Me. (in color)Who I Am


  1. In Brief
  2. What I do
  3. Extracurricular
  4. Current Interests
  5. A bunch of footnotes

In Brief

My name is Erik Rossen and I was born in Vancouver, Canada on November 12th, 1967. I am a Canadian citizen living in Switzerland (specifically the canton of Vaud, commune of Nyon) with my wife Christiane Bremer Rossen. We were married March 21st, 1995 in the commune of Montreux, Christiane's home town. She knows all of the words to "Smoke On The Water", by the way. We've been living in Switzerland since July 30th, 1994. Living in Switzerland is the next best thing to being on vacation.

What I Do

When people ask me what I do for a living, I used to say that I was a physicist. That usually stopped the conversation. Nowadays, I just tell them that I am a computer consultant and politely nod while they talk about their problems with Windows.

If the person is a recruiter, I usually point them to my CV.

If they persist in asking questions, I tell people that as a student I worked as a FORTRAN (beurk!) programmer at the National Research Council in Ottawa, writing a program to do Monte-Carlo simulations of thin films using modified Ising models.

Afterwards, still as a student, I worked on the KAON 30GeV synchrotron project at TRIUMF, the Tri-University Meson Facility in Vancouver. Again, it was mostly FORTRAN programming with a lot of particle trajectory simulation studies. When I heard that doctorate candidates in experimental particle physics often had to wait for years to get beam time at 3 o'clock in the morning, I decided to NOT become a particle physicist. Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to those people. KAON was never funded, by the way.

I finished university in June of 1991 with a Bachelor's degree in Honours Physics from Simon Fraser University and after a brief encounter with the real world (3 months of unemployment), I went back to work in the physics department. Surprisingly, it was not for FORTRAN programming that I was engaged, but experimental solid-state physics. I spent about 1.5 years there mixing, baking, and testing new cathode materials for rechargable lithium batteries. I came out of that job with a love for handy-man stuff and a hate for repetitive work that cannot be automated.


The attentive reader might notice that up until the early 1990's I only talk about school and work and there is no mention of a personal life. This is not an oversight nor shyness on my part; there simply was no personal life. One summer afternoon, during my last year of school, one of my teachers said to us: "Why are all of you inside studying nuclear chemistry on a wonderful day like this? You should be outside frolicking in the grass! What is wrong with you?!"

It took a while for the message to sink in, but finally I ran away to Australia for 2 months in 1992 and had a great time drinking, scuba diving, bungy jumping, and actually meeting girls. Amazing.

About 2 weeks after returning to Vancouver, I realized that even more vacation time would be an excellent idea, so I went to Europe for 3 months. In Australia I had met a number of European girls who gave their addresses and insisted that I look them up, so I decided to oblige. They were very nice, even if they were all different from when I had met them.

Europe was far from boring. Against all odds, I met my wife-to-be on the terrace of the Hostel Anna on the island of Santorini in Greece.


Current Interests

For a while I was spending a lot of time on two main projects. The most important, that is, the one that could make me easy money one of these days, was my mini-heliostat idea.

The second project was configuring my Linux boxes to do useful and interesting things. These web pages and the rendered pictures of mini-heliostats are just a couple of the things that I've done so far.

It seems that the hundreds of hours I've spent on Linux are paying off. People actually pay me money to install this wonderful OS on their machines. Isn't life wonderful? Don't you want to share the wonder? Don't you want to give me some money?

Occasionally, I preach a bit of Linux advocacy to my friends. No, that's not strictly accurate - lately I've devoted about 90% of my waking hours trying to get people to see the light. I've become the webmaster of the site of the local LUG (Linux Users' Group) and I am amusing myself whipping the site into shape. Check it out and notice the groovy style - GULL. It used to look better before, but they insisted that I was scaring people away using green mono-spaced fonts on a black background.

Even though it has been a lot of work to read all of those software manuals and tweak all of those configuration files, I think it is worth it to have computers where I have absolute control over the software. Just my humble opinion, made while watching all of my collegues being frustrated by tiny, un-fixable bugs in the monolithic applications that they use. To those who say: "Yeah, but I don't have the time to debug programs, anyway!" I say, "With Linux there is a good chance that someone else already knows a fix for your problem, and they can help you. In any other system they are not even allowed to help!" Also, in this day and age, would you really trust a program written by someone who won't let you look at their source code?

Here is a new paragraph: I now have a daughter named June. She likes to smash her hands on the keyboard of my computer when she thinks I am not paying enough attention to her. Luckily I can sometimes divert her by passing a 30MB slide show of photographs of cats.


FOOTNOTE "Bremer Rossen": If you are going to change your name after getting married in Switzerland, do a complete change; the administrative hassle is an unbelievable pain in the bum and everyone insists upon putting a hyphen between your two last names even though they are not supposed to.

FOOTNOTE "physicist": The French word for "physicist" is "physicien". Bizarre, non? Here's a good line that I swiped from Beavis and Butthead: "I'm a physicien. I have to ask you to take off all of your clothes."

FOOTNOTE "computer consultant": I specialise in Linux and free software solutions. The software is free, but my services are not. Oh, and if you've got problems with your Windows box, here's an effective three step solution:

  1. Format your hard drive.
  2. Install Linux.
  3. RTFM. (You will have to, sooner or later.)

FOOTNOTE "Ottawa": Avoid winter in Ottawa if you are incapable of drinking anti-freeze. "-35°C" is just another interesting number until you've experienced it. If you go skating on the Rideau Canal, don't fall down under any of the bridges; the ice is covered with bird shit.

FOOTNOTE "different": I have come up with the following theory and I wonder if it is universal: people at home are always different from when they are on vacation. Can anyone confirm this?

FOOTNOTE "my Linux box": My alter ego is:

Linux counter logo

If you want a cool logo like this (or you happen to like free Unix operating systems), just set aside a couple hundred Megs on your hard drive, load up Linux, and go register at the Linux Counter. You'll be glad you did.

FOOTNOTE "groovy": About the psycho style of these pages and the GULL: no, I

  1. didn't just rip it off from Jamie Zawinski's site
  2. nor from Unix Haters
  3. nor from T E X T F I L E S
  4. nor from Need To Know.
It's probably just a coincidence or the after-effect of years of using monochrome CRTs.

Personally, the green and black color scheme with monospaced fonts give me a warm, nostalgic feeling, reminding me of a simpler time.

"Sonny, when I was a lad, we made our bits the old-fashioned way by banging two rocks together."

If you are saying to yourself, "Green and black? What's he talking about?", then your browser is not interpreting the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) properly.



Erik Rossen <>
OpenPGP key: 2935D0B9
Tel: +41 78 617 72 83
Home URL:

Copyright © 2000 until the heat-death of the Universe (thanks, Mickey!), by Erik Rossen
Last modified: 2016-02-07T12:43:38+0100