Archive of posts with tag 'satellite'

The Challenge of High-Capital Startups

August 17, 2022 • #

Geospatial analytics company Descartes Labs recently sold to private equity, in what former CEO Mark Johnson calls a “fire sale.” This post is his perspective on the nature of the business over time, their missteps along the way in both company identity and fundraising, and some of the shenanigans that can happen as stakeholders start to head for the exits.

Not knowing much about Descartes’ actual business, either the original vision of the product or its actual delivery over the years, I don’t have...

Weekend Reading: Honeycode, Imagery for Utilities, and BigQuery in Google Sheets

July 4, 2020 • #

🍯 Amazon Honeycode

AWS is making its entrance into the low-code app platform space.

🌲 Using satellite imagery to prioritize vegetation management for utilities

Geoff Zeiss on combining satellite imagery and spatial analysis to identify tree encroachment in utilities:

Transmission line inspections are essential in ensuring grid reliability and resilience. They are generally performed by manned helicopters often together with a ground crew. There are serious safety issues when inspections are conducted by helicopter. Data may be collected with cameras and analyzed to detect...

Places: Remnants of an Ancient Lake

February 17, 2020 • #

Lake Chad spans 4 national borders in the central Sahel: Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon. Since the 1960s it’s shrunk to about 5% its ancestral size, due to overuse, mismanagement, and climate shifts.

Lake Mega Chad

This NASA photo uses SRTM data combined with Landsat 8 to highlight the edges of the basin that was once the size of the Caspian Sea:

About 7,000 years ago, a vast lake spread hundreds of square kilometers across north-central Africa. Known to scientists as Lake Mega Chad, it...

Weekend Reading: The Anti Portfolio, Downlink 2, and nucoll

February 1, 2020 • #

📂 The Anti-Portfolio

Bessemer maintains this page of companies they passed investing on. I like the idea of publicly acknowledging your big misses or errors as an organizational accountability tool. Some big names here like eBay, Airbnb, Google, and FedEx.

Almost a year ago I shared a link to the first version of Downlink. The main feature added here is you can create your own custom views by putting a bounding box around your area of interest. Then...

Weekend Reading: Blot, Hand-Drawn Visualizations, and Megafire Detection

November 9, 2019 • #


Blot is a super-minimal open source blogging system based on plain text files in a folder. It supports markdown, Word docs, images, and HTML — just drag the files into the folder and it generates web pages. I love simple tools like this.

🖋 Handcrafted Visualization: Precision

An interesting post from Robert Simmon from Planet. These examples of visualizations and graphics of physical phenomena (maps, cloud diagrams, drawings of insects, planetary motion charts) were all hand-drawn, in an era where specialized photography and sensing weren’t always options.


Weekend Reading: Ancient Text, StarLink, and Chinese Origins

October 26, 2019 • #

📜 Restoring ancient text using deep learning: a case study on Greek epigraphy

A project from DeepMind designed to fill in missing text from ancient inscriptions:

Pythia takes a sequence of damaged text as input, and is trained to predict character sequences comprising hypothesised restorations of ancient Greek inscriptions (texts written in the Greek alphabet dating between the seventh century BCE and the fifth century CE). The architecture works at both the character- and word-level, thereby effectively handling long-term context information, and dealing efficiently with incomplete word representations (Figure 2). This...

Weekend Reading: Satellites, Antilibraries, and Libra

June 29, 2019 • #

🛰 How to Profit in Space: A Visual Guide

Fantastic visualizations from the WSJ team. Shows the history of satellite expansion divided by country, year, and orbits, both LEO and geosynchronous. A great use of maps for storytelling.

📚 The Antilibrary: Why Unread Books are the Most Important

This is a concept pulled from Taleb’s The Black Swan, which I recently enjoyed. As he notes, the antilibrary can function as a reminder of how much...

Weekend Reading: Product Market Fit, Stripe's 5th Hub, and Downlink

May 11, 2019 • #

🦸🏽‍♂️ How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit

As pointed out in this piece from Rahul Vohra, founder of Superhuman, most indicators around product-market fit are lagging indicators. With his company he was looking for leading indicators so they could more accurately predict adoption and retention after launch. His approach is simple: polling your early users with a single question — “How would you feel if you could no longer use Superhuman?”

Too many example methods in the literature on product development orient around asking...

Weekend Reading: CES 2019, Tips for Satellite Imagery, and Shortcuts Archive

January 19, 2019 • #

📱 CES 2019: A Show Report

This year’s excellent report from the show floor from Steven Sinofsky. It’s extensive and covers the products a-to-z, breaking down the trends by category. I’d also recommend the companion podcast conversation between Sinofsky and Benedict Evans.

🗺 Satellite Image Guide for Journalists and Media

A helpful guide with tips and factoids on satellite imagery. Includes a primer on the various sensor platforms, differences in resolution, color correction, infrared, and more. There are also a...

Weekend Reading: Forecasting, Raster CV, Free University Courses

October 27, 2018 • #

🔮 Forecasting at Uber

The scale of the prediction problem Uber has is wild. This is an intro to a series on methods they use for forecasting demand for their marketplace.

🛰 raster-vision

A neat project from the Azavea team for computer vision applications with satellite imagery.

🎓 600 Free Online Courses

A great list from Quartz compiling a bottomless feed of content for self-teachers.

Weekly Links: LiDAR, WannaCry, and OSM Imagery

May 18, 2017 • #

🗺 LiDAR Data for DC Available as an AWS Public Dataset

LiDAR point cloud data for Washington, DC, is available for anyone to use on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). This dataset, managed by the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), with the direction of OCTO’s Geographic Information System (GIS) program, contains tiled point cloud data for the entire District along with associated metadata.

This is a great move by the District to make high value open data available.

🖥 WannaCry and the Power of Business Models

Ben Thompson...