Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
Home | About me Impressum Contact Sitemap



These pages are mainly an exploration of various ideas and thoughts of mine on how humans tick and interact, issues relating to software development, language and writing, and a number of other things. A minor part is dedicated to my freelance software consulting business (in German). One category contains information about this website it self—as does most of the homepage you are currently reading.

As time goes by, large amounts of content will be added, in particular reflecting hundreds of hand-written pages with thoughts that I assembled during a sabbatical. Topics include management issues, the problems that people with unusual ways of thinking (due to higher intelligence or by merely “being wired differently”) encounter, my own personal development, attempts to decode the mystery that is humankind in general and women in particular, various aspects of software development, good/bad practices, language issues, ... Interesting anecdotes about being a foreigner in Germany, however, will be few and far between—despite the domain name.

Beware that even the roughly 250 pages already present only reflect a fraction of the eventual total. In particular, the current texts will not always represent my complete opinion on the topics in question, will lack interconnections with other (yet unwritten pages), and so on. Further, my opinions tend to be refined, revised, occasionally even rejected, as time goes by. Correspondingly, you should make interpretations with care.


It has been argued that webpages should be written for scannerse. By the very nature of my intentions, this is not possibly—this site is almost necessarily written for those few who like to read, not just scan. It is not intended to please the masses, gain a following, attract “diggs”, or otherwise be popular. It would be nice if it does; but as long as the purposes discussed below are met, I will be fully content.

Recent additions and major changes

For a variety of reasons, my efforts on this website have been low for some time. One of the reasons is the discovery that I have a better reach with less effort through my blog, which contains a large number of entries on (mostly) somewhat different topics and in a different style. Now, Knuth has been working on The Art of Computer Programmingw since 1962 and he is nowhere near done—I can afford to take it slow.

Note that existing pages are often extended or revised without appearing in this listing. This applies in particular to the page where I duplicate most of my blog entries.

Who am I?

More information than most readers will ever want to know is available on my about me page. The gist: I am Michael Eriksson—a Swede in Germany. Professionally, I am a software consultant; privately, a thinker, reader, writer, and [whatever my current interest happens to be]-er.


For those who consider English an odd choice for “a Swede in Germany”: The Swedish and German versions would be “en svensk i Tyskland” and “ein Schwede in Deutschland”, respectively.

Because most of this site is directed at a non-local audience, I preferred English.

The purpose of my writings

I set out with two main purposes:

  1. To help develop my understanding of myself, others, the world in general, and so on, The implication is that much of what I write is ideas, conclusions, speculations, ... that I consider interesting (or considered interesting at the time) to me; and that it is quite possible that many entries are re-inventions of the wheel or insights many others have at some stage in their development. See also this discussion of benefits that I gain.

  2. To help others with similar minds (strongly introverted, highly intelligent, extremely rational, with an unusual development path) learn to cope with a world where the majority of the population has a very different character, and often, by ignorance, irrationality, or intolerance, makes life hard for those of us who are different.

Soon a third major purpose developed (together with some minor others): To light a candle against the darkness of incompetence that permeates so much of this world.

One of the main principles behind my approach to this third purpose: It is more important not to screw up than to excel. By merely avoiding as many common mistakes as possible, excellence (by almost all standards) will be an automatic consequence. Failure to excel is more founded in making avoidable mistakes than in lack of genius—up to a certain high level. Until that level, most activities (including software development and writing) should be seen as crafts, not arts. Just eliminating the most common errors will take (almost) anyone to “average”; successfully eliminating further and further errors and mistakes will lead to “very good”—be the starting point even “abysmal”.

Only to reach beyond “very good”, will true genius be needed—notwithstanding that eliminating sufficiently many errors for even “very good” may require “very intelligent” to begin with. (The same applies to other routes to this target.)


The above refers to errors in systematic approach, bad practices, and similar. Errors through risk taking and carelessness are different issue, where the circumstances must decide: Risk taking can often be justified by an analysis of probabilities for gains and losses, and taking no risks can be crippling. Carelessness is bad, but too many double and triple checks can cost more than is gained by finding a single unimportant mistake.

As an effect of these purposes, many pages here, deliberately and with constructive intentions, deal with mistakes, errors, and idiocies of various kinds. Do not mistake these for destructive ramblings, even when they consist of lists of “It is idiotic to...”. (Notwithstanding that I often use this website to get annoyances “out of my system” by writing about them—two birds with one stone.)

Recommended articles

The following is a list of the articles that I consider the most important at the moment. The list is deliberately kept at exactly five entries, and the current entries may be removed in the future to make place for newer or improved articles, or articles better matching future whims. (Note that they are not all relevant for everyone.)

The tall dancer phenomenon: A discussion of how different groups tend to look down upon each other, without an objective justification—and how minorities bear the brunt of the problem.

Most important advice: The most important advice (at least for us neirds) when it comes to understanding the office.

What to read: Some recommendations on what a beginning software developer should and should not read.

Most important rule of UI design: Most important—and most neglected.

Annoying writing mistakes: An overview of some language mistakes, which also may help in understanding the principles I consider important when writing.

In addition, I recommend a visit to the sitemap, which contains a complete listing of all articles.

Browser accessibility

I am highly sympathetic to the Viewable with any Browsere campaign; and will be happy to make changes to ensure that these pages are accessible with any reasonably standards-compliant and bug-free browser. This includes striving to make this site readable and navigable with Lynxe-like text-only browsers and browsers for the visually impaired; however, I cannot guarantee the same “level of service” as for a conventional browser.

Correspondingly, your feedback is appreciated, should you experience any kind of problem. I stress, however, that I will not go out of my way to accommodate Internet Explorer, which is notorious for its many bugs and incompatibilities—try a standards-compliant (and much more user-friendly) browser like Operae or Firefoxe instead.

Where else am I present on the Internet?

Obviously, I have gathered a number of user accounts and profiles in various places over the years. Of these, however, I only see two as potentially interesting to visitors:

  1. My WordPress bloge, which has contents similar to this website, but usually in shorter articles.

  2. My OpenDiarye, where I write the odd more personal entry.

Should you find me somewhere else (e.g. on Xing or FaceBook), pay no heed. These accounts are mostly place-holders or are used for highly specific purposes. Comments and contacts are best directed over my main channel—this website.

The contents of pages I link to represent the opinions of others. Unless I explicitly state otherwise, it may not be assumed that I share these opinions. I reserve the right to include links to content that others (or I, myself) may consider offensive, should the topic at hand warrant it. Further, beware that I will typically only verify the contents behind a link once, at the time the link is set, and that only the immediately linked page is checked—not the entire underlying site.

External links are visually set apart: non-Wikipediae, English Wikipediaw, German Wikipediaw:de, Swedish Wikipediaw:sv. The frequent Wikipedia links are displayed differently than other links, because I often prefer the Wikipedia entry to a direct link to a company, website, whatnot, and this way misunderstandings can be avoided.

Note that I very deliberately do not open external links in a new window/tab. This common deplorable custom is a violation of the visitor’s right to control over his own computer and can, as such, not be ethically justified.


Beware that (since 2010-03-13) I mark all outgoing links as “nofollow”: This is a temporary measure as a solution to a suspected search-engine problem. With time this will be done more selectively, to only “nofollow” links to sites I find disputable in some way. (Be it in content or from a SEO POV. Note that I link to many sites that I actively criticize.)

This should only affect search engines; human users should not notice this.

Linking to this site

You are more than welcome to link to this site or individual parts of it—in fact, I consider attempts by some websites to prevent linking and, in particular, deep-linking to be unethical, destructive and against their own best interests. (See e.g. Berners-Lee on linkinge.)

“Framing” and “in-line linking”, OTOH, is not allowed without explicit permission.

Disclaimer/How to read this website

The contents provided here consist largely of personal opinions. As such, their correctness cannot be guaranteed. I make no claim of having put these opinions through scientific scrutiny, I am well aware that I may be biased in various issues, and my opinions often change over time (without previous writings necessarily being updated or superseded).

In particular, if you should chose to act based on recommendations made here, or based on own conclusions about suitable actions based on my contents, you do so entirely at your own risk. Any liability or legal responsibility on my behalf is categorically ruled out.

Generally, I advice to always think critically, be it here or elsewhere, and to never take opinions of others as anything but opinions. Looking at my own learning process, I tend to read and file away opinions, which are then eventually (informally) classified as being true or false, to various degrees—based on later observations, how they fit reality, whether they are compatible with other mostly true opinions, the theoretical underpinning the have, etc. My recommendation would be to use a similar approach when reading this website.

Copyright notice

Unless otherwise stated, all contents are my property/copyright. Any re-use, copying, etc., requires my explicit permission—excepting strictly personal use and activities in the “fair use” category. For non-commercial use, within reasonable limits, requests for permission will almost always be granted on a copyleftw basis. Commercial use may see additional conditions, require payment, or be denied out-right.

Privacy notice

I do not at this time actively collect any kind of data about your visits, nor do I plan to do so in the future (knock on wood); however, my ISP automatically gathers some basic data like (an obfuscated) IP address, “user agent”, and referring website for each page visit. The corresponding logs are accessible to me, and I reserve the right to use the contents for statistical evaluations, improvements of the site structure, and similar.

The data will not be shared with third-parties; and I will not make any attempts to de-anonymize the data. Exceptions to this are visits by robots, spiders, and the like; situations where I have a legal obligation to act otherwise; and visitors who are abusive, e.g. by trying to hack into the underlying system.

I can, obviously, make no guarantees about how my ISP uses this information; however, in all likelihood, it is entirely uninterested.


Should you have any concerns for your anonymity (here or elsewhere), you may want to change your browser settings to reduce the use of cookies, not send a referrer, etc. (Notably, many corporate websites do abuse such mechanisms.) You may also want to look into Tor or I2P for a considerable enhancement (at the cost of more effort—but not of money).