Capture Creativity Quick

So one of the difference between successful people and — let’s say less successful people? — isn’t the ideas. It’s sharing them. It takes a lot of work, but we can take the first step very easily.

If your goal is producing creative content, jokes, stories, music, art, whatever…. the trick is to capture the inspiration when you have it even if you can’t devote time to it when it first arrives. It doesn’t have to be finished; you are writing a note to your future self. It can be a sketch or fragment, it just needs to last long enough that you can work on it more, or remember enough to build on it, even years later!

I’m going to talk about musical creativity, but this works for all sorts of inspirations. ’80s pop star John (Cougar) Mellencamp wrote the lyrics to one of his hit songs on the shower door with soap. Who knows how many books and businesses have been built on the backs of bar napkins? I’ve chanted things to myself all day while avoiding just writing them down, kept a notepad by my bed — though now I’ll actually write notes to myself on my phone with a stylus –- which may or may not be better than my previous habit of just getting up for an hour in the middle of the night to write whatever song started when my head hit the pillow.

Countless songwriters have sung into tape recorders over the ages or scribbled down notes . With my first camera capable phone, I would record one-handed the melody that had come to me in 15 second video clips. Sometimes, like this example, I angle my iPad on my music stand so that I can see where my fingers were later.

The improvement on this is that now as soon as I’ve come up with the fragment of a song on any instrument, I turn on the electric piano and record the phrase and following improvisation via MIDI direct into a computer. (GarageBand on iPad works pretty good too in a pinch.) Not only does this give me the exact notes I played in the very improvisation I am building on, but it means that I can edit them, fixing glitches in my spontaneous phrasing, or creating a complete arrangement on top of the original sketch and eventually moving the first take out of the mix completely.

So much easier than my early attempts with cassette tapes. Heck, I once spoke the first chapter or so of a book I never wrote into a cassette recorder while hiking, that’s hilarious to listen to. (You don’t know if I’m pausing because I needed to breathe or I didn’t know what to say next.)

Anyway, my point is this applies to anything that you want to capture organically and move into the future as a more polished product. You don’t need to rely on your memory, and you certainly don’t need the conceit that if you forget it later, it wasn’t that good an idea. Don’t be a baby: write it down or capture it, and let your future self figure out that sometimes it’s crap and sometimes it’s not.

And if you end up with too many fragments of stuff to get to, oh darn why is that a problem? Learn to filter through it and work on your favorite thing until you have something done, then climb back on the pile and see what’s next.


P.S. For the record I often use S-Note on my aging Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for writing things down, and I love Evernote but now that it is free for only two devices at a time, I am trying desperately to use Microsoft OneNote which I find much more cumbersome and harder to search. It seems like OneNote wants you to have everything local before you can search, where Evernote searches in the cloud so you can pull down what you are looking for.

I really wish there was a reasonably priced plan for Evernote that gave me more devices but the tiny amount of monthly bandwidth that I really use. The upgraded plans are still too much of a stretch for the mostly casual user.

Capture Creativity Quick was originally published on Creative Uploads


Well, That Was Fun

Sorry the site has been down for a little while. But now it’s back live again and at our very own domain name, CREATIVEUPLOADS.COM !

The page is still live, the /CU subdirectory takes you here, and the root is still pointed at my Tumblr for now, but we’ll see what happens in the future.

I actually registered the domain in January right before starting a new job and attacking a dance show edit, at the same time I was helping a close relative recover from surgery…. time management worked great, time availability did not. In between wondering if I should leave the site data where it was or move it and play the SEO dance, it decided to go down and I didn’t have time to fix it.

I suspect it was an implementation of some fancy caching to make things faster, but in any case, I then had to decide if I wanted to fix it, then decide whether to move it or not…. layers on layers, what I love to do! Who needs Sudoku when you have brain teasers readily available, right?

Since I had grabbed a copy of the installation mid-January using the fabulous and famous Duplicator plugin (planning ahead is time management too!), I decided to just try a fresh install on the new server, and here we are half a day later with a live site that seems to have everything in its place!

And that half day included time to go to dinner and a play, so not that bad really.

So thanks to the Duplicator folks (the Lite free version even!*) and Google for the nice searches on fixing my redirect htaccess pages, especially this one at coolestguidesontheplanet since I wanted to move the subdomain and leave the rest where it was.

And here we are!

—– David

P.S. My video edit is done, my medical charge is motivating under her own power and my new job is fun and familiar now. Plus, the site is up. I should have written all these goals down on a piece of paper to give me the psychological satisfaction of crossing them off as encouragement for future endeavors!

Ah, what the heck:

  • Edit video and produce discs
  • Play nurse
  • Enjoy work, learn new stuff and get paid 
  • Fix website


  • Backup this fresh site while everything’s updated and working!

* And you better believe if there is a business need for the Duplicator Pro version they will be my first choice: it adds better migration for multiple sites and automated backups to several cloud destinations.

Well, That Was Fun was originally published on Creative Uploads

Happy Holidays Bring A Musical “Change Of Season”

Glittering Phoenix Luminarias

Change Of Season instrumental
on BandCamp

I was a huge George Winston fan on discovering him in college (in addition to many other influences in very different genres) and always felt I didn’t play piano as well. That’s probably still true, but I can play and this song certainly touches on some of the same reflective feelings his music brings up in me.

Unlike him I usually write lyrics to my music, lots and lots of lyrics. Really surprised that I didn’t for this tune, but that’s how the song wanted it. Someday I’ll want to transcribe the music and recreate the melodic track it with a proper guitar, and I know just the guy to help.

I’ve  had a languishing BandCamp account for a while now, so I tidied up and hid a sloppy demo of something else and offered up this plaintive but optimistic gift from the hands of the creative tendrils we all share through my hands to yours. I took the photo last year as well on a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Seemed fitting.

Happy Joyous __________ to you and yours.


P.S. Pretty certain you can listen to the song without having to buy it, so please enjoy in any way you can!

P.P.S. My liner notes: This reflective holiday instrumental, created in late fall 2015 using GarageBand on the iPad with midi connection to a Roland digital piano. Built out of an improvisation with a second improvisation added on top, I literally don’t remember how to play it beyond the four-chord opening that urged me to plug in the recorder. Crazy. Slightly remixed this Fall 2016.

Happy Holidays Bring A Musical “Change Of Season” was originally published on Creative Uploads

Hey, Mr. Spaceman – The Musical

I decided to finally record the John Glenn parody song I posted lyrics for the other day.

Here’s the YouTube blurb as background:

Honoring astronaut John Glenn’s passing: in 1998 there was some controversy on sending John Glenn on the space shuttle at 77 in an expensive mission instead of other qualified candidates. I wrote this tongue-in-cheek political parody to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” but never recorded it. So here’s a recording, with all the possible verses (in the real world some would have been dropped to fit the original song). Hey 2016, thanks for bookending the inspiration. Now quit it.

Since this blog is about the dreaming, creation and publication of artistic endeavors, it felt like I ought to finally record a version and share it somehow, right? At least it took me less than twenty years. And I didn’t have the publication outlets then that we do know, where it can not exist one day and be available worldwide the next (not necessary known but at least available).

I also left in all the verses, breaking an important rule of parody songs: get in, state the joke and get out before it’s worn out it’s welcome. Hey, that applies top a lot of other things too. But it’s a historical document at this point, so there’s the whole draft. Just to show how editing can help focus something and make it better even if you have to leave out a joke you like.

Hope you make it to the end.


P.S. Tang really was marketed as the breakfast drink of the astronauts. There’s a hilarious double entendre in that these days but it was a more innocent time. By the shuttle missions Welch’s had replaced it as the powdered drink sent up on missions. Ironically, Congress likes to welch on their promises to properly fund NASA. Go figure.

I just imagined
how long an unedited
haiku would become, i mean can you imagine if the guy just wouldn’t shut up and kept spouting aphorisms and potentially insightful observations with no understanding of the reader’s mental digestion ability?

Note to self: edit more, talk less.


Hey, Mr. Spaceman – The Musical was originally published on Creative Uploads

Leaving NYC

From our summer visit, wishing it wasn’t time to leave. Such a photogenic city.

Another dive into a Google Photos Assistant video with a bit of customization. Just discovered they killed off the Themes, which I didn’t always love but did like having available.

Leaving NYC was originally published on Creative Uploads

Automated Inspiration Meets Editing

Here’s a slideshow I probably wouldn’t have made but for Google Photos Assistant.

On my NYC trip my Android phone automatically backed up photos I took with it as usual, and as I’ve said before every night I copy over my camera photos to a laptop as a backup, then log into Google Photos to upload each day’s folder overnight so even if my camera, cards and computer somehow went away I would at least have the pictures. You can do this with Dropbox, Flickr, Box, an FTP server, iCloud, even Facebook — just do it even if you don’t want these Google features.

This habit also reminds me to check that I still have my camera and also space on my memory cards for the next day, plus a charged battery. One trip to San Diego the camera bag vanished overnight, probably left on the curb or dropped on the way to the room after unloading the car. Still miss those photos….

TIP: I always leave my camera compartment door open when the battery or cards are out, usually resting in the camera bag with the flap open, as a physical reminder that a battery is on the charger or the card is in the computer. CAVEAT: Be careful not to snap off those hatches, but really just put your camera in a safe place. 

Anyway, when you feed it photos, Assistant gets to work. Sometimes it offers a collage, stylized photo or animation, or in this case, a slideshow movie complete with music and a filtered style.

It was terrible. Like a machine had randomly made it.

It picked some bad photos, failed to tell a story, chose the wrong version of shots that I had made multiple takes on and left out ones I would have picked. To be fair it was guessing from 400 photos.

But it inspired me to make a slideshow of our Central Park visit that someone could watch in about minute, instead of me dumping 50 pictures on a social media site. And because there is filter effect you can paste over top and images keep moving, I can post it out faster than carefully editing each photo individually, and even use some shots that technically would be poor candidates but helped tell a story nicely (though yes, in a professional situation that would improve it more. But there’s a balance to be struck – I want to represent my work in good light but I am also not expecting a new client from just this, or any money — I was on vacation!)

TIP: If you are publicizing that you are out of town on social media, be sure you trust your friends (or limit your Facebook privacy to just friends and family). Or do what I do: Have a housesitter and/or security with cameras, and remind people you have a housesitter and cameras whenever you can 🙂  A lot of people don’t post vacation pictures until they are back home. This also works well and makes the good feelings of your vacation last longer as you get to see and share and make your friends jealous for a longer time.

So I’ve written about how to use and be inspired by Photo Assistant before, and I encourage you to read about it through the link below, and I’ll try not to repeat myself as I make some updates and detailed notes on the interface here.

Google Photos Assistant as a starting point

When I first experimented with it, I hoped and expected that you could edit these Assistant movies in Chrome on a computer, with a real big screen and better bandwidth. You can’t.

The support page says

This can’t be done on a computer yet.
To make or edit movies, you’ll need one of these devices:
One of these Android devices:
(LONG list of devices from the last several years)

Since you can only edit on Apple and most Android devices, that’s what we have to work with.

If you have recently fed Google Photos, the Assistant may provide you a notification, or a list of projects when you open the app. If you swipe to delete them they are gone. I haven’t found a recycle bin list. If there aren’t any, or you don’t see one you want to play with, you can tap at the top to create a new new Movie (or Album or Animation or Collage.) (Story no longer appears to be an option.)

TIP: If you are adding video clips in the mix (Assistant only uses a few seconds of these when it adds them alongside photos, which is smart), realize that the editor will download the whole length of the clip (it may be a lower temporary resolution), so try to be on WiFi for this.

Three icons under the video: A sparkling slate (Themes), a music note (Music), and a Film Frame with sprocket holes (Editor). All of these are editing steps but I will generally refer to the Editor as editing. You can move back up to the main pages with the back button in Android or the back arrow in IOS or Android.

When you open the Editor you’ll see an X which closes the editor and cancels your changes, tiny Plus squares for adding images, a Trashcan for deleting the selected (and highlighted) media, and a Checkmark, which saves your changes while closing the Editor (but doesn’t prep it for publishing like the SAVE button on the entry page or lock future edits).

If you make edits, exit the editor and click X to return to the main Assistant page, your app will ask you if you want to SAVE this video. If you say yes, that’s your SAVE button (SAVE TO LIBRARY), it locks the edit and makes it ready to publish. If you say no thanks, it will leave it on the list for future editing decisions.

You CAN add videos and pictures after clicking to Edit, by pressing the tiny Plus squares and digging through your pictures, which are listed in reverse chronological order. They are inserted after whatever photo you have selected. You can press and hold on a photo to drag it through the timeline, but I can only move one picture at a time, so plan your inserts ahead of time if there are multiple photos to add (up to 50 can be used.)

You can also play or pause the clip with the icon in the middle of the video (Side note: I hate having that icon overlay for the few seconds when clips start. Just me I guess.)

Edit video clips by selecting on then choosing the Scissors icon to change the in and out points of the clip. Remember you can the same clip multiple times if you want to use parts, but each clip is only one part; you can’t just chop pieces out of the middle.

I’d forgotten writing in the other post that after you edit and save changes, while your movie disappears from the Assistant list, you can still open it from Categories inside Google Photos and edit it again. This is wrong or has been changed because I couldn’t do this as written. Well, you can import it into a movie project, but only 10 seconds of it appear, and the theme and music are baked in, though you can change the music.

(SO I tested this, and in the Editor it opens the first five slides, which showed as five two-second clips. But I opened a clip and dragged the start and end point out to the entire length of the clip! SO you could using trimming and add to a published video, but: The theme is baked in, and the file will be compressed a second time leading to lower quality.)

TIP: Make a mental note of what theme and music you like before trying different themes and music, in case you want to go back to it. It will save you some time and make experiments less stressful.

You can choose to mix in the original audio from video clips with the music track. You can also skip Google’s music library and use audio files on your phone. The app warns you to respect the copyrights of others, which besides the legality of I will note that many sites (Facebook and YouTube among them) will block or change your audio track if you are using copyrighted material their automatic scanners recognize. So that’s a consideration.

Some themes crop tall portrait style photos and some show them in full with a frame. Since you can’t crop or re-position a picture in the Assistant you can use a theme to help with that. Or if you are a perfectionist, you can crop a few photos before or during your editing process using the Photos interface and then import them. If you click the Checkmark icon, editing changes you make are saved, and the editor is not locked out until you click SAVE in the upper right, so you can leave and return until you are happy with your video.

You can also title your clip by tapping on the gray untitled line at the top and entering one; it will overlay your first image. Changing themes changes the font. You could also create an image with a title and import that if you want more control or don’t want to cover a picture.

TIP TO MYSELF: Create a self-promoting slide image with my website and copyright on it that I can add to the end of all these cool videos. Ooh, make it two-second video clip!

I always save to my device first to publish because sometimes the publishing step crashes the Google Photos app. So I save locally then try the sharing feature. I then have the option of other publishing choices, or I can Chromecast it, drop it to my computer, etcetera.

That’s enough hand-holding. Play!

— David

Automated Inspiration Meets Editing was originally published on Creative Uploads