Category: People & Society (Page 2 of 7)

Bug Industries: A Game for Programmers

I’m a sucker for new tabletop, card, dice, pretty much whatever games. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see this kickstarter. The game is called Bug Industries. Each player is in charge of a project and they need to de-bug their project first to win.

kickstarter bug industries logo characters art sarah kohl blog

The game is simple, but it looks to be hilarious and enjoyable. It’s also just a great way for non-programers to get a sense of programing culture. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a programer even though I dabble. I simply think this would be great to play with say, a marketing department, so they can understand the frustrations that tech teams experience.

bug industries new game infographic how to play board game for programers

They described the “atmosphere” of their game a bit in their official press release and I had to include it. These guys certainly have a sense of humor!

“Only four bugs left. Then you win the game. You roll the dice. A four – perfect! But the action dice shows that you have to draw a bug card. It is… the godfather of Bug Industries, the stag beetle. The meanest bug of them all. He looks at you with that dung-eating grin and gives you 16 new bugs…”

The group behind this game made a fantastic promo video that you should watch if you’re even a little interested in the game. It goes over a bit of how you would play the game as well as introduces some of the characters.

The game is meant to be played in under 20 minutes. Of course, because programers built it, they actually ran programed simulations to make sure that it’s guaranteed (almost always) to be a 20 minute game.

bug industries game developers team photo sarah kohl blog kickstarter

This is the group of handsome gents who came up with this great game idea.

My personal favorite character is The Lady. She’s a mantis, because of course she would be. She’s all about making your life more difficult by misleading you into making bad choices. That’s probably how I was as a manager. (I hope not though!)

bug industries characters board game for programers kickstarter sarah kohl

I do really love the art style used for these guys and I have a feeling this is going to be a great game. If you want to get your own copy of Bug Industries check them out on Kickstarter and make a small donation. Don’t worry, they will ship internationally!

Some Great Things About Florida

Florida is known around the US for providing the country with strange and disgusting news stories. From people being swallowed by gators, to junkies  accidentally burning down landmarks, Florida knows how to capture headlines with class. After spending a bit more time down south I might be starting to understand why.

You Can Buy Alcohol ANYWHERE

In New York we don’t tend to have beer and liquor sold in the same store. This is because wine and liquor can only be sold in designated liquor stores, where as beer can be sold in grocery stores. I am actually pretty jealous of Flordia on this one if I’m being honest because when I say anywhere, I do in fact mean anywhere.

Target, Walmart, and yes, the Dollar Store all have a section for wine and beer. The selection isn’t as varied as what I see in our NY liquor stores, but oh the convenience!

sarah kohl liberty creek single serve boxed wine florida

You Can Buy Single-Serve Boxed Wine

I love good wine, but I appreciate the bad, cheap wine for it’s convenience. With that in mind how can I not marvel at single-serve boxed wine? I suppose 3 glasses of wine might be a bit more than “a single serving,” but even still I’m amazed.

As I stared at the box, the only person I could think of buying this were the homeless. Thank goodness the box suggested some alternative reasons you might need a small box of strong & cheap wine! To quote the box directly:

“Our Pinot Grigio is light-bodied with hints of citrus fruits and notes of ripe apple. Pinot Grigio will pair perfectly with light pasta dishes and fresh green salads. It’s a great wine to take on a camping trip or a weekend getaway.”

When translated from Marketing Speak means roughly: “This is a wine. We didn’t use the best, but we might not have used the worst ingredients. This will go well with your can of cold spaghetti O’s, beef ravioli, or a head of iceberg lettuce. This package is extremely mobile and discrete so you can drink anywhere you want, you lush.”

You Can Get More Than Just Food Delivered

I, like many lazy people, love GrubHub. Pretty much everywhere I go I check to see what my delivery options are. It’s some sick obsession. I can’t help it. Imagine my surprise when I realized I could get not only hot food, but groceries delivered to my door in Florida! Beaches, lax alcohol polices, and grocery delivery via GrubHub? No wonder why people move here.

As I browsed the grocery list dreaming of all the wonderful orders I could place for over-priced TP and toothpaste I found the most hilarious offering by far, condoms. Condoms in and of themselves wouldn’t be that weird to see on this list, but they were the only item that had multiple options. Can’t be picky when ordering generic shaving razors, but don’t be afraid to scrutinize your condom order!

sarah kohl funny grub hub delivery options florida

In all seriousness, Florida is pretty great. They get picked on a lot, but there is a reason so many people choose to live here. I’d be a liar if I said our fresh water beaches in New York were comparable to the National shoreline, and whats more, you can bring your single-serving of boxed wine!

Credit Card Threats While Traveling

Today there are a lot of different tech threats that travelers have to worry about. Often times, the threat is to your credit card. Travelers encounter all kinds of credit card theft and there is no shortage of new methods being used. Here are a handful of new and old tricks being used to gather your information and ways you can protect yourself.

credit card theft method mobile card reader - more details on

Card Readers

Processing cards has never been easier. Unfortunately, that holds true for legitimate businesses and criminals alike. This new trick requires a mobile payment processing terminal (as seen in the picture) and the target to be carrying a card with an RFID tag. These credit cards can process transactions without swiping the magnetic strip. The credit card thief exploits this by punching an amount into their credit card processing terminal then hovering the device over other people’s pockets in a crowded area. This works particularly good at conventions or on public transportation. The scammer and the mark never even need to make physical contact and you won’t know what happened until after the scammer is long gone.

How to Protect Yourself

This one is one of the easiest attacks to protect yourself against. All you need is an RFID blocking sleeve for your credit cards. You can get them from Amazon for next to nothing and they generally come with Passport RFID tag protectors too! (Most passports contain an RFID chip that would allow someone to scan your information, this would prevent that.)


Card Skimmers

Scammers looking to get many credit cards in one heist use card skimmers. Skimmers attach over legitimate credit card processing terminals then copy and store the information from every card that passes through them. Again, the mark is unaware anything is happening since the transaction will process as normal. Often times these are attached in conjunction with a small camera to catch any pin numbers that might be needed. They are generally placed on easily accessible credit card readers like the ones you see at gas stations, ATMs, vending machines, and other kiosks.

How to Protect Yourself

The best defense here is to familiarize yourself with the card readers you frequently visit. This is harder when traveling so if you have to use an unfamiliar credit card terminal tug and wiggle the slot where you insert your card. These skimmers are meant to be removable unlike genuine credit card terminals. If you do find yourself with a skimmer in your hand, don’t take it with you. Sometimes the scammer is watching the terminals. The best thing you can do it call the police.


Unsecured Wifi

Unsecured wifi paired with http site logins can be dangerous. People on the same network as you can share files and view some of your activity. If you’re visiting http sites then they can see every page you’re visiting. This is why any sites that deal with financial information require the domain to be https. If you’re visiting https sites then anyone viewing your browsing habits would only see domains, not the specific pages. Unprotected wifi has become more of a threat as people use their phones and tablets for more important tasks such as checking email, financial accounts, and pay bills on the go. Your phone is just a small computer. All the same caution that you would use connecting your PC to a open network should be used with your phone.

How to Protect Yourself

It’s best not to connect to public wifi networks, but Free Wifi signs are appealing when you want to quickly check things. Generally, you should be okay as long as you avoid any logins on a public network. For accounts that offer 2 step verification, turn that on! It can be a hassle, but having your email account compromised is worse, trust me.


Restaurant Shell Game

This is more specific to the United States than any of the previous scams. If you didn’t know, in the United States, most times you go to a sit-down restaurant the waiter will bring you your check in a sleeve. You place your card in the sleeve, they take the sleeve and your card away from the table and return later with a final receipt for you to sign and leave your tip. In that time, some nefarious wait staff have been known to skim your credit card information. This is even more common at bars where you entrust your card with the bartender to open a tab.

How to Protect Yourself

Your best defense here is you. There is no polite way around this situation in the United States, but there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your card will be stolen. For starters, familiarize yourself with your waiter’s name. Refer to them by name at least once to give the impression you would remember them if they tried to take your information. Aside from that, don’t let your card be out of your sight longer than needed. When people have their cards stolen at bars it’s often because they left the bar that night without closing their tab. It gives even a small time crook the chance to easily swipe your information at closing.


Through this post I know I referred to credit cards specifically, but these same tricks can be used on debit cards. In fact, it’s more important to protect your debit card than your credit card. A credit card has buyer protection where as a debit card does not. Fraudulent purchases made on a credit card are instantly credited back to your card, but if they are made on a debt card that money isn’t credited back to you until the financial institution has completed their investigation. That can take weeks or months! So if you’re traveling with a debt card, STOP!

“There are no strong men, there are no beautiful women. At least, you can die knowing this and you will have the only possible victory.” – Charles “Hank” Bukowski


Women-Owned Comic Publisher Kymera Press

It’s been awhile since Comic Con, but believe it or not there is still a pile of independent comic books that I haven’t had a chance to read! I’ve just started to get around to checking out the comics I picked up from the Kymera Press booth. I hadn’t heard of the company before Comic Con, but I have to admit I’ve been itching to get to these since the show.

Kymera Press is a comic publishing company that was founded in 2013 for women. It’s owned by women, and intends to help women succeed in the comic industry. Their writers, artists, and editors are women which I found immensely cool. I only had a brief moment to speak with them because it was the last day and I was booking it to pick up comics, but even in that short amount of time they left a lasting impression on me. This group of women explained that they wanted to be better represented in the comic industry so instead of fighting their way though other companies they decided to start their own!

Obviously, thats exactly the kind of attitude I can relate to. The women in the company seem to come from all walks of life and span generations. With these varied perspectives on life, I would expect the comics to be better than the average indy comic. They currently have three series out which I find impressive for the small team.

Of course, probably the most important part of Kymera Press’s existence is the testament to the growing interest in comics among women. Hopefully companies like Kymera Press can help get a few female comic artists and writers to the level of fame that so man men have achieved in the industry.

Free Space Tourism Posters From NASA

For the past 50 years people have been obsessed with the idea of going into space. We are closer than ever to making it possible for average people to visit space with the launch of companies like SpaceX. The idea of space tourism seems to be an exciting thought for even the scientists at NASA. They recently released a series of retro posters designed to be marketing propaganda for fictional space travel programs. Anyone with even a mild interest in space or design will enjoy these.

free nasa space tourism program poster

A few of the planets mentioned in this poster series by The Studio at JPL aren’t the ones you learned for your model of our solar system. My favorite inclusion is Ceres which orbits around Neptune. Even if you knew nothing about the planet, the poster gives the right impression. It’s a cratered surface like the moon, and recently it was confirmed by NASA that the planet does have a trickle of water. It’s quite a bit further to travel than say Mars, but it seems like it would be a potential candidate for the fictional space colonization movement.

ceres free nasa space tourism program poster

A runner up poster for both design and feasibility as a space colony is Kepier 186f. It’s name isn’t great, but the planet shows the most promise as a New Earth. (And yes I do think the human race would be so unoriginal as to re-name the next habitable planet New Earth.)

Kepler 186f free nasa space tourism program poster

Every poster in the series is beautifully done, and they are all available for free to print. I expect every X Institute of Technology campus will be littered with them by the end of the week. If you would like to see the full collection and print off some copies for yourself please visit NASA’s website.

enceladus free nasa retro space tourism posters

Pascal Campion’s Art of Love

I bought a print from this artist at a convention not too long ago, but thought writing about the artist’s work around Valentines Day would be more appropriate. Many of his illustrations revolve around the many flavors of love that people experience throughout their lives.

Sarah Kohl Pascal Art Valentines Day
The one in particular that I purchased is a couple taking a dip in a wooded area on what one can only imagine is a warm summer day. (It made me chuckle a bit when I bought it because he went to sign it then realized he had pre-signed it so he pretended to sign it again and handed it back.) While I loved all of the art I looked at, I felt an immediate attraction to this particular illustration of his. I have many found memories at nearly every age of swimming outdoors with people who are important to me. Of course, I also appreciated that not every picture of his depicts romantic love. Some are the love a pet shows it’s owner, others are the love a child shares with the world, but every illustration is guaranteed to stir a happy feeling inside of you.

The artist’s story is fairly interesting as well. Pascal Campion was born in New Jersey, but received his formal art education in France. When looking at his work, it’s my opinion that this has had a significant impact on not only his art style, but his art subjects. In particular, the soft memory-like style and the focus on happy emotions in his digital paintings reminds me of French cinema and my personal experiences in France. His work shows a love for life and a passion for sharing it with people. If I had to guess, this is probably why he was initially interested in doing work for educational games. I would highly encourage everyone to browse through his work, even if you don’t intend to buy, it’s sure to bring a smile to your face!

Rochester Airigami Comes to an End

If you aren’t familiar with airigami, then you probably didn’t go to RIT. My college had a balloon artist on staff full-time and his fantastic work as well as the work of others has inspired a community of balloon enthusiasts in Rochester. Once a year, they all gather together to put together a huge balloon exhibit that can be viewed for free.

This years exhibit was on display all last week concluding Sunday evening with “the popping ceremony.” I couldn’t stay to watch that though, it would be too painful to watch!


I did however spend a good deal of time walking around admiring all of the great balloon creation. This year’s exhibit, “Journey on the Genesee” was pretty awesome. In previous years they had done a Jack in the beanstalk and a dinosaur display, but the local touch is nice.

One of the more interesting parts of the exhibit was in a small display case in the corner. It showed the 20 or so different types of balloons that were used in creating everything. My favorite was called like a geo-star balloon or something. It was a star with a hole in the middle! I had no idea a balloon like that even existed.

Venture Brothers Season 6 Sponsored by NY State Taxpayers

I love New York and I love the Venture Brothers. If you’re keeping up to date with the show (no spoilers) you might notice an image of New York State and some text fly by in the end credits. Most people probably wouldn’t know what it’s for, but after working for the local Economic Development Center I can spot those logos anywhere.

Venture Brothers Season 6 End Credits New York State Taxes Credit Economic Development in NY

This is the logo for recipients of the Empire Development tax credits.

The Venture Brothers is just one of the many TV shows produced in New York, likely for some of our juicy film credits. The program known as Governor’s Office for Motion Picture & Television Development is part of the Empire State Development program. Empire State Development is an organization tasked with handing out tax credits and exemptions within the state of New York. The logo you see at the end of the credits indicates that the show received some of these incentives.

You might be wondering, what is the reason for this program? Well, a few years back, I attended the Empire State Development annual meeting where they announced that they would shift the majority of tax credits to this exact program. All of the smaller counties in attendance were a bit upset. In general, this program only helps New York City. (On occasion scenes will be filmed in other cities, Spiderman had a shot filmed in Rochester, NY and all of Bruce Almighty was filmed in Buffalo, NY, but it’s more common to see production in NYC.) The intent behind these tax incentives hinges on the idea that the economy of New York is stimulated in the short term by purchases made during production and in the long term by tourism dollars spent  as people visit NY. There may be some truth to the theory that people visit places they are familiar with from TV and movies. The influx of spending on these credits may be the reason for our increased tourism rates in NYC over the past decade.

Getting back to the Venture Brothers, there are a few different tax credits they could be taking part in for this program. The only one mentioned in the credits is the 10% tax credit from post production. In essence, the state government gave them a 10% discount on all qualifying post-production costs. Not bad, but the important thing here is that if you’re a taxpayer in New York State you can take at least a little credit for the continued development of Venture Brothers! You paid for part of it after all.

On Occasion, Paranoia and Reality Meet

John Lang was 51 years old when he died. Reporters and investigators have yet to determine the cause of death. His body was found with stab wounds inside his burning house the other day. The more interesting thing about this story, is the the man thought he was going to be murdered for some time and made public declarations of this on his twitter and blog. At first glance, this stuff is insanely crazy to read. He writes like a paranoid delusional nut job, there’s no doubt about that.

“Last Thursday January 7th, 2016 a current employee at my work had their phone go missing. That same day a homeless guy comes to the shop parking lot asking if we want to buy his cell phone because he is hungry. Coincidence? I don’t think so. ” – John Lang

This man had been speaking out about the police for awhile. It seems to have started after his marriage fell apart, but possibly that’s just when he started vocalizing these thoughts. The local news site The Fresno Bee is filled with supporters of Lang’s theory. Some believe that his neighbors were undercover cops sent to keep an eye on him while others planned his death.

In truth, an outside agency would likely have to investigate this to see if there is any validity to his conspiracy theory, but the fact that he ended up murdered is strange. If it wasn’t the police, he at least had some reason to worry about being murdered.

This is one of those strange news stories I just couldn’t let go, but isn’t it possible, that this guys strange behavior is what made him a suspect of the police? It could very well have been a self fulfilling prophecy that the guy spouting all of these crazy theories would cause some concern and unrest in the neighborhood.

Either way, it’s worth looking into if you’re the sort of person who likes a good conspiracy theory.

Once Upon A Time The Card Game

This weekend I got together with some friends to celebrate one of them buying a new home. While chatting, we started playing a great card game called Once Upon A Time. As you might have guessed this is a story telling game based around fairy tales. No doubt, right up my alley.

The game itself is easy to explain, each player has 6 cards. One is an ending and the others are either characters, places, events, or something like that. The goal is to complete the group story being told using up all the cards in your hand. If can be interrupted by other players as they try to use up the cards in their hand, which makes for funny stories.

It does require a good number of people to play, but it doesn’t require much table space. The six or so of us played on a coffee table and there was more than enough room. The other thing it requires is an imagination. The session we had was particularly fun and interesting because of the mix of people we had. It was also somewhat fun because some of the people didn’t know each other and others hadn’t seen each other for years.

The rules were balanced very well to make sure all players were forced to participate and the cards are descriptive enough that it doesn’t require an immense amount of storytelling ability to play. If you can play Pickles to Pluto* you can probably play Once Upon A Time without much trouble.


*I realize most people probably don’t know what the game Pickles to Pluto is so I thought I would explain that. Back in the 90’s there was a TV show called, Phred on Your Head Show. One segment of the show included a game where you had to connect pickles to pluto in 6 steps or less. For example, pickles are stored in the refrigerator, the refrigerator is cold, ice is also cold, pluto is mostly ice. Not difficult at all. This is pretty much what you are trying to do with your cards when you see crown, well, and stepmother. 

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