When you start “doing” monitoring, there are a few questions that you get asked over and over again. Technically Religious member Leon Adato came to think of them as “The Four Questions” (of monitoring), as a kind of inside joke reference to the Four Questions that are asked during the Passover. The joke became an epiphany, and the epiphany became a book. With Passover upon us, Doug, Kate and Destiny talk with Leon about the book, the process of creating it, and how it gave him a chance to link his religious and technical experiences together in a unique way. Listen or read the transcript below:
Leon: 00:00 Hey everyone. It’s Leon. Before we start this episode, I wanted to let you know about a book I wrote. It’s called “The Four Questions Every Monitoring Engineer is Asked”, and if you like this podcast, you’re going to love this book. It combines 30 years of insight into the world of IT with wisdom gleaned from Torah, Talmud, and Passover. You can read more about it, including where you can get a digital or print copy over on adatosystems.com. Thanks!
Destiny: 00:24 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating, and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We’re not here to preach or teach you our religion. We’re here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh – or at least not conflict – with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.
Destiny: 00:48 Hey, I just got this great new ebook this week.
Doug: 00:51 No, no, no. I got this great new book.
Kate: 00:53 Wait a minute. Did Leon send you a copy of his book, too?
Leon: 00:58 Hey everyone!
Destiny: 00:59 Did you set up a whole podcast just to talk about your ebook?
Leon: 01:04 Maaaaaaaybe?
Doug: 01:06 Wow. That is both lame and kind of brilliant.
Kate: 01:09 aaaaand we’re off!
Leon: 01:11 Okay. I admit it, I admit it. But it does fit, right? Technically Religious is a podcast about the merger between our religious lives and our technical lives and the book, you know, The Four Questions Every Monitoring Engineer is Going to Get Asked is kind of that right?
Destiny: 01:32 Definitely.
Doug: 01:33 Which came first, this podcast or the book cause it sounds, it’s a real similar kind of a set up when you think about it.
Leon: 01:44 The answer is both. Uh, The Four Questions has been something that I’ve talked around and about for over two and a half years. And as a joke it’s just sort of an inside joke I’ve been talking about since I’ve been doing monitoring. Um, because it is a thing, at least in my head, it’s a thing. So the podcast really came out of conversations with Josh Biggley and myself about religious synergy and again about the overlap between our religious and and technical lives. And the decision to write the book probably started about two years ago. I’ve been working on it on and off. So they both sort of arose from the same desire to share that worldview, but they came out in slightly different ways.
Destiny: 02:32 and I think they came out because of in our work life. And you know, in general we write a lot and you’ve seen the questions and you’ve seen a lot of the user interaction and customer needs. And I feel like it’s kind of a good thing because you’ve waited just long enough to understand those needs so that you can answer them.
Leon: 02:48 Right when I, yeah, I started to have like a full, a full story and some of the talking, honestly, some of the discussions I’ve had in synagogue, I’m trying to explain what do during the week to people. Um, that also sparked a lot of ideas. And so the four questions is really, like I said, this inside joke because during Passover, which is actually the holiday, we’re in the middle of when this podcast is airing during the, the service or the, the meal, the youngest kid at the table asks these four questions, it starts off “why is tonight different from all other nights?” And, but there are these four sort of iconic questions. And as I was working in monitoring for questions kept coming up over and over and over again. And so I started to, you know, just jokingly refer to them as the four questions. And if the person I was talking to his Jewish or had friends who were Jewish, they were like, “oh yeah, yeah, I get it, I get it.” And, but then I realized that there’s a lot more parts of Jewish philosophy and the Jewish culture that fits both it and monitoring, especially around the idea of questions of skepticism of, you know, really inquiring past the pat answers, you know, really debating for the sake of making things better, not debating for the sake of winning. So those were all ideas that fed into the idea of the book.
Destiny: 04:11 It’s pretty interesting. I like the idea, the skepticism because like for any religious aspect, everything is skeptical. From an outsider looking in period. And anytime we ever talk about monitoring and we’er at work / at an event is there’s always skepticism. Like, “I need a solution. There’s no way you can provide it.” Right? Like “I know you, I know what you guys do, but you’re not going to be able to help me.” It’s like we’re… Yechh…
New Speaker: 04:37 “You sales people are all the same.” And that’s why I tell them there’s actually no salespeople allowed to go to conventions for our company. We’re actually all engineers, so you know, and they’re like “whaaaaaaat???”. Yeah. And so we’re like, yeah, “oh, I was totally, yeah, I wouldn’t have believed that either. Here, let me show it to ya.”
Kate: 04:52 I was just going to say it’s also, uh, we talking to customers a lot of times. Um, there’s a, a skepticism of the data that they see, which I think is really the, you know, you should never just blindly trust anything, but it’s definitely there as well.
Destiny: 05:07 How Paranoia. Yeah, I know all about that. Never trust the data. Right. But we run into that all the time where we’ll have people that are like, hey, I need the data about this. I want the RAW data. And then there’s an argument, is this the raw data? “Is this just what you’re giving me? Why are you giving me the data? Why don’t I have full access to the data? I don’t understand.” And then that creates a whole other realm, right? Because there’s always a skeptic.
Kate: 05:35 Yeah. Why is it different than I expect it to be?
Leon: 05:37 Right. And that feeds back into sort of the, the conversationsq that drove the book, which was, um, you know, you need to be prepared for those questions. Again, one of the lessons, one of the lessons for Passover is that there’s this story about the four children and there’s the scholarly child, there’s the skeptical child, there’s the uh, quiet, we’re stupid child. Uh, and then there’s the silent child. And uh, everyone thinks like, oh, you have to decide which one you are. Are you the scholar? The one, are you the rebel? Are you the whatever? And actually when you get right down to it, it’s, it has nothing to do with who you think you are. It’s that if you want to try to teach people anything, you need to be ready for those four archetypes in every combination of those archetypes. You know, to you, you don’t get to pick your students. You don’t get to pick the people who are going to ask you questions. And if you’re not ready for all of them, if you’re not ready to actually just do cheerleading for the silent child, because they actually don’t know what question to ask there, they’re just sort of sitting back and like, “I got nothing for you.” If you’re not ready for that, that really rebellious, skeptical child, you know, to to put you on the spot about everything. If you’re not ready, then you’re not ready. And I think that is monitoring engineers especially, but IT people generally, we also need to wrap our heads around that. Like the person who comes into the meeting room and says, “I don’t believe any of your data.” They’re actually your friend, you know? And the reason, the reason why I say that is because again, during the Passover conversation, the skeptical child, everyone says, oh, well, you know, he shouldn’t be here. No, no. He chose to show up. That’s the thing. The opposite of love isn’t hatred. The opposite of love is apathy, you know, so the skeptical child showing up and saying, “All right, you just, what is all this to you? What? I don’t, I’m, I’m on the fence. I’m not even on the fence. I’m over the fence here.” But they showed up. You know, when they say, “I don’t believe that this redundancy, you know, redundant design is going to work. I don’t believe that this is really secure. I don’t believe that. You know, you’re really going to catch this problem.” Whatever it is, they’re actually your friend. They’re actually there to make everything better. They may have social issues that don’t allow them to communicate in a way that may be pleasing to you, but they’re still there.
Doug: 08:02 And that’s what makes The Four Questions work so well. Because in essence, what you’re, you’re what you’re telling, whoever’s reading the book, and there’s a lot of people who this book is going to be good for, but basically you’re just saying, you gotta be prepared for these questions and there’s nothing, they always say a lawyer never asks a question they don’t already know the answer to. Well, this is sort of the flip side of that. You basically need… you’re going to get asked these questions so you better know the answers to them when they, when they, when they come across your bow and if you do, all of a sudden your credibility goes right through the ceiling because you’re prepared. You’re not blindsided. It’s not a, “let me get back…” well, you might have to say, “Let me get back to you on that.” But if you’re at least expecting the question, you know that it’s coming and you don’t look like deer in the headlights.
Destiny: 08:52 I think that’s important for anybody, right? Like if the employee versus the manager / CTO like yourself, Doug, it’s one of those things up. If you know The Four Questions, it makes you a good interviewer, right? Like I know how to do this. It also makes you the good interviewee because you know the questions of which that are going to be asked. And you also know as the goal attendee, right? Like you’re the goal guy, you’re the CTO, you’re needing these things to be answered by your lower level and you should be able to have the trust in the, you know, the actual confidence in them to be able to provide those when they lead up to you, they had the correct summary.
Leon: 09:25 Right? I just want to clarify one thing though, which is that it’s, this is more than the four questions regardless of the book or not. Uh, you know, um, is the four questions are there not only as a CYA but also because if you think, well, how would I answer this question? You are naturally going to start designing your monitoring solution in a way that is more robust and more redundant and more comprehensive than you might otherwise. So it’s really about making the solution better. Even if even if you’re not worried about, you know, people putting you on the spot, even if you’re not worried about, you know, maybe maybe everyone in the company loves you and loves monitoring and loves everything about it and they’re all super fans and they cheer and sing for you as you walk through, you have your own theme song when you enter the office… is it getting a little deep in here?
Destiny: 10:15 Okay, we’re not talking about me.
Doug: 10:19 Oh it’s all rainbows and unicorns and I don’t think so.
Leon: 10:22 Right. Okay.
Kate: 10:22 I really to visit this company.
Doug: 10:22 What color is the sky in your world?
Leon: 10:22 But even there’s , right? Exactly. So even so the point is is that if you think about these ideas and say, well how would I answer that? You’re naturally going to make a better solution because of it.
Doug: 10:37 Yeah. I was thinking less of a CYA, although CYA, it can be important sometimes, but as you were saying, when you’re asking those questions, you are thinking through how does this thing need to be built and as a result you will be ready then when the questions come, cause you will have built it correctly in the first place
Destiny: 10:55 It’s not even correctly. It’s just more of a, you’re giving thought. And I think that’s something that we don’t do hardly anymore. We just, we don’t think about the end game. And that’s like what ADHD, right? They’re the ones that run up the tree and don’t remember how to get down. So it’s like, you know, right. It’s like I would just want to go up. Yeah, I just want to go up the tree. I don’t care how I get down. I just want to get down there, you know, up the tree. And so it’s Kinda like the same thing. A lot of times when I’ve talked to people they want to do monitoring and they will go full force ahead, turn everything on, have everything going and then they’re like, what did I just do? But they’re not ready. They don’t, they don’t have the questions to ask. They don’t understand the entities of which they are monitoring. They don’t know what the goal is for the company by even having these metrics. And some of the times it’s like, it’s overwhelming. They’ll turn on a freaking fire hose of events in a sim tool. And they’re sitting there [and I’m] going, Well, are you gathering logs?” “Yeah.” “Well, what does it look like?” “There’s lot of, well, there’s a lot going on here.” Like, you know what I’m saying? Like that’s the thing though. It’s if you don’t have questions like Doug was saying and you don’t have a direction, you don’t have a confidence of where you’re heading to, you’ve got this huge, just abundance of data. It doesn’t matter if it’s Raw, it doesn’t matter if it’s accurate. You have no idea how to actually get to the information that you actually need and that’s pertinent to you and it’s just a plethora.
Kate: 12:30 You end up trying to drink from the fire hose.
Leon: 12:32 I want to be clear about that. That’s not the end it feels like it’s going in right when they turn on the fire hose. Drinking isn’t the part… No, it’s much more uncomfortable than that. Right. It’s really, um, and that actually goes straight to the, one of the chapters is called a, I called it “The Prozac Moment,”q which is actually the second stage. The first stage is, you know, turn it all on and it’s, you know, the turning on the fire hose of data and then they have this moment where you basically have to intravenously applied Prozac because they’re like, “It can’t all be this bad!!” A) Ad Populum Theorem, Doug, uh, it can all in fact be this bad. And B) you know, you did ask for that.
Destiny: 13:20 Well, and I think that’s something that talk about those that it can all be that bad. And I’ve seen a lot of people, and I know you have to, and I’m sure Doug and Kate has, where people have turned things on and it is bad. And then you have the people that are like, “Let’s just put that back under the rug.” You know what I mean?
Doug: 13:38 “We did not see this. “
Destiny: 13:39 “Yeah, let’s take 10% of this and evaluate it and look really good, but let’s ignore the 90% of it until, I don’t know, a review comes around” like, like let’s just, they don’t want to handle it all at once because it’s overwhelming, but they don’t actually implement a correct plan on how you stage, that categorize it. Is it low, medium or high? They just are like overwhelmed. “Oh my God, my review is coming up. I have things that are monetarily going to be associated with this data that’s now represented. I need to control it.” So what they actually do is turn off the fire hose. They only allow certain little things to come through and you’re in a bigger mess honestly because you’re just getting that much more behind.
Leon: 14:26 So something I’m curious about and you know, I’m, I’m too deep into it to really know. But you know, obviously this is a book that has some religious stuff in it. So my question is, what was your take on that? Like good blend or it was way too much. It was blunt force Judaic trauma or you know, how did, how do you respond? How did you respond to it as you were reading it?
Kate: 14:47 I’ll tell you a little origin story of my atheism because it’s kind of relevant to that question. Um, when I was much younger, uh, in college I was going to a nondenominational church, um, because I wanted to impress a guy and the pastor gave a sermon about how God wanted to get into the hard drive of your mind and reboot it. And that was the moment when I said to myself, yeah, I’m an atheist now.
Leon: 15:17 So that’s perfect. I, I probably would’ve been right there. I would be second in line out the door with you.
Kate: 15:26 Then I’m mixing technology metaphors with religion has as sort of been like an instant “no” for me. Um, but I will say like, I really appreciated the fact that, you know, I could read the way you had everything laid out. It was really easy for me to, to sort of separate it and say “This is an interesting, like his bit of history and of fact,” and I can stick to the technology part and I didn’t feel like they were too, you know, meshed together, if that makes sense.
Doug: 15:56 I came at it from a sort of the other side because I’m less interested in the technical and the monitoring side. Yeah. Just the way I am. But I found the, I found the religion really fascinating because as an evangelical Christian, we are grafted onto the Jewish scion, at that’s what we believe in, we won’t want to go any further than that. But so knowing the basis of the, uh, of the Passover, which is, um, let’s face it, a very important, um, Jewish, right. And a lot of our symbolism and Christianity comes from that whole, the whole Passover image. Um, it was, it was great both getting more detail on the actual Passover itself, but then I thought the questions were really nicely tied into the technical side without it’s being, it’s not beating you over the head with the Torah. It’s just saying, “Here’s, you know, here’s this question now. How can that work from a technical standpoint without actually making your hard drive, get rewritten and rebooted?” Oh my God, I would become an atheist also.
Destiny: 17:08 I think for myself being hugely technical and hugely religious, that on my side of it, the mystery, uh, more of the Passover intertwining with the Jewish as well as the Christianity on my side. Like, I know that you, Leon have done a lot of things with my husband on the Torah and things of that nature and just that extra knowledge slash background of how we all kind of mesh together of where we all decide that we don’t agree that, um, but that’s like a lot of things though of, of when we go into that realm, when I’m looking at the technology I take from it from not only a Christian like type of the viewpoint of how I see things and how I view things, but also because of my knowledge of knowing you through the years as well as understanding the Torah a little bit better through my husband and your sessions of understanding from the Jewish background that goes way further than Christianity does. So I think there’s a lot to be said there that marries religions together. Like there is a stint point, there is a spear of destiny per say. Ah Ha! That, um, I think that all creation period, like whether you’re an atheist or anything that comes across there, there are things that we can take from history that’s been noted in books, literature itself. I mean even outside of religion that we can tie in together to times to what is happening now.
Leon: 18:29 Uh, I’m going to pivot from there. The book is available both as an ebook but also there’s a, you can buy a physical actual hold it in your hand and there’s been some very strong opinions expressed both within the Technically Religious staff, both folks who are on the, you know, on this episode and not, and then also out in the community for people who’ve had pre-release copies. So I just want to get your feeling, you know, ebook physical book. Like what, what’s your take on that? This is it. This is an IT question. How do you consume your words?
Kate: 19:01 I was all in for the ebook from day one, like the format in general. Um, because if you ever, you know, sort of had the college experience where you move a lot of dorms are a lot of apartments, you realize quickly how much having a lot of books can really suck unless you happen to be a power lifter. Or a body builder. Um, so I was thrilled when the notion that, you know, all of my books that I wanted to read suddenly weighed no more than an iPad.
Destiny: 19:30 Oh yeah. But that’s a good ploy though. And I’d have to say like for me, because I’m constantly in college and constantly like upping myself in certs and stuff. But uh, I was for a long time buying the actual book. I just liked the feel of the paper. I like to be able to highlight and there was something about it just being on my shelf in a tangible, like I could just grab it and touch it and relate to the moment when I was reading it. But I do have to say in the past, probably year, year and a half, and I know that that’s actually quick, right? Like, that’s pretty quick in my time of I’ve started to really enjoy ebooks and audio. I can, not that I have a long commute because I work from home, but when I’m doing things that, you know, like if I’m like driving through town or if I’m having a break, I can do the audio now and I’m starting to do that. So I think there is a lot to just where you’re at in life.
Kate: 20:21 I think going back to my point though, the fact that you moved within that time period has something to do with it.
Destiny: 20:26 But I brought everything with me. I brought every book with me and did not get rid of it. But I started to reevaluate and like I said, just even before I moved, just it was, uh, an easier thing probably because the increased travel, I travel a lot now, so a lot of the, it’s way easier to continue my studies, continue my learning or if I’m out at an event and somebody suggests something, well I, I want to remember it. So I just like download it, read it, start doing it on kindle or something. You know, like that’s just super easy and there’s just a lot to it. I just think like I’ve finally been pushed enough I guess to where I just gradually fell into the ebook market. But I feel like I’m late to the game. Is what I’m getting at. I feel like I’m late to the game. I wish I would have converged or went towards it earlier in life.
Doug: 21:14 Yup. Well, since I’m older than dirt, I came, uh, I basically came at this from books. In fact, uh, the, the first thing I did in college was I got an account at the bookstore, which of course got me into immediate, incredible trouble financial as you might imagine, because I’ve loved books forever. So I had books upon books upon books, and as Kate said, I moved him everywhere. I, yeah, I used to be in better shape, but, uh, finally about three or four moves ago, I basically ended up selling everything, all the books just because I got tired of moving them. I still have… Except for my cookbooks. Of course I still have those. But about four years ago, something like that, I was going to work overseas for six months. You can’t take all of those books that you’re going to need to read for that period of time. Didn’t have access to the library, everything. So I got myself a nook for goodness sakes. Don’t ever want to have one of those again. But the thing is I was able to go ahead and borrow books from my public library back home, electronically, read through the whole game of Thrones and about 15 other books for the six months I was there. And I am now a convert. I, you know, on a kindle, I still get books because my wife wants books. Books doesn’t want to read them electronically. And just last night I was, I had to take the shade off the lamp cause I realized that the lights in my bedroom or no longer set up for reading in bed because I’m used to having something that has its own little glow. I’m, I’m, I’m a convert.
Leon: 22:45 So I have to say from my side that part of it is just the nature of the Jewish beast, um, that, you know, every week for 25 hours, we’re completely offline. So, uh, if all of your books and reading material are online, it makes it very difficult for at least that, that one day period. But I dunno, there’s, I still, you know, there’s something about holding a book in your hand and being able to flip through it and the visceral experience of it, you know, the ability to say, oh, that’s on page 34 in the upper right corner, you know, next to the picture of the this or that. There’s something about that for me. But at the same time, everything that you have, all of you have already said, um, that, you know, it’s just so convenient to have and it doesn’t matter where you are or whatever, it’s, you know, tap, tap, tap, and there it is. And, okay, so you don’t know what’s on page 32 because you can do a search and find it in the book or whatever, but…
Destiny: 23:45 See and me and my new house, it’s one of those things of, it’s almost scholary like you know, it has like a, its own sense of essence to it to have books because like where I live in a resort, when people came over to my house, we do have a pretty good like library of books and things that come across there like beautiful books, Alice in Wonderland with all of the beautiful pictures of which that are within there and things of that nature and, and like Girl Genius and like little, you know, comic books and things like that. Like there’s things of which that we have that just haven’t an own art realm to them. Right. That is almost has its own, it’s like a, a class of society in a way. It’s like, you know, it’s, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, you have a library!” right? Like it’s like things like that of which that you have to think of.
Speaker 1: 24:29 So yeah. So I think that that’s, that’s definitely a trend is that books have moved from being the thing that have all the words in it. And I don’t really care as much about the aesthetic to something that must have both an aesthetic and a, you know, a content value to me because otherwise I can just put the words on a electronic, you know, form and just work through it. I will say that there has been a call for a, the four questions to be moved into an audio book. I could see that that is, that is in the works for those people who, uh, are thinking the same thing as you’re listening to this. That is definitely gonna happen in the next, you know, few months or something. Hopefully it will already have happened depending on when you listen to this. Um, so that’s definitely a thing.
Destiny: 25:15 Does everybody else like audios?
Doug: 25:17 I like it when I’m driving. I mean, otherwise I don’t, I mean I, it was just funny, I was in radio for how long? And you know, you would think that I would just eat that stuff up. And the reality is I just don’t, because it, for me, it only works if I’m concentrating. Um, you know, it’s like if I’m working around the house or something, I can’t be distracted by the book. So that’s not gonna work, you know? But when I’m driving long distances, if I drive from Dallas back home to see my mother in Ohio, we go through novels. I’ve got a question about all the words.
Leon: 25:50 Okay.
Doug: 25:51 It’s a lot of words. A book is a lot of words. I’ve started to write a novel like four times. Um, so I mean, you wrote a book, Dude.
Leon: 26:04 Indeed I did.
Doug: 26:05 You did. Well, I mean, it’s a lot of words. You put it all together. You’ve finished, you sat your rear in the chair and you went ahead and wrote it. How hard is, I mean, do you have any advice for people who want to… IT people who think they want to write a book?
Leon: 26:20 Uh, okay. So for all three of them, uh, there’s because, because IT people are sort of stereotypically not interested in flat out documenting their stuff, let alone, you know, writing a book. But if you have an idea for, you know, the great American novel, the hard work is, is getting those words written out. The thing not to do, is to constantly second guess yourself. “Is this good enough? Has someone said this before? Is this…” this is your take on a topic. It doesn’t matter if you are writing about ping or uh, you know, this is, this is how to set up active directory or whatever it is. It’s fine that there are 12, you know, or 12,000 other books on it. This is yours. Um, and there’s a lot of things that you’ll discover along the way that makes the whole effort worth it. So that’s my, my cheerleader. You know, “You can do it, go try!” you know. Um, and sometimes you, you end up writing, starting to write one thing and then realize that there’s this other thing, this other topic that was hiding behind it. That’s actually way more interesting. So, uh, it is a lot of words, but they’re always worth it. It is always, always worth it. And obviously, write something that you find really interesting yourself. Um, if you’re writing about Active Directory because you hate it and you know, you’re just a masochist, that’s, that’s, I guess that’s a thing, but it’s not gonna be easy. Those aside, because that is the work of the work. That aside, everything else is ridiculously easy these days. Um, you don’t have to pitch to a publisher. You don’t have to. The, the most expensive part of writing this book was the editor that I hired and I very consciously hired her on because I’ve worked with her before Ann Guidry. Um, she’s amazing and she’s edited my work in the past and she was incredible. And, and that was where most of the money, went. I’ll be honest, the book cost $3,000 to produce, start to finish. Um, it was, you know, a couple hundred bucks for the cover art. Uh, Rob Masek of Masek Designs did the cover for me and he’s also incredible. Um, and Ann did the editing. And then there was a little bit of incidental stuff here and there for, you know, the plugin module on the website to do sales and things like that.
Destiny: 28:43 But Ann’s is really good at helping you stay who you are.
Leon: 28:46 Right. She, she like any good editor. She helps me sound more like myself.
Destiny: 28:52 Right. And when I did my first ebook and you helped me with it, my first E-book, not a book book, but when I did my first Ebook, she was the one that did the editing on that. And you’re the one that helped guide me on like, Hey just make it fun and do things. And I realized real quick the difference in somebody that’s editing it for their own gain, if that makes sense. Versus editing it to make sure that it’s who you are. But like grammatically correct obviously, but more of your tone, right? Like it was more so like who you are and you know the [sic] related, right? Like white, this is how she wants to say it because that’s how Destiny talks, right. You know, like this is, this is how this is done and this is meant to be. And I have the confidence and letting it lie. I thought that was really cool for as an editor for her that she really grasps.
Leon: 29:43 Yeah, no, she absolutely got that. And, and which made the investment worth it because I knew that the product, the end product was going to be so much better because of it. Um, in terms of the rest of it, you know, Word, you know, just type, like really no pad would be fine too. I’m a big Evernote, you know, person in terms of tools, I write a lot in that. Um, and as far as putting it together, uh, there’s, there’s plenty of services I happened to use Smashwords, which gets it distributed all sorts of, all over the place. And then Kindle, you know, Amazon, you have to do on your own, separate from that. And as far as the printing, I used IngramSpark and again, minimal investment. So if you’re thinking, oh my gosh, you know, I can’t write a book because the production part is really hard, that’s not anymore. That barrier to entry is completely gone. Um, so that you can focus as a writer, you know, just doing that part. And I’ll tell you a trick and Destiny, you sort of hit on it, which is, you know, if you’re thinking, wow, this is too much for me to do, invite some friends, you know, talk about it. If this is a technical topic and you’re talking about it at work, talk with the folks and say, “Hey, you know, do you want to do a chapter? Do you want to, you know, contribute some ideas and I’ll flesh them out or vice versa?” And you know, three, four, five people. Again, Amazon doesn’t care how many author names you put on there. You know, it’s not like a, a real flesh and blood publisher says, “No, no, no. We wanted to have the exclusive rights and all of you must sign a contract and your first born child.” like nobody cares. Really.
Destiny: 31:20 Thank God I’ve alread got a few!
Leon: 31:23 Right, right. You can, yeah. Children to say, yeah, it’s, you can put a few up. Exactly. They must be teenagers. So, uh, you know, but you can, you can do that so you can actually spread the load. And uh, on, on this book, on The Four Questions, a friend of mine, a Rabbi Davidovich, uh, who’s here in Cleveland, he also, he’s got a lot of great ideas. His public speaking is incredible, but he just found that that hump of writing to be a little bit daunting. And so I’m like, yeah, “You’re going to do, you’re going to do a chapter for me.” And so he’s got, uh, you know, he’s got a whole insert in there. Um, I actually had to bribe him with a pan of baklava and coffee and he was able to, he was saying… It works, man.
Doug: 32:11 Oh, well. her baklavah.. your daughter’s baklava is so good, I mean really…
Kate: 32:16 I would do literally anything you asked of me for a pan of baklavah.
Destiny: 32:20 So would Tim. Tim would totally be down.
Leon: 32:23 Duly noted. Okay. See, so everyone who’s listening, like you just have to know the people around. You just have to know what their bribery level. Um, so anyway, you know, so there’s some other ways to go about writing it that isn’t the same. And the last piece of advice that I would give is, is if you like writing, but the idea of writing a book is daunting. Don’t. Write blog posts, write short essays. You’d be amazed at how quickly they bundled together into an anthology, or that you start to see themes come out. It’s like, “Oh, but if I, if I wove this one into this one, if I connected that to that and I just rewrote a little bit of this” and whatever that all of a sudden the book is there. You actually already did it. You just didn’t realize it. Um, so those, those are just some, some, you know, other ideas from inside.
Destiny: 33:14 So I have a question. If you’re going to summarize your book how would you summarize The Four Questions for somebody who has no idea what they are? Like coming in to this podcast right now? Like if they were like, “Okay, I hear a lot about four questions. What the hell is four questions?? What is going on?” Like, what is it?
Leon: 33:32 So there’s, there’s two ways to answer. First of all, the book is really the combination of what Jewish philosophy and history have to say about it. And monitoring specifically. That’s the overarching theme. So it’s really about monitoring with the Judaic piece as spice or a through line to keep you, as Kate said, “to keep you awake.” What the four questions are is a pretty simple, these are the four questions that I’ve gotten asked over the 20 years I’ve been a monitoring engineer: Why did it get an alert? Why didn’t I get an alert? Uh, what are you monitoring on my systems right now? What’s going to alert on my systems right now? And then there’s a fifth of the fourth questions. Just like, there’s five cups of wine or four, we’re not sure, during Passover. There’s four – or five – questions and that is “what do you monitor standard” is the last question. So those are the questions. So as far as where you can get it, um, you can find all the links to it on my website, adatosystems.com but you can also find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Smashwords and those links will lead you to everywhere else that you could possibly want to find it.
Doug: 34:39 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious visit our website, technicallyreligious.com where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.
Leon: 34:53 It’s a very engaging topic. In fact, it’s so interesting and meaty that I don’t think one book is enough. You’re probably going to have to buy two just to make sure you get it.