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Franklin Language Translator


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – While in Frankfurt recently, we had an amazing time. The food was great, the people were friendly, and the city was beautiful. However, Ponzi and I neither one speak a lick of German.

We managed to get around by using hand gestures, pointing, smiling a lot, and saying “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” often. I am a coffee fanatic, and there is ONE thing I must have in my coffee… real, heavy cream. When I would ask for it in Germany, they kept bringing me milk or half and half. So, off to Conrad’s we went. This store is kind of like a Best Buy meets Radio Shack. The prices weren’t bad, I suppose. I picked up a handy little Franklin Language Translator. I was able to type in a word or phrase, and instantly translate it into German. Of course, my pronunciation still left a lot to be desired. But overall, it helped Ponzi and I communicate a bit better during our stay.

Even though the word Internet is apparently pronounced the same in every single language I tried… for the most part, this little device works really well.

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Frankfurt Travel: Video and Photos

We didn’t make it far beyond Frankfurt on this trip to Europe. To tell you the truth, I’m not all that disappointed (despite several people telling me that Bankfurt isn’t all that exciting). Then again, I’m really not much of a tourist – even when I do have the opportunity to see one place or another.

Saying “danke schoen” instead of “thank you” is still involuntary.

I’m in the process of uploading a few Frankfurt photos. I also took some of our more personal moments and spliced them together in a short video clip (though I don’t necessarily recommend that you watch the entire ten minutes):

While GM helped with travel and accomodations, most of these particular (personal) activities were our own.

Frankfurt Hotel Reviews

Informal though these may be, I thought it was important to share my thoughts not long after staying at two separate hotels in Frankfurt, Germany.

First, the Frankfurt Westin (formerly the Arabella Sheraton):

  • Our Bathtub had mold spot in it (Ponzi says it was rather large, but she’s a total mold freak).
  • The shower was inside the bathtub, but there wasn’t a full shower door or curtain – only a glass partition that covered half of the tub’s length (which caused water to spray onto the bathroom floor). It was poor engineering, further exacerbated with the shower being a handheld nozzle.
  • The toilet was good, but its “button” wasn’t foolproof.
  • The Internet connection was ample, but definitely dogged in the evening hours when more people were online. Moreover, we couldn’t switch to a second computer as we were not given some kind of username / password.
  • The laundry service messed up and requested that Ponzi help go through a few packages in question to verify that we were not given someone else’s clothes. She was mortified, apparently.
  • The thermostat had one temperature: cool.
  • The breakfast bar was pretty extensive, although some of the hot plates needed to be refreshed more frequently.
  • The bed was overly stiff, and the pillows were without substance.
  • The television had few native English channels, but this is par for the course in a foreign country. Moreover, the television cabinet doors did not fully collapse so that BOTH sides of the bed could view the screen without occlusion.
  • The view was of a back alleyway – nothing to write home about.
  • We had to call room service one evening after being gone most of the afternoon (so that they could make up our room).
  • The Location was quite convenient for shopping and walks to museums.
  • It was a large-ish room with ample space.

Second, the Frankfurt Hilton:

  • There’s a general snack bar open during common meal / after hours on the 11th floor, which proved to be quite convenient on our way in or out of the hotel.
  • Internet access was phenomenal. Took me no time at all to upload videos to YouTube. It was also seamless to switch between my computer and Ponzi’s when necessary (as they give you access to WiFi so long as you pay for a wired connection).
  • Toilet and shower controls were very well engineered – and I never thought I’d ever bother to point that out.
  • The view was amazing from our room.
  • Every day, the housekeeper seemed to give us something new – including a nice little tin with dark chocolate coins from around the world. Nice touch.
  • Room service wasn’t bad, but we had to laugh when they brought us fried mozzarella sticks when we ordered dim sum from the menu.
  • It’s close to shopping and food markets.
  • The bed was overly firm, and the pillows were undersized.

I’d definitely choose the Hilton over the Westin in Frankfurt.

GM IAA Announcements

http://live.pirillo.com – here’s a front row seat to GM’s product announcements at IAA 2007 in Frankfurt, Germany. If you look real close, you can see a few industry superstars sitting in the audience (when I turn the camera away from the stage to point it at Ponzi for a moment).

In essence, the environmental strategy of General Motors Europe is to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term and introduce new propulsion technologies in the long term. The goal is to offer customers vehicles that can operate on many different energy sources. “The multi-tiered approach includes accelerating the development of electrically powered vehicles, stepping up efforts to replace fossil fuels and increasing the efficiency of gasoline and diesel engines,” explains Carl-Peter Forster, GME President. GM Europe will invest 700 million euros in new engines and transmissions in the next five years alone, with the first models already at the IAA.

Carl-Peter Forster continues: “Opel’s surprise for this year’s IAA also symbolizes the versatility of our extensive environmental initiative. A concept car which combines electric propulsion and a turbo diesel engine in a way that is fundamentally different to previous hybrid propulsion designs.”

NOTE: General Motors helped cover travel expenses for our trip to Germany. Without their direct support, this remote coverage would not have been possible. They allowed us to explore and cover as much as we possibly could, not just GM’s product line.

How to Fit a Segway into a Car

http://live.pirillo.com – We live-streamed the unveiling of GM’s newest electric car concept fully at a substantially lower bitrate, but here’s the Segway segment from Ponzi’s perspective. Again, our position was not fully ideal – but at least we were able to capture the energy.

NOTE: General Motors helped cover travel expenses for our trip to Germany. Without their direct support, this remote coverage would not have been possible. They allowed us to explore and cover as much as we possibly could, not just GM’s product line.

Hydrogen Car Information Interview

http://live.pirillo.com – Ponzi and I had a rare opportunity to learn more about hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with one of the automobile industry’s leading minds, Dr. Lars Peter Thiesen.

The GM HydroGen4 is the European version of the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell. In fall 2007, the first of these fuel cell cars — a global fleet of more than 100 vehicles is planned — will be on the roads in the USA.

The HydroGen4’s fuel cell stack consists of 440 series-connected cells. The entire system produces an electrical output of up to 93 kW. With help from a 73 kW/100 hp synchronous electric motor, acceleration from zero to 100 km/h takes around 12 seconds. The front-wheel drive vehicle’s top speed is around 160 km/h.

NOTE: General Motors helped cover travel expenses for our trip to Germany. Without their direct support, this remote coverage would not have been possible. They allowed us to explore and cover as much as we possibly could, not just GM’s product line.

Bob Lutz, GM Blogger Roundtable

http://live.pirillo.com – You’ve likely already watched my live interview with Bob at http://youtube.com/watch?v=-ysnr-V2dRg (in which I was quite tongue-tied). This new recording was from an exclusive roundtable Q&A session with a few fellow bloggers.

Bob begins with his reasons for starting a blog…

NOTE: General Motors helped cover travel expenses for our trip to Germany. Without their direct support, this remote coverage would not have been possible. They allowed us to explore and cover as much as we possibly could, not just GM’s product line.

Germany Blogger/Youtube Meetup

http://live.pirillo.com – Ponzi and I are still in Frankfurt, and we’d love to meet our virtual friends in real life!

I may need help with translating this all-call to German, BTW. 🙂

NOTE: General Motors helped cover travel expenses for our trip to Germany. Without their direct support, this remote coverage would not have been possible. They allowed us to explore and cover as much as we possibly could, not just GM’s product line.

Bob Lutz Interview

http://live.pirillo.com – Bob Lutz is an industry legend, and I was more than a little tongue-tied when given the opportunity to sit down with him for a few minutes at the unveiling of GM’s new electric concept car in Frankfurt, Germany.

Can you believe he’s a blogger, too!?

NOTE: General Motors helped cover travel expenses for our trip to Germany. Without their direct support, this remote coverage would not have been possible. They allowed us to explore and cover as much as we possibly could, not just GM’s product line.

Saturn Astra Test Drive

http://live.pirillo.com – The audio / video quality is questionable, but we were doing something that nobody else has done before: streaming live from GM’s super private test track in Dudenhofen, Germany.

My wife and I were invited to take a Saturn Astra out for a test drive. This car is not yet available in the United States – or, at least, not at the time of this live recording. The car handles very nicely, according to Ponzi.

40,000 kilometers are clocked every day on this track – and now the Pirillos have left their tire marks on there as well. Ponzi completes the perfect circle every couple of minutes, as the road is 5km around and she’s traveling at a speed of 200kmph (~128mph). She did take the higher lane at one point, which is steeped at 37 degrees – but you can only get in that lane if you’re traveling over 200kmph.

NOTE: General Motors helped cover travel expenses for our trip to Germany. Without their direct support, this remote coverage would not have been possible. They allowed us to explore and cover as much as we possibly could, not just GM’s product line.