Tom MacWright


Placemark made its first dollar this month. Victory!

More importantly, I got a lot of feedback about what would make it more useful, and implemented a bunch of that, which I think has already improved the product.

But, the list is long and every night I go to bed wishing that Placemark just supported vertex-snapping already. I’ll hopefully get to those things before the requesters run out of patience with me. At this point, my approach is just to advance the product. There’s some momentum, and there’s some information about what’s important for users, and the best strategy is to sprint toward that. I think.


Am I still on that saxophone-driven modern jazz kick? Yes, yes I am. But also…

Everyone has to try at least one ROSALÍA tune. The new album, Motomami, is all over the place with dance-pop and jokey tracks that were definitely written for TikTok. The one before that, El Mal Querer, is one of my favorite of all time, with flamenco/hip-hop mixtures. Before that, she recorded a mostly-acoustic album with an amazing cover of I See A Darkness (by Bonnie Prince Billy).

Anyway, ROSALÍA.


Zed Shaw is a controversial figure. I like some of his work, but he’s coarse and offensive and doesn’t spend much time adding caveats or compliments to his talks. Anyway, his talk on startup advice came to me when I needed it this month. That so much of building a startup is just nuts & bolts, day-in, day-out operation and building, and yet so much startup advice is impossibly high-level and aspirational.

The operational part of startups is often the make-it or break-it part. I’ve seen companies do it really well – led by founders who had the experience or were willing to learn fast to figure out things like payroll, immigration, stock issues, basic accounting. And others that didn’t, that tried to defer those things or leave them all up to consultants.

Obviously, you need a great product, great team, and so on. But a lot of the hard parts are boring. A lot of the hard parts are chores.

Besides that, finally started watching a new modern television programme, Barry. It’s pretty darn good so far.


It’s been a bit of a dry spell for reading. But this month I blazed through Nick Maguilli’s Just Keep Buying, a personal finance & investing book. I’ve been a Maguilli fan for a while, to the point that I made an Observable notebook modeling one of his articles.

All the finance books have caveats - they’re written for particular kinds of people with different habits, ages, earning abilities, etc. Just Keep Buying is more or less targeted at my demographic.

But also: there’s no filler. What a relief. Any book even tangentially related to self-help has the same kind of filler. It’ll start with the author’s rise and fall, their low point, their come-to-Jesus moment. Each chapter will introduce some minor character who had a problem and solved it with the recommended technique. It’s so tedious.

And, hallelujah, Just Keep Buying doesn’t have any of that stuff. The anecdotes are short and few. It gets to the point.


I had a great conversation with Daniel from the MapScaping podcast about Placemark, starting a company, and all that that entails.

I just wrote about new geospatial formats in the context of web apps & applications that are write-heavy. This blog has a lot of pretty tech-heavy posts, and I think this is one of the heaviest and least accessible. It’s talking about problems that most people don’t have, it gives no practical advice, it doesn’t spend any time setting up context, it is just the thoughts in my head, on the page.

That isn’t what people really want, but the thoughts need to be out there, so brace for a few more posts like that.

The first month of Placemark was action-packed! Changelogs:

  • May 2 - faster REST API, faster collaboration, XYZ layer support
  • May 13 - FlatGeobuf support, dark mode improvements
  • May 23 - multi-drag, performance improvements, improved TopoJSON support
  • May 31 - big table & labeling improvements

Plus: using folders to organize your data, and I made a new file format matrix.


In the last couple months, I’ve talked to people bootstrapping companies for whom XXXX a month in revenue was a big milestone. And people who want to found unicorn companies worth a billion dollars. And folks who want to stay out of the startup game entirely and work for a nonprofit or newspaper.

These ideas of success are so different that if you were to swap them around – give the unicorn to the bootstrapper, the nonprofit to the unicorn-startup builder – well, those aren’t their ideas of success. One person would feel like the money was meaningless, the other would feel like the meaningfulness didn’t include enough money.

And then there are the charismatic leaders who are able to redefine whatever they’re doing right now as success. Who spin, or have a positive attitude, or both.

Anyway, I found Amjad Masad’s post on mental framing to be useful this month. And chatting with people from a variety of viewpoints.