5.3.10. iPad, Periodicals, and Purchase Options

Apple has announced an iPad ship date of Apr 3 for the wi-fi only edition, with the 3G model slated for late April. Pre-orders start next week.

I'm hoping for good magazine content, and I would be willing to pay. The web often sucks for magazine content as obtrusive advertising, annoying pagination (often in support of more obtrusive advertising), and random encounters with pay walls get in the way. And it just sucks to read on a computer screen. It's not the LCD display, but the position and layout of the screen that is frustrating.

I've had subscriptions to The Economist, The New Yorker, and Harper's in the past, and I'm starting to miss them as I've been trying to make more time for reading. The weeklies, especially, are the ones I would like to have electronically if I could pay on a month by month basis. Sometimes it's hard to keep up when life gets busy, and those weekly magazines can pile up quickly.

Finally, I'd love for the magazines to work offline. Then I think I could totally buy into the wi-fi only iPad. I'm already sold on the iPad, just can't decide which model to get. I don't leave the house or travel too often, and the iPhone is often good enough when I am out like that. But having the 3G as a pay-as-you-go option for the iPad could be handy on those occasional small trips.

Still, I think that when I take the train from SLC to DEN later next month, I will be much happier with traditional books and cameras than with a gadget, no matter how cool the gadget is. It's nice to just turn things off for a couple of days.

I think I just talked myself into the wi-fi only iPad.

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3.3.10. Python Buildutils for local release management

Earlier today, I saw a question on Twitter asking "is there some setuptools extensions for uploading a sdist to a server over scp?" I responded with a "yes - we use buildutils' publish command for that."

Buildutils is a collection of useful extensions to Distutils. It hasn't been touched in a while, but it mostly works. It adds some commands like "stats", "pyflakes" (useful, but does not work with recent versions of PyFlakes), and "publish", which allows you to upload a release via SCP or SFTP.

The "publish" command is an extension that must be configured explicitly, so we do it in our 'setup.cfg'. We have a setup.cfg template that we use for all of our packages that uploads releases into one big directory. It looks like this:

; Enable the buildutils publish command
command_packages = buildutils.publish_command

; Set the destination of the publish command
dist_dest = scp://@internalserver/path/to/releases/

; In one command, generate a distribution and checksum,
; upload them, and then clean out the build-related turds.
mkrelease = sdist checksum publish clean --all

We also use zc.buildout in-house, and I've been using that to ensure that I have Buildutils and setuptools-git (uses what's tracked by Git to generate the Manifest of files to include in the distribution package). In our buildout configs, I usually have a 'devtools' section that looks like this:

recipe = zc.recipe.egg:scripts
interpreter = py
eggs =
    current.package [test]

With the above, I get a 'bin/pbu' script that has the Buildutils and setuptools-git extensions installed. 'pbu' is a convenience command-line tool from Buildutils that is basically shorthand for 'python setup.py'. Using Buildout like this, I just ensure that the tools I need to generate and publish a distribution are available, no matter what machine I'm using. It's not needed, but I just find it convenient, particularly when other developers in our company need to generate a release from their machines and may not have remembered to install something like setuptools-git.

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