10.09.2006: Page needs quite a bit of revising, some current details aren’t current anymore.

My name is Stephanie Jane Booth and I live in Lausanne, Switzerland. I live in Lausanne because it’s my hometown (that’s the answer to those who ask “why are you staying there?”) I was born to a Swiss mother and a British father in the UK during the summer of the year 1974, and we moved to Switzerland two years later, complete with van and little brother.

I currently teach part-time in what we call “collège” (10-16 years old), in a neighbouring town. It’s actually quite a commute by Swiss standards: 20 minutes. When I started working there, people actually asked me if I planned on moving. But it’s actually quite a nice arrangement: I don’t bump into my pupils when I make a fool of myself at karaoke, or when I’m trying on fun clothes (in the same shops as they buy theirs, possibly) in Lausanne. I don’t either bump into their parents when I go to the supermarket.

I am now a full-time blogging/social media/social tools consultant and speaker.

Photoshoot Coopération 6

My other part-time is as a struggling blog/internet consultant and slightly more successful speaker on the subject of blogs and teenagers in schools.

Before taking the pretty predictable plunge into teaching (mother, father, step-mom, grandmother, uncle, aunt… all of them teachers), I worked as a project manager at Orange for the Customer Relations department. I started working there part-time while I was trying to put a happy end to my 10 long years studying at university (3 of them doing chemistry, and 7 for arts — one of which was in India). I got my degree, finally: history of religions (specialized in Indian culture), philosophy, and French. Oh, I’d better tell you now that I’m bilingual (like my website!), and that I tend to be slightly more comfortable in French than in English.

On the chapter of languages, I have of course learnt German at school, like every little Swiss kid living in the French-speaking region of Switzerland (to be fair, they teach French in the German-speaking part of the country — it’s a trifle more complicated in the Italian- and Romansh-speaking parts). Let’s say my German is moderately functional (I won’t say anything of Swiss-German), as I never really get a chance to put it to use for any extended period of time. I did some latin at school too, but that’s not hugely useful for communicating with other living human beings. At university, I studied Sanskrit for a couple of years (just enough to cover the basics and find translation horribly difficult), and, more importantly, Hindi. You’ll find I have quite a culture in recent bollywood films and music.

I spend a fair amount of my free time in front of a computer. Too much, truth be said. I like reading but usually have more important things to do (like filling in the forms for last years taxes six months after they were due). I go to the cinema very regularly, and have a go at karaoke every now and again. I love singing (especially alone in my car or when I have the headphones on and believe that my neighbours can’t hear me), even though I’m not much of a singer.

I’ve been doing judo for ten years now and train regularly (when I can). I wrote my degree dissertation on the subject of Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts (I’m afraid it’s in French and no translation is planned yet).

Online Life

As far as geek things and computers go, let’s start by saying the first computer landed in the house when I was 8 years old. (That was in 1982.) I’ve more or less grown up around them and did my fair share of tinkering and building cheap PC’s from bits and pieces. I’ve recently switched to Mac after years of loyalty to PC, and I have not regretted the change a single minute.

I “discovered” the web in autumn 1998. (I knew it existed before that, of course, but that is when I started logging on regularly.) I went online to search for information about the Indian city I was going to live in, and ended up spending many a long night in Java-powered Indian chatrooms. This website was born in spring 1999. I was dead against having a “homepage” which would talk about myself (see how far I’ve come!), but even more tired of repeating the same thing over and over again concerning ICQ chain letters. I thought I might as well put it up somewhere on the web so I could point people to it. A few months later, the website took another dimension as it became the home to the online journal of my year in India. I started dabbling in PHP, HTML and CSS in the process, and bought a heap of Indian-priced O’Reilly books.

Years have gone by and the site has grown. It became bilingual shortly after my return from India, when I started putting online some texts I had previously written. I opened a Blogger weblog, out of curiosity (and because I didn’t ‘get’ what this Blogger thing was about, so I thought I’d try it out), and started putting more technical stuff online. End 2002, I got a phonecam (thanks Orange, my employer at the time) and started putting lots of photographs online. (This unfortunately has had to stop, my Microsoft phone refusing to communicate with my iBook.) I’ve had a go at video and (more modestly) audio content, but mainly, I write.

I see Climb to the Stars as my online scrap-book. If I find something interesting, want to share it, need to write it, want to keep it somewhere, it ends up on the site. So besides serve you the odd snippet of information that you might find useful, what it does best is probably express in some way who I am, what I think, where I’ve been. Between the lines, of course, as this is far from being a “journal-type” weblog.

I write because I have always had an urge to write, and my head is always full of things that want to come out in words. I therefore write mainly for myself. Of course, I love having readers and I respect them, and wouldn’t be writing on the web if I didn’t care about the “being read” aspect. But this site is a space I maintain primarily for myself, and which I try to make welcoming for others too. It’s part of my pleasure.

In March 2001, I launched Pompage.net. Thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of a team of translators and editors led by Sam Latchman, it is now a regular and respected publication in the French-speaking world of standards-compliant web design. I am pretty heavily involved in the French-speaking blogosphere (there wasn’t much of it when I started blogging in French). I started a pretty multilingual wiki which is now dormant, and also try to maintain a directory of Swiss weblogs.

There might be more to come on this page, but I’m starting to get tired of writing about myself. The old about page has been archived so that you can still enjoy it, although it is outdated. I hope you enjoy your time spent on this site. I’ve appeared in quite a few articles; you can read more about that on the press page.

(If you enjoy it so much you feel you have to buy me a book, I have an Amazon.de wishlist. In no way required, but it would be a pity if you were looking for it and couldn’t find it!)

This Website

Climb to the Stars currently (January 2005) uses a recent WordPress nightly. The LinkBall (and other sidebar links) use the RSS Link List Plugin to include RSS feeds from my del.icio.us and AudioScrobbler accounts.

To fight spam, I use the excellent Spam Karma (doesn’t mean the other ones aren’t good, but this one works for me and I like it). I also use Dave‘s very practical Plugin Manager to manage my plugins.

A few more customisations I made to my WordPress install might interest you:

Here is an automatic list of plugins currently being used on Climb to the Stars (some of them may have been home-tweaked):

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