It was a landslide. Not even close. The outpouring of requests for the full lyrics of Tech Weenies in the Sky (credit KJR Club member David McKay for its acronymical name, TWITS) outnumbered the nays by a ratio of nearly three-to-one.
To those who would have preferred otherwise … I’m pretty sure I’m with you on this, but The People have spoken. To those who requested an MP3 download, look out your window. Until you see a bunch of flying pigs, don’t get your hopes up. My loving wife’s comment, upon hearing the first few bars, was, “I’m glad you have your column as an outlet. Otherwise I’d get a lot more of this.”
Without further ado, to the tune of Stan Jones’ immortal Ghost Riders in the Sky, here’s my paean to CTI (computer telephony integration, as if you didn’t know):
A computer and a telephone were sitting on a desk,
Every time he looked at them he just got more depressed,
‘Cause they couldn’t be connected, and nothing did the trick,
When the telephone was ringing,
The computer sat there like a brick.
Yippie yi Yaaaaay! Yippie yi Ohhhhh!
Tech weenies in the sky.
The tech he had a vision and he tried to make it real,
Wiring the two together should have very great appeal,
So screens can pop and calls can route and messages can play,
Keeping all the telemarketers,
And other pests at bay.
He couldn’t get it working despite everything he tried,
He opened up the box and found the motherboard was fried,
The software it was buggy and cabling was a wreck,
And in his deep frustration,
You could hear him cry, “Oh, heck!”
It took a lot of duct tape, Band-Aids, chewing gum and sweat,
He hasn’t got it working but it hasn’t beat him yet,
The amount of troubleshooting effort turned out to be huge,
And when he finally finished,
He knew it was a kludge.
Go into any call center and you’ll see CTI,
From Little Rock to Bangalore the connection’s riding high,
But on average users’ desktops we can see the standard twist:
If it ain’t built into Outlook,
It simply don’t exist.
If you want to be a hero; if you want to save the day,
You won’t become a cowboy shouting “Yippie yo cayay!”
You’ll do it in the wiring where no one else can see,
Solving all the mysteries,
Of computer telephony
Now it’s wired with fiber optics and it almost seems to glow,
Though outside it’s Minnesota with a harsh and driving snow,
Yes the nights here in the Northland are a bitter freezing cold,
But with computers hooked to telephones,
You’ll never go on hold.
If you’re wondering, I came up with this demented notion before a meeting of the Minnesota Telecommunications Association where I was scheduled to speak, explaining the otherwise puzzling connection between cold weather and CTI. Luckily for all concerned, I chickened out just in time and left my guitar at home.
There is, in the middle of this nonsense, a question worth asking. In the mid-1990s I described the potential for desktop CTI. It’s like this: You’re on the phone and your boss calls. A window opens on your screen telling you so. You’re talking to a client, so you click a button and your boss hears your voice say, “I can’t pick up the call right now — I’m talking with a client. I’ll call you back as soon as I’m off the phone.”
You call your boss back and the phone rings — a different client. You click a button and see a list of colleagues who can handle the call. You choose the best fit, click the “Transfer” button next to his name, and the client hears, “I’m on a call right now, so I’m transferring you to Fred Smith who can help you right away.”
Then the phone rings again — it’s your proctologist, calling to schedule your colonoscopy. Click! And, “I’m sorry — I’m away from the office right now. Please leave a brief message and shortly after the Cubs win the World Series I’ll call you back.”
This was all entirely achievable a decade ago (Harry Newton even published the description in Computer Telephony, although he didn’t give me credit for it). It probably wouldn’t be all that hard today if anyone wanted to do it.
But as the song says, If it ain’t built into Outlook/It simply don’t exist.