Confession time: When I first sat down at my computer as a sophomore page designer, I couldn’t find the power button — and not for lack of trying.

Former editor-in-chief Marigot Fackenthal, ’17, was giving us an intro to page design that day, and I figured asking “how to turn the thingy on” wouldn’t leave the best impression. After all, who would trust that person to design a page in an award-winning newspaper?

There was only one solution: lurk. So I spun around in my chair, feigning boredom and scanning the room until a smarter sophomore turned her own computer on. (The button was in the back lower-left corner — a place I’d already checked. Go figure.)

I wish I could blame the situation on the computer’s design or my eyesight, but I’m just technologically inept. Always have been, actually.

In lower school, we had iPads in the classroom. Don’t ask me what we used them for; my memory barely covers high school. However, I do remember the panic I felt when I had to use the cursed device. My worst fear was that it would randomly turn off, because — surprise — I didn’t know where the power button was for iPads, either.

I eventually got over my technology phobia, so I wasn’t too concerned about having a MacBook in freshman year of high school. I had no idea what I was doing the first few months, but Google served me well, and tech-savvy friends took pity on me, which also helped.

The only speed bumps I hit that year were because of Octagon. From tracking down shared staff folders (somehow, everyone else opened them easily) to learning Google Docs culture (get off that document if an editor is on it!), technology was once again out to get me.

But if those were speed bumps, the metaphorical mountain was learning page design. 

While designing pages is equal parts artistic vision and technological prowess, I had just one of those qualifications. Furthermore, of all the applications I needed to learn to use — Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator — I’d only ever heard of Photoshop. 

Coincidentally, Photoshop was the program I’d been avoiding because it glitched out my Mac the first time I opened it. Tack on an unexpected cartoonist position, and Octagon in sophomore year was a recipe for disaster. 

But I’m still here, so it obviously didn’t go that badly.

With all my technology woes, I still don’t know how I got through the years. Most of the credit should go to Allison. As the person sitting next to me in the Cave, she had to hear all my questions and complaints — along with all my throwaway cartoon ideas.

Luckily, I became a decent page designer in the process. It’s been quite the journey: Sophomore year I had to scramble to redo a page I forgot to save. Meanwhile, this year, I made a plate of snazzy sushi using InDesign because I was too lazy to switch to Illustrator or Photoshop. 

That said, I still don’t understand technology beyond design. Just last week, my solution to a nonfunctioning printer in the Cave was to ask, “Is it plugged in?” followed by “What if you unplug it and plug it back in again?” 

Unsurprisingly, neither suggestion worked. And seeing as I’ve already had to call the University of California, Berkeley’s helpline three times about my portal, it looks like I’ve signed up for another four years of confusion. Yay, me.

—By Mohini Rye

Originally published in the May 28 edition of the Octagon.

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