ia: Benvenite! In mi blog io scribe in interlingua, italiano e anglese.

it: Benvenuti! Nel mio blog scrivo in interlingua, italiano e inglese.

en: Welcome! In my blog I write in Interlingua, Italian and English.

The atheist congregation

A fanatic atheist is no better than a fanatic believer

When in disagreement on some topic with a believer,

  1. mock him, betting he'll soon leave the discussion
  2. accuse him of saying things he never said, but that you suppose he might think
  3. bring all remotely related topics into the discussion — with more front opens, you have more chances of finding him at fault
  4. if other fellow atheists join the discussion and say something you disagree with, don't point out their mistake; after all you just want to win, no matter what
  5. mock him for believing in X
  6. ask him to prove the things he believes in
  7. if you can't find any arguments, leave the discussion with some excuse
  8. blame him for some horrible things he didn't do, but that other people of his same faith did
  9. provide unsolicited definitions from wikipedia for some random words which he used: it makes you look smarter
  10. quote other fellow atheists who seemingly support your point
  11. quote other believers who seemingly support your point
  12. say that his arguments are confuted by any basic logic book, but don't provide any reference to your claims
  13. if his arguments seem to corner you, pretend that you don't understand them or, better, ignore them
  14. whatever he says, contradict him — especially when irrelevant to the topic
  15. make a claim, and leave to your opponent the proof of its fallacy

If you are an atheist and have some experience in discussing with believers, you'll probably recognize in some of these points the same behaviours that some believers have shown when discussing with you, just in reverse form. And I bet you hate them. Therefore, you'll be glad to know that the pain you suffered in having to debate with this nonsensical people has also been experienced by a believer (me) who has burnt out quite a few neurons trying to have a logical discussion with members of the atheist congregation. That is, you have been avenged! ;-)

A necessary premise: I firmly do not believe that all atheists belong to what I'm now calling the atheist congregation; though at the moment I cannot find in my circle of acquaintances a single atheist whom I know for sure would not behave like that, I believe that there are atheist who can reason without being heated by hatred or fanaticism — and one of the main reasons for me to write this blog post is exactly to prove that to myself.

I mentioned that I took part on a discussion with atheists; I'll soon provide you the links for you to read it, as I bet you won't just take my word for true, but instead you'll want to check if those behaviours I listed above are actually coming from atheist, or if I'm just defaming or even, on the contrary, I happened to exhibit them myself. And since it's a public discussion in Google+, you'll also have a change to take part on the fun. Before that, however, let me say a couple of words to introduce the topic.
The topic of the discussion only marginally involves religion; actually, I would say that the main point is logic, and reason why I took it at heart is not that people were offending my religion, but the fact that they were offending my (and everybody's) logic. What really struck me was realising how these people I was talking to were just interested in demolishing me as the expression of religion, and even those who are actually my friends in real life accused and insulted me for writing things which they would easily agree with, had they been written by an atheist. Some or my discussion partners were just not reading what I was writing, and they took me as the symbol of all believers and religions, and blindly attack on whatever argument they could think of; some others tried to focus on a logical debate, unfortunately forgetting to apply the logic reasoning itself and, either in good or bad faith (this I honestly don't know) go on claiming they were right.

Hoping to have aroused your arguing interest a bit, here's finally the link to the discussion, as I saved it on October 14th, 2011 (it has now been quiet for more than 2 months): saved discussion. If instead you plan to take part in it, jump to the live Google+ thread here.

Believing in religion is (not) illogic

The main points of the discussion were “religion is illogic” and “believing in religion is illogic”. Initially, since the discussion started on a different topic and I didn't want to broaden the discussion (as instead the other participants were obviously aiming to) I agreed with those statements, thinking that my conversation partners used the word “illogical” meaning “extraneous to, not involving logic”, and not really “not logical”; but alas, it was not so, and they all actually meant that either “religion is against logic” or “believing in religion is against logic”.

Again, since I thought that we had just a disagreement on the meaning of the term “logical”, along the discussion I tried to replace “religion” with some other unprovable statement, to see if my partners would also say that, for instance, also “believing that tomorrow will rain is illogical”; but they didn't, and all my attempts to get them to explain what the difference between the two things is were vain. I also tried to see if we could settle the discussion by relaxing the terms, by replacing the word “illogic” with whatever other word they wanted, but to no avail.

The members of the atheist congregation

On one side, I think it's bad taste to post the names of the people involved in the discussion, since one would normally name the sin but not the sinner, but in this case I'll make an exception, for a couple of reasons: the first is that the discussion is already public (and my blog is not likely to attract that many readers more), and the second is that I'm not at all convinced that they will feel any shame, given that they are most likely still convinced to be on the side of the reason. So, they might need a small lesson — unless I'm either wrong myself (which should be proven logically) or every atheist reading this post is a member of the congregation as well. So, I'll quickly go through the behaviours and arguments that I find most wrong.

Salvatore, after a few messages filled with mockings, insults, and misunderstandings on pretty much all things which I never wrote, conveniently fled from the discussion refusing to write more until I would provide solid evidence for God's existence (which I never claimed as a fact). Ironically, not before quoting “Arguing with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon. It'll knock over the pieces, crap on the board, and fly back to its flock to claim victory.”.

Felipe C. was quite active in the discussion, and he's the guy of a thousand definitions; he would argue over any tiny detail, no matter how irrelevant to the discussion, quote definitions from wikipedia and generally nitpick on everything, while at the same time misunderstanding (or pretending to misunderstand) my arguments. But let's get to the main point. He was the one initially claiming that “believing in religion is illogic” and “it's illogical (as in wrong logic) to believe in something without evidence.”; however, when I finally (after many attempts) got him to admit that he could believe a fact (a tale) even without evidence, he argued that believing in religion was illogical because of the risks (of living your life for something which might not be there) and low likelihood. As if logic ultimately depended on the risks or likelihood of something. Wow, I definitely need to pick up some books and get back to logic again!

Felipe B. wrote just a post, but it was so great to read it in the context of a logical discussion that I'd recommend it to everyone.

Zeeshan joined the discussion only later on, and provided support for his fellow atheists' points by saying that one of the principle of logic is that “in the absence of sufficient evidence to back-up an assertion, it is logical to assume the negation of that assertion even if there is no evidence to support the negation of the assertion either”, but unfortunately he couldn't provide any back-up for his assertion either. :-)

It's also worth noticing that in this discussion, people making statements “religion is illogic” all insisted (except from Felipe C.) that the burden of the proof was on me, despite the fact that I never said that “religion is logic”. If you claim that something is illogical, you should be able to find the logical fault in it.

Why this post?

As I wrote above, I'm totally confident that most atheists are capable of discussing using just their logic, without being biased by the fact that the discussion partner is a believer; that they don't need to defend other atheists' arguments at all cost, and that they can recognize logic faults independently from where the arguments come from. So, if you came to read till this point, I'd invite you to tell me what you think of the discussion I had with these atheists, and whether or not you agree that what I wrote in this post applies to them (taken as a group — obviously not all I wrote applies to each of them individually). Please leave your comments to this post. However, if you don't agree with me as far as the “religion is illogical” discussion is concerned, please write your arguments in the Google plus thread itself. I reserve the right to delete off topic comments from this post. I will count insults and irrelevant comments as points for me, but please don't exaggerate with them. :-)
And indeed, if you were to prove me wrong in that infamous thread, please do it logically: that is, take “religion” or “believing in religion” and prove that they are illogic, finding the logic contradiction in them. If you cannot prove that they are illogic but you just believe that “believing in religion doesn't make sense”, feel free to write that as well: that's a legitimate opinion of yours.

Religion or atheism never caused any harm: it's fanaticism that did.

Peace and love,
a mathematician and a believer

Generationes passa

Recentemente io ha perdite mi ultime granparente qui ancora esseva in vita, mi granmatre. Nonobstante, io non es triste: io es secur que illa es, como mi altere granparentes, gaudente del Paradiso, e que io ha ancora un sancto in plus que velia super me.

Quando io pensa a mi granparentes, un pensata recurrente, que a vices me opprime, es super le curas medic que illes recipeva: io spera e preca que nostre desperate effortios de salvation non les creava plus de sufferentia. E io sempre pensa que, si un die le destino me rendera sin parolas e expressiones, io vole continuar mi vita con curas natural, sin emplear ulle technologia como alimentation o respiration artificial. Le amor de mi amatos essera le cura le plus efficiente.

Io spera que mi granparentes sentiva nostre amor anque in le conditiones le plus difficile; io, certemente, sempre sentiva lo de illes.

Time-lapse del Terra del station spatial international

Iste video, que esseva publicate circa un mense retro, es componite per photographias prendite del station spatial international a intervallos regular, ponite in sequentia pro formar un time-lapse. On pote vider le aurora boreal e austral, plure tempestas, e un bellissime panoramica nocturne de Italia (tempore 2:02):

Le nubes pare quasi static perque le station se move velocissime: illo completa un gyro del Terra in solmente un hora e medie — isto es 27.724 kilometros per hora! Iste velocitate es necessari pro mantener le orbita, nam le station es multo proxime al Terra: illo dista “solmente” 278 kilometros. Le imagine sequente (clicca pro aggrandir lo) es utile pro dar un idea del location del station spatial international in comparation con altere satellites artificial, e le Luna:

Altere informationes interessante super le station, es que illo mesura 109x51x20 metros, es permanentemente habitate per humanos desde le novembre del anno 2000 (naturalmente il ha un ricambio del personal, que resta in orbita solmente pro alicun menses), illo ha essite progressivemente assemblate in le spatio in plure missiones, e es alimentate electricamente per pannellos photovoltaic.

Le station spatial international (clicca pro aggrandir)

The Meego Accounts & Single Sign On project

One of the new features of the upcoming Nokia N9 is the unified accounts UI and the Single Sign On (SSO) framework. The developer website hosts a page describing this feature in high level terms — a highly recommended reading — and offers a picture of the account creation flow (the orange circle representing the finger tapping is a bit off target in the pictures, bummer):

The UX designers of the N9 decided to create a centralized place where all the user’s accounts would be managed: all the account providers will be listed in this application, and once the user chooses the provider and enters his credentials (only once), he’ll be prompted to select which services he intends to use on this account, in case the provider account gives access to more than one. Once this is done, all the applications interested in the selected services which have been enabled for the new account will start using it.

This design removes the need to implement account management in every application, because all the accounts and their settings are handled in the accounts UI application. Of course, applications can invoke the accounts UI when an account needs to be created, and they can directly embed the account configuration plugin when a specific account needs to be edited.
The accounts UI provides most of its functionality through account plugins. There are provider plugins, whose task is to create the account and handle those settings that are shared through all the account’s services (such as a global option to enable or disable the account), and service plugins, which add support for a specific service within the account and provide a configuration for its settings (at the very least, a toggle switch to enable or disable the service). This plugin based way of operate on accounts brings the possibility to extend the support for new online services, with plugins possibly coming from different sources, from the OS platform vendor to a user’s community, as well as from a hardware vendor, third party software companies and application stores. And all the new services can be directly accessible from the same applications the user is already familiar with, instead of requiring the installation of one additional stand-alone application.

On the other hand, the Single Sign On framework is mostly transparent to the user (indeed, that’s the goal of any SSO implementation): once the password for one service has been entered, all applications operating on the same account should be able to login without bothering the user with password dialogs. And if the password turns out to be wrong, the SSO framework will ask for it only once, no matter how many applications are using the account.
Security is also tightly bound to the MeeGo SSO implementation: at account creation time it’s possible to specify which applications are allowed to use a certain account (or, more technically, which resource tokens an application must possess in order to be granted access to a certain account’s credentials), and what authentication methods are allowed. For instance, for security reasons we might not want to allow an account to be used with any authentication method where the password is disclosed in plain text to the applications or sent over the network.
Last but not least, the account passwords are stored on the device in encrypted form, and the encrypted storage can be dynamically activated/deactivated by providing/removing a master key, which could be configured to be the user password, or a fingerprint or other biometric checksum, some hardware key (such as a SIM card), or pretty much anything else. When the encrypted password storage is unavailable and some applications need to login to a service, the user will be prompted for the needed service password (again not more than once per account); all this being totally transparent to the application.

Using the framework in other devices/platforms

The UI design for the Accounts & SSO components described above is just one of the possible ways of integrating the MeeGo Accounts & SSO framework into a user device. The framework itself has been written to be flexible and support any UI workflow we could think of, without compromises to performance or security. The deployment of the Accounts & SSO framework in other devices and platforms has also been taken into consideration during the architecture and implementation development and several actions were taken towards this goal.

The core software driving the Accounts & SSO frameworks is all open source (LGPL), and can be found in gitorious.org. The most interesting components are:

  • libaccounts-glib: Glib-based API for account management. Depends on SQLite and D-Bus.
  • libaccounts-qt: Qt API for account management. Thin wrapper of libaccounts-glib APIs.
  • signon: the SSO daemon (written with Qt), which provides a D-Bus API. In the same source tree there’s also the libsignon-qt library, for Qt-based clients.
  • libsignon-glib: Glib-based client API for SSO.

Most of the other repositories in the project are probably not very useful outside of MeeGo, and they are not that interesting anyway. What might be more interesting to know, is the list of components that are missing from the gitorious project (because they are not open source), and that another platform/vendor would have to reimplement in order to provide all the functionalities described above. Luckily, there’s not much in this list. Apart from a couple of SSO authentication plugins for specific services, the rest is all about UI parts (because of Nokia’s general policy of not releasing the source code of its UI applications): we don’t have the account application and the account plugins, and the SSO UI daemon serving the password dialogs. This is not a big loss because in the UI would have had to be rewritten anyways to run in other platforms (and for MeeGo as well, as the MeeGoTouch UI library which is used in these Nokia UIs has been deprecated).

Having spent quite a considerable amount of (pleasant) time and energy on this project, I feel rather bound to it even though my employment in Nokia has ended. Therefore, I’m willing to continue to dedicate some of my free time (which, I have to say, is not much) to contribute to it and help its deployment in MeeGo and other Linux based platforms. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in getting the Accounts & SSO powering the OS you love and would like to know more about it.

...e Neverputt!

To celebrate the interlingua conference, which is going to take place in about one week, I write this post in interlingua. I'm sure you'll be able to understand it, just with a little of extra effort — if not, just enjoy the video :-)

In le mesme repositorio de Neverball, del qual io parlava in le post precedente, il ha un altere joco, Neverputt, que es equalmente amusante. Illo es un joco de mini-golf, que es jocabile de uno a quatro jocatores (in turnos). Il ha multe cursos differente, de varie nivellos de habilitate e complexitate, pro tote le gustos.

Post que le codice del programma es largemente in commun con Neverball, le porting al N900 esseva multo facile. Io debeva solmente implementar un differente methodo de controlo, assi que on pote jocar con le touchscreen. Un demonstration es in iste video:

Neverball e Neverputt es in le repositorio extras-testing. Illos non es ancora perfecte, in particular le menus debe esser ameliorate pro esser plus usabile con le touchscreen, ma io crede que illos es jam jocabile. Vole ben installar los e testar los!

Nota importante: Neverball e Neverputt usa 100% del CPU, anque quando in pausa!

In altere novas, io hodie ha recipite mi Nokia N950, le kit de developpamento pro le N9; isto es un bon nova pro tote illes qui vole jocar con Neverball e Neverputt in lor N9 — e certemente, anque pro le fans de Mappero! :-)