ChatGPT and ’80s Chart Toppers

A couple of months ago I decided to try ChatGPT to see what it can do. Here’s what I asked:

Make a list of the number 1 and number 2 songs from each year in the 1980s from the Billboard top-40 list.

Today, I did some (Wikipedia-based) fact-checking and dropped in some commentary and formatting to what the tool provided:

Here’s a list of the number 1 and number 2 songs from each year in the 1980s from the Billboard Hot 100:

1980: Correct!

1. “Call Me” by Blondie

2. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” by Pink Floyd

1981: Partially Correct

1, “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes

2. “Kiss on My List” by Hall & Oates“Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

1982: Partially Correct

1. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

2. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

1983: Correct!

1. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police

2. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

1984: Correct!

1. “When Doves Cry” by Prince

2. “What’s Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner

1985: Partially Correct

1. “Careless Whisper” by Wham! Featuring George Michael

2. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves“Like a Virgin” by Madonna

1986: Incorrect!

1. “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys Dionne and Friends – That’s What Friends Are For

2. “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie

1987: Partially Correct

1. “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles

2. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston “Alone” by Heart (#2 on the Billboard chart, #1 according to ChatGPT)

1988: Correct!

1. “Faith” by George Michael

2. “Need You Tonight” by INXS

1989: Incorrect!

1. “Like a Virgin” by Madonna (My guess is that ChatGPT confused this 1984 song with 1989’s “Like a Prayer” which was the #25 song of the year.) “Look Away” by Chicago

2. “When I See You Smile” by Bad English “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown

I don’t have the interest to fact-check Wikipedia on these but I do have interest in tinkering with ChatGPT, the new Bing and other AI tools. They will only get better. I hope.

Giving It 160%

I believe it was 1997, I was not yet in my 30s, but close, when I noticed my friend and coworker Mark writing away on his Mac PowerBook’s puny screen with giant letters screaming on the Word doc.


The display was maybe 12 inches-ish and seemed large enough to do my work without much trouble, at least that I can remember. For Mark, it was a no brainer. He couldn’t make out the 12-point type, so he made it larger. Then, when he got a monitor — which at the time was the size of two stacked microwave ovens — he bumped it up a few more point sizes.

Here I am, a quarter century later, and well, well, well … look who has a Word document staring back at him from his 27″ iMac.

Not only that, it’s zoomed to 160% scale and I’m tapping out words in 16-point Calibri.


While I was at it, I made the default zoom on my web browsers 120% (anything bigger things janky), and have the second-largest type in my notes and mail apps. I don’t dig the big type when working on a 13-inch laptop but I endure it because this is the price we pay for aging.

Oh, I changed the settings on my iPhone and iPad too and I make it bold too.

I wish I had made the full transition to a world of big type a long time ago.

If you decide to fiddle with your computer and phone settings, here’s a loosely related tune to keep you company.

I’ve Got an Instapaper Problem

In theory, Instapaper is genius. In practice, it’s a disaster. At least that’s true for this slow and distracted reader.

Like an overstuffed junk drawer, my Instapaper account is beyond overflowing. If you’d asked me how many articles I’d saved over 10+ years my guess would have been 100 or so. Today I saved an article to, you know, read later, and saw that I have done so no less than 2,107 times.

IMG_5513.jpegThe oldest article in the list is from more than 10 years ago: “5 Best Columns from the Atlantic Wire” and the most recent is from this morning, “The Novelist Who Saw Middle America as It Really Was”, about Sinclair Lewis.

Along the way I saved articles about Mike Shanahan, John McPhee, Allen Iverson, Lindsey Buckingham and Masayuki Uemura.

And get this! One of the articles I saved was “Read It Later Apps Compared.”

My knee-jerk response was to delete anything I saved longer than 12 months ago, or go with the nuclear option and delete everything. But then I started scrolling through and realized that this unwieldy collection of links is actually kind of a time capsule containing my interests across a decade.

So what am I to do? I’d like to think I’ll stop saving articles but it’s so easy — and free — to file them away why would I stop? It’s not like these are books piling up on my nightstand. Quite the contrary, they are the ultimate example of out of sight, out of mind.

Maybe what I’ll do is use Instapaper to save select articles when I’ve finished reading them. That might actually work. Then it will be a true archive and not a nagging reminder of unkept promises to myself.

In the meantime, I’m turning off that number on the app’s badge. I mean, that’s just piling on.

Man, I Hate My AirPods

For past 30-plus years I’ve spent a lot of money on Apple products — including the second-generation Newton MessagePad in 1995 — and for the most part I’ve been happy with each of them.

That streak came to a surprising end with my first-generation AirPods (I purchased them twice!) which disappointed me from the get-go.

No one likes to read about others’ tech problems so I’ll sum it up: both pairs have abysmal battery life, and with each pair one or the other turns off after only a few minutes. All the time.

So, why did I buy the second pair? Because they were on sale and figured the odds of the second pair having the same issues were in my favor.


Now I use the trusty wired EarPods that came with my phone and wonder why I bothered at all with the second pair or AirPods.

Taking a Break from Evernote

It took the better part of an afternoon, and a year or two of considering the move, but today I exported everything out of Evernote and imported into Apple Notes.

My paid Evernote subscription was set to renew today and so I decided to cancel it, save $70 and move to a different note-taking app.

After more than 13 years as an avowed Evernote user and fan, this was no small exercise — and that was the problem.

I had shoved so much stuff into Evernote — oddly enough, I think that’s the best way to use it — but had also save many of these items elsewhere: in Outlook and Gmail archives and, to a lesser degree, Apple Notes. The downside was that some of the notes were just different enough that I wasn’t sure which one was the most current and accurate version. Nightmare.

Also, a lot of what I saved were PDFs of documents and things that were better saved (and, ahem, many already were) on my computer and in the cloud. Having three competing versions of stuff is neither wise nor efficient.

So, a looming renewal deadline and bad data management habits resulted a tedious afternoon — but worth it!

No, Apple Notes is not as full featured as Evernote, but it’s already on all my devices and it doesn’t cost me anything … other than a few hours spent exporting and importing.

I’ve been dabbling in notes apps seemingly forever and today I’m finally committing to Apple Notes.

If things don’t work out, I can always go back to Evernote. And if I do, I will be more selective in what I save, and where.