Design: How to Make a Vintage Website

Remember what websites looked like before they became so interactive and graphic savvy? The World Wide Web- in the early 2000s- was not aesthetically pleasing. So, we decided to recreate it. Out with the new, in with the old.

Below, we have provided an example of a modern-looking website. Specifically, we used a Bootstrap template. Then, we have listed the changes we made to the current website code. We discovered that the key to making an old-looking website is not using specific technologies, but using the styles and the aesthetics that your site embraces. Let’s take a Bootstrap template, Clean Blog – Bootstrap Blog Theme, and how we retrofitted it!

The current, modern version looks like:

To make it “look old” I made the following changes:

  • Removed all of the JavaScript
  • Dropped the custom fonts, went back to a fixed width Sans-Serif font (Courier New) and dropped the line-height
  • Switched the background image to something low quality and repeating
  • Filled all the whitespace by setting the content to 100% width
  • Add some obnoxious color – see links and menu items. 
  • Toss in a gradient for good measure

The final Product:

Some other options for replicating an early 21st century website include: the venerable marquee HTML tag, animated GIFs, and of course, anything neon.

Of course there is always the all time GOAT retro website, the original 1996 Space Jam website, which is still up!

Have additional suggestions for how to make an old-looking website, or any formatting requests you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments below!

What Makes the AWS Cloud so Cool!?

We watched an AWS Cloud webinar, so, you don’t have to. (But if you want to, it’s attached below.) Here are are three aspects of the AWS cloud that make it both unique and useful, particularly for ISVs (Independent Software Vendors.)

  • Architectural Design helps ISV’s customers focus on which services are being used, understand how scalability is managed, and preview how an application looks in the cloud. The priority of the architectural design is to ensure:
    • High performance / ability 
    • Dynamic scalability 
    • Adherence to AWS best practices
    • Flexibility to automate app deployment – using CloudFormation templates, AWS Marketplace, and more
  • Security & Compliances allow ISV’s to provide their customers with risk assessment and mitigation methodologies to strengthen their security posture on AWS. These features supply customers with the documentation to explore how application deployment in AWS meets requirements and reduces a barrier to entry.
    • Architectural security strategy
    • Frameworks for compliance 
    • Policy and controls mapping
  • Cost Optimization assists ISV’s in offering more cost-effective services to their customers. This aspect persuades customers to adopt more solutions by ensuring that software properly utilizes AWS. With increased elasticity, and a minimized resource consumption, customers are facilitated in making decisions to move forward with an application.
    • Minimizes idle resources
    • Properly right-sizing infrastructure 
    • Helps avoid common architecture pitfalls

Open Data: Which Greater Boston Regions Have Open Data Sets?

Open Data is defined as: “data that can be freely-used, shared, and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose” (Open Knowledge Foundation Blog.) Open data provides many benefits.

In a similar manner that it is essential to record a nation’s history, recording open data has comparable advantages. Keeping a running log of statistics and information can be used to analyze changes in patterns and sequences. With a measurable starting point, as well as updates, each community can stay informed and up to date about their surroundings. It is useful for the affected society not only to be aware of the changes in their government’s policies and implementations, but also the consequences. With mandatory government submissions and access to open data, local businesses have the ability to develop custom business plans tailored to their company’s surroundings.

Open data often includes demographic statistics in addition to employment information, salary, income, and spending. With open access, local engagement is welcomed and encouraged. Also, there is room for the public sector to make digital and technical transformations, implementing social progression and efficiency. Through this evolution, statistics on unemployment high school dropout rates as well as crime and violence can be targeted and countered.

To insure political justice, reporting open data is mandatory. This is essential for two reasons, it prevents the government from concealing certain statistics and information, and it is not gathered for a specific purpose. What this means is that the options for interpretation, analysis, and creativity are unlimited. People can use this data to make assessments and conclusions that the government may not have wanted to publicize. Additionally, this data can be used to measure and reinforce financial and economic status. From a technical standpoint, open data is very useful and endless in its opportunity for building.

Some examples of projects that have been produced with open data include: a school selection device, a flood print, online voting at events, home health and safety report, traffic and accident browser, damage from disasters assessment, a mobile voting ballot, etc.. The chart below provides the Greater Boston regions that have open data readily available. With this data, endless projects and tools could be designed, so, what will you build?


Interview: Chris’ Take on Tech in Real Estate

How did you end up where you are today

I started in accounting, I worked in the CPA world with a real estate background. Over time, I drifted away from the CPA path. I knew it wasn’t for me. After CPA, I got an agent license and I thought my background provided a unique skill set to the industry. Thus, I went on my own and failed A LOT along the way, looking for a tech market fit in real estate.

How did you first incorporate tech in the real estate space?

With the help of engineers, my buddy and I built a pretty cool property search platform for buyers. There was a messaging feature, between agents and buyers, that we thought was state of the art at the time. After building a ton of legacy code that nobody wanted, we realized that we weren’t really solving a problem. The buyer search was occupied by major sites, like Zillow and Trulia, it didn’t make sense for us to compete there.

As you faced these challenges, what was your outlook?

I think many people perceive life is this perpetual climb to the top of a mountain and then you finally reach the top, raise your hands in the air, and scream “I made it!!” When in actuality, life is more like walking up 10 feet of the mountain, and then falling into a 30 foot drop off, meaning there isn’t a linear climb to the top. There are a ton of ups and downs. For me, it’s all about persistence and surrounding yourself with talented people, engineers and creatives especially.

So, what do you do now?

I currently own a real estate brokerage in South Boston. I work with a rockstar CTO and a talented digital team. We’ve built a proprietary database tool which helps us stand out from the rest, it basically tells us who is more likely to sell their home.

What inspired you to leverage tech/data for real estate?

I didn’t just want to be a traditional agent/broker and sell places. I felt I needed to add a ton of value in what I was doing and building. When I look back on what really started things for me, it was on the tech and data side. I’ve owned a place in Southie for some time now. I frequently get mailers from real estate agents, enticing me to sell. I actually received one yesterday! After collecting so many mailers, I thought to myself over the years, this can’t be the best way to reach owners. I mean I’m a broker, myself, receiving these mailers with no analytics on them. So, how many of these are actually read and converted into sale? A very small percent.

How do you identify a potential opportunity to use tech in a non-traditional situation?

I try to look at things from a high level and ask where the most value is added. In my industry, Redfin, the discount broker, has gained a lot of market share because buyers/sellers are getting smarter. They have begun to question the value of an agent. There are many agents covering too much territory in order to survive. When this happens, there is very little value add to the consumer. (i.e. if you have an out of town agent repping a buyer in South Boston, often times, there is very little value add for the buyer.) Whereas, if I was representing you as a buyer, I’d be able to give you neighborhood knowledge along with off market opportunities outside of MLS.

And for sellers, I can create an unmatched amount of bandwidth (targeting buyers) for your home because of our database technology.

What are some challenges you face building as a non-technical person?

Where do I start!? Haha. I actually want to write a book about this, maybe I’ll call it, The Technical Guide for Non-Tech Founders. I haven’t seen anything like it out there, have you?  Would you like to co-author with me? Making the right hiring decisions is a huge challenge, ALONG with building something a bunch of people actually need. Finding really great engineers to buy into your work can be tough. I’ve spent a lot of time in my early days on Elance (which is now UpWork) and you can get burned on there. I’ve always been bootstrapped, and when you make a mistake, it really really hurts.

Why do you think real estate is one of the last industries to adapt to new software and technologies? (calculations by hand and not through a database)

Great question! I think it is mostly because the business model has stood the test of time very well, even with the internet disruption in many other industries. 2005 and 2015, saw a wave of change. But, even with all the advancements on the home buying front, there is still a complicated and mostly analog process after the online search occurs. An end to end platform is coming and this will be interesting. Currently, there are some really talented people working on this.

Overall, how would you characterize the adoption of new technologies in the real estate space?

Real estate literally touches everything we do, because it defines our environment, our physical space. Think about this: of all the tech changes we have seen in our lifetime

ex. Amazon(goods), Facebook/Apple(communication), Google(information), Uber/Lyft(transport). Paypal/Venmo(Capital space.)

Real estate is larger than all of these categories combined. Real estate will evolve more quickly than people think. Venture Capital has poured a ton of money into the race, recently. The new wave startups are tackling a wide range of areas — building management, financing, co-working, appraisals, building amenities and empty retail space, even tech-enabled construction, management, and maintenance.

Do you think the future of real estate will evolve as they adapt to using new technology?

Yes, with the rise of technologies like autonomous vehicles, the drone, robotic delivery, decentralized workspaces, and other macro trends. These inventions are likely to lead to a complete transformation in how we utilize the spaces in which we work and live.

How to Lose Your Manager in 10 Days

Corporate cliches, like any cliche, should never be used. But you know what’s worse about corporate cliches, you have to hear them all the time, at a loud volume, from your manager that you don’t even like. Let’s call your manager Mike. Mike takes his job way too seriously, he always calls you out in front of your CEO when you don’t do something perfectly, and he has never taken one day of vacation in ten years. Mike shows up to every company gathering early, and complains that the pasta salad you brought isn’t chilled enough. You don’t even know who likes cold pasta anyway since you sure as hell didn’t make it yourself, and you’re just praying that Mike doesn’t say too much to your new boyfriend, if you even have a boyfriend by the end of the event. Well you know what’s the worst thing about Mike? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not his food preferences of lack of social skills … it’s his cliche sayings, his “corporate cliches” if you will.

Mike starts every call with a client by saying, “well at a high level..” he responds to every important question you have with, “let’s circle back” or “I’ll loop you in.” No, Mike, don’t do anything with me and round shapes. You are SO not hip. When mike disapproves of the work that he specifically requested from, he sends you “back to the drawing board” or “square one.” You want to know where you don’t want to go, Mike, there. But don’t worry, when you’re on ridiculous deadlines, he doesn’t tell you to go places, rather, he suggests you “hammer it out” or “move the needle.” Thank you for the encouragement, Mike… what makes these expressions so bad is that some of them really don’t make sense from a literal standpoint. Besides that, they are so overused. Just because your grandmother said them in her day, and hasn’t updated her jargon at the ripe age of 91, does not mean that it’s okay to take this terminology to the office place.

So, to help save what is left to be cultivated in the corporate world, we have made a game, Corporate Cliche Bingo. Every time someone says one one of these awful phrases, everyone else gets to fill in that square, until someone fills in 5 squares in a row, AKA BINGO. Maybe up the ante, a few drinks never hurt anyone. When Mike finally closes his mouth, or runs his wallet dry, you’ll have us to thank.