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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”

12,160 followers 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 […]

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 to use proprietary software (sometimes it’s just how to use them through their API’s, sometimes it’s more in-depth).

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 onlineĀ 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 hereĀ – 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!

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 […]

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

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


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 of stock photo repository.

I appreciate that they didn’t go the flattery route of “You could have so many more followers.” (more…)

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 Email If you’ve filled out your Amazon profile then you’ve put […]

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

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


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 reposted I like to save that post so I can see which posts are reposted most frequently and respond to any questions. This means that people who don’t normally follow me see my pictures and captions without any context; I was going through my saved posts today and came across this

  • “Babe, take a picture of me with this computer so strangers on the internet give me more attention than I already get and I can pretend to be a nerd cuz that’s the cool thing to do now.” Ā –Ā richard_saturday


My first instinct was to be really defensive (I’m pretty sure that’s any person’s first instinct when a random person makes assumptions about you/your life). Then I took a step back and thought, “Wait, this is an illustrative moment, this is actuallyĀ perfect.” If you have a presence that people comment on and you’ve run into this – these are just a few things to keep in mind.

1. Sometimes people online have very little self-awareness

MostĀ of the people I interact with online are delightful human beings. The best part of being online is that you can choose what you want to look at based on your interests. If you’re not interested, you don’t have to look at it. The @dvlpr.u account is an account that mostly reposts photos of computers and people on computers. It reposts aĀ lot of photos of female developers, including a lot of my photos (the above photo was not the first or last photo that they have reposted of me).

This guy obviously assumed that the photo was “fake”, but he was commenting on anĀ account where this kind of photo is typical. That’s on him.

2. Strangers on the internet do not fact check before commenting

I laughed a little when I actually thought about his comment because none of it was true. I’m going to annotate it just for kicks:

Babe, take a picture of meĀ¹ with this computer so strangers on the internetĀ give me more attention than I already getĀ² and I can pretend to be a nerdĀ³Ā cuz that’s the cool thing4 to do now

  1. Ā I’ve had people ask before because they honestly want to know (heck, I don’t even know how some Instagram accounts do it). I happen to use a self-timer and tripod.
  2. (A) It’s my computer and (B) this picture was taken as part of a promotion for DevSlopes iOs tutorials, I quite literally got paid for this pictureĀ 
  3. I am paid to do custom software development 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, every week of the year – I’m not a nerd, I’m a developer
  4. People have been saying “being a nerd is suddenly cool” for years now and everyone needs to stop. Society values attractiveness, and it values intelligence, and it values passion, but oftentimes it’s in very different arenas. There are people who only respect other people if they’re smart to the same degree, if they’re attractive in a certain way, if they’re passionate about the same thing, there is no single “cool” thing.

When you’re in high school it was easy to identify true trends because high school is a small, isolated, ecosystem (hence, the ‘cool crowd’). If you’re not in high school (and aren’t an anthropologist) and you tell me that people are “faking” lifestyles because it’s “cool” I’m going to assume that you’re just bitter about something.

If his point was that “social media is absurd” then I totally agree with him, because getting paid to take photos in my pajamas on a Saturday morningĀ is totally absurd, but it’s also kind of absurdly awesome.

3. Sometimes comments are the reason why you should continue posting

This is less about generic Instagram and more about what @jonesdoeslife has turned into as a whole. For those of you who aren’t in the tech industry, I’ll try to keep this high level:

  • In terms of developers, the industry is 4-10% female
  • This leads to a lot of weird phenomenon, like people saying “Oh my God, but you’re a girl” when they find out you are a developer or being labeled as the “Girl Developer.” This kind of treatment is unnecessary and ridiculous as my gender doesn’t impact my technical ability. You wouldn’t say:
    • OHMG are you really a male psychologist?
    • Wait, you’re a female physicist? For real?
  • Sometimes people assume girls who are in technology got there through affirmative action/because the bar was lowered for them
  • Sometimes people assume that ladies are weaker coders and don’t belong in technology

If the commenter in question had just said “Oh man, she just wants attention so she’s posting a picture of herself developing” I still would have thought he lacked self-awareness since he’s on a social media platform, but would have understood his mindset.Ā But he didn’t say that.

His comment was about how ridiculous it was thatĀ a girl would pretend to be a developer and how he “saw” right through that.

I work with a lot of great people (mostly men) who value my intelligence and ability to perform, and they aren’t the people who need to see a picture of a woman programming. It’s the people who treat female programmers like mythical animals and make a big deal out of my gender being able to type on a keyboard who need to be exposed to the idea that what we’re doing isn’t special (over and over and over again).


If you’re a content creator: Before throwing some serious shade Ā – did I use that word right? – at an offensive comment on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or wherever you write, remember that strangers don’t know anything about your life and they don’t need to. Hopefully their ignorance can fuel you to keep doing whatever you’re doing in the hopes that someday people will be less ignorant.

If you’re a commenter: Maybe, don’t. I’m a big fan of, “If you don’t like it, don’t follow it.” If other people also don’t like it, then the person/thing will never gain traction. If the person does gain traction, then the only person your comment will expose to ridicule is yourself.

Photography: Katie’s Bridal Session

Photography: Katie’s Bridal Session

This past April I had the privilege of being present when one my friends from college proposed to his girlfriend (another one of my friends from college). Last night was the wedding, dancing, and a lot of happy tears. It’s always exciting to see people […]