times, maybe they’re commuting, maybe they’re cooking. And my feeling is that if they are going to give me one hour of their time—which is extremely valuable time—I have to make the content that I offer them worth their time. And that doesn’t matter if it’s Wow in the World or How I Built This or Wisdom from the Top.

I’m always thinking to myself, if I listened to this in my free time, would I walk away saying you know, I got a lot out of that; that was a good use of my time or walk away saying that was really not a good use of my time. And as long as I can say [the former]. I know I’m on the right track.

What lesson have you learned from the pandemic that you’re going to take with you when we’ve eventually released back into the world?

That spending time with my family is the most important thing in my life. That I am first and foremost a dad. That is my first, second, third, and last most important parts of my life. So much of what I do does not have to be done by traveling to places. I can actually do so much of what I do where I am with my family.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

A rare deal on the Oxo Conical Burr Coffee Grinder: $75 (save $25) – CNET

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Save 25% on Oxo’s top-rated conical burr grinder.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I’m putting the finishing touches on a story about cheap ways to make awesome coffee at home. Grinding your own beans definitely qualifies for the “awesome” part, but the grinders themselves aren’t cheap. One of the most popular models, in fact, rarely drops below $100.

So check this out: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Macy’s has the Oxo Conical Burr Coffee Grinder for $75 with promo code FALL. That’s with free shipping or ship-to-store.

I’ve been using this very grinder for a couple weeks, and it works extremely well. It’s not crazy-loud (though it definitely makes noise), and the hopper can be removed if needed without spilling beans all over the place.

You can also get ultraprecise about the grind level, with 15 main settings and several more in between in each one.

Read more: Best coffee maker for 2020: Oxo, Bonavita, Ninja, Bunn and more

The one thing I don’t like: The dial here is used to select grind time, not grind amount, which strikes me as rather pointless. I need to know how much coffee is coming out, not how long it’s coming out.

Still, the Oxo ranked highest in CNET’s list of the best coffee grinders, and this deal saves you 25%. Definitely worth a look.

Now playing: Watch this: Oxo Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker: Our new Editors’ Choice…


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CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best BuyWalmartAmazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.

People in Taiwan Can Ride the Subway and Pay for Snacks With Poké Balls

Illustration for article titled People in Taiwan Can Ride the Subway and Pay for Snacks With Poké Balls

Image: EasyCard

The NFC-powered payment cards used to pay for public transit in Taipei, Taiwan, are so popular that not only have other businesses (like convenience stores) started accepting them, they’re also available in endless shapes and sizes, including an official Poké Ball-shaped smartcard that lights up when you’ve successfully made a purchase.

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Taipei’s EasyCard was first released back in 2002, and over the past 18 years has grown in popularity because is it not only a quick and easy way to make payments without the need for entering a PIN, but also because it can carry a limited balance so if you lose it, your life savings isn’t at risk. Because it’s essentially nothing more than a plastic card with a small NFC chip embedded inside, the EasyCard now exists in many forms, including the Poké Ball, which was born from a partnership with Niantic last year.

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When the Poké Ball EasyCard officially went on sale in Taipei last year it was limited to just 3,000 units, and at just $11 each it sold out almost immediately, to the surprise of no one. The company eventually sold 14,000 of them, but it still did not meet the demand, so it’s bringing the Poké Ball EasyCard back for another limited run in 2020. Pricing and specific availability haven’t been revealed just yet, although the NFC Poké Ball is expected to show up for preorder from Taiwanese online retailer PChome 24h sometime in mid- to late October.

What does this mean for Pokémon collectors outside Taiwan? Not much. The EasyCard Poké Ball would undoubtedly make a nice addition to a collection given its scarcity, but even if your local public transit system has moved to NFC payment cards, the chip inside the Poké Ball is going to be programmed for the EasyCard system, and probably blocked so it can’t be rewritten or reprogrammed for other purposes.

Buy the Nintendo Switch for $299 and get 10% back from Amazon – CNET

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You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Switch deal right now.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Happy Thursday, cheeps! A few quick odds and ends:

  • If you have 5G-capable phones (or plan to in the near future), Metro by T-Mobile has a pretty good in-store offer: Two unlimited 5G lines for $70 a month, taxes and fees included. Actually, your first payment will be $80, but when you sign up for autopay, it drops to $70 starting with the second month. Existing customers can add a new line of service to hop on this deal.
  • It won’t be in stock until Oct. 14 (aka the second day of Prime Day), but right now you can order the Aukey 10,000-mAh USB-C power bank for just $10.49 with the on-page 15%-off coupon and promo code PVCHCTZJ. It has two USB Type-A outputs and a USB-C. Crazy-good deal.
  • Last year’s streamer is this year’s bargain: Woot has the second-generation Amazon Fire TV Stick with voice remote for $20. That remote includes TV controls, making it a better choice (IMHO) than the new Fire TV Stick Lite, which is currently $10 more.

On to the main event! The hard-to-find Nintendo Switch is available for purchase from Amazon right now, though with an expected in-stock date of Oct. 26. Here’s something that will help make it worth the wait: When you order the Switch with your Amazon Prime credit card, you’ll get 10% back. That brings your net cost down to around $269 and makes this among the better Switch deals of the year. Note, however, that this is for the Blue and Red model; the 10%-back offer doesn’t appear to apply to the Animal Crossing Special Edition.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because there’s a similar option available right now for the Oculus Quest 2. Basically, if you have one of the aforementioned Prime credit cards, your regular 5%-back jumps to 10% for various items, including the Quest 2 and, now, the Switch.

Don’t have a Prime credit card? This is the time to sign up, because existing Amazon Prime subscribers will score a $100 gift card for doing so. (Non-subscribers will get a $50 gift card, still pretty good.)

In theory, you could apply for the Visa, then apply the $100 gift card to the purchase of the Switch, and then still get 10% back, for a final net price of around $180. 

While you’re at it, consider picking up the wildly beloved Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, on sale for $45 right now. That’s $15 off the regular price and one of the better deals I’ve seen lately.

Your thoughts?

Now playing: Watch this: Here’s how Mario Kart Live Home Circuit will work


5:35


CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best BuyWalmartAmazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.

We may know what iPhone 12 will look like: All the design clues, from colors to sizes – CNET

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A concept mockup of the iPhone 12.

Phone Arena

Analysts suggest Apple is on the cusp of launching its latest generation of superphone, with an event announced for Oct. 13 (you can livestream Apple’s event from home — here’s how to watch). The current hottest rumors suggest that we may see multiple version of the iPhone 12, with features like 5G, lidar depth mapping and the latest A14 Bionic processor. (And here are some features on our iPhone 12 wish list that Apple should steal from Samsung.)  But what will the phone look like? Let’s dive into the rumor mill to work it out.

Read more: Is iPhone 12 cheaper than iPhone 11? Here’s what we’ve heard about price

Now playing: Watch this: Why iPhone 12 should have Touch ID


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Multiple iPhone 12 sizes

First up, the physical size of the phone. Mobile industry analysts suggest that there will be four iterations of the phone, with the smallest being the new 5.4-inch iPhone 12 Mini. Then there’s the two base models, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, both expected to be 6.1 inches, making them slightly bigger than the current iPhone 11 Pro’s 5.8-inch size.

Finally, there’s the big one, the iPhone 12 Pro Max. With a rumored screen size of 6.7 inches, you’ll need a pretty big pocket to keep this beast comfortably housed. 

Physical design, cameras and notch

Various rumors have pointed towards an update to the outer metal edging of the iPhone 12, which will sport a flat, chamfered-edge metal design, much like the edging seen on the recent iPad Pro. PhoneArena’s mockup, above, shows the potential look and it’s one I’m very keen on. The mockup also shows a potential fourth lens in the phone’s rear camera array — that would be a lidar sensor, which would provide more accurate depth information for improved augmented reality functions.

The flat design would help Apple keep the physical size of the phone down, narrowing those bezels and letting the screen fill more of the body. The notch in the front of the screen that houses the selfie camera is also rumored to be slimmed down, although unlikely to disappear entirely in this generation of phone. 

Read more: What else could Apple announce on Oct. 13?

It would be nice to see a Touch ID button, like Apple included on the new iPad Air it unveiled in September (which is especially useful in the age of coronavirus mask-wearing), but we aren’t holding our breath.

What we almost certainly won’t see — and there have been no leaks to the contrary — is a foldable phone from Apple in 2020. Whether the company ever launches a foldable device remains to be seen, but for now it seems its content to see how popular Samsung’s, Motorola’s and Huawei’s foldables are before doing its own.

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A concept mockup of the blue iPhone 12.

EverythingApplePro

New blue color

Apple is rumored to be preparing a new navy blue color for the new generation of iPhone 12, possibly replacing the green model that launched with the iPhone 11. It’s on-trend — it’s Pantone’s color of the year for 2020 — and I think it looks pretty smart in EverythingApplePro’s mockup, seen above. 

Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Hot on the heels of our wedding last weekend (wolf-whistle)—now infamously pushed forward because of Prime Day—my wife and I recently decided to rearrange our apartment in a way that not only better suits our new work-from-home lifestyle but also opens up the space. As I’ve tirelessly chronicled on this godforsaken website, I live in a 500-square foot studio apartment with my significant other and two pets. So it goes without saying things get a little cramped sometimes, and feeling physically suffocated by STUFF is probably not the best way to start a marriage. For this reason, we ditched some of our more substantial belongings in favor of newer, smaller, and mostly cheaper decor, in addition to rethinking our approach to organization.

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Before we moved into an apartment built for ants in Manhattan, we both came from roomier apartments in the heart of Brooklyn. Naturally, much of the furniture we packed up and transported in a U-Haul truck one rainy afternoon was intended for these 2-3 bedroom homes. About a year and a half later, it became evident the layout was no longer working for us, thus we started investigating clever ideas for “downsizing” our digs to at least create the illusion of grandeur. You see, whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, sooner or later, you’ll recognize the shortcomings of your original vision for the interior design and backpedal. To spare you the grief, I’ve put together a tidy list of compact furnishings to replace your existing setup and start anew.

An Unexpected Obstruction: The Dining Table

Illustration for article titled Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Graphic: Gabe Carey

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Let’s face it, unless you have a family of four or more, no one needs a large dining table right now. In the midst of a pandemic, you should probably avoid having guests INSIDE YOUR HOUSE. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST EAT OUTSIDE IF YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A SOCIALLY DISTANT FEAST. But especially if your living quarters are confined, the first thing you’ll want to take a look at is your dining table. Ask yourself, do you really need that extendable, rectangular mess occupying the larger part of your dining area, or could you get away with a modest, squareular pinewood storage desk measuring just 29″ each way. We opted for the latter, and haven’t regretted it since. Removing our six- to eight-person Ikea piece from the mix gave us more clearance to do our nightly floor exercises, at the same time rather than taking turns.

Clearing Out the Fridge

Illustration for article titled Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Image: Sorbus

To conserve fridge real estate, we got a bunch of these fridge drawers and organizers for the shelves that don’t have storage. You know, the ones where you keep all your most random novelty sauces right next to the beer and various yogurts? Now you can have an entire drawer dedicated to beer, and another exclusively for ‘gurts. However you want to sort your fridge, you can rest assured knowing the arrangement is rational. However, I will say, the egg container—which can store up to 14 eggs as opposed to a carton’s 12—isn’t the best example of this efficiency. Who’s got just two spare eggs lying around? But, for $35, you’ll be able to stock your fridge with one of those bad boys, two wide drawers, two narrow drawers, and a can dispenser drawer for the aforementioned beers. A pretty great value all things considered.

Put It Where You Can’t See It

Illustration for article titled Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Image: Youdenova

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my adult life about cleaning, it’s that the key to maintaining a space devoid of clutter is to shove it inside something else. Enter storage. While everyone and their mother knows you can buy under-bed storage bins to keep useless junk out of sight and out of mind before it’s inevitably tossed out, those with more trinkets than you know what to do with can stuff ‘em inside an ottoman and prop your feet up when you’re done. We bought the Youdenovoa 30″ folding storage ottoman, which comes cheap at $39 yet feels high-quality despite the modest cost.

These organizer boxes from mDesign we keep in our bathroom. Their versatile design, however, makes them perfectly suitable for just about any room. Alternatively, mDesign offers a bathroom-specific vanity set for storing things purhcased in bulklike mouthwash and handsoap. For a moving storage solution, I recommend the Mind Reader three-drawer rolling storage cart and organizer. Push it aside when it gets in the way, or test out new locations around the apartment on a whim to see where it fits best. Whatever your needs, let these organizational tools serve as repositories for everything you don’t know what to do with—at least until you figure out what to do with it.

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From Instrument to Ornament

Illustration for article titled Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Graphic: Gabe Carey

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Like my coworker Quentyn here, I’ve been trying to learn how to play the guitar these past few months, mostly because there’s nothing else to do. But here’s the thing about musical instruments, especially string instruments: they take up A LOT of space. Space that I, evidently, do not have. The String Swing guitar hanger and mount bracket not only addresses that concern, it actually improved the look of my wall. Previously a blank slate, the addition of a guitar makes it seem like I’m competent at something outside of work, even though I’m an amateur guitar player at best. To complement this new adornment, I bought a six-pack of aluminum album cover frames—the cheapest I could find at the time of the transaction—to hang my vinyl records. The end result is a room graced with musical appreciation and aesthetic that appears intentional, as opposed to bearing resemblance to my college dorm days.

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Let’s Shelve This One for Now

Illustration for article titled Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Image: Sriwatana

Speaking of wall storage, it doesn’t get any better than shelves, and floating shelves give your plain surroundings art deco flair with a side of faux-minimalism. Conveniently on sale as we speak, this set from Sriwatana, the company boasts, is made of real wood. Because of their U-shape, you don’t have to worry about spending another 10 bucks or so on separate bookends. These hold my wife’s small collection of “trash romance novels” (her words, not mine) with room to spare. Back in the kitchen, anyone who cooks knows the distress inflicted by a disorderly spice rack, or lack thereof.

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Wosovo’s stackable cabinet shelf solved for this problem by layering herbs and spices laterally. Likewise, if your medicine cabinet is full and your bathroom countertop in disarray, allow me to introduce you to my friend the mDesign adjustable vitamin rack. Complete with three whole rows of storage, there’s plenty of space to occupy, with pills of all kinds—I won’t tell!

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A Wee Lil’ Baby Printer to Brighten Your Day

Illustration for article titled Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Graphic: Gabe Carey

Okay, you could say this one’s trivial at best—we all know printers don’t take up a whole lot of space, BUT since I share a desk with my wife (yes, we have the Ikea double-desk Kallax), most full-size inkjet printers have our workstation beat. As I told Chaya when she interviewed me for her roundup of the best compact printers you can buy, nominating the Canon Pixma TR150 was a no-brainer. While I’ve only had it for a month or so, the 2.7 x 7.3 x 2.6” form factor doesn’t block my view or touch my elbows when I type. And because it’s wireless down to the optional battery, you never have to think about it, which, let’s face it, is exactly what any of us wants from a printer.

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To top it off, an easy-to-navigate 1.44″ OLED screen yields an easy setup and lets you cut to the chase, disabling the auto-sleep mode as I know you’ll be compelled to do within the first few prints. A 50-page limit may sound limiting, but who prints that much these days? If you do, I apologize for that rhetorical, but seriously, I bought this thing to avoid my weekly trips to the post office only to find out they’re closed on weekends now because this is Trump’s America.

The All-in-One Always Pan

Illustration for article titled Everything I Bought to Make My Tiny Studio Apartment Feel More Like a Palace in the Sky

Image: Our Place

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The Always Pan has been making its rounds recently in esteemed publications like the New York Times, Vogue, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal. But now I’m here to recommend it firsthand on our lesser-known, underground hipster website, so you know it’s real. When reassessing kitchenware, pots and pans stand out as particularly voluminous goods. From Our Place, the Always Pan rectifies this by replacing eight things in your cabinets, taking the place of your frying and saute pans, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. While I’ve yet to test it out myself, I did get a review sample, which my wife used to make some delicious Chinese buffet-style coconut shrimp with a side of Brussel sprouts.

“This thing is super easy to clean, cute on the stovetop, and finally, I have a goddamn place to rest my spatula,” my wife, Gizmodo staff writer Victoria Song gushes. “This thing is super easy to clean, cute on the stovetop, and finally, I have a goddamn place to rest my spatula. Also, I am super excited to trash, like, 5 pans that are roughly the same size that I have absolutely destroyed. Do you know how much cabinet space we’re going to reclaim?? Do you????

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These Are Reddit’s Most Popular ‘Life Pro Tips’ of All Time

Illustration for article titled These Are Reddits Most Popular Life Pro Tips of All Time

Photo: Everett Collection (Shutterstock)

From u/w2555:

Keep your mouth shut, and don’t volunteer information.

I had a phone interview scheduled this morning, but accidentally slept through it. When I got up and saw that I missed it, I had the desperate urge to call and offer up excuses, in the hope that maybe, just maybe, they’d be understanding and give me another chance.

Instead, all I did was apologize and ask if we could reschedule. That’s it, one sentence, no additional information, no explanation or excuse as to why I missed the first interview.

They replied within 20 minutes, apologizing to ME, saying it was probably their fault, that they’d been having trouble with their computer system for days, and of course I could reschedule, was I available that afternoon?

Don’t ever volunteer information, kids. You never know what information the other party has, and you can always give information if asked for it later.

Yes, beautiful, and deserving of the top spot.

The best office chair to buy in 2020 – CNET

For someone who sits the majority of the workday, I’ve never thought much about office chairs. Before quarantine started back in March, I spent most of my work hours at the CNET Smart Home, an actual house where we test security cameras, smart speakers and other products. I filed stories from upright dining room chairs, cushioned sofas and butt-numbing patio furniture.

I’ve mainly stuck with my Smart Home method for the six-plus months I’ve been working from my own home. Some days, I write from a sofa; other days, I sit in a rocking chair on the front porch. No two days are the same and I’m slowly realizing it’s terrible for my back and my posture. My husband’s been working from home too, at a desk we rarely used before the pandemic. As it turns out, the no-seat-cushion, no-back-support office chair we use with that desk isn’t working out particularly well for him, either. 

It was time to make a change. So I tested out ten office chairs, ranging in price from $32 to $1,395, knowing we’d be buying a couple of the favorites for our own home when I finished. 

I also spoke with an ergonomics expert for general tips on how to improve work setups, whether that’s at home or in a more traditional office setting. Factors like seat height, backrest, adjustable arms, adjustable lumbar support, tilt tension and seat depth all factor in to getting the most from your desk chair.

For the purposes of this list, I only tested traditional office chairs, so if you’re looking for something like a gaming chair or drafting chair, or something more out there, like a kneeling chair, this might not be the right place for you.

Note: Product pricing tends to vary on third-party sites, so the prices I quote as of writing this may change slightly over time. I’ll do my best to update the list often to reflect the most accurate prices at the time of publishing.

An awesome chair alone isn’t enough

Ergonomics is the “science of work,” explains Gary Allread, the program director for the ergonomics division at Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute. That definition doesn’t just apply to our jobs, though; ergonomic principles can be used for pretty much any activity (that means an ergonomic chair isn’t going to immediately fix your lower back pain). Allread and his team offer consultation services for a variety of workplaces, from manufacturing plants to the auto industry and more. They even occasionally provide input on product design to help companies better understand how to create products “to make sure they can interact with people as well as possible,” Allread says.

A less-than-ideal work setup might cause pain in your back, arms, hands or wrists. You might also find yourself fidgeting, making more mistakes or taking more breaks — all because you’re uncomfortable — says Allread. Long-term, you might end up with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Allread makes two main suggestions anyone can try to improve how they work:

  • Sit with your back against your chair. (“You want the chair to do the work and not your back,” he explains.)
  • Support your feet. Either plant your feet on the floor or, if they don’t reach, use a box or other foot rest to support your feet.

If your chair lacks lumbar support, Allread adds, you can roll up a towel, secure it with tape or rubber bands and place it at your lower back to “keep the back in its natural curve.” Allread also notes that companies are beginning to introduce different chair sizes that support a wider range of body sizes, which is an important consideration if you’re shopping for a new chair. 

“One mistake people make, is they say, ‘Well if I get a great chair, then I’m not going to be sore anymore,’ and that’s not really looking at the big picture of what it takes to keep people comfortable and productive at their jobs,” explains Allread. There are a lot of factors, and a new chair is just one of many things that can make your work environment more comfortable. 

So, let’s keep that all in mind as we weigh our options for the best office chair. I have a handful of good options here, including a leather chair, a mesh office chair and more, and I’ll update the list periodically.

The best office chairs

Megan Wollerton/CNET

The Hbada Office Task Desk Chair wins as my favorite office chair of the bunch. It has a streamlined design that doesn’t take up too much space. It also has good lumbar support and a supportive, breathable backrest. At $130, it’s pretty affordable too. 

After trying out all of the models, I found myself reaching for this chair most often. It does lack the cushioned comfort of my second favorite chair (scroll down to see the runner-up winner), but it’s the most well-rounded model I tested that ticks nearly every box.

Fast facts:

  • Price (Amazon): $130
  • Finish: Black upholstery and mesh
  • Weight limit: 250 pounds

Megan Wollerton/CNET

It isn’t the most sleek-looking chair around, but what the Serta Arlington lacks in style it more than makes up for with comfort and customizability. Serta is a mattress maker, and that tracks with the supremely comfortable Arlington chair. It is by far the most cushioned model I tried out, with layers of soft cushioning on the headrest, the backrest and the seat. 

Despite its comfort, it also provides decent support thanks to an adjustable lumbar lever under the seat. 

It currently costs $220 on Office Depot, down from the $300 list price. If you’re looking for a comfortable office chair with customizable lumbar support, this is a great option. 

Fast facts:

  • Price (Office Depot): $220
  • Finish: Black leather
  • Weight limit: 275 pounds

Megan Wollerton/CNET

I liked the AmazonBasics Leather-Padded Swivel Office Chair right away. It was easy to assemble, the leather design looks nice and the seat and back are both cushioned and comfortable. At about $92, this AmazonBasics chair isn’t cheap, but it’s a great option that’s relatively affordable without sacrificing much, with one exception — lumbar support.

If lumbar support is a must for you, consider one of my other favorites.

Overall, though, the AmazonBasics Leather-Padded Swivel Office Chair is a comfortable, reasonably priced chair that’s easy to put together and easy on the eyes.

Fast facts:

  • Price (Amazon): $93
  • Finish: Black leather
  • Weight capacity: 275 pounds

Megan Wollerton/CNET

OK, I know. This chair is very expensive, but it also has a lot going for it — a great design, lots of adjustability, lumbar support and, bonus, it comes in three sizes. I got size B, which fit within the height and weight range of both me and my husband.

The one issue is its price, which is why it didn’t win for best chair overall. Nearly $1,400 for a single chair, even one you use for hours daily, just isn’t a reasonable price for most people, us included. I will be sad to see this one go. 

Fast facts:

  • Price: $1,395
  • Finish: Multiple color options, mesh
  • Weight capacity: Varies based on chair size

Testing office chairs 

Here’s a complete list of the office chairs I tested:

How did I pick my favorites? First, I assembled each chair and noted any issues with the process, with the exception of the Herman Miller Aeron Chair and the Steelcase Gesture Chair, since they arrived fully assembled (bonus points for that). Then, I spent one work day, or about eight hours, sitting in each chair, noting the level of comfort, adjustability and any issues I had. I also asked my husband to try out each chair. For reference, I’m 5 foot 7 inches, he’s 6 foot 2 and we’re both average weight.

Of course, what might work for me or for him may not work for you, but I kept in mind all of the tips Gary Allread from the Spine Research Institute had mentioned as I sat and asked Kevin to do the same:

  • Was the chair designed so I could rest comfortably against the back of the chair?
  • Did my feet touch the floor with my back against the back of the chair? 
  • Did I find myself fidgeting or standing up a lot? 
  • Did I experience any pain or discomfort while using a particular chair?

I had to immediately cut the Hodedah Armless Task Chair from the running, after noticing a label inside the box that read “NOT FOR ADULT USE.” Apparently this chair, which regularly appears on lists of adult office chairs, has a 100-pound weight limit. I wasn’t alone, either — a number of customers have written reviews online expressing frustration that this chair (which at first appears to be marketed to adults, on Home Depot’s website if not Amazon) broke while they were using it. If you are an adult under 100 pounds, this chair could potentially work for you, but its limited features, including no armrests, completely ruled it out for me regardless. 

So we were down to nine chairs. Despite looking pretty nice and cushioned, we both found the OFM Essentials Collection Executive Office Chair a little stiff and uncomfortable. It also lacks lumbar support. The HON Exposure Mesh Task Computer Chair also lacks lumbar support and leans back too far for both of us, making it uncomfortable to sit with our backs against the backrest as Allread suggests. The BestOffice Mid-Back Ergonomic Desk Chair leans back too far as well, although it did have a bit more lumbar support than the HON Exposure chair. 

The Humanscale Freedom Chair arrived mostly assembled; I just had to connect the top half and the wheelbase. Despite the simplicity of putting it together, I struggled to adjust this chair without consulting the instructions. Even after figuring it out, my husband and I both found the backrest and headrest oddly proportioned and extremely uncomfortable on our backs and necks. The Steelcase Gesture Chair is highly adjustable and feels sturdy. But even with its many customizable controls, including a seat depth adjuster set to maximum depth, the seat was much too short and angled downward, making me feel like I could slide out of the chair. 

The other four chairs I included in the best list above kept us comfortable all day and offered degrees of adjustability that set them apart from the pack. 

Will iPhone 12 have USB-C? We’re gonna guess no, but we really hope we’re wrong – CNET

023-ipad-pro-2018

Come on already.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Will the iPhone 12 use a USB-C connection or stick with Lightning? Lightning has been around since the iPhone 5 in 2012, when it debuted as a replacement for the old 30-pin charger that had been around since the iPod. Lightning had its advantages, way back: It was small, and enabled faster data transfer. But we’ve been living in the era of USB-C for years now. Lightning feels old by comparison.

Apple’s iPad lineup has started to shift: the iPad Pro first, now the iPad Air this year. MacBooks have all moved to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. I can charge an iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia controller and Oculus Quest 2 all from common charge cables. And then Lightning for the rest.

At the moment, there’s a power strip on my home office desk studded with all the bricks and cords I need to charge up all my random devices. I see a ton of wearable-specific chargers, but for everything else, it’s nearly all USB-C. Everything, that is, except for the iPhone, and the few other Apple devices that still use Lightning.

I hate dongles. And I dislike proprietary charge cables even more. At least one could be eliminated on future iPhones.

Sanho HyperDrive USB-C Hub for iPad Pro

OK, this might be going too far. But you could on an iPad Pro.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

I don’t think I need to explain why USB-C should be on the iPhone. Because… all other phones use it? Because half of Apple’s devices do, more or less? And also, it would allow a more seamless flow of accessories and dongles for the iPhone and iPad Pro and other products I use. Sure, I can do many of those things with Lightning and a dongle: I could output to a TV with HDMI, or use a microSD card to read camera data. But even so, USB-C would be so much nicer.

Sure, you may have all those Lightning accessories you may need to replace. Who cares? Unlike the 30-pin to Lightning evolution, which involved two waves of proprietary ports and accessories, USB-C skips all that. And, again, here’s the great news: Apple has already made the move. Or, made the move partway. 

Maybe the iPhone 12 won’t get USB-C. But if that’s the case, it should come the year after. Don’t skip it. Don’t go portless, and fuse the whole thing into one port-free slab like everyone is anticipating. No, please. If the iPhone is an everyday computer, it would be extremely helpful for it to get an everyday port, too. Just one small one.

Now playing: Watch this: Why iPhone 12 should have Touch ID


3:40

Thursday deals: $40 for a well-rated air fryer and microwave – CNET

Deal

Savings

Price

Microwaves and air fryers are the Secretariat and Seabiscuit of getting food hot in a flash, and both are on sale right now, down to less than $40 at Best Buy. The Insignia compact microwave is currently marked down from its normal $70 price tag, while an Insignia air fryer, which normally retails for $80, is down 50% to just $40 at Best Buy. That’s not all: You can nab a Keurig K-Cafe pod coffee maker with a built-in milk frother for the fastest latte-making known to man (or horse), currently down 70 bucks to just $130. Let’s have a look-see at these three daily deals, all of which qualify for free shipping or in-store pickup. 

Insignia

A well-rated and reliable microwave with 700 watts of cooking power and 11 power settings to cook popcorn, defrost frozen foods, reheat leftovers and more.

Bella Housewares

Super convection means really hot, really fast-moving air to blast the outside of a batch of wings, fries or veggies sticks, giving them a fried-like crunch without saturating them in unhealthy oil. This Bella air fryer is dishwasher safe and has an auto shut-off timer for safety. 

Keurig

You know the deal with Keurig pod coffee makers, which brew any number of hot beverages in seconds. This advanced model lets you create latte and cappuccino from start to finish in no time with a built-in frother. The price tag of $130 is a bargain when you consider how much this will cut into your Starbucks bill each month.