What Would Goal Buddy Say?

Support can make or break a goal. When we circulated a survey several months ago, asking the general public how (and if) they would use an app to help them achieve a goal, a large number of respondents indicated that lack of support was a primary reason that they had not met goals in the past. Support often comes from an external source – another human being close to you, typically – but powerful support also exists in electronic guises like social media platforms, forums, online discussion groups, and in apps.

Indeed, our own Goal Buddy app is intended to fulfill a support role for the user, lending motivation in a friendly but non-intrusive way. Like a friend would. The entire Saturday Morning Productions team has asked itself, when faced with a challenge, a conundrum, or a goal:

What would Goal Buddy say?

How can we make Goal Buddy’s “voice” (for lack of a better term) human? More importantly, how can GB’s communication with the user be tailored so that its messages are effective and welcome? Moreover, how can we strike the right tone? Some of us respond to drill sergeant-type orders, and others need less militaristic encouragement. Neither way is right or wrong, but it isn’t always easy to know which voice people (or oneself, for that matter) people respond to.

We thought about it this way: what would you say to a friend who had embarked on a grand journey towards a significant goal (one that, like virtually all huge goals) consisted of many smaller pieces? I would do my best to be kind, positive, and patient – all the qualities I value in my friends – but, at the same time, if my friend kept not doing what they say they wanted to do, I would ask them if that is indeed what they want. We all miss doing things from time to time (like if you get sick and can’t go for your daily run, for example), but if skipping out on things becomes a pattern, it may be time to reexamine the situation.

My own goal situation – the goal of joining EPS – has become a bit of a case study for Goal Buddy’s development (which is flattering and cool – I’ve never been a case study before!), and is timely because such a significant goal is inevitably comprised of many small hurdles that must be cleared before the giant, final, hurdle is conquered. It’s made a world of difference knowing that someone expects me to be at the gym every other day, but there are other things that don’t have an audience. Like studying for the entrance exams, keeping on top of current events, and remembering to keep a positive inner dialogue going. Sometimes, when a current of self-doubt slips into my mind, I ask myself: what would Goal Buddy say?

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The Scary Sun and Other Things


The very first Splash Screen. That sun can see dead people.

The very first Splash Screen. That sun can see dead people.

I spent the better part of last Sunday doodling on an ancient version of Photoshop (ver. 5.5, but I’m dating myself), working on the welcome screen for our Goal Buddy App. I laboured over rolling green hills (going to town with the ‘gradient’ tool), soaring mountains (gradient!) and ethereal blue sky (gradient!). It’s the first serious version of the splash screen yet, and I wouldn’t argue that the previous version was a strange three-way mix of scary, hilarious and creepy.

The previous version had “Creepy Sun” right in the middle of a painfully blue screen. The sun itself had a demented, crooked smile, and two eyes that didn’t quite point in the same direction. I think Chris named it “Creepy Sun.” In my own defense, it is really hard to draw with a mouse!

I was thinking about Creepy Sun the last time I was at the gym. I was dangling from the chin-up bar like a wounded orangutan. No matter which muscles I flexed, I couldn’t raise myself up. I’m really good at

The next version. 90% less creepy and 30% more inspirational.

The next version. 90% less creepy and 30% more inspirational.

the “down” part of chin-ups, though. I’ve got that down pat. I started to think, as I was hanging there, that I am still at the Creepy Sun stage of this whole law enforcement endeavour. I’m definitely sticking to the small goals I’ve set (i.e., exercise, studying for entrance exams, wearing aviator sunglasses every time I drive), but there is still a long road ahead. Just like designing the splash screen and other graphics for Goal Buddy, there will be many iterations and I don’t know quite how the end product will look, but stick with me and we will find out!

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Goals – One Bite at a Time

We have been in the “goals” mindset at SMP for a quite a few months now, as you’ve doubtless noticed. We (and by “we” I mean “Chris”) spend most of our time on the programming end of things, but also continue to learn about the psychology of goal-setting. We ponder: why do we achieve some goals but not others? Support? Determination? How realistic is the goal?

We set goals for ourselves and discuss them weekly. Mine have all been fairly pedestrian and, hence, very achievable. I felt a huge sense of satisfaction when I cleaned and organized the storage room, but knew that action was unlikely to alter the course of my existence. I practice the bass guitar three times per week. It feels great to rock out, but my downstairs neighbour just doesn’t share my appreciation of Billy Idol or Def Leppard (I can’t turn the volume above “2” or he thumps on the ceiling). It took me nearly two months to put the Christmas decorations back in the storage locker, and it felt good to finally get those cursed tote boxes out of my office.

We hoped, however, that making goals, seeing them through, and developing our Goal-Achieving App (or “Goal Buddy” as we call it) would go up and beyond the usual domestic tasks I’ve mentioned here. We want to help people achieve bigger things, like quitting smoking, achieving academic success, or sticking to a financial plan. I have a big goal too: find a career path that really excites me. I’ve been down many blind alleys these past few years, and it has been poignantly discouraging. I got an idea in my head a few months ago – before Christmas, I think – and I just couldn’t shake it. Maybe I should join the police force. I didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t ready to admit that I had a goal, because once you tell someone else, it becomes real and begets accountability. It was a bit scary, thinking of this new goal in all its enormity.

When I picked up an application package, I discovered that there were ten steps. Ten very complex steps. My stomach lurched a bit (and it didn’t help that I was sitting in my car, in the hot sun, with the windows rolled up). I wondered how (and if) I would get through them.

This is where real life and “Goal Buddy Development” life collided. Big goals can be very daunting. We wondered if earlier iterations of Goal Buddy were too focused on BIG goals. What if, instead, it helped you develop small behaviour changes each day? Because little goals eventually add up to big goals, right? What if, by setting a pattern of repeatable, small, positive changes, it could help you towards much grander ambitions? We are into the programming side of that already, and now the real-life analog must follow. I set a small, first goal: go to the gym every other day. It’s a start, and once I am doing that regularly, the other steps won’t seem as huge. It’s like that adage of “how to eat an elephant.” You can only do it one bite at a time.

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Stats tell you a lot…or do they?

I vividly remember my stats professor, back when I took my undergrad degree. He had a nearly unintelligible Croatian accent, barely spoke above a whisper, and liked to write on the overhead with squiggly scribbles as he spoke/whispered. In short, I could hardly understand him, hear him, or read what he was writing, but he instilled in me that statistics are among the most misused metrics out there.

I’ll explain why. It’s easy to say that “a majority of people believe in aliens.” Or that “the average weight of hamsters in Slovenia is 200 grams.” Or “90% of survey respondents agreed that a Provincial Task Force on Walking While Texting” is a good idea. What do these numbers really mean? What constitutes a “majority?” How many hamsters were weighed in Slovenia? Did the researchers take into accounts things like breed, age and sex of the hamsters? Of this “90%” did the researchers consider things like: how many people did you ask? What was the survey return rate? Are the responses liked to other influencing factors? It’s just to easy to use words like “average” or “majority” and not give the context of sample size. It makes a pretty big difference if you asked 10 people in a survey versus 1000. How would you know if those 10 people were representative of the general population?

We at Saturday Morning Productions collected some data over the past two months, regarding people’s perceptions of a Goal Achieving App. We wanted to gauge people’s interest in using a goal app, as well as ascertain what types of goals they might want to focus on.

When we looked at the raw data, we found that 85% of respondents were interested in a goal-achieving app. But when you look at the numbers behind that, it is actually 129 people out of 152 respondents. Are those 152 respondents a representative sample of the entire population? Do they equally represent age, sex, socio-economic factors, and other demographic categories that might affect the outcome? We have no way of really knowing, plus that level of detail would be something akin to a graduate thesis.

We found that 83% of respondents had set goals in the past – that’s 125/100 if you’re wondering. When people did set goals, saving money (59%), improving health (58%) and being physically active (61%) were singled out as being important. That was reassuring for us, because in our early interations of Goal Buddy, we had singled those out too. It was good to see that what we saw as important goals aligned with what most people saw as important!

The numbers dropped when we asked if people were successful in achieving those goals. Only 36% (44/124) were successful in achieving their chosen goal. When asked why they did not, motivation emerged as the most frequently implicated factor (39% of the time). We asked survey respondents what they needed to help them achieve a goal, and only 1% said an app would be the solution. Instead, people pointed out support (37%) and motivation (51%) would be more influential.

So if you look at that last set of numbers, it seems like survey respondents don’t think an app is a good idea. It might seem that way on the surface, but the whole point of an app is to provide motivation (such as the drive to keep beating your personal best when you start keeping track of what you are doing) and support (through an online community, for example). It’s not really about the app – it’s the philosophy behind it. That’s where numbers and stats don’t always give the whole picture.

As much as I enjoy analysing numbers, it’s important to keep them in a broader context. Even my stats prof hammered that point home, and he’d grown up behind the Iron Curtain where you don’t analyse numbers…numbers analyse YOU!

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Connect to Android Emulator from VirtualBox

I do all my development inside virtual machines.  This allows me to keep separate development environment for different projects and clients.  I wanted to keep this tradition for developing mobile applications but that turned out to be a bit of challenge.

The Xamarin Android Player and the Genymotion emulators both use VirtualBox to emulate the Android phone or tablet.  This works great if you don’t develop in a virtual machine.  If you develop inside a virtual machine you run into a major problem:  you can’t run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine.

At least with VirtualBox.  It appears that other virtualization products, such as Parallels and VMWare can do this but I use VirtualBox so that was a no go.

That said, I did try installing VirtualBox inside a guest Windows 10 VirtualBox but that didn’t work.  No surprise there as all the documentation said it wouldn’t but I’m stubborn/stupid that way.

The solution is to have two separate virtual machines running at the same and have them talk to each other.  The first guest virtual machine is your development environment (e.g. Windows 10, Visual Studio 2015, etc).  The second virtual machine is the Android emulator.  To do this you will need enough RAM to run both at the same time.  I would also recommend a SSD hard drive.  In my case I use 9 GB of RAM (5 for development environment virtual machine, 2 for the Android emulator, and 2 GB for my base OS).

Memory Used

To hook into the emulator from your development environment for debugging, some VirtualBox configuration is required.  First, install your Android emulator.  During the install of the of the emulator it will prompt to install VirtualBox but you can ignore this if you have VirtualBox already installed.

Then, download and install a virtual device such as HTC One or Nexus S (KitKat).

Xamarian Android Player Installed Devices

Genymotion Installed Devices

Open up VirtualBox and you should see the emulators as machines.  I had to black out some of the machine because they are named after clients.  The Android emulators are listed at the bottom with the last one being the one created by the Xamarin Android Player and the second last one created by Genymotion.

Virtual Box With Android Emulators

Check the network settings for the emulators.  There should be two network adapters.  One set to a Host-only Adapter and one set to NAT.

Nexus S KitKat Adapter 1

Nexus S Kit Kat Adapter 2

The one setting to pay attention to is the Name setting for the Host-only Adapter.

Note: For some reason the Xamarin Android Player (at least version 0.6.5) will install a new Host-only Adapter.  So instead of saying “VirtualBox Host Only Ethernet Adapter” it might say “VirtualBox Host Only Ethernet Adapter #2”.  In either case take note of this name.

Now open up the network settings for the development environment virtual machine.  You probably only have one network adapter enabled and it will be either set to NAT or Bridged.  Whatever the case leave it as is.  Then enable a second adapter and set it to Host-only Adapter.  Then make sure the Name field is the same as the emulator name you noted above.

Ws Win10 Vs2015 Adapter 1

Ws Win10 Vs2015 Adapter 2

Now start up your development virtual machine.  In my case it’s a Windows 10 with Visual Studio 2015 with Xamarin.  Inside Visual Studio click the Open Android Adb Command Prompt button.


Then type

adb connect <IP address to Android emulator>

To determine the IP address of the Xamarin Android Player click the gear icon.

Xamarian Android Player IP Address

To get the Genymotion IP address you need to go to the VirtualBox interface, select the running VM, and then click show.  The IP address is listed there.

Virtual Box Show Button

Genymotion IP Address

After you run the adb connect command you should see something like:

$>adb connect
connected to

As you can see it uses port 5555.  If you can’t connect make sure port 5555 on your host machine is open.  In Windows you need to open this port in your public networks firewall.

Now in Visual Studio your new emulator connection should auto-magically appear.

Emulator In Visual Studio Run Button

When you click run it should compile your application and upload it to the emulator for debugging.  If everything works you should see something below.  Notice the breakpoint has been hit.

Break Point In Visual Studio

In your emulator, assuming you continued after the breakpoint, you should see your application in the emulator.

Welcome To Xamarin Forms In Emulator

Welcome To Xamarin Forms In Genymotion

Potential Problem

There is only one problem I’ve encountered.  Sometimes the uploading of the application to the emulator is very slow.  Like very, very, very slow.  So slow it’s basically stuck.  During compile and deploy in Visual Studio you will get stuck at the “Installing <something>” line.

Android Emulator Stuck In Visual Studio

You can also see the problem if you try to adb push something.  It will look like:

adb push -p <*.apk> /data/app
Transfering: 327680/16414148 (1%)

It will be stuck at some low percentage and might move up a percent in a couple minutes. For some reason if you do a pull of a large file it won’t get stuck and will be downloaded from the emulator in a couple seconds.

My guess is this is a problem with VirtualBox networking but don’t quote me on it.  Just for reference I’m using VirtualBox 5.0.8 with extensions installed.  Anyway, to fix the problem you need to refresh the Host-only adapter.

While your development environment virtual machine is still running, open up the host-only adapter configuration.  Then make a change to the adapter to force it to refresh. I usual change the Promiscuous Mode setting.  It doesn’t matter what you set it to.  Then click OK to force the refresh.

Refresh Development VM Host Only Adapter

It might also work if you refresh adapter inside the guest Windows machine but I haven’t had as much luck doing that.  If you know of a different way to fix this problem please let me know.

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How Goal Buddy Got Its Name

We are working away on “Goal Buddy,” our goal app (also known as “your little goal-achieving friend). I’ve noticed that the most popular apps have short and catchy names (which are certainly more effective and memorable than something like thesuperbestappeverthathelpsyoubeyourverysuperbestself). Goal Buddy’s name came about back in November when I was working on some concept sketches, sitting at the dining table and hoping that some bolt of inspiration would find me.

I suppose it did – I was sketching a potential “welcome screen” for the app and I just wrote down “Goal Buddy,” thinking it would be an interim name that could be changed later when we thought up something we liked better. It stuck, though, and we liked what it evoked: a little friend that is there when you need them and helps you achieve whatever goals need achieving.

Up until last week, I did not really delve into the name’s origin more deeply, until I remembered the first month of my last year of grad school. Let’s just say that I wasn’t happy to be there. My degree took longer than I thought and seemed to be flummoxed with roadblocks every which way I turned. My supervisor wanted me to work in my office five days a week instead of working at home (I can see his point. To be fair, I’d become a little too complacent in my PJs at my apartment.). I dreaded it, though, and I wondered how I would see the process through to the end.

I shared an office with another woman who was in the same situation. We both had to finish our degrees and neither of us wanted to be there, so we made a pact. If one of us was in the office, we both had to be. No more staying home just because we didn’t really feel like going to school. We would keep each other accountable. She joked that we would be each other’s “Accountability Buddy.”

I don’t have enough space to adequately described how that year played out (let’s just say it was interesting), but having my Accountability Buddy there really made a difference. Knowing that someone cared whether I was there or not, whether I was making an effort (or not), and whether I actually finished the task I set out to do (I did finish!), was unquestionably a determining factor.

That is how GoalBuddy got its name. That name may evolve as the app evolves, but for now, it reminds me of that good friend who motivated me to finish my schooling. We hope that GoalBuddy will be the Accountability Buddy in your life too, once our little app is out there in the big world! Stay tuned.


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Mini-Compressor and Windows 10 Upgrade

We’ve recently had some inquiries regarding Mini-Compressor on Windows 10. More specifically, customers who have been using it without problems, and are now experiencing trouble after upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8.

We hope this will help those of you potentially with this problem.

First of all, Mini-Compressor works on Windows 10.  The problem seems to be when users upgrade to Windows 10.

After successfully upgrading to Windows 10, you need to uninstall Mini-Compressor then re-install it. If you’re not sure how to do this, here are the steps.

1. Go to your Windows Start bar and search for “Control Panel”


2. In Control Panel, click on “Uninstall a Program” under “Programs”

Control Panel



3. In the Name column, right click on “Mini-Compressor” and choose “Uninstall”.


This should take a few minutes.  Once it is finished, “Mini-Compressor” will no longer appear in the Name column and we will start fresh.

4. Go to where you downloaded* the Mini-Compressor Install program and double-click on it to install.  It should take a few minutes.

5. When it is complete, you will be able to right-click on your photo file in the Windows File Explorer, and get the Mini-Compressor menu choice in your right-click menu, just like before.

* Remember, after you have purchased Mini-Compressor once, you can re-download it from www.saturdaymp.com/downloads when needed.  Just enter the email address that you used to purchase Mini-Compressor.  A download link will be emailed to you.

If you still need help, by all means, send us an email at support(at)saturdaymp.com, describing what errors or problems you got along the way.

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Surprises Using Azure

Are you a MSDN subscriber?  Thinking about using Azure because of the sweet sweet credits you get for being a MSDN subscriber?  Maybe you want to switch because they are one of few cloud providers that have Windows operating systems.

Well I did switch.  Below are features, or missing features, in Azure that surprised me.

Azure has two interfaces and APIs

When login to Azure for the first time it asks if you want to use the new portal.  Sure you say, why not.  Then you go to create a new virtual machine in the new interface.  When creating the virtual machine you get asked if you want a legacy VM or a fancy new type of VM.  A new VM you say.  Great says Azure and you create the VM.

It’s only much later that you find out the new VMs won’t work with any existing tools.  They have their own API and Powershell commands so plugins like the TeamCity one don’t work.  Hurray.  Also all the documentation you will find will mostly talk about the old lecacy system.  Finally the new GUI interface is still missing some stuff, like creating a IP address.  You can only do that with PowerShell commands.

Starting a Virtual Machine is Slow but Gets Better

When you start a virtual machine in Azure it takes longer then you think it would.  That said once it’s up and running performance is acceptable.

You can’t create snapshot of Azure

This was my biggest surprise.  I was used to creating a snapshot, doing something crazy on the virtual machine, then restore the snapshot.  Super useful for testing a new upgrade for staging.  For some reason you can’t do this with Azure.  I have no idea why.

Azure Has Lots of Ready to Go VM Images

Although you can’t take snapshots Azure does have lots of ready to go out the box virtual machine images.  This includes development images such as VS 2015, Windows Servers, and even various flavours of Linux such as Ubuntu.

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Happy New Year from Saturday Morning Productions!

It’s almost time to put the Christmas decorations away, take down the lights, and finish digesting that turkey we’ve all been working on. We hope you’ve all had wonderful holidays surrounded by those you love as well.

We’ve been working on something else too (aside from that turkey, and I think I’m nearing the bottom of the roaster now) – our goal app. We’ve written about it a bit already, touching more on the technical aspects of things but also about its inception. So where are we now in the process?

“Our Little Goal-Achieving Friend” (as its come to be known) has taken on a life of its own. At the beginning of December, Ada, Alice and I all worked separately on concept sketches. What would the screen shots look like? How would things we worded? How would concepts flow from one to another? When we reconvened, we were all impressed with each other’s work, and I was particularly struck with how complementary our skill sets were. Alice’s thorough and sensitive wording really worked with the vision we have for our app. Ada’s technical acumen meant that logical flow from one step to the next made sense. I dare say my artsy side came in handy – I had a great time drawing how I imagined each screen looking. We combine the best of our collective ideas and met a week later, refining and revising our vision.

So where are we now? 2016 is around 72 hours away. Once again, I am caught by surprise that the year went by so quickly (even though I know it’s coming, it’s always a bit of a shock). I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions, but our goal at Saturday Morning Productions is to have our “Little Goal Achieving Friend” up, functional, on your phone and helping you be your best self ever. So I guess our goal is to make something that helps make goals.

That must be a meta-goal.

Happy new year, everyone!

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Merry Christmas!

Chris, Ada, Alice, and Liv will be taking some time off to spend time with our family and friends over the holidays.  And hopefully find some time to see the new Star Wars movie.

The basement office will be dark, well darker than usual, from December 24th to January 3rd.  You can still try to contact us but it might take us a couple days to respond to you.

We wish you all the best over the holidays.

P.S. – We are working a new app and would like you help.  Please take the survey.  Not only will you help us but, a charity as well.  Thank you.

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