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());

}  

}

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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




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.

"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?”