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Guest Post: Northrend truckers -- a tale of WoW OTR


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After spending three years crammed into a call center with 600 reps sitting in quarter-cubes so small I could hear the other reps on all sides of me, I decided it was time to ditch the tech support world and go see America. Four weeks and $2,200 later, I had my Class A Commercial Driver's License, thanks to a truck driving school outside Springfield, Mo.

Before venturing out, I wanted to purchase a decent laptop for gaming (we were attempting to do full clears of Zul'Aman when I decided on my career change). I ended up purchasing a HP Compaq NC8430, after catching it on special. It had the Intel Core 2 Duo T5600, ATI's Mobility Radeon X1600, and I upgraded the memory to 4GB of DDR2-667. After loading WoW and all my addons, I was happily running around Shattrath at 60 FPS! I also purchased Skyworth's 19", 12-volt LCD TV to use as a second monitor and to also watch television on in the few occasions I stopped overnight near a big city (Big Bang Theory is not available online).

I didn't want to mess with a laptop and a GPS system, so I purchased Microsoft Streets 2006. MS Streets came with a plugin USB GPS that had about a six-foot cord on it along with a suction cup. Through blind luck while surfing the web, I also found Jotto Desk, a very nice laptop for semis that mounts to the base of the passenger seat and has an arm that extends over to the driver seat for easy access. While a bit of a pain to install, the effort was well worth it. The people who invented the Jotto Desks deserve an award or a free case of Bawls or something. Having successfully installed Jotto Desk and mounted my USB GPS to the front windshield, I was almost ready to hit the open road! All I had to figure out now was a way to get internet no matter where in the United States I happened to be.

IdleAir saves the day

My original idea for internet on the road was Verizon's PCMCIA 3G modem, but the latency on was too poor to group or raid. My main at the time was a priest, and a heal landing half a second after it should simply wouldn't work. Most truck stops had wi-fi, but I quickly found out 90 percent of them are satellite internet with worse ping times then my Verizon card. Weeks passed when I would only log in occasionally to solo or do my dailies, as my guild progressed through Zul'Aman without me.

Finally, by chance I stumbled across something that would solve my latency issue. In an effort to cut down on pollution and save money, many truck stops now have IdleAir. New trucking regulations require that drivers must take a 10-hour break for every 11 hours on the road. My truck burned about two or three gallons of diesel every hour idling. Take that times 10 hours, and it equates to at least 20 gallons of fuel, or about $60. For around $22 a night, you can get IdleAir. With IdleAir, you pull into a designated stall and turn off your truck. A special gasket is placed in your window, and the IdleAir module is snapped into place. IdleAir provides you with heat, air conditioning, cable TV, phone -- and most importantly, internet via Cat5!

Mapping a route through Azeroth

After pulling in and getting IdleAir hooked up, I plugged in my network cable and crossed my fingers, hoping the internet IdleAir provided was not satellite. I logged into WoW and loaded Kelsar my faithful priest. With a small shout of joy, I was greeted by a green computer on my action bar! I was now happily running around Azeroth with a sub-100 ping! Best of all, my company paid for IdleAir. The only trouble was that IdleAir was still in its infancy and only available at a few hundred truck stops across the United States. I had to find a way to pull my 10-hour breaks at IdleAir-equipped truck stops only.

I did some research on Microsoft Streets and figured a way to manually enter my own "landmarks." I then figured a way to import multiple landmarks at once via an XML file, so I didn't have to manually enter 120+ truck stops. Lady luck stayed with me a bit longer, and I was able to find a list of IdleAir locations via coordinates that some other nice trucker had uploaded (probably in an attempt to do the same thing I was doing). The rest was just a matter of math and planning.

My jobs came to me through a Qualcom in-cab email system. I would then type in the delivery address, and MS streets would tell me the millage and estimated travel time. I would review the route, and around the seven- or eight-hour travel time, start looking for an IdleAir location within 120 miles. Most of the time, I was able to plan everything just right so that I was safely logged in before our 8:30 p.m. CST raiding time -- I even have my ZA bear mount to prove it!

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