16,000 Followers They say that imitation is the best form of flattery, but when it comes to your online identity sometimes imitation is less flattery and closer to identity theft. You can imagine my surprise when I found myself in precisely that situation. Why does …
Amazon Ranking: #9,946 With 85 product reviews and 359 helpful votes, I’ve attained a ranking within the top 10,000 Amazon reviewers. Why is being in the top 10k a big deal? All Amazon customers can check their ranking on their individual profiles, but Amazon publishes …
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 dinner and as I was getting restless thinking about my next post I looked at Matt and had a bright idea: I could talk about working with him on his website.
The Story behind the photo
Early on in our relationship I told Matt I wouldn’t be his webmaster (a conversation which he is still upset about and I still stand by because as a rule I don’t develop for friends) but around the year mark I figured we were in it for the long haul and got him set up with a domain name and told him to play around with WordPress – that’s how I was first introduced to website development and blogging in high school.
Almost a year later he hadn’t gotten far in the process (read: hadn’t logged in in months) and I suggested we take a look: I’d take over the design reigns and he would just help me fill in the content. We had a great night of looking through templates, designing sidebars, and figuring out where his acting resumes should go. In a couple of hours we’d built a content-light framework that would be complete with some blanks and photos filled in.
Throughout the process I was doing, well, what I do for work 40 hours a week: editing the HTML, CSS, and php so that the website would look how I wanted. Matt was in relative awe of the process and asked questions when he didn’t understand what I was doing (“Where do you click?”, “What does that mean?”, “How do I do this?”). It made me giggle because those are questions that I haven’t asked myself in 4+ years and I forgot that this is something I’m only good at because I’ve spent so much time doing it, not necessarily because it’s intuitive.
So the next day when I had my model-boyfriend captive watching a movie on the couch I took that reminder and ran with it
(Side note: He’s legitimately a professional model so when he agrees to do photos with me on my social media I like to tease him about lending an air of authenticity to the photo)
I pulled out the lights and the tripod, grabbed my computer, took a couple of photos, and had him re-affirm which one he preferred (the entire time engrossed in his movie). I posted it at 8pm on a Friday night after a streak of “eh” photos that hadn’t been doing mind-blowingly well.
I Guess People Liked It
Within 12 hours the photo had over 1,000 likes and the post had been saved over 100 times. By the time 24 hours rolled around it beat every other photo in every statistic except comments with well over 30k users viewing it. Part of it may have had to do with the fact that apparently Matt looks like the blonde alter ego of Martin Garrix (a famous Dutch musician/DJ) and people kept doing double takes because they thought the DJ was the one in the photo.
I think there’s a better explanation for why this photo was such a hit.
In posting this photo, I upped my relatability factor
Most of my posts are “Hello, I am a developer and I am doing this” – I learned HTML 8 years ago and the first time I was truly “new” to programming was half a decade ago, so the whole “I’m new to development” theme doesn’t really work for me because I’m not and I don’t want to fake it. I don’t really care about textbook algorithms or talking in-depth about prepping for coding interviews because I’m past that point in my life and I tend to keep work at work (so I don’t post how-to videos or blog posts about the tech-lifestyle much). My demographic is pretty much: people who are already familiar with the language of software development and like pretty pictures.
In contrast, Matt is a total newbie and that experience resonates with a much broader audience. In any field the number of amateurs will far exceed the number of professionals, so it makes sense that a post about someone asking questions about basic development elements would reach way more people than a post that’s only understood by people who have had some type of professional development experience. This is one of those, “Duh,” concepts that I’ve briefly thought about before but never followed up on because I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference.
How this will affect my posting in the future
I’m going to be answering more questions, that’s for sure. After thinking about some of my favorite content (podcasts, websites, etc.) I realized that most of my favorites have some level of audience question/answer participation which is both entertaining and keeps people engaged. Stuff like Dear Hank and John, Quora, Radiolab, whatever, all involve audience members asking questions and everyone seeing the response. That format would also mean that I don’t have to expend as much energy coming up with clever and relevant captions (captions get really hard after a while, guys).
I managed to take a photo that resonated with a large audience, probably because it involved someone new to programming and in any industry the number of newbies far exceeds the number of people-who-get-paid-to-do-things. I’m going to try to integrate both more question-asking and question-answering into my posts to see if that increases my engagement rate.
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 …
So when I was approached a couple of months ago by my practice leader asking if I’d study and take the Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification Exam I said “Sure, why not”
What is Salesforce?
Salesforce as a product is a Customer Relationship Management tool. From what I’ve seen – at a basic level – it provides a user interface for tables in a database and allows you to not only do read/write operations, but create complex processes around the data (like only allowing certain people to view certain records, or sending out emails based on certain criteria). The use case I’ve run across most frequently involves selling products or services to customers and the process that a customer has to go through to get to that final purchasing point; the interface is simple enough that a sales rep can be trained in how to use and customize it without having to learn how to be a “developer”.
So why would a developer learn and get certified in Salesforce?
The platform allows you to create custom widgets for viewing and manipulating data. As a developer, the mechanism for these interactions is very similar to Java, HTML, and SQL, but with a special Salesforce-twist to it. The languages have their own syntax, their own development environment, and their own way of making things work.
Salesforce also has API endpoints that you can integrate with a custom application. Even if you don’t want your customers to use the interface, you can still take advantage of the horsepower and processes behind it.
How do you study for a certification?
Salesforce has a handful of different certifications and has a very clear study plan for all of them in a free online book that you can find here. You don’t have to be certified to work with the Salesforce technology, but as with all certifications, it does give you some credibility.
Salesforce provides both free and paid training. I stuck with the free training that they provide online and avoided the paid classes which seems both time-consuming and expensive. They call the different free training modules “Trailheads” and there’s a different trailhead for each certification (or in some cases there are multiple trailheads). At the end of each section there are multiple choice question “practice tests” or projects. Pay particular attention to those, as they might show up later on the actual exam.
I was working a full 40 hours/week on a client during this time, so I took aside time on the weekends to study for the certification – usually averaging between 3 and 5 hours a week. At that pace I finished it in almost exactly two months (if you don’t have other obligations you could definitely finish it faster). By the time I walked into the exam room, I was nervous but also felt confident that I’d either know it or I wouldn’t and more studying probably wouldn’t help me.
What is the exam like?
For the Platform Developer 1 Certification you can see the technical details here – but at a high level:
- There are 65 questions that cover the Developer Beginner Trailhead course
- A passing score is 68%
- They’re all multiple choice, with some of them asking you to choose two or three options – I assume there’s no partial credit on those questions
- You have a little over an hour and a half to complete the test (though honestly I didn’t spend that long in the room)
- The exam costs $200 the first time you take it (a lot of people don’t pass initially), since mine was mandated by my company, I get reimbursed for the cost
In Dallas I went to a testing center to take the exam (you can find the exam sites and schedule online); this is my first certification so I had no idea what to expect. There were lots of security cameras so you couldn’t cheat and it felt a little bit like a middle school computer lab, except with cubicles so you couldn’t see anyone else’s screens and everyone was definitely over the age of 14. They had small lockers to put belongings in (I was grateful that I didn’t bring my computer bag), and the staff was nice but had obviously already seen at least 30 people go through there by 9am on a Saturday and weren’t really looking to engage in friendly chit-chat.
I got my results as soon as I clicked “submit” and there was a moment of panic where I thought there was a chance I’d failed everything or the computer would malfunction or an apocalypse would strike and I’d be prevented from passing my exam. Luckily, my weekends of studying paid off and I passed! I didn’t get a perfect score, but I did well enough that I feel confident moving forward.
So is this going to be your entire job now?
No way, Jose. While I’m sure this certification will mean that I get more opportunities to work with Salesforce, it’s not my entire life. I enjoy custom development way too much to totally give that up.
As a consultant it’s my responsibility to learn the technologies that our clients interact with on a day-to-day basis. Salesforce is a CRM platform that has proprietary languages and applications behind it that make it a great choice for a lot of businesses. If you want to take the certification exam there’s a very clear training curriculum to insure your success; make sure to study, but it’s not the SAT.
If you’ve had any adventures with Salesforce, their certification process, or other certification processes for comparison, I’d love to hear about your experiences!
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 …