Friday, August 31, 2012

More travel planning...

Fresh off of my amazing to trip to San Francisco to rub elbows with the Ferrari crowd and race head-to-head against a professional IndyCar driver came another interesting email which read something like this: "Hey Dave, can I count on you to be on deck for another product announcement trip in case I can't get away from work?"

"Well," I immediately thought, "that depends." I read further. The details were, in a word, intriguing:
Wanted to see if you'd be interested in a potential event for *Need for Speed Most Wanted*, hosted at the Porsche Driving School in Leipzig, Germany.

The event would take place on Sunday, Sept 30th. EA would take care of your travel to Germany and hotel of course, and the event would be a full day at the Porsche driving school, followed by hands on time with *Need for Speed Most Wanted*'s single and multiplayer modes before the game hits shelves on October 30th. Here's the breakdown of activities included.

    - Hands-on never-before-seen *Need for Speed Most Wanted* gameplay
    - Porsche driving school drive-along (ride the famed Porsche track driven by a professional race car driver)
    - Porsche off-road training (hands-on driving at the Porsche off-road course)
Not surprisingly, they had me at "Porsche." I replied back in the affirmative in whatever measure of time it is that falls between "second" and "instant," and that was before I even had a chance to Google the Porsche Driving School in Leipzig, the results of which are here. It looks like a lot of fun, although I'd be lying if I didn't say that I would prefer to do my own driving on the paved track too! And that's not to say that the off-road track doesn't look interesting; it just doesn't look fast. But hey, a chance to drive a Porsche? What's not to like??

I will spare you the suspense that I endured over the ensuing couple of days waiting to see if I would be going or not and come right out and say it: I'm going!

So, let the preparations begin. Step one was to find Leipzig on a map. Despite having been stationed in Germany for two years, I had never been to Leipzig. It turns out that there is a reason for that: the Berlin Wall blocked it off from western access a week after I was born and the wall was not knocked down until three years after I had returned from my two year tour of duty.

Step two was to address the issue of the language barrier. My German language skills have eroded to the point where all I can do is proclaim a situation of pecuniary embarrassment: "Ich habe kein geld." Oh, and I suppose I could ask for a beer in a pinch. There's no chance of re-learning the language to any kind of meaningful level at my age and with the short time available, so I decided to see if I could lean on 21st century technology. And you know what? I can! Look what you can get for $4.99 these days:

What could go wrong?

Seriously, though, isn't that amazing? There are two nice things about it beyond the unbelievably low price: it has the entire translation dictionary stored in onboard memory so there is no need to have internet access available to use it, and it will also allow me to type in text to be translated. The latter is pretty important because as you've seen in the video, the voice recognition can get confused. It will also be important for translating signs, menus, directions, etc. I will need another, non-language translation device to go with it, though. I'll have to get something to allow me to plug in my battery charger and translate foreign electricity to English electricity. Their wall plugs are of a different voltage and design over there.

That's not happening until the end of September, so progress continues on the airplane. When last we met, I had broken one of the the little gold pins off of the end of the trim wire bundle. I wasn't sure where to get a replacement, but that turned out to be easy. Kyle, drum stick whittler and bagpipe tuner for The Jackson Two, had also broken a pin off and had ordered replacements, some of which he had left over. Still heavily into the infatuation phase with his completed RV-12, I didn't even have to suggest that he fly up to Bolton with a pin and the specialty tool required to crimp it onto the wire.

The crimping was so simple as to be a non-event, and chock full of confidence I proceeded to install the pins in the big 37-pin connector that will attach to the main junction box. Interestingly, the wire bundle contains two white wires and the plans make no distinction between the two when it comes to pin location in the connector. Also interesting is that the music input wire bundle also contains two white wires, and it too goes into the 37-pin connector. While the plans don't seem to care which order each of the respective white wires go, they do care where which two holes are for the trim wires and which two are for the music wires.

I immediately put the music wires in the wrong holes.

That's bad, you see, because while it is easy to get those pins to snap into place, it is much harder to get them back out again.

Enough said about that.

Shamed, embarrassed, and disgusted, I quit for the night and we went over to the airport BBQ place and had dinner. I haven't been back to the hangar since.

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