Mastodon on My Résumé

EP 1: Tuesday, Apr 18, 2023
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Alan Pope 0:03
Do you think I can put running a mastodon server on my resume for the last six months?

Martin Wimpress 0:09
Is it job worthy?

Alan Pope 0:10
Well, that entirely depends on what job I go for next, I suppose

Martin Wimpress 0:14
Well, Mastodon server administrators surely

Alan Pope 0:17
Yeah, I don’t know if they’re in high demand at the moment. But I can tell you about what I’ve learned over those six months, I think and why I did this. It started in 2019. When in the old Ubuntu podcast telegram channel, someone said, Someone should set up an Ubuntu Mastodon instance. And I foolishly said, yeah, go then, and did it. And this was the start of the downfall because I didn’t really plan it very well and ran it for a while on a Linode box. I think that was quite constrained. And I gave up, but this thing fell apart, and I got rid of it. And after a while, I rebooted and started all over again. And that was six months ago. So this is kind of a rebirth of that Mastodon instance.

Martin Wimpress 1:12
So I’m interested that you had a resource constrained server before Mastodon had its boost in popularity. So I’m interested to hear the contrast of the before times and how things are now in terms of operating a mastodon instance.

Alan Pope 1:28
Yeah, you won’t be surprised to hear that, when I first set it up, it was quite a low spec Linode box because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it. Because I just wanted a mastodon instance, for me and my friends who were into Ubuntu, and wanted to talk about a boon to things. And it seemed like that was a good idea at the time. And yet, this was well before the Twitter explosion. And so the, you know, the meteoric rise of people using Mastodon and other alternatives. And yes, now, there are more people on Mastodon, and yes, it takes up a lot more resources than it did in the past. But that’s counted by the fact that I have intentionally constrained how many users are on this instance, I was very last a fair with the criteria of how you get an account on the old one. And on this one, I’ve said you have to be an Ubuntu member. And that’s kept it below 40 people, whereas before it was hundreds, and it was killing server. And so the balance of those two things is there’s fewer users, even though it’s more popular, I’ve got fewer users.

Mark Johnson 2:34
So paint us a picture of those resources. You said it was a constrained server, what did that look like? And what does the one you’re running it on now look like by comparison.

Alan Pope 2:44
So the first server I ran was, I can’t actually remember because I think I destroyed it in a ball of flames. But it was a low end Linode box, one of the like, cheaper end machines, it might even have been shared CPU it was, it was not a high end box. And the resource that kept running out was disk space, because on those low end machines, you don’t get a lot of disk. And when you’ve got a lot of people on Mastodon, there’s a lot of images that are appearing in the timeline and all that kind of stuff is cached. And if you’ve got a lot of users all hitting the site, they all need to be served those images. Now, there are ways you can work around that you can host the images elsewhere, you can put them in a bucket somewhere on AWS or some other object storage somewhere, but I’m, I’m not that kind of guy. They’re all on the file system of the of the Masters on instance itself, which yes, is not good. And that was a lesson learned from version one of Ubuntu dot social. But now the box that it’s on now is probably massively overspent, I’ve probably gone too far the other way, because it’s now a Linode dedicated box, which has eight cores, and 16 gig of RAM. And 350 gig of disk space, which the disk is half full. Wow. So is using quite a lot of disk space. But it’s certainly a lot bigger than than the first gen one was. Yeah.

Mark Johnson 4:11
And do you have to do any, like active management of that disk space to stop it filling up or does that kind of take care of itself?

Alan Pope 4:18
Yes, you do absolutely have to keep on top of it. And this is I think this is something that’s changed. In Mastodon itself. There are things you can do this tick boxes inside Mastodon for each user can take to say get rid of my media after a certain number of days only keep my stuff after a certain number of days and stuff the master on administrator can do as well. But there’s also regular housekeeping jobs that you can run that get rid of cached images, like thumbnails of videos, the videos themselves, any of the images that get posted in threads. And you can set a certain number of days old that it will get rid of them. So for example, a week old Like, you could argue, no one’s looking at the timeline older than, you know, yesterday or day before or a week ago. And so we could just get rid of that cash. And that’s partially true, it does degrade the experience. Because if you happen to have a post, that is something someone stumbles upon that image is not they’re not on disk on your instance, if you go to the instance where that post originated, then you might be able to find it. On the first instance, I was really aggressively clearing that stuff out. But I was having to do it manually, because not a lot of the tools. Were there, the admin tools were there, those tools in Macedon have improved. And so now it’s a copy paste job of a few lines in crontab, to get rid of that stuff, so I worry about it a lot less now. Yes.

Martin Wimpress 5:44
So if you’re sort of purging assets that are no longer timely, did those ever get re pulled in if somebody goes back and scrolls back through the timeline? Or are they gone forever?

Alan Pope 5:55
I’m not entirely sure. I think if you go to the home server, you’ll see those images. But I think if you scroll back, I think even if you hard refresh, I don’t think they come back, I don’t think you can force the server to re get them. I’m not I’m not entirely sure. I don’t tend to test that use case. But it is certainly a very valid question. And one why? The answer to which explains why I probably don’t want to put mustard on on my resume, because I’m an expert in all the operations of this piece of software, which is a relatively complicated bit of software running on that box.

Martin Wimpress 6:28
Yeah, I think if you’re going to put mustard on your resume, you’re probably going to have Ceph right next to it to organise all your storage,

Alan Pope 6:36
right? There’s certainly a lot of components to it. And it’s one of the more complicated things that I’ve run like Drupal and WordPress and other stuff, but not where I’ve got 30 or 40 other people who are relying on it, and using mobile apps to access it all hours of the day, and night and browser tabs constantly, and posting images and photos and videos and stuff.

Martin Wimpress 6:57
So I’ve got some questions about that sort of, you know, community use. So the first is, what’s the uptime being like, you know, how have there been any failures? And how do you deal with that stuff?

Alan Pope 7:09
So that’s a great question. And it’s been really good. I have used Linode backup facility. So meaning it’s being backed up. I’ve also added a Postgres backup script. So periodically, there’ll be a job run that dumps out the postgres database to the file system, so that I get a snapshot of what the database was at a point in time. Because, yeah, I’m not entirely sure how atomic that backup would be that Linode do, probably at the block level, I don’t know. But I thought I’d do that anyway. Because it might be useful. If I want to go back in time or something. I’ve not had any catastrophes, I’ve done a few software updates, I installed it on Mastodon three dot something. And then there was a big upgrade to four dot x. And then a few minor upgrades, I did one yesterday, I think it was or a couple of days ago. And they’ve all been pretty smooth. And the release notes on GitHub, explain what you need to do. And there’s a pattern, you might need to update Ruby. If there’s some CVE and Ruby or some feature in Ruby that the new version of Asteron needs, then you might need to update that. And it gives you the command you need. It’s not hard. And then there’s a couple of commands that pull in all the dependencies. And then there’s maybe a database migration required, but I haven’t seen any of those since the major three to four. And then you just bounce all the services, which is just, you know, systemctl, restart each of those things. And it came back and it has come back every time. And actually the built in Ubuntu, unattended upgrades I’ve got doing all the operating system level stuff. Notice I haven’t mentioned containers or Docker because I’m not using containers, although I was gonna ask it’s a dedicated box. And I’m not using any containers. I did use Docker for the first instance. And I really don’t get on with Docker. So I dumped that, and now I’m just installing on the bare metal as it were.

Martin Wimpress 9:02
And so my other question about community uses because of the federated nature of Mastodon, if you’re on an instance, you’re sort of worldview is kind of governed by the instance that you’re on and what you can see. So do you have any sort of idea about what your visibility and experience of the broader Mastodon ecosystem is on an instance with just a few dozen users?

Alan Pope 9:28
I’m glad you asked that. So what you’re talking about is the federated timeline versus the local time. Right? Local timeline is me, Mark, Ken and a few other people who who have accounts on there, plus a few bots that I created. There’s one that post asked one two questions when the posts have been two blogs, even two blog there’s now an official at Ubuntu on the Ubuntu social Mastodon, and that’s run by someone from Canonical right so they post as well. So yes, the local timeline is fairly limited, but the federated timeline, which shows stuff from other servers. It depends. And it depends on whether you turn on relaying or not. And if you don’t have any relays, then you have a very limited view of the rest of the world of the rest of the mastodon world. Like I won’t see posts from someone like Stewart, who’s on a roleplay gaming Mastodon instance, because I don’t follow him there. Right. And I don’t know, I don’t think anyone else on the instance does. And that’s kind of a feature of Mastodon, you see the local timeline and the federated timeline is somewhat limited. But if you turn on relaying, it becomes more of a firehose the federated timeline. Now, I didn’t have relaying turned on, because it actually eats a lot more data. So I’m averaging around 500 kilobits per second, all the time. On that box, it varies between 307 100 kilobits a second, which is about five gig a day. So it’s constantly where, yes, five gig a day, and that’s without relaying turned on. And it doubles if you turn relaying on and that’s relaying with one other instance, right, and you can relay with multiple other instances to pull more into the federated timeline. But I only turned on relaying yesterday, and the jump has been quite noticeable.

Mark Johnson 11:17
That explains a lot.

Alan Pope 11:19
You started seeing more posts, have you more posts

Mark Johnson 11:22
and more posts in languages I don’t speak so I had to go in and work out how you filter the timeline by the languages you want to see.

Alan Pope 11:29
Yes, sorry. And I found that as well. And there weren’t a lot of Japanese and a lot of Chinese and I didn’t understand any of it. And I am not going to go through and read individual posts and manually translate them. So I just Yeah, block those out. filter those out. Which instance Did you relate with? I can’t remember, there’s a bunch of lists online of different instances you can you can relate with. And I just picked one. Random. Okay, so I use that one. But yeah, it’s been fun. And it’s been a learning exercise. And I’ve enjoyed it for sure.

Martin Wimpress 12:00
Do you regret your life choices? Is this something you’d do again, if you six months ago, and a master dumb was all the rage again,

Alan Pope 12:09
it’s definitely been a good choice to limit the number of people who are on it, and not have the whole world on there. Because you look at the outages that people like fostered on have had with huge influxes of users. And the funding that they’ve had to do. I’m paying for this out of my own pocket. Nobody’s funding this other than me. So I think what I might do at some point is maybe scale it back to a smaller Linode box and migrate to a smaller instance, just because it’ll be cheaper. But other than that, yeah, I found it fun. Interesting. I feel in control of my social media timeline, and slightly in control of marks. Sorry. But yeah, it’s been fun. I would recommend if someone wanted to have a small instance for themselves and a small group of people. It’s not hard, and you can do it.

Martin Wimpress 13:00
I went looking for the best Linux loving laptop, and I think I found it.

Alan Pope 13:05
Where did you find it? Was it in a bush?

Martin Wimpress 13:08
I found it on the internet. But after some significant research,

Alan Pope 13:14
why, why were you looking for a new laptop? Haven’t you got enough of them? Well, actually, I

Martin Wimpress 13:18
have got rid of most of my laptop. So during sort of, you know, locked down and everything most of my laptops have gone out to friends and family who were in need of computers in that time. And that there they have stayed. Now my motivation for getting a new laptop was very simple. I was at coop Con last year, one of my colleagues had one of those MacBook Apple silicone

Alan Pope 13:40
devices, the greed envy you.

Martin Wimpress 13:44
Well, I was envious on two counts. One. They are still good hardware, and they’re pretty and they’re compact, and they’re relatively lightweight. But it was the battery endurance. I don’t think Lindsay plugged her laptop into charge the whole week. We were there the whole week. Yeah, yeah. Six days. Meanwhile, me with my ThinkPad p one. It barely gets between outlets on the back. And that’s not because the battery is old and decrepit. It’s because I made probably poor choices when I SPECT that machine up. So I was driven by wanting to get a compact laptop that had decent battery life that I could take to conferences, and I wouldn’t be lugging around a massive a massive thing. So one of the things that’s changed is I used to always get laptops that were really powerful. You know, the P one has got Xeon CPU and quadro graphics and a 4k touch display and all of this

Mark Johnson 14:52
I think I understand your battery issues, right? Yes,

Martin Wimpress 14:55
indeed. And then consequently the the sort of the weight of the thing, but these As I’ve got powerful workstations that I can connect to remotely, so actually, I can have a fairly felt lightweight laptop and just connect to the big chunking servers when I need to do work like that. So off, I went looking for a laptop, and I came up with some requirements. So when I, when I built my shopping list, I decided that I wanted eight hours plus battery endurance, I feel like eight hours feels like a working day. If I’m at a conference somewhere, and I’ve got the laptop out most of the day, you know, chatting to people laptop lid opening, closing, I feel like eight hours without having to think about plugging into USB socket is the minimum requirement. And I wanted something with either a 13 or 14 inch screen, and specifically with 1920 by 1200. Resolution. And that was specifically because my last two laptops have both been 4k. And I feel like there’s a penalty on the battery life, when you have these high definition screens, there’s a lot of pixels to illuminate. And that drains the power. And I feel like that 1920 by 1200 is sort of the sweet spot of just enough resolution to be productive, but not having to get into pixel scaling territory.

Alan Pope 16:19
You said I feel like it’s it’s eating the battery? Is that a known thing? Like more pixels, basically, it’s going to treat your battery harder. Is that just known knowledge everyone has

Martin Wimpress 16:30
Yes, I will be very clear. I don’t feel it, I know it. Okay, I do feel it, I feel the sudden rush of electrons out of

Alan Pope 16:39
the battery. Right,

Mark Johnson 16:41
it makes your hair stand on end. It really does.

Martin Wimpress 16:44
And I was quite intrigued by these new AMD 6000 series CPUs. In the past, we reviewed an AMD laptop which had the 4000 series CPUs, so a couple of years ago now or more, and I was super impressed with them then. So I wanted to have plenty of RAM, plenty of storage, no discrete GPU, again, for battery endurance reasons. And I wanted it to be USB C only no barrel connectors, or any of that nonsense, one connector to rule them all. And I wanted a good quality keyboard and trackpad. And this is where things get dicey because that was the other thing I liked about

Alan Pope 17:24
the MacBook. They basically want the moon on a stick, don’t you? I want

Martin Wimpress 17:29
a unicorn. Yes, yes. And I also wanted it to be about a kilo in weight. And then just to sort of push out the requirements to the nth degree, it must come with Linux pre installed, right, because that was my measure of this is a Linux compatible laptop because it ships with Linux.

Alan Pope 17:54
So ordinarily, people would say, start from the other end with I would like a Linux laptop, and then look at the options available and then filter them down a little bit until they get the one they want. Whereas you’ve started with the other end, I want this high end lightweight, beautiful, long battery life device. And by the way, it should run Linux. And it feels like you’ve started from a pool of a very small number of devices and then shrunk even further by saying it must run Linux, right?

Martin Wimpress 18:22
Well, when I started, I thought I’ll build the list first, and then I’ll go and see how many devices qualify. So I was surprised actually, there were more than I was actually expecting. But yeah, I thought I’m going to say what I want. And if I can’t get it, then I’m just not going to get anything. I’ll wait until something comes along. And I suppose it’s worth pointing out that this all started with an apple silicone MacBook. And as impressed as I am and kind of amazed at the progress the Asahi Linux project has been making, getting a MacBook and running Linux on it is not a sort of conference friendly device. Because things like HDMI ports don’t work yet. So plugging into projectors and things of that nature as a speaker is sort of off the cards so MacBooks were

Alan Pope 19:13
not option. And the fact that you’ve said must run Linux has knocked all Apple hardware on the head really?

Martin Wimpress 19:18
Yes, indeed. Indeed. I also made another decision very early on which is I decided I wanted one of these AMD 6000 CPUs, nothing else interested me. I’ll get into why in a moment. So that consequently anything with an Intel CPU was kicked off the list. So the Dell XPS series they those were all out because their intel only options. And at that time, it also ruled out everything that framework were offering because at the time they were Intel CPU options, only two and then I went round all the usual sort of reputable Linux laptop vendors the likes of system 76 and entro were and slim book and Star Labs. And for various reasons, none of them had anything I could buy because either there was no AMD options. They weren’t available in my region, or they had extremely long lead times, like six to nine months. Oh, wow. Yeah. And HP had no Linux pre instal options whatsoever. And, you know, when you get into the smaller tier vendors, you know, as Zeus and things of that nature, gigabyte and what have you, they obviously don’t have Linux options either.

Alan Pope 20:34
This isn’t sounding terribly promising. Now, this is a terrible story, Martin.

Martin Wimpress 20:38
No, but then, then the white shining knight comes charging over the hill in the guise of everything from Lenovo in their ThinkPad range. And the entire ThinkPad range from Lenovo has pre installed Linux options of either Fedora or Ubuntu. And several of the ThinkPads in that range have AMD CPU options. So I now have just one, one line of laptops to concentrate on. So I was very impressed with all of the ThinkPads. And I got it down to two that I was most interested in. And that was the ThinkPad, Zed 13 gen one and the ThinkPad, t 14 s, Gen three. And they both had AMD options, they had all of the bits and pieces that I wanted, and it was just about form factor and fit and finish. And in the end, I went with the Zed 13. Because it is beautiful to behold,

Alan Pope 21:37
it’s not the industrial design of your is it?

Martin Wimpress 21:41
Yeah, that’s a good point. Actually, yeah, if you’re familiar with the classic ThinkPad design, the sort of the black chassis with the red accents, it’s not this at all, it’s it’s not the ThinkPad keyboard you’re familiar with. It’s a low profile, tactile keyboard, and it’s a large trackpad with no physical buttons, you do still get the touch point and all the rest of it. So it’s just an amazing laptop. So the one that I got has the risin 768 50 us CPU, which is not the absolute best you can get. But that was actually a choice of mine, because again, it doesn’t run the clock doesn’t run as fast. And therefore the battery endurance is just a little bit better. And it has 32 gigs of RAM, and it has one terabyte NVMe, which I’ve upgraded. Maybe I’ll talk about that in the future, because that was a game. And it’s got that screen that I wanted 1920 by 1200. And it’s non touch. So that also saves a bit of extra power by not having a touch digitizer. And the laptop fully decked out with all its gear is just over one kilo in weight. And it’s fabulous.

Alan Pope 22:54
And the key question is, do you get eight hours of runtime with it?

Martin Wimpress 23:01
No, I I get 11 hours. That’ll do then. Wow. Yes. So I’ve been using it for several months now. And yeah, routinely get 10 to 11 hours of actual use out of this thing. It’s absolutely fantastic. And there were some other standout features about this as well. One of the things that really impressed me was all of the packaging was 100%, renewable and compostable. And the plastics that are used in the device, 95% of those are recycled. And 75% of the aluminium is recycled. It’s an aluminium chassis. So actually on sort of the eco friendly scale, this was pretty impressive. And I think this was a key sort of design decision about how these laptops were created. And then in terms of all of the other things that I cared about. The trackpad is sublime, I do have a MacBook or a rather ageing MacBook, but nevertheless, this trackpad in the Zed 13 is the first time I’ve used a trackpad on not a Mac that is as good as a Mac. It’s fantastic. I’ve been super impressed.

Alan Pope 24:11
And it’s USB C all over and it has a carriage port as well.

Martin Wimpress 24:15
It does have a carriage port and it has two USB C ports. Yes.

Alan Pope 24:20
Nice. It sounds like you’re absolutely delighted with this choice and your shopping criteria seems to have been met absolutely perfect.

Martin Wimpress 24:28
It really has it hasn’t disappointed in any respect it came shipped with Ubuntu 2004. And when I chose Ubuntu or Fedora in the ThinkPad build your laptop thingy that was 155 pound discount, often choosing Ubuntu or Fedora as opposed to Windows. Now that discount varies on the model. So it’s not always that high, but it is often upwards of 80 quid

Mark Johnson 24:55
and is the pre installed image fairly sensible and well To up, I know that when we’ve reviewed some in the past, there’s been some oddities in the in the image that you get.

Martin Wimpress 25:05
Yeah, the OEM images always vary a little bit. So you get chromium and Firefox, for example, which is the sort of most obvious, very obvious difference. But you also get all of the recovery tools and utilities built in. So you turn it on, and it takes you through that. Who are you? Where are you from? What keyboard layout do you need, and as you’re doing that then takes you to a screen and it says, If you plug a USB stick in, will make you a recovery image. And it does that as part of the initial setup. So that’s pretty great. And you can also do that recovery, image creation from the system once it’s all set up as well. I think the thing that I was most impressed with this has a fingerprint reader, which actually works which was, you know, the first time I’ve encountered that in a very long time. Nice. So yeah, I have zero complaints. It’s an amazing laptop. I absolutely love it. And I suppose my only concern for the future is framework and now offering AMD options in their, in their refreshed lineup.

Alan Pope 26:06
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Mark Johnson 26:46
Well, I am no longer gaming on my Steam Box. What hang on a minute. You may remember a few years ago, when when we met up for a curry. Around the time that you arrived at my house, I also received a big box of bits from Amazon, which I was using to build my Steam Box. And this was refreshing the one I’d had under my TV for several years with pretty much whole new insights. And the plan was that rather than having a PC under my Telly, I was going to have a big noisy PC upstairs. And then I’d have a Steam Link in the living room plugged into my TV with the Steam Controller. And I’d stream all my games in the house like that. Yeah. And that worked very well for a couple of years. But then something happened. about just over a year ago now. Steam released the steam deck.

Martin Wimpress 27:31
Ah ha, yes.

Mark Johnson 27:34
So I pre ordered one as soon as I could. And it arrived about Yeah, I think I think it’s just been about a year since they were they were actually shipped time has flown with those. Yeah, yeah. And I received it. And it’s been very good. So I initially sort of I wasn’t sure exactly how the to form votes would relate whether I would be using my Steam controller with the steam deck or whether I would use my Steam deck sitting on the sofa in the evening. And then I would switch once my partner went to bed, I would then switch and game on the big PC. But I looked at my setup, and I realised Well, the steam deck, it has obviously a built in screen and controller and Wi Fi and everything. So you can play it completely standalone, but it also has a USB port in the top, a USB C port. And so I thought well, what instead of instead of the Steam Link under my Telly, what if I had a USB C hub there. And I had one which I was previously using on my desk for my laptop, and that has an Ethernet port, an HDMI port USBC for power delivery, and a USB port, which was all I thought I needed. So I thought, well, you know, what I could try it first is I can take all of those things out of the Steam Link and plug them all into this USB hub and plug that into the steam deck. And then maybe I can sit that by the telly. And I can use the Steam Controller.

Alan Pope 29:01
So that would mean you would omit using the Steam Link omit streaming from another computer entirely and just play using the steam deck attached to your TV in the lounge with a controller from the other side of the room. Like it was a game console or PC.

Mark Johnson 29:18
Yeah, kind of like you do with the Nintendo Switch. But my initial plan hadn’t been to omit the streaming aspect entirely because I thought well, rather than having two different devices, I could just use the steam deck as a streaming client. That’s what’s now plugged into my telly. And I can stream to that if I want something with like that can do the higher end graphics. You know, I’ve got a 4k Telly. I can’t really do 4k Gaming on the Steam deck. But if I wanted to do something with higher end graphics, I could I could stream from upstairs to the steam deck and into the telly. And that worked pretty well. And then I thought well I actually what I what I didn’t really anticipate was how much I like the controls on the Steam deck and how much I liked Because the feel of it. And I like sitting with it in my lap and using that controller. And I thought, Well, I wonder if what would happen. If I got a really long USBC cable? Could I plug that into the hub and run that across to the sofa and plug that into the steam deck? And it turns out you can. I got a two metre USBC extender, which is a pretty fat cable, I have to say. And it seems like it’s witchcraft to me, because it can do the power, it can do the networking, and it can do the video out. And there’s no latency or weirdness or dropping out at all. It just works. So I’d literally just sit there with it in my lap using it as a controller playing on my big TV.

Alan Pope 30:52
It does seem like witchcraft, given that cable and connector is thinner and smaller than an RS 232 cable, which carried like 9600 baud text only. And this thing’s carrying all of that high definition video, when you said a long USB cable, I thought you were gonna say you ran on the USB cable up the stairs to the streaming box upstairs for some reason. But that would be ludicrous. So you’re basically when you’re plugging into the TV, you’re just using the steam deck, basically as a, let’s call it a Fat Controller.

Mark Johnson 31:25
It is the so top Manhattan of my living room. Yes, right. I’m still usually playing when I’m in that setup in 720 dpi, it can actually once it’s plugged into an external display, it will go higher if you set it higher, but your mileage may vary. Basically, it can get quite noisy when you start doing that.

Martin Wimpress 31:43
So is the steam deck your sole gaming device? Now you don’t use your streaming books at all?

Mark Johnson 31:50
Well, no. So something else happened while all this was going on? Well, two things really. Firstly, I got a smart metre. And secondly, energy got very expensive, right. And once I had all this set up, I was so so my smart metre has the in home display, I can see that from the spot I sit where I can also see my Telly is teasing

Alan Pope 32:12
you out of the corner of your eye, your peripheral vision has been teased by the energy price.

Mark Johnson 32:17
I sat down one evening, and I turned on the Steam deck. So I’ve just got the Steam Link app installed on the Steam decks. So you go into desktop mode, you run the Steam Link app, and hey, is the Steam Link now. And I hit the button to do the wake on LAN call to my PC upstairs, I launched a game. And suddenly my smartbee lit up bright red. So you’re using the world. I think my base usage from my house if it is just under 100 Watts, if nothing’s on, if we’re just doing sort of normal things is use about 200 watts. Just playing a game on my big boy Steam Box upstairs uses 400 Watts compared to my Steam deck, which barely moves the needle at all. I just don’t feel that I can justify I don’t feel I’m missing out on on an experience that’s worth that much. When I’m thinking all day every day about you know how can I make sure I’m economising and not wasting energy and not wasting money, then to just sit back at evening and say, Ah, screw all that, when I could have the perfectly good experience with an absolutely lovely device, which I have to say, lives up to the hype 100%.

Martin Wimpress 33:28
Interesting. I was going to ask you, do you feel like you’re making any compromises in your choice of games that you play, as a result of playing on the Steam deck, which is impressive as it is is not a dedicated gaming PC with a big fat GPU in it in terms

Mark Johnson 33:45
of the choice of games? No, because for the past, I’m gonna say 10 years, I’ve done all of my gaming on Linux, which up until recently constrained me quite a bit in terms of the choice of games now with the advent of proton and just generally since steam has launched on Linux, a lot less constrained. But I might be missing out on some graphical niceties, perhaps some lower frame rates on some games. But in terms of the actual choice of games, I don’t feel like I constrained at all in fact, particularly because of the steam deck verified programme. I feel like I’m more likely to try out different games than I would have been because I’m not relying so much on, you know, looking at something like wind DB and seeing what the ratings are on there and what tweaks I might need to apply I can very easily see when I’m considering a game. how well this works. It’s been professionally tested by someone to see how well it works on that device as well. So in fact, it’s probably broadened the choice of games I’ve gone for.

Martin Wimpress 34:44
So does that mean that you’ve been branching out from RPGs with roguelike elements?

Mark Johnson 34:50
I have I suppose. Yes, I played some beat matching games some. I think they called the survivor likes games like Vampire survivors. In fact, I’ve been playing vampire survivors as well. I’ve been playing, which is an excellent game for the steam deck, because it’s a great one to just pick up and zone out for half an hour while you’re sitting on the sofa,

Alan Pope 35:06
I suppose the fact that you’ve got the steam deck in your hands, you get the benefit of the controller. But having it on the TV in front of you means you also get the benefit that other people in the room can enjoy watching you play the game as well, if that’s what they like doing. And you know, telling you to put the Red Queen on the black king and you know, whatever else, game of solitaire, or whatever it is you’re playing. You don’t have that solitary insular experience that sometimes people get with a switch or a mobile phone or a steam deck where nobody else can see your screen.

Mark Johnson 35:42
I think another thing that’s that sort of happened while all this has been going on is that my gaming opportunities have changed in recent years with now being a dad, I was wondering how

Alan Pope 35:53
many minutes into this segment you would mention, you keep saying there’s been a change in circumstances and I’m thinking oh, he’s gonna mention these no matter

Mark Johnson 36:04
what, there’s been so many changes in circumstances I could I could just pick a different one each time. But yeah, I mean, yeah, used to be you know, I used to have the house to myself one day, most weeks as my partner will be working on a day that I wasn’t and you know, I’d spend all day gaming on the TV by myself. Nowadays, I don’t really get the opportunity to do that. So having the personal experience is actually really valuable to me being able to sit there gaming, be physically present, even if I’m not mentally present. But also when I do get the opportunity, it’s then a very quick switch, one cable in big TV again, which is really nice.

Alan Pope 36:39
So would you recommend this as a great way to enjoy the hardware that you bought from Valve? I would absolutely

Mark Johnson 36:46
recommend it seriously. If you see one if it comes up on sale and you think oh, I was thinking about that. Just go for it. Don’t even think twice.

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Alan Pope
Mark Johnson
Martin Wimpress