Saturday, January 30, 2016

Compassion is a limited resource

In a recent special episode of RPPR:  Beyond Lawful Good & Evil: Ethical Concepts in RPGs at Gen Con 2015 host Caleb raised an interesting point about compassion. Starting at 48:30 he notes how persons from opposite sides of the political spectrum work under the assumption that compassion is a limited resource and how this can be made a workable game ethics code. He takes no stance, but it appears, judging by his commentaries that he believes that compassion is in fact unlimited.

No one, I think, wants to be  accused of having too little compassion, but can we have unlimited amounts of it? As I see it, to be compassionate one must give attention to the person or beings one is compassionate about. One cannot be compassionate about someone who's out of mind. And here's the kicker, attention is psychologically limited (ever heard of the Invisible Gorilla?): one cannot pay attention to everything. What's more, it even degrades the more it is used on the short term.  Compassion depends on attention and attention is limited, hence compassion is a limited resource.

As a corollary, for compassion the more particular the better. One cannot be compassionate in the abstract; if it were so, just being compassionate about the whole world would place oneself in the pinnacle with one shot.

Furthermore, is there anybody one can point a finger at that is currently emanating unlimited amounts of compassion? The pope and Dalai Lama come to mind, but even them have to shift their attention from group to another as necessities arise, and old crises tend to fall off unless one retakes them. And there are so many hours of the day anyway.

One can be compassionate enough with the blessed amount we've got. The trick is to use it wisely.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Samsung 850 EVO on a Dell Inspiron 3647

As a current general-purpose desktop the Inspiron 3647 is a great affordable machine. It's only weak spot is the spinning drive, which although has a storage capacity of 1 TB, it's still a mechanical device. I decided to give my dad's brand-new Inspiron a boost by removing the factory drive and installing a Samsung 850 EVO solid-state drive (SSD).

The change of hard drives is just a bit wee difficult owing that the drive for these design is the most inaccessible component of the system. Following the online manual (, the process was pretty much straightforward. Probably the only tricky part was removing the fan shroud and getting the fingers in to make the disconnections.

An adapter for the smaller size form factor would have been best, but there is no performance hit in leaving the SSD just hanging owing to its lack of movable parts. Also, the rigidity of the sata and power cables gives it enough stability and just leave it there.

In the end, I got everything I asked for: an uneventful installation, BIOS  and Windows 10 ready drive identification, all the speed benefits, identification from the Samsung latest magician software (4.8)  which includes the RAPID mode, which, at least judging by the boot times and performance benchmark numbers is blisteringly fast, and a spare Western Digital extra drive for backups.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Moto e second gen flash review

Sample photo from yours truly
I never bothered for a smartphone, but since I needed a podcast player to replace my defunct Ipod classic, I bought a Moto e second gen (2015) edition as a kind of mini tablet. Here's a flash review

Build & screen

Feels just right on a regular-sized hand and has rubber-like back and edges to forestall slipping. I have been using the phone for over four months now, and thanks to these edges, I have been able to get a good grip on the device, and not even once I have felt it has been at risk of slipping away, as a smooth finish would have surely done.

Has a roomy 4.5 inch display which is readable for regular eyes. Yes, the screen is reflective under sunlight and impossible to look at under it, but once you get under a shade it's fine. Clicking something on the lock screen is a bit unresponsive as some very few times you have to try again to get the action done. Otherwise fine.

Android OS

Clean and without bloatware.  However for an android first-timer, the OS  and apps feel convoluted compared with Apple's IOS. I imagine that not technically-savy might need help for first-time setup.

Probably the biggest letdown coming from Motorola is that this phone will be stuck on Lollipop meaning it will not be upgradable to Marshmallow. Depending on your point of view, this might or might not be something of importance. As I see it, none of the features offered by Marshmallow would really benefit the Moto e as it already has commendable battery usage and lacks a fingerprint reader. The other minor features are minor really.


Having experienced only the Samsung Nexus 6, the Moto e one feels zippy enough. Every once in a long while it gets laggy, but it sorts itself out after a reboot or even by letting it be.

Battery & Memory

Lasts for me the whole day. In fact I could go with my semi-light use (no phone calls) for ~3 days without charging. The battery is replaceable and the memory is expandable to 32gb.


Basic for basic stuff. No flash and zoom is done digitally.

Podcast & audio

The audio sounds of lesser quality as compared to the ipod, however, unless you have golden-ears, you can quickly adjust. Podcast Addict does the job for me, but it only did after scratching my head figuring it out.  For its part, the Audible app, does allow for chapter skips from the lockscreen which is a boon and remembers the playback position across devices.  The WSJ auto-updates on the library, but you have to give it the go-ahead for downloading. Maybe it's just me but the bundled Play Music app from Google so minimalist for standard mp3 playing as to make it unacceptable. Months in, I cannot still figure it out. There's an FM radio app as well, but you need to have the headphones on to tune in.

Google Integration

Not having a google account for your phone is a waste. Google drive app is especially useful, since it can be used to transfer files to and from your phone without buying yet another cable.

Wifi & localization

The wifi is as fast as you can expect in accordance with your source hotspot. Has GPS.


For my intents and purposes this phone makes me not want to look back to a dedicated MP3 player. There's room for improvement here and there, but the android apps and features and its affordability makes it hard to look for anything else if someone's looking for an entry phone. Recommended.

4 stars