tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:/posts SKG 2020-06-14T02:55:33Z SKG tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1559167 2020-06-14T02:55:33Z 2020-06-14T02:55:33Z Organisations that inspire me
  • Mozilla
  • Wikipedia
  • Wordpress
  • കലാഭവൻ
  • കേരള ഗ്രന്ധശാല സംഘം 
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SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1548207 2020-05-22T14:13:06Z 2020-05-23T03:27:13Z CAT completes 7 years

I received a note from Amarnath informing about completion of 7 years of CAT. 

Along with that, he had asked about my memorable experiences with them. 

Listing out the few that came to mind

  1. One of my first encounters with them: first glimpses of their talent and potential. When they wanted an opportunity to have portfolio video by making one for Startup Village. And 10k towards covering equipment renting / production costs.

    This was the result 


  2. Startup Village ad for Kerala Government: the time that truly reflected Startup Village was an integral part of them too. I had written about it some time back in another post of mine. Government came out with an ad promoting Startup Village and we ended up replacing with another one of our own overnight. Several people were involved in the high energy and high velocity operation and it was CAT who had brought together the video.

    This was the result


    Sharing the before as well for contrast


  3. The hacking incident: the time that they brought to fore their alternate facets. I think I am yet to write about this but this was a very memorable day for us at Startup Village - for the ones involved in this incident that is. We were running a program in partnership with Blackberry and the program website we had hosted for them had been hacked. (This really really was a fun incident I must add). It was CAT that helped track the source and the locate the contact details of the hacker. 

  4. The Synthite deal: the inflection point that started their transition into a mature profitable business entity. One of their first major wins. They had edged out a competitor (a much bigger player) and has bagged the contract. At a substantially higher price point than what they had been selling so far that too. I still remember making that call to George Paul of Synthite for putting in a good word for CAT and him assuring that he will do his part in ensuring that they get the contract. Also remembering the good man on this occasion. Happened to read in the newspaper almost a year back about his passing away. Was an ardent well wisher of Startup Village too. 

  5. The cashflow review: the time I had my mouth open and my head spinning. This was also a fun memory and that very much comes top of mind that too. Amar & Chachu had come over to review their financials and to discuss some thoughts around fundraising that they had. Without going into details, the conversations resulted in me having palpitations and us all having a hearty laugh about it. :) What is also interesting is that we will be doing yet another cashflow exercise several years down the line today in another 5 minutes or so. 

Having said all that, it is indeed commendable the journey they have traversed and the personal growth they have navigated. In the process, they have also created a valuable and profitable enterprise. I have been fortunate to have been able to witness their journey from the sidelines and also to have played minor parts in it along the way. They brought to fore temperament in loads that made them well suited to build the kind of company that they did. What is also compelling is the professionalism and the congeniality they have maintained throughout with everyone they have ever come across - this really stands out for me. 

At this point, as an organisation they are eager and well poised to get to their next phase of growth. And most likely, we will yet again get to play a part in some form. Conveying my regards once again on the occasion. Also wishing the very best for the years to come. 

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SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1508815 2019-10-27T06:30:00Z 2020-02-12T14:01:01Z Script: Connect App


**Credits**

Jibin: Helped in putting together the HTML interface and fetching data from that. <br>
Arya: The emailing code came from her. <br>
Saleeh: Helped with code for notification, CSS & Tamotsu library. <br>
Zach: Helped with embed code.

[Code](https://script.google.com/a/sijokuruvilla.in/d/1P_6oDwCzmTPRsY9AGrD-GdlMMgg2MjbwjJE0ILkP8wr-svSXSikUMu6x/edit)

[Spreadsheet template](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pj1hLLBAH-Mq5gDt0SZg_jw9CwnEcV93TEkfls51g8M/edit#gid=0)

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SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1432580 2019-10-27T01:30:00Z 2019-10-27T01:59:23Z Projects worth pursuing

The decision making framework I use and advocate.

  • Reduces human effort
  • Increases human output
  • Enhances human happiness
  • Reduces human suffering

Any project that satisfies any of these 4 conditions is worth pursuing.

Even if its only for a single person. Even if that single person is you.

Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

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SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435281 2019-10-27T00:40:00Z 2019-11-13T11:25:40Z Never said it was easy. Said it was possible.

When I tell people that its possible, I often get a response “It ain’t easy”.

Never said it was.

It’s possible does not imply it’s easy.

It implies it’s doable.

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SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1470379 2019-10-26T14:52:59Z 2019-10-26T14:52:59Z Address people on a first name basis

One of the first instances I came across this practice of addressing people by their first names was in my college basketball team. I was in my first year and one of the seniors, Anoop John, who knew I used to play in the school basketball team asked me to come for selection trials for the college team. I did turn up and that was my first run in with Xavier. Before I go on, a note on Xavier. He is one of the most fantastic human beings I have ever come across in life. More on that in another post perhaps.

So Xavier was a final year student and also the captain of our basketball team. A gifted player, he once shared with me his story of how he ended up in engineering college. He never fancied himself doing engineering much less doing engineering from CET apparently. A key trivia Xavier while narrating to me how he ended up in engineering college was that he had made use of the backside of the entrance examination hall ticket for tabulation of the scores of the card game that very night after the entrance. It so happened that he did manage to secure an admit in CET via the sports quota. Xavier was unsure to whether or not to take it up and that’s when his the basketball coach, Antony Sir, that guided him not to turn down the opportunity.

Towards the end of the selection trials, Xavier remarked that it appears that I can play and asked me to start coming for practice sessions along with the team. To which I ended up replying — വരാം Xavier ചേട്ടാ. And that’s when he stopped me right there. “എന്തോന്ന്, Xavier ചേട്ടനോ? ആ പരിപാടി ഒന്നും ഇവിടെ വേണ്ട, Xavier മതി” — എന്നായിരുന്നു Xavier ന്റെ മറുപടി. On the face of it, this might seem trivial. But anyone who is familiar with how ridiculously hierarchical and absurdly rigid some of these social constructs in our colleges are, of which the culture of addressing your seniors as ചേട്ടാ / ചേച്ചി is a deeply ingrained one, would understand that this is pathbreaking stuff.

So as a result of this culture set in motion by Xavier, we all addressed each other by our first names throughout. Few years down the line, when I took over as captain of the college basketball team, this addressing people by first names remained one of the cultural edifices around which our team was continued to be built and one that I carry forward to this day in my personal and professional life. We were all peers working towards a common outcome—contributing in our individual capacity in ways that each of us could. While this was what was happening, it was not Xavier who articulated it that way. That was to happen few more years later.

My second run in with the culture of addressing people by first names happened in Infosys. It was during the induction period with one of the learning facilitators. Unfortunately I do not remember the name of the person. After one her sessions, I walked up to her and ended up addressing her as <name> madam. That’s when she stopped me and guided me to address her by her first name. When I conveyed my discomfort in addressing someone much senior and elder to me by her first name, she helped me understand that it was the professional thing to do and that Infosys was an organisation that abided by that practice. She then went on to say that even if I run in to Nandan or NRN, you address them by names and not with Sir tag. And at that point, what she articulated has stuck with me since.

We are all peers working towards common outcomes, with each person contributing in ways that he or she can.

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SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1487701 2019-10-26T02:35:00Z 2019-12-11T02:38:56Z Script: Dialog box

To add a dialog box to your script

Dialog box

var ui = SpreadsheetApp.getUi();
ui.alert('Notification message');
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SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1487697 2019-10-26T02:32:00Z 2019-12-11T02:38:35Z Script: Text box

To add a text box to your script

Text box 

var ui = SpreadsheetApp.getUi(); // Same variations.

var result = ui.prompt(
'Enter name:',
ui.ButtonSet.OK_CANCEL);
var button = result.getSelectedButton();
var name= result.getResponseText();

Evaluating text box input

if (button == ui.Button.OK) {
// User clicked "OK".
ui.alert('Input received);
} else if (button == ui.Button.CANCEL) {
// User clicked "Cancel".
ui.alert('Clicked cancel');
} else if (button == ui.Button.CLOSE) {
// User clicked X in the title bar.
ui.alert('Closed the dialog.');
}


]]>
SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1484104 2019-10-26T01:20:00Z 2019-12-01T11:59:02Z Script: Triggers

Creating triggers

function createTriggers(){

// Trigger every 6 hours
ScriptApp.newTrigger('myFunction')
.timeBased()
.everyHours(6)
.create();

// Trigger everyday at 10:00 hours.
ScriptApp.newTrigger('dailyCatchup')
.timeBased()
.atHour(10)
.everyDays(1)
.inTimezone("Asia/Kolkata")
.create();

// Trigger every Monday at 09:00 hours
ScriptApp.newTrigger('myFunction')
.timeBased()
.onWeekDay(ScriptApp.WeekDay.MONDAY)
.atHour(9)
.create();

}

Deleting all triggers

function deleteallTriggers() {
// Loop over all triggers.
var allTriggers = ScriptApp.getProjectTriggers();
for (var i = 0; i < allTriggers.length; i++) {
ScriptApp.deleteTrigger(allTriggers[i]);
}
}


Capturing trigger ID

 var trigger = ScriptApp.newTrigger('myFunction')
.timeBased()
.everyHours(6)
.create();

var triggerId = trigger.getUniqueId();

The following code will create a trigger, capture its triggerID and store that triggerID to the B2 column of a spreadsheet

function createTrigger(){

var trigger = ScriptApp.newTrigger('myFunction')
.timeBased()
.everyHours(6)
.create();

var triggerId = trigger.getUniqueId();

var ss = SpreadsheetApp.openByUrl("https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SCKp4r_3xllf1eZQFvE0LDXffdwCSdFfvEdUWAkaAsg/edit#gid=0");
var sheet = ss.getSheetByName("Values");

var cell = sheet.getRange("B2");
cell.setValue(triggerId); Logger.log(trigger);
Logger.log(triggerId);
Logger.log(cell.getValue());}

Delete specific trigger (using Trigger ID)

function deleteTrigger(triggerId) {

var allTriggers = ScriptApp.getProjectTriggers();
for (var i = 0; i < allTriggers.length; i++) {
// If the current trigger is the correct one, delete it.
if (allTriggers[i].getUniqueId() === triggerId) {
ScriptApp.deleteTrigger(allTriggers[i]);
break;
}
}
}

The following code will read the triggerID value stored in the B2 column of the spreadsheet and delete that trigger

function deleteTrigger() {

var ss = SpreadsheetApp.openByUrl("https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SCKp4r_3xllf1eZQFvE0LDXffdwCSdFfvEdUWAkaAsg/edit#gid=0");
var sheet = ss.getSheetByName("Values");

var cell = sheet.getRange("B2");
var triggerId = cell.getValue();
Logger.log(triggerId);

var allTriggers = ScriptApp.getProjectTriggers();
for (var i = 0; i < allTriggers.length; i++) {
// If the current trigger is the correct one, delete it.
if (allTriggers[i].getUniqueId() === triggerId) {
ScriptApp.deleteTrigger(allTriggers[i]);
break;
}
}
}


]]>
SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1470520 2019-10-26T01:18:00Z 2019-11-21T17:41:02Z Script: Post to Twitter

This script helps you post to Twitter. Relied on a script of Amit Agarwal of similar nature to put this together. Made additions to the script thereafter to suit the use case I was looking for. 

This script reads from a spreadsheet and posts the data to Twitter. One item gets picked up and published to Twitter in each run. Status column gets marked as published for the item that gets picked up and the count increments by 1.  If there is no item to be picked up, the count does not get updated and remains the same. 

Use Case

I use a Telegram bot to log my notes. From among the list of notes that have been logged to publish, I wanted a script to publish to Twitter. The objectives being to a) automate the steps involved in publishing and b) separating production from distribution. 

Revisions wishlist

  • Add the Menu to the spreadsheet for being able to run the script from the sheet itself
  • Add Timer for the script to auto run on a schedule
  • If the status column of the item picked up reads published, count gets updated but it does not get published. 

Project Properties

You will need to generate and set the following project properties for this script. 

  1. CONSUMER_KEY
  2. CONSUMER_SECRET
  3. ACCESS_TOKEN
  4. ACCESS_SECRET

Reference Screenshots

Script

function readingfromSheet(){

  //spreadsheet

//  var ss = SpreadsheetApp.openById("1J-rID8K6DNt2jeMZ7DWOH5YvMKvA7baYKTiWl1pJ3iE");

  var ss = SpreadsheetApp.openById('1p5A1jNWGPO96kQpuT1bC41vC4j5K3GWnwHuowMkibZA');

  Logger.log(ss.getName());

  

  //sheet

  var sheet = ss.getSheetByName('SKG Articles')

  if (sheet != null) {

    Logger.log(sheet.getIndex());

  }

  

  //range & values

  // This represents ALL the data

  var range = sheet.getDataRange();

  var data = range.getValues();

  Logger.log(JSON.stringify(data));

  

  //get count, tweet, set status, increment count, set count

  

  var count = sheet.getRange('b2').getValue(); 

  var tweet = sheet.getRange(count, 1).getValue(); 

  Logger.log(tweet);

  

  if (tweet){

    postTweet(tweet);

    sheet.getRange(count, 2).setValue('Published');

    ++count; Logger.log(count);

    sheet.getRange('b2').setValue(count); 

    

  }

  else {

    Logger.log("tweet is blank");

  } 

}

 

function postTweet(message) {

 Logger.log(message);

  //var message = "If you love me also I love you if you";

  var method = "POST";

  var baseUrl = "https://api.twitter.com/1.1/statuses/update.json";

  var props = PropertiesService.getScriptProperties();


  var oauthParameters = {

    oauth_consumer_key: props.getProperty('CONSUMER_KEY'),

    oauth_token: props.getProperty('ACCESS_TOKEN'),

    oauth_timestamp: (Math.floor((new Date()).getTime() / 1000)).toString(),

    oauth_signature_method: "HMAC-SHA1",

    oauth_version: "1.0"

  };


  oauthParameters.oauth_nonce = oauthParameters.oauth_timestamp + Math.floor(Math.random() * 100000000);


  var payload = {

    status: message

  };


  var queryKeys = Object.keys(oauthParameters).concat(Object.keys(payload)).sort();


  var baseString = queryKeys.reduce(function(acc, key, idx) {

    if (idx) acc += encodeURIComponent("&");

    if (oauthParameters.hasOwnProperty(key))

      acc += encode(key + "=" + oauthParameters[key]);

    else if (payload.hasOwnProperty(key))

      acc += encode(key + "=" + encode(payload[key]));

    return acc;

  }, method.toUpperCase() + '&' + encode(baseUrl) + '&');


  oauthParameters.oauth_signature = Utilities.base64Encode(

    Utilities.computeHmacSignature(

      Utilities.MacAlgorithm.HMAC_SHA_1,

      baseString,

      props.getProperty('CONSUMER_SECRET') + '&' + props.getProperty('ACCESS_SECRET')

    )

  );


  var options = {

    method: method,

    headers: {

      authorization: "OAuth " + Object.keys(oauthParameters).sort().reduce(function(acc, key) {

        acc.push(key + '="' + encode(oauthParameters[key]) + '"');

        return acc;

      }, []).join(', ')

    },

    payload: Object.keys(payload).reduce(function(acc, key) {

      acc.push(key + '=' + encode(payload[key]));

      return acc;

    }, []).join('&'),

    muteHttpExceptions: true

  }


  var response = UrlFetchApp.fetch(baseUrl, options);

  var responseHeader = response.getHeaders();

  var responseText = response.getContentText();

  Logger.log(responseText);

}


function encode(string) {

  return encodeURIComponent(string)

    .replace('!', '%21')

    .replace('*', '%2A')

    .replace('(', '%28')

    .replace(')', '%29')

    .replace("'", '%27');




]]>
SKG
tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1469913 2019-10-25T02:35:35Z 2019-11-26T03:18:58Z Script: Creating a Slides file

Creates a Google Slides file from script code.  Recall it was one of those board game Sundays during which this was attempted and it was Praveen Sridhar who helped me out with this piece of code.  

This is a fun script. Tried out more as a test. Wish to attempt capturing a deck of one of my talks in this format as a script. Again, more as a fun thing to do at this point.  


Script

var NAME = "Read Me";

var deck = SlidesApp.create(NAME);


function addText() {

  

  var slide;

  var shapes;

  var textRange;

  

  slide = deck.getSlides()[0]

  

  shapes =  slide.getShapes();

  textRange = shapes[0].getText();

  textRange.setText('Mail works best');

  textRange = shapes[1].getText();

  textRange.setText('skg@sijokuruvilla.in');

  

  slide = deck.appendSlide(SlidesApp.PredefinedLayout.SECTION_HEADER);

  shapes =  slide.getShapes();

  textRange = shapes[0].getText();

  textRange.setText('Email: skg@sijokuruvilla.in');

  

  slide = deck.appendSlide(SlidesApp.PredefinedLayout.SECTION_HEADER);

  shapes = slide.getShapes();

  textRange = shapes[0].getText();

  textRange.setText('Twitter: @sijokuruvilla');

  

  Logger.log(textRange.asString())

}


Notes

  • Slides file that was created - Link
  • Reference screenshots provided below
  • Screenshots



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    SKG
    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1469564 2019-10-24T05:27:55Z 2019-11-26T03:30:16Z Script: All files in Drive

    A very useful script. Lists out all files in your Google Drive to a Google Spreadsheet

    Script

    function allFilesInDrive() {

    // Log the name of every file in the user's Drive.
    // its type & url as well

    var files = DriveApp.getFiles();
    var ss = SpreadsheetApp.openById('1Hq1eFGYCUzf82bvUC_yM9abG7Bt9sY30xGIX-pmUK2c');
    var sheet = ss.getSheetByName("Sheet1");
    var range = sheet.getDataRange();
    var data = range.getValues();
    var count = 1;


    while (files.hasNext()) {
    var file = files.next();

    Logger.log(data);
    Logger.log(file.getName());
    Logger.log(file.getMimeType());
    Logger.log(file.getUrl());
    sheet.getRange(count, 1).setValue(file.getName());
    sheet.getRange(count, 2).setValue(file.getUrl());
    sheet.getRange(count, 3).setValue(file.getAccess('office@sijokuruvilla.in'));

    count++;


    }

    }

    Note

    • Spreadhseet ID and the sheet name to be copied accurately.
    • Reference: Output that gets captured in the spreadsheet can be viewed from the screenshot below


    The script takes a fair amount of time to execute. So if you wish to try this out quickly you may make use of the following script. In this the output ie list of files in Drive can be viewed in the Logger window as against the Spreadsheet. The following one was also the first script I managed to put together. Took Jibin's help to then bring it together in the above form. 


    function allFilesInDrive() {

        // Log the name of every file in the user's Drive.

        // its type & url as well

      

      var files = DriveApp.getFiles();

      

      while (files.hasNext()) {

      var file = files.next();

      Logger.log(file.getName());

        Logger.log(file.getMimeType());

        Logger.log(file.getUrl());

    }  

    }

    ]]>
    SKG
    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435527 2019-07-21T17:00:06Z 2019-07-21T17:00:06Z Never do for others what they can do for themselves. Never.

    It was through Kevin Lampe that I came across the name Saul Alinsky and his book Rules for Radicals. Kevin was one of the people I got to meet as part of IVLP, a professional exchange program by the US Department of State.


    The book did leave an impression on me. I recall gifting Aiswarya a copy around the time she was involved with the Break the Curfew campaign. What has stuck with me more is this one quote of his —” Never do for others what they can do for themselves. Never.”

    I have revised several of my approaches of how I go about my work and execution since. The quote has also made its way to our Credo at Rethink.

    ]]>
    SKG
    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435524 2019-07-21T16:58:17Z 2019-07-21T16:58:17Z Parkinson Law

    Work expands to fill the time allotted for it

    Growing up, I had come across Pareto law being quoted by several people on multiple occasions. Its only much later in life though I came across the Parkinson law.

    Pareto principle, also known as the 80 / 20 rule, is the theory that 80 percent of the output is determined by 20 percent of the input. Extending it to work, it then means that its 20% of our efforts that determines 80% of the results. The key to being effective and productive is identifying these 20% activities.

    Parkinson law postulates that work expands to the time that we allot for it. This is particularly true for work that is cognitive in nature. When we allocate shorter time buckets to work, we tend to find more efficient & productive methods to get things done. This is also the reason why shitty first drafts work.

    The two laws used in combination can enhance your productivity manifold.

    ]]>
    SKG
    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435518 2019-07-21T16:55:33Z 2019-07-21T16:55:33Z For no reason at all

    I am a fairly regular viewer of the YouTube talk show, Son of Abhish. A segment I really enjoy in that is one that is titled “For no reason at all”. The most inane things feature in it. To give an example, the recent one I watched had this Abhish pours tea segment in which Abhish literary pours tea from a pot for about a minute.

    The title brings to mind a For no reason at all episode from the early days of Startup Village. This was when we were operating out of 5k building. I was on travel and one day I wake up to this Harlem Shake video put together by our team. Guess it was one of their For no reason at all segment.


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    SKG
    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435334 2019-07-21T09:12:31Z 2019-07-21T09:12:31Z Just in time information

    In an information scarce economy, approach to information was just in case. In an information abundant economy, it should be just in time.

    Information was earlier scarce or unavailable and their storage & retrieval expensive. In such a society and economy, our approach was to navigate through a combination of memorisation and organising. I remember the time when our refrigerator doors used to be adorned with railway time charts meticulously collected from newspaper clippings. We don’t anymore. Real time train information is now available on a few taps.

    We have moved into an information abundant society & economy. Information is available, better, free and abundant. Our refrigerator doors are now devoid of information pamphlets and our work desks are devoid of reference books or diaries. In an information society & economy, the approach required to navigate is the ability to find the information (search) and the ability to decide which information to make use of (critical thinking).

    Stop organising into bookmarks and paper clippings or downloaded copies of files. Learn how to search and find information at the time of need. Just like how you would with your railway timings.

    ]]>
    SKG
    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435278 2019-07-21T06:34:28Z 2019-07-21T06:34:29Z Call App

    One of my first attempts at productivity using tech hacks was the Call app. This was during the early days of Startup Village and around when my call volumes started increasing manifold. Receiving 2 to 3 in call waiting by the time I was done with a call was turning out to be a regular occurrence.

    It was at this point that I attempted to try out an approach and got Zach to build me a custom mobile app for that. The app would cut the call automatically if not picked up within 3 rings and send a text to the caller. Not able to recall the exact body of text but it went something like this

    • Appears that I am unavailable now
    • Text me what its about so that I may get back / facilitate / call back.

    Shifting to this approach came with its share of hiccups and resistance from some quarters. Beyond that it started working well for me overall. For every 10 calls, I observed that I needed to call back in only 2 to 3 instances. Rest of the time, a brief text message would have sufficed saving the need for a call.

    Note: Will be attempting to locate the auto response text to update this post.

    ]]>
    SKG
    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435276 2019-07-21T06:33:14Z 2019-07-21T06:33:15Z Startup Village TVC episode

    Startup Village enjoyed significant mindshare & support of both the Government and society at large. Several things happened as a result of it. One such thing was this TV commercial for Startup Village by Government of Kerala that we all one fine day woke up. All of us in Startup Village also became aware of this after it started getting aired.

    Startup Village TVC that was initially aired by the Government

    It was also one of the days when the entire Startup Village fraternity come together in unison to pull off a truly collective feat of execution. While the intent on the part of the Government in terms of showering their support was appreciated, the execution left a lot to be desired. The messaging was quite off the mark and did not really represent what Startup Village stood for or advocated.

    The news of this commercial being aired started coming in probably early afternoon. Before we knew it, people reached out, started taking on roles voluntarily and another CAT production was underway. I also immediately entrusted few people from the Startup Village team to work with the concerned authorities and departments. The whole exercise was completed overnight and it was ensured that the revised TV commercial was aired starting the very next morning itself.

    The revised version.

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1435274 2019-07-21T06:19:05Z 2019-07-21T06:19:05Z Autoresponder on WhatsApp

    They are possible with WhatsApp Business

    If you ping me on WhatsApp, you will most likely receive an auto response. I have since been asked by several people how is it that one does that. The answer is Whatsapp Business. Its pretty much the same as WhatsApp and no, its not a paid App.


    I switched to WhatsApp Business ever since its launch in early 2018, primarily owing to this auto response ability. Whatsapp Business provides you the ability to set up auto responders. WhatsApp Business also comes in handy for those having two WhatsApp numbers and inclined to have them both on the same phone.



    Whatsapp Business on Google Playstore

    Settings page of WhatsApp business




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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1434820 2019-07-20T10:07:10Z 2019-07-20T17:51:03Z Wonderful world of strategy board games

    My board game stash

    I have always been a fan of board games. Ever since I was a kid and strategy board games that too. Fascination for this format got kindled the first time I came across a business world game at a neighbours place. Those plastic chips that served as money tokens in still etched in memory from that first brush with board games. I was also so young when this incident happened that Rekha and her friend did not allow me me to join them for the game even.

    Soon after I added board games also to my list of collections — aside of books of course. Books always used to be my first love — right from the Balarama’s and the Amar Chithra Katha’s that I got hooked on to in my early primary school years. So by the time I got to my teenage, I found myself having Business World, Game of Life, Monopoly and Scotland Yard in my stash along with my Secret Seven’s, Famous Five’s, Hardy Boy’s, Nancy Drew’s etc.

    While Monopoly is one of the most popular games and staple games in and around our circles here in India, its one which I never really developed a fascination for. Scotland Yard on the other hand got my juices flowing. I’ll have to admit though my my fascination for Scotland Yard was disproportional to the number of boards of that game I have played. One game I really got fascinated but never really got around to buying was Battleship. I remember playing this game at a distant relative’s place and feeling how exotic those boxes were.

    After those teenage years came a protracted phase of no board games. (Interestingly, there was a protracted phase of no books even). This I believe could be attributed to the age factor — you tend to get hooked on a lot more to outdoor games and video games in that age. While it was few more years away from NFS and Age of Empires becoming the rage, Contra & Maria had made their appearance by then and was soon to be followed by Road Rash, Call of Duty, Mortal Combat, FIFA etc. Predating all these titles was Prince of Persia — that one magnificent beauty of a game, and our good old Bricks. Cat was among the first games I played during my pre-KG years alongside Bricks on the Amstard PC that we had at home. This segment would not be complete without a reference to that. Not a lot of people I realised later had come across this. Was one spectacular game and truly deserved a lot more popularity.

    Contra was one epic game. Just listening to the music gives me the thrills still.
    Cat computer game

    Coming to think of it, there really are a host of competing interests vying for your attention during your teen years. So the decline or near absence in interest in those growing up years in books, board games et al is understandable and can be attributed to these several competing interests. Part of the reason though can be attributed to either availability or awareness of board games titles that can provide the levels of complexity and challenge that is required at a higher age level. In our common accepted knowledge, board games were for kids. When we mention board games, the imagery that pops up in most people’s mind is Snakes N Ladders, Ludo, Scrabble etc. The ones who have played or even heard of Game of Life, Scotland Yard etc, you were leagues ahead of your peers in terms of board game exposure.

    So beyond these titles, my interest also waned. And while at several points in time I attempted to rekindle it again, it was not to be. While the fascination remained as such in my mind, the playing experience did not quite match up — and would be peter off after a round or two. Tried different titles also but none of them matched even in game play experience to these titles. So naturally card games took over its place when table top games reappeared in my life — countless hours of hostel time went in 28 wars.

    So for a lot number of years, it was a perfect null phase for board games. Books as well as I had mentioned. I can’t think of a single instance of a board game or a single book that I have read in 5 years of my hostel life and 4 years of my engineering college life. And as far as board games go, it took several more years to end that lean patch. (Ending the lean patch with books happened a lot earlier though).

    One of the first books that I read soon after I broke out of the lean patch with books was Rich Dad Poor Dad. (Lean patch was broken with Future Shock). In that book, the author talks about a board game named Cashflow. It piqued my interest and wanted to explore it. This was soon after engineering and the cost turned out to be prohibitive — a title would cost around 200 USD. Few more years down the line, around when I was working in consulting with PwC is when I finally bought this game title. By then, I had more discretionary income and I also came across a 50% off offer which triggered the purchase. The game arrived and I revelled in it. It was a really good and really absorbing game. While most of the game elements were the ones that I was exposed to in those previous titles I have played, the gameplay experience was definitively several notches higher. Suffice to say, even after shelling out 100 USD for a game, I ended up not developing post purchase dissonance.

    It was around the same time I discovered this website boardgamegeeks. That was the first instance that I realised that and got exposed to many many more titles out there. Hundreds and thousands of titles. Most of the titles that topped their respective categories I had not even heard of. Having said that, my knowledge was limited to the gameplay experiences I have been exposed to so far, so the only action this discovery and realisation resulted in was this website getting clipped to my Evernote.

    The next inflection point happened in 2015. I was in Bangalore and one of my colleagues from Startup Village, Meera, mentioned to me about this board game place in Koramangala and that I should totally check it out. It’s fairly evident that I have been talking about my love for board games although I pretty much had only this Cashflow game to show for it (disproportionate fascination remember). And this reference from her is what led me to check out Dice N Dine. Run by an IIM grad who realised that a corporate career was not one of the things he wanted to get good at, this place was a board game lover’s paradise. The promoter is a board game lover and it shows. Walls filled with board games, some 200+ titles if not more and all carefully curated by the promoter himself. A proper board game cafe and not one of those cafes with a few board games. They recommend titles based on the your group and also help you pick up the game.

    Around the time I had discovered boardgamegeek website, I had stumbled on some online platform that lets you play Settlers of Catan. After getting hooked on to the game, I did try to create a physical version of it with cardboard and straws and all. Not because of my interest in putting this together but only since the title was not available in any of our stores. Given my poor craftsmanship, it was a shoddy implementation but the point here was to highly my efforts that demonstrated keen interest. A board game is fun only when you have the nice high quality pieces as well. So 6 years after my attempted shoddy implementation to play a physical version of Settlers of Catan, I first ended up playing the actual physical board game version with people physically hovering the board at Dice N Dine.

    I tasted blood. The first visit saw me being there for close to 6 hours straight. The very next day, I gathered few more people, hit the place as soon as it opened and stayed on till it closed at around 1am in the night — easily 12 hours plus of continuous board game time. Ended up doing that with another group the next day also. These two days can be treated as my proper initiation to the world of board games. As as I conveyed earlier, my personal preference is towards strategy board games. In those two days, I got introduced to Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Acquire, Cash N Guns etc and started getting acquainted to various styles of game play. For instance, almost all the game I have been exposed to till then had dices as a standard component ie a high element of chance. Games like ticket to ride and acquire did not even have dices — I never even knew that board games were even possible without dices. It’s indeed possible and how.

    So with this renewed vigour, I started researching online and started listing out titles one by one. And since almost all of these titles were not available in Indian stores, I resorted to finding out friends of mine travelling from US & Europe to help carry one or two pieces with them every time they travelled to India. This activity that spanned a bit over a year has resulting in me having a stash of over 20 titles. Countless hours of amazing and absorbing game time has gone in ever since the first title arrived. These days, when people travel, when they wish to get me something they ping and ask which board game and not which brand of alcohol.

    Since rediscovery my joy of board games, I have been spreading the joy to circles within my friends and family as well. Now my sister, my mom, my nephew & niece, my good friend Sandeep, my colleagues from Startup Village and fellow partners in crime at Rethink Gokul & Roopa, my uncle Sabu, colleagues from MobME days Vishnu & Sanjay, my colleagues at Rethink Arya & Aby, founders & talent from our collective I have worked with — Nikhil, Rohil, Johns, Jibin, Anoop Nayak, Arvind Sanjeev, Sethu, Fausya, Saleeh, Yadu etc, our volunteers with Rethink all have taken to board games and some of them have spawned their own respective board game circles as well.



    Just a few days back Vishnu ended up tagging me on Twitter after they had an engrossing session of Power Grid, which in turn served as a trigger to write this post. A quick note on PowerGrid — its a master piece. One of the most tastefully designed and well balanced games I have come across till game.

    Vishnu’s tweet that triggered this post
    For those looking at where to start, my guidance for gateway games would be Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne. Acquire and Power Grid can then follow. And should anyone wish to get themselves initiated into all this by joining in for a few rounds of games, just reach me and we can explore how it can be facilitated. After working on Breakfast Club the past couple years, I have already professed a keen interest in building out an equivalent for Board Games (Board game club?). And as a trivia, Saleeh has already earmarked a table in his new office for board games so we can always gather there.

    I do have a lot more thoughts surrounding board games — and strategy board games that too. But for now, I’ll just leave it at that. Closing with the strong advocacy that anyone who hasn’t tried it yet and is even mildly interested, you should absolutely check out board games. Every child and every adult needs and deserves to be introduced to this fascinatingly amazing world.

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1434819 2019-07-20T10:04:31Z 2019-07-20T10:04:31Z "What does your name mean?"


    Ever since I started traveling and meeting people from outside Kerala, I’ve been asked this question on multiple occasions: “What does your name Sijo mean?”. Let me get to the answer straight away. It does not mean anything. Its just Sijo!

    There was a time in Mallu land when a particular practice of naming their kids was popular. You mash up the sounds from the names of your parents and come up with a new name. So in my case, it ended up as Sijo — My father’s name is George and my mother’s name is Santha. They mashed up Sa and Go and tweaked it a bit to reach Sijo. In my sister’s case it ended up as Ginsy — Dad’s Go and Mom’s Sa put together and tweaked to reach Ginsy. Which parents sounds go first and second, well, there also is a pattern there. For the first kid, its dad’s name sound first and mom’s name sound second and for the second kid, it’s the other way around. From the third kid onwards, its whatever. But most people did not end up being tested on the limits of that rule since around that time, the cultural norm by then was to have two kids. (Research shows that you invest more and in fewer kids with rising prosperity).

    Around the time that I was born, quite a lot of kids used to be named this way. And that approach and the derivatives of that approach resulted in many in my generation having names like Sijo, Jijo. Lijo, Biji, Liji, Tojo etc. It’s a trademark Mallu thing and it was so natural for us to come across such a name. It was also a dead giveaway that someone is a Mallu. Given this context, I was quite surprised and amused when I used to come across the question “Is Sijo a real name?” from people outside Kerala. No Mallu would have ever asked me that question. It was both amusing and insightful.

    Side story: My Dad’s younger brother’s name is Somy and his wife’s name is Mini. With their names, you have a unique situation. You see, if you write the word in Mallu script and then you try to mash up the sounds, however you try mashing up the first and last sounds of both names, you will still end up with only Somy and Mini!. Note: It works that way only when you attempt in after writing their name in Mallu script and their kids are named Riya & Rony.

    So thats the story of the name Sijo. After the advent of Google, I discovered that “Sijo” is also a form of Korean short form poetry. I sometimes use this as trivia when the name related conversation presents itself; if I’m in a mood to extend the conversation that is.

    An example of a Sijo poem

    I was also equally amused when I came to realize that such a short and simple name as Sijo could have such diverse pronunciations. The versions I came across included, but were not limited to, Seejo, Sizo, Shizho etc with the most popular one being (way more popular than Sijo itself) Seejo. Infact, given this scenario (and also at times when Im not really in the mood for answering all those follow up questions) I just resort to introducing myself as George. Dare I say Kuruvilla. I would then have to go on to explain how I and that fast bowler Aby Kuruvilla are not related. This situation arises only if the person gets to get over the oddity of the name Kuruvilla. Sometimes the expressions are as if they were exposed to an absolutely foreign name. (On the Aby Kuruvilla piece for purposes of clarity, no, we are not related).

    This phenomenon is observed when I’m traveling in other parts of India. Have not run into similar situations while traveling abroad. When traveling abroad, people have asked me how do you spell your name or how do you say your name and stuff. But never, why such a name and what does that mean? Coming to think of it, how do you say your name is not a question I come across within the Indian context? Hmm. That’s also an interesting pattern.

    We come up with names names because we need some sort of an easier reference system to refer to that person or object when we communicate. Within that context, its not really required that every name should have a meaning. Do we really question or care why the table was named table and why coffee was named coffee? I think the practice of asking meaning of names has its roots from the origin of words itself. As language developed, most words were derived from other words (either from same language or other languages) mostly by building on their meaning or at times by making them sound similar. This approach was developed as an easier framework to come up with new words and also to serve as an intuitive system to learn and / or figure out words.

    We witness a similar approach when it comes to some of the words in the modern vocabulary and the bulk of it does get captured in urban dictionary. The modern urban dictionary frameworks have substantially been revamped btw. Sexting is fairly intuitive but Im still at a loss as to how the word twerking came about.

    Side story again: I very recently got traumatized when a friend of mine, who also happens to be a great fan of Victorian era and all things vintage, introduced me to this word “Albatross”. She said it was from a poem. I googled it up and ended up reading the urban dictionary definition first. I really shouldn’t have. To find out how bad it was, you will need to check that out for yourself. But don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. Now, I’m also wondering what sort of poems she would be reading. Coming to think of it, “Poorapattu” is also a poem afterall. Hmm.

    I have seen people going into fits of rage and irritation when someone misspells or mispronounces their names. Personally, I’m cool with this happening. I am not really particular about how people say my name and am really cool about the fact that my name does not have a meaning. The way I see it, not having a meaning for my name is one less thing that I need to be confine myself to live up to. After all, its just a name. At the end of the day, the name is just a string of sounds sounds patched together and its primary objective is to sort of serve as a unique identifier while communicating. To that end, the name Sijo serves just fine. Infact, it makes it easier on occasions to strike a conversation when you very clearly know that this is going to be one of the questions that pop up in the earlier parts of the conversation. Similar to how you know that the opening question in an interview will be “Tell me something about yourself”! Its like someone opening a chess game with a particular move. If you clearly know what the other persons move is going to be, you can very clearly prepare your approach to counter that and use it to your advantage even.

    And when seen from that context, I know that the conversation has passed the initial awkward stages and is transitioning into some sort of a comfort stage every time I hear this question come my way: “What does your name mean?”

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1434794 2019-07-20T06:58:35Z 2019-07-20T07:02:17Z Resist the temptation of that bigger round


    Dear early stage founder, 

    Resist the temptation of that bigger round. 
    Bigger need not be better.
    Bigger could mean larger dilutions, longer conversations and higher exit thresholds.
    Bigger could result in larger and persistent drain on your time & attention.
    And expensive mistakes. 

    Opt for smaller rounds instead.
    The ones that are strategic and close fast.
    Raise as little and as late as possible.
    And only from those who offer friendly terms.

    Rounds done right can propel.
    Done wrong could derail.
    Rob momentum and land you in dead ends.
    View fundraising process also as a potential distraction.
    One to be gotten over quickly and not having to revisit / regret. 
    Time and attention being most precious capital.

    Think organisation building.
    All attention and mindshare going into building product and customers. 
    An early stage round coming at the expense of building defeats the purpose and is just too costly. 

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1432579 2019-07-15T02:12:07Z 2019-07-15T02:22:39Z Rethinking import substitution in the knowledge age

    Import substitution is a trade and economic policy which advocates replacing foreign imports with domestic production.

    Over the past few years, considerable amount of my time and attention have been directed towards board games. Over the past year or so, fair amount of my time has also gone into dabbling with code — mostly Dialogflow, Telegram bots, Apps Scripts & most recently Jekyll (in that order). To pursue & advance on both these interests of mine, I have relied on the internet a lot.

    Videos, blogs and websites have been my primary sources for learning. Almost all the board game titles, I learned to play not by reading up the manuals but by viewing gameplay videos on YouTube by independent creators. Reviews and strategies for advanced game play were picked up by reading through several websites. Even when I had to refer to the manual, I have mostly googled it up on a need basis as against locating it from my cupboard or storing a digital copy locally on my machine.

    Similar has been the experience with coding also. While all the platforms I have listed above have fairly good official documentations, I have seen me use them as reference resources. What I used for learning was by and large tutorial videos and blogs / articles by independent creators. Beyond doubt, this is a better way to learn than official manuals. The statement in no way invalidates the need for official manuals. They aren’t mutually exclusive. They coexist and complement each other.

    What I wish to bring the attention however is to another point. Almost exclusively, all these videos and articles were of foreign origin and their creators foreign nationals (Amit Agarwal might have been the only exception). In all these instances, reputation and value is flowing out of our local economy and to another country. Each time I direct people to these resources as part of any guidance efforts, it is adding on to the value drain.

    This got me thinking about the need to advocate for local production of such knowledge resources. In the information & knowledge age that is the 21st century, the concept of import substitution has to be consciously extended to such digital resources. This is also one category of goods that can be created through cognitive contributions alone.

    In summary, start publishing tutorials. You will be helping yourself and also contributing to the development of your country. Your learning retention will be better, reputation will be enhanced and you will also doing your bit towards nation building.
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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1467271 2019-03-14T06:30:00Z 2019-10-18T07:14:58Z The challenge with internships in Kerala

    Context

    • The candidate should be able to spend 6 months (min 2) in internship.
    • The internship window should be fixed and know in advance.

    The present scenario

    • Exams keeps getting rescheduled.
    • Resulting in shortened and uncertain semester break periods.

    Interventions required

    • Exams to happen on time as per academic calendar.
    • One semester in final year to be kept aside for internship.


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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1467273 2019-03-11T06:30:00Z 2019-10-18T07:27:10Z Three useful Google Apps Scripts keyboard shortcuts

    shift + tab – Auto indentation of code command + R – Run code command + return – view logs

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1465889 2019-03-10T06:30:00Z 2019-10-14T06:37:44Z Ignore them both

    No single image has left so much of an impression on me as this one.

                                            Ignore them both & keep doing doing work

    I had come across in one of the articles from Brain Pickings titled Advise to Sink in Slowly. This illustration also helped me appreciate the role of art to convey in a powerful and profound manner.

    Ignore them both. Advise to sink in slowly indeed. I have also added a line to that in my head every time I reflect on this post — Keep doing good work.

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1467274 2019-03-09T06:30:00Z 2019-10-18T07:30:17Z Bring down cost of experimentation

    A guiding principle for all those interesting in instilling a culture of innovation or nurturing an innovative ecosystem: Keep bringing down cost of experimentation. Both economic and emotional.

    A welcoming environment where people feel the comfort to try things out and have fun with it is your responsibility. Start by being appreciative of people trying things out.

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1467275 2019-03-08T06:30:00Z 2019-10-18T07:47:46Z Slay hoaxes

    When in doubt, search.

    Arya’s article from the other day about fact checking brought to mind a website I have often relied on – hoax slayer. Just that very day, I also came across this page / segment titled hoaxposed in ThePrint.

    Hoaxes have always plagued humankind. Its nature has changed in the digital age. While its change in nature has resulted in hoaxes spreading wider & faster, slaying hoaxes has also never been easier. All it takes is a one search on the internet to ascertain the veracity of the information. If the information is not available or not carried by any trusted sources, then it's most likely a hoax. Even better, if it actually is a hoax, most likely it will throw up as a link itself mentioning it as a hoax.

    I have made use of hoax slayer on numerous occasions to convince people that a text message or mail is actually is a hoax. Just yesterday, I also ended up realising that hoax slayer website is the result of the efforts of one individual.

    Hoax-Slayer is owned and operated by Brett Christensen from his home office in Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. Bundaberg is a small city a few hours drive north of Brisbane and is famous for its rum, ginger beer and sugar cane. Brett founded Hoax-Slayer in 2003. He researches and writes most of the articles published on Hoax-Slayer and manages the day-to-day-running of the site. 

    From the hoax slayer website

    Taking a cue from Brett, each of us can also do our bit towards the phenomenon and social menace of hoaxes. Each time we come across questionable information or appeals to forward information, we can commit to take out a moment to do a search & verify. Should it turn out to be a hoax, we could also share back the hoax slaying information. Both these actions, together and individually, can contribute to curbing the propagation of hoaxes. Armed with the sword that is the internet, each of us can be hoax slayers ourselves.

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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1467276 2019-03-07T06:30:00Z 2019-10-18T07:54:22Z Auria Kathi, the AI artist

    An interesting 20% collaboration project of Sleeba Paul & Fabin Rasheed.

    Today’s Office hours call was with Sleeba Paul, an ML professional and a GECT (MTech) alum. Few days back I had received a note from Sleeba, appraising me about a project he had put together along with his friend Fabin Rasheed, a designer with Adobe.

    On 2019 Jan 7th, we’ve launched Auria Kathi. She generates a short poem, draws an abstract art based on the poem, and then colours the picture depending upon a mood. All these creative tasks are done without any human intervention. Everything from her face to art to voice is artificially generated. We try to push the limits of generative art here. Auria is envisioned as a hub for artificial artistry. In the coming days, she will be creating more varieties of artificial digital art.

    Excerpt from Sleeba’s email note about the Auria Kathi project

    Sleeba mentioned that this was a project that he was pursuing on the side and stemmed out of curiosity. Auria has made it to the 12th edition of the Florence Biennale 2019 under the under the contemporary digital art section. While Sleeba has reached out for guidance on raising funds for the their travel to participate in the Biennale, my interest in having a chat with him was based on my sheer interest and curiosity in their work. What I wished to understand was how they came up with this project and what their plans were with it going forward. My objective was also to nudge them towards different use cases that could be explored with their present project or with the underlying capability.

    For those who wish to check out Auria, she is on both Instagram and Twitter and will be posting daily for next year.

    Links


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    tag:notes.sijokuruvilla.in,2013:Post/1467281 2019-03-05T06:30:00Z 2019-10-18T08:00:58Z Americorps

    It’s time we shifted our policy making towards such well designed programs.

    It was during my IVLP that I came across the Americorps. Americorps is a voluntary public service program, supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors.. The objective of the program is to improve lives and foster civic engagement.

    Members commit their time to address community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks etc. The members rewarded for their contributions through living cost stipends and education credits.

    Members may be provided low financial compensation in the form of cost-of-living allowances, student loan deferment, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and the Americorps Education Award.

    The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is a United States government program that was created under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (CCRAA) to provide indebted professionals a way out of their federal student loan debt burden by working full-time in public service.

    The AmeriCorps Education Award is granted to members who are serving, part-time or full-time, in participating programs through Americorps. After completing a term of service, Americorps members are eligible to receive the education award to pay education costs at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans.

    What was striking to me about the design of the program was how they had tied the rewards to education credits. What was even more striking was that the education rewards can also be transferred to your child, (including step-child, foster-child, grandchild, or step-grandchild). There are few safeguards also put in place. There are limitations on the numbers of terms an individual can serve and the maximum value of education award an individual can receive. Education credit transfer is allowed only for those who are over 55 years of age as well.

    By combining service with education credits, it incentivises people to both take up service roles and pursue their education. For young adults, they get to do service roles at an age where you are most idealistic, stand to gain some professional experience while contributing and also get to reduce their cost of education. For seniors, they get to contribute their expertise and time to meaningful service roles while also affording the ability to gift education credits to their children.

    Every country and society needs people, and qualified people particularly, contributing time to public service. A well designed program similar to Americorps has the potential to attract more and qualified talent to public service. I also find this education credits approach better than the one hinged on market salaries to attract talent to public service roles. Studies have also found that participation in Americorps strengthened civic attitudes and made members more likely to choose careers in public service.

    It’s time we shifted our policy making towards such well designed programs.

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