Recent Insights

Instagram: My first post to get over 1000 likes in less than 12 hours

Instagram: My first post to get over 1000 likes in less than 12 hours

14,852 Followers It was a Friday night and when I opened the door to my apartment there was Matt watching a documentary about Jim Carrey on his laptop (we don’t live together, but we live ~1 minute away from each other). After we finished eating […]

Amazon Reviews: The Evolving Psychology of Black Market Reviews

Amazon Reviews: The Evolving Psychology of Black Market Reviews

Amazon Ranking: #10,872 A little over 6 months ago I wrote about how Amazon started accidentally encouraging a black market to develop around its reviewing community by making it clear that reviews that involve free or discounted merchandise are prohibited (these are often the perks […]

Instagram: Sometimes you can’t trust what you see in the “Top Posts”

Instagram: Sometimes you can’t trust what you see in the “Top Posts”


Whenever real-life gets busy and I start posting sporadically (and stop keeping A+ statistics) I feel a little bit out-of-touch with how I’m doing when life starts getting less-busy and I get back into the rhythm of posting. I use a few measures to figure out if I’m still “on-track”:

  • Peer comparison (people who have approximately the same growth patterns as me)
  • Checking the like and view rates on posts (how many tens/thousands each post gets in the first 12-24 hours)
  • Looking at how much my new content is being reposted by amalgamation accounts
  • How quickly my posts make it into the “Top Posts” section of the hashtags I’ve attached to them

So, when I was starting to get back into the rhythm of posting and checked the hashtag pages to figure out how my last post was doing, you can imagine my devastation when it showed up on [insert drumroll here] none of them.

None of my photos. However there are a lot of photos of Laura Medalia (@codergirl_) which seems weird because it used to be that one person wouldn’t have more than one photo in the “Top Posts” section

I was a little baffled and a little more disappointed. The post was doing well by my other metrics, had Instagram just suddenly up and gotten a lot more popular in the month I got busy?

So I Investigated

I logged onto @ZoraFloraSays and checked the hashtags I used for @JonesDoesLife and lo and behold: there I was.

My immediate thought was “Okay, but they probably know I check @JonesDoesLife so maybe that rigs my top posts.” I logged out of Instagram altogether and went to look at the tags.

Taken literally seconds apart

Still there (top-middle). Apparently the only person who couldn’t see me there was, well, myself. (more…)

Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification: A Retrospective

Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification: A Retrospective

As a technology consultant I’m expected to be competent in the technologies that our clients use – this means that not only do I work with the “classic” web development languages and frameworks (like Java and JavaScript libraries), but I often have to learn how […]

Wait, what do you actually get paid to do?

Wait, what do you actually get paid to do?

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I program as part of my job. “Programmer” is a vague description at best because there are so many jobs and job descriptions that fall under that title. If you know me in real life […]

LWDC: Let’s Talk Medical Stuff

LWDC: Let’s Talk Medical Stuff

I’ve been working full-time for a year in Dallas, and since I’m probably sticking around for a while it seemed like a good time to find a Cardiologist.

Wait, Johna, why do you need a cardiologist?

Well, dear reader, I have a condition called “dilated cardiomyopathy.” I was born with a hole in my heart and when I was three years old the doctors went to check on it and discovered the left side of my heart was kinda big, so it’s nothing particularly new. I had the same cardiologist for ~20 years until he retired (because doctors are people too) so in college I was kind of in limbo heart-doctor-wise because my family/medical records were all in Alaska while I was in Dallas/Moscow/Beijing.

So, like, what does that actually mean?

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is actually one of the most common types of cardiomyopathy (a heart disease) and can be caused by anything from alcoholism to cancer drugs to genetics – mine is in my genes and is also related to a much less common form of cardiomyopathy. It’s not a great thing to find in children because the prognosis is pretty grim (it ends up being something like a 50/50 survival rate to your pre-teens).

The human heart is supposed to look kind of like an American football, but mine looks more like a basketball because the left side is significantly enlarged. It’s kind of like a balloon that gets blown up just a tiny bit further every time, so the walls of the heart are thinner than normal and it doesn’t function at a normal capacity which can cause other weird problems (like blood cots or arrhythmias).

It also means that I can’t do stuff like go on roller-coasters, drink energy drinks (or live on coffee), have a biological kid, do competitive/high intensity sports or activities, smoke, pull a week of all-nighters, and generally I just shouldn’t stress my body out physically too much. Upside: I got out of every gym class ever while I was growing up and developed a healthy resistance to peer pressure.

can do cardio as long as I’m not over-exerting myself, but usually I’ll just opt out of activities that are athletic and team-based.

Oh man, Johna, are you dying?

Technically speaking I have a version of heart failure, but since my heart’s been weird since I was born, my body has adjusted to it. I’m pretty asymptomatic (meaning that a lot of the time I don’t notice it) except that sometimes I get tired faster than I should or I need to sit down because my heart’s beating quickly.

I’ve been on all the right medication since I was three years old and my condition hasn’t changed a lot, so I’m pretty much doing a-okay. In high school my cardiologist thought I might need a heart transplant (not that anyone told me that), but my condition never worsened to that extent so I’m just gonna say: “Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

Okay, so if you’re fine, why are you bringing it up now?

There are two parts to this:

1. Being a kid with heart failure and being an adult with heart failure are two very different things. When you’re a kid you’ve got a better chance of being in uncharted territory medically speaking and people don’t really know what to do with you so there’s more of a “wait and see” mentality.

As an adult there are a lot more “concrete” solutions that become available because doctors have been studying adults in different capacities for friggin’ forever. This means that my new doctor has already started looking at fixes; a ‘fix’ when you have heart failure often involves some kind of minor surgery, and the decision process up to that point requires tests and research and a lot of thought. Some of this stuff I’ll be going through in the next 6 months or so would be way harder to not talk about (like, “hey, why are you suddenly like Iron Man with a flashing light on your chest?”). Yeah, I could wear bulky sweaters and go out of my way to hide it, or pretend I’m not stressed about managing work/life/health, but I’d rather just be comfortable talking about it without feeling like I have to start from ground zero every time.

2. As I started researching some of these “fixes” I realized that there isn’t a lot of easily available anecdotal information about people actually going through this whole process. There are a couple of forums that are hard to sort through, but besides that it’s a lot of documentation from the American Heart Association and other similar organizations that are very clinical (and it’s not like you just casually talk about this with people every day who also have the same problem). As someone who’s spent the past 20 years being “pretty much fine” it’s terrifying to think of life changing so drastically so quickly when I don’t feel like I’m getting any worse. I’d love to have a resource that someone can look at who’s in a similar situation and feel a little bit less alone.

I’d also love to try to make it somehow funny/enjoyable because this is my life and it’s weird but also great, so tell me if I’m just bumming you guys out.


I have always had a big heart, and I’m doing fine. Figuring out how to live with Dilated Cardiomyopathy as an adult is a totally different situation than having it as a kid: navigating insurance, big medical appointments/decisions, and work-life is something that you don’t really have to deal with when you’re still in school – it would be way harder for me to not talk about this stuff as it comes up.

Instagram: “Please Sell Us Your Photos”: The Instagram Influence Marketplace

Instagram: “Please Sell Us Your Photos”: The Instagram Influence Marketplace

12,085 Followers The Initial Approach My @JonesDoesLife account tends to get fewer “sign up for our website” messages than @ZoraFloraSays, so I was both surprised and intrigued when I was emailed by a company called that seems to be trying to build a kind […]

Instagram: Milestone – 10k Followers

Instagram: Milestone – 10k Followers

10,884 Followers Cue the Confetti As predicted, I hit 10,000 followers mid-October (October 12th to be specific). What that tells me is that if you have enough data you can absolutely predict Instagram growth with a polynomial equation – at least to a point. I […]

Amazon Reviews: The Technologies Sellers Love and Use

Amazon Reviews: The Technologies Sellers Love and Use

Obviously you have to use Amazon in order to do reviews on Amazon, but what other technologies do you have to know about in order to successfully interact with sellers and why?

Initial Contact


If you’ve filled out your Amazon profile then you’ve put your email in plain sight where anyone can see it. This is where most sellers will probably contact you. Sometimes they’ll have an account and sometimes they’ll have email accounts that end with or These aren’t spam emails, and are domain names that are popular in China, where a lot of the people who are contacting you work and live.


I advertise myself as an Amazon Reviewer on Instagram and over the past month or so sellers have increasingly been using the social media platform to make initial contact. Their Instagram accounts will usually be full of pictures of clothes and captions like ‘contact us if you want to review these products’ – they aren’t very subtle. One of their first questions will be “What’s your Amazon Profile link?” so they can verify that you actually review things on Amazon. It’s helpful to have that on hand in a text file or something that you can just copy and paste.

Follow Up Contact

A lot of sellers will follow up by saying “Add us on Facebook” or “Add us on WeChat”


If you’re reading this, you probably already know what Facebook is, so I’m not going to insult your intelligence by explaining the social media platform. If you’ve put your full name on your Amazon profile then sellers can find you and contact you via Facebook. They might just message you or they may also try to friend you. Don’t freak out, they’re not trying to stalk you, it’s just how their business contacts people. It also makes it easier to put people into “Review Groups”

I personally have a “No Facebook Friend” rule which some seller’s abide by and some don’t. If a seller really wants to work with you then they’ll respect that you only want to talk over email.


If you live in the United States, you might not be familiar with WeChat. It’s a social messaging platform much like AIM or Facebook Messenger that’s popular in Asia. You register on your phone but can also chat on the computer (which makes it easier for sellers who are on their computers). Because it’s an instant messaging platform it means that you might get messages at all hours of the day or night – because sellers are in Asia and the time difference is significant, I get a lot of messages between 10pm and 6am. If you go the WeChat route I highly suggest silencing your phone at night so you don’t wake up with people messaging you about reviews.

Getting the Products

Amazon Refunds/Discount Codes

Sellers will offer you discount codes or amazon gift cards in return for buying/reviewing their products. Don’t do this. Amazon can easily track this activity and flag it as suspicious. Just don’t.


If a seller is serious about paying you/reimburse you, I’ve found without exception they’ll use PayPal. You have to have an account for this (you can have multiple emails on the same email account, so I added my email that I use with sellers). Sometimes they’ll offer to pay you before you buy, sometimes after your payment has gone through, sometimes after your review. It’s up to your discretion as to which options you choose. Thus far I haven’t had a seller not follow through if they said they’d pay me.

Direct Shipment

There are a couple of companies that will just directly ship the products to you and include the Amazon receipt in the bag. Amazon will let you review products like this, but your review won’t be “verified” because you didn’t buy them on your account, so you’re limited in the number of these you can do per week. I’m also not totally confident that if you review a lot of these Amazon won’t mark your profile as suspicious (you can only say “my mom got me this dress as a gift” so many times before it becomes weird).

Instagram: 3 Things to Remember Before Looking at The Comments Section

Instagram: 3 Things to Remember Before Looking at The Comments Section

8,442 Followers Because my content tends to be generic (“I did a thing”, “here is a computer”, “check out this dog”) – it makes for good content for amalgamation accounts that have specific themes (ex: “girls on computers”, “computers”, “dogs”). When I know I’ve been […]