Reverse Engineering Websites and Tech Entrepreneurship | Day 9

In today’s lecture, Khurram took us through the process of reverse engineering websites using Chrome’s developer tools. Being able to view a site’s source code is an invaluable asset as one deepens one’s understanding of web development. The façade of the interface is torn down as we glimpse into the inner workings of the code.

Of particular emphasis was positioning, which is typically the most burdensome element when laying everything out through CSS. Understanding how to weigh out the padding and the margins is essential. More importantly, we delved further into the benefits of responsive web design as content consumption transitions to mobile devices – static pages won’t cut it anymore.

With the lecture completed, we continued on with the data mining and visualizing assignment of yesterday. Although I did express my qualms about data mining in my previous post, it is nonetheless quite an empowering feeling to be able to scour the web to get whatever information you desire. Simply put, in knowing how websites are put together you are in the best position to extract information from them – it is truly an ad hoc process. For instance, if you are trying to scrape a site for its prices you would look through its source code and observe how the prices are presented through its HTML. Once you’ve determined the price’s id, you would write your scrapper to target that particular id to get the information. This information could then sent off into a .txt or .csv file for further manipulation. More importantly, I want to highlight that this entire process can be conducted from your command line, which is deeply humbling as you witness the potential of what your computer is capable of.

Finally, the day ended off with a talk by Aditya Bali, cofounder of BufferBox. He shared with us his entrepreneurial journey from modest beginnings as a Waterloo engineer, to being a cofounder of a YC-backed hardware startup, to finally being acquired by, and working for, Google. I was fortunate enough to have heard him speak on a similar topic at CUTC’s Infect conference in May; when he spoke today, I captured certain elements of his talk that I had previously missed. The essence of Aditya’s talk and entrepreneurial journey can be summarized thus: be relentlessly resourceful. As a startup founder, you truly have very little going for you besides your inspiration, motivation, and effort – in short, you really have to create your opportunities. It is in having very little that you learn how to optimize your situation to your advantage, playing on any strength that can take you forward as you build a beachhead in a given market. Furthermore, I was extremely impressed with the degree of Aditya’s success given that he chose to embark upon an unconventional hardware startup and still was selected by YC. His actions, and those of his cofounders, exist as a continued source of inspiration for GTA and Tri-City entrepreneurs striving to make Southern Ontario a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem. The future is definitely brimming with potential.

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