While many top chefs might hold on to their most precious family recipes, Francois Piednoel is touring the Asia giving away what he calls his "recipe" for building an Atom processor-based tablet.

 

"When companies in Asia heard about the recipe, they wanted it," said Piednoel, a veteran performance analyst at Intel who has traditionally worked on the extreme edge of high-performance PC's. "But if I give you a recipe of French cooking and you go into your kitchen alone, you are not going to make what my mom used to cook," he says with his native French accent, then chuckles.

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Francois Piednoel, an high performance computer analyst at Intel, has spent two years pushing Atom-powered tablets to their limits, resulting in a compilation of software programming tips that he calls "a recipe for a good tablet."

 

"A lot of people building tablets were using the wrong recipe," said Piednoel "They were using things that were designed for today's high-end PCs and they tried to run them on Atom. It's not going to work."

 

But are tablet makers really interested in hearing from a guy who loves over-clocking and once conceived and developed a screaming dual-socket, dual-CPU desktop machine with multiple graphics options called Skulltrail?

 

Apparently so. Piednoel steps in as a kind of pied piper, drawing new tablet makers towards his mastery of math and computer code, which he claims can speed up performance of Atom-powered tablets so they respond smoothly at 60-frame-per-second.

 

Aside from Apple's line of iPads, innovation in tablets has largely disappointed many industry analysts, including IDC researcher Mario Morales, who believes a shakeout in the tablet space is brewing.

 

"At Computex last year (2010), most companies made a big splash by announcing so many types of different tablets that never saw the light of day," said Morales.

 

Despite similar criticism rising from this year's Computex, tablet makers continue to bring out new and improved designs to take on Apple's iPad 2 and leading Android tablets like Motorola's Xoom and Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

 

Making a Recipe with Legacy Ingredients

"I'm going across Japan and Taiwan and sitting with programmers, explaining to them the entire philosophy and they see very quickly that my very simple research is making a big difference," said Piednoel.

 

"The goal is to get every one of those companies that have OK software today to have very good software by the end of this year. Then you don't get one tablet that's good, but you get many good tablets."

 

Looking at Piednoel's past, it's like he traded Formula One cars for go-carts. For more than a decade, he has pushed the limits of technology. He and a small team dreamed up then brought to life Skulltrail, a dual CPU socket desktop platform for enthusiasts. It brought together eight processor cores and support for multi-graphics setups, something that continues to inspire innovation among high-end computing aficionados.

 

While low-power and just enough performance are in vogue in today's tablet market, some might question whether Intel should transform a high-end desktop guy into a tablet cook. Many believe mobile, thin, light, and long battery life – are antithetical to the desktop computing legacy.

 

"If we did something in the legacy before, we had a good reason," said Piednoel. "It always brought us some performance. We have some advantages that we don't talk about very much like the ability of using SSSE3 instructions to get another level of performance. There are a lot of mechanisms, which we can take advantage of, that are built into legacy."

 

"When going across Asia this is what surprised most of the people. That the x86 architecture legacy is an awesome tool. If you use it right you can do things that nobody else can."

 

He says it's all about finding the edge, but emphasizes that tablet makers must first know the scientific limits and then get creative about working within and around unmovable constraints.

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Piednoel optimized performance of an older "Pineview" and a current "Oaktrail" Atom-powered tablet, both running Windows 7.

 

According Piednoel, his tablet recipe takes into account known memory bottleneck issues, and includes programming tricks that can increase performance from 30 to 60 frames per second.

 

"Pay attention to smoothness," he says, referring to a key ingredient. "This is the only thing you cannot sacrifice."

 

Piednoel's recipe first saw the light of day in early June during Computex. Gizmodo said that what Piednoel is doing "is about putting user experience above all else, but doing it in a way that is based on the fundamental math of what performance measures are actually making a difference."

 

"You start measuring bandwidth and what you can do with the GPU and CPU subsystems," said Piednoel. "Then you figure out the discrepancies between what people experience every day and what's actually possible. When you get a discrepancy, you can analyze it to a point where you say, if I change how it's doing this now, I can get it to go that much faster."

 

"All of those tricks in my recipe are nothing new," Piednoel said. "It's just about putting them together and making sure people understand them and why they are there. It's about putting the tablet user's needs first, not the operating system."

 

In his lab, Piednoel demonstrate the responsiveness and media sharing ability of an older Atom-processor based system (Pineview) against a recently released Oaktrail-powered tablet. Both have about the same performance but Oaktrail has up to 10 hours of battery life, more than double the older tablet.

 

He tests these tablets with a program that his performance lab team built to test high-end PCs. Rather than folders, the program displays an expandable calendar filled with dated photos and videos that can play simultaneously by tapping on the thumbnail.

 

The program was built to show the limits of performance on high-end PC's; by seeing how many videos can be played at once. Today it helps him find the edge of tablet performance, revealing how much a tablet can handle before video playback stutters or the touch-screen experience lags.

 

Ironically, it is just this kind of legacy PC test however, that is helping Piednoel refine his recipe for tablets today.

 

"Atom has the processing power of high-end computers from about 8 to 10 years ago, but it can't handle what today's Sandy Bridge Core processors can handle," he said. "Still, if we treat the Atom like a gaming machine of the past, there are lots of ways we can find the edge and then fix things to bring out a smooth user experience."

 

"Basically what I'm doing here is giving out two years of R&D to anyone who wants to do it, which is OK," he says. "It enables competition by helping other innovate more quickly. I know that my recipe will get into the hands of the other side, but it's OK."

 

 

Analyzing Atom for Optimized Tablet Recipe

In the first week of June, a new Facebook application called Museum of Me captured the attention of more than 2.5 million people and surprised the people and the company that created it. And it all started with a simple sketch on a napkin.

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There are no bricks and mortar in sight, but millions of people worldwide have stepped into Intel's ultra-modern, entirely virtual "Museum of Me" on Facebook.

 

During a time when celebrities and businesses around the world are clamoring to grab the attention of consumers through Facebook, the Museum of Me broke through the noise by taking what people care about dearly, and letting them create their own personalized story in a visual way.

 

The Museum of Me was created by an Intel marketing team in Hong Kong working with a boutique advertising agency in Japan, and it's reportedly become one of the top 12 most popular museums in the world judging by the numbers.

 

Stephanie Gan, an advertising and digital programs manager at Intel, said the experience became an overnight sensation that spread socially around the world as millions of people were curious enough to go off and create a personalized virtual museum of their life. It was supposed to launch officially on June 1 but the team did a test pilot on May 31. Within 5 minutes, there were 36 likes. Within 5 days, there were 1 million hits.

 

"We just had the Facebook 'Like' button on the site and it took off through the power of what people were experiencing," Gan said.

 

"It spread quickly through word of mouth via social networks, largely Facebook, but also Twitter and YouTube," she said. "The first thing we saw came from a person in Madrid, who tweeted about the video we posted to YouTube."

 

Next, people in Japan were tweeting the link to Museum of Me. Then New York, California and Brazil. Press and analysts covering social networking and computing trends weighed in, which contributed to the buzz.

 

Museum of Me pulls information from your Facebook page to create a virtual museum of your digital life. Photos, videos and friends are presented as pieces of art, displayed randomly as if in a museum or art gallery.

 

CNET called it a "really neat tool that does a fine job of collecting all the information from your Facebook page and doling it out in a fun exhibit." The Wall Street Journal's Tech Europe blog labeled it "a slick use of Facebook's social graph and for creating what will certainly be a viral product."

 

It struck an emotional chord with people, according to Jayant Murty, the director of Intel's brand strategy in Asia.

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Virtual museum-goers admire your photos in one of the galleries in the Museum of Me.

 

"Images trigger memories and those memories can be very, very personal," said Murty. "People go back to photo albums to reminisce on the past and tell stories about our past. These are things we do in our everyday lives. We just found a way to pull this together into an online experience."

 

"Ultimately, the Museum of Me taps into one's narcissism and private experiences in an intensely social and networked world," Murty said.

Like any new and successful idea, the concept for The Museum of Me sprang from humble beginnings. The idea began with rough sketches drawn on cocktail napkins.

 

"Earlier this year at our big International Sales and Marketing Conference, our team wanted to quickly share the concept and idea of the project with our corporate colleagues, since we had the chance to meet up with them," says Murty. "We didn't have any writing material on us at the time, so we grabbed napkins from the bar, crowded around tables and sketched our ideas out!"

 

Not everyone was convinced once it went live, and the initial flood of visitors strained the servers gathering data for all these personal museums through the cloud.

 

Mashable called the experience "a bit creepy … it seems a bit like you've passed on," and BetaBeat pointed out "that the very personal nature of this information makes the context in which it sits extremely important" in a post titled "Intel's Museum of Me Features Dead Friends and Ex-Lovers."

 

One person said "I don't want to end up on a wall" below an image that his "friend" shared on Facebook from the Museum of Me experience.

 

Murty said there is a level of privacy built into the experience and that one of the big "aha" moments for him was when his team figured out how they would approach the sharing aspect.

 

"We created the Museum of Me with the intention of it being a personal, private experience," said Murty. "Holding steadfast to the view that this is a private experience in a public environment was probably the best decision we made."

 

Creating the Exhibit

After whittling down their ideas into a concept, Murty and Gan knew they were on to something big, but nobody expected it to become so popular once it went live.

 

"We took the idea of Museum of Me and started to share it around inside Intel when it was still in very early sketches," said Murty. "It was really back-of-the-napkin stage, but even in that early phase virtually everyone said, 'Wow, that's interesting!' And that's not a response we encounter here all the time."

 

According to Gan, the aim was to make something thrilling and emotional then equate it the performance and visual experience of Intel's 2nd generation of Core processors. The company markets these with the tagline "Visually Smart" to highlight built-in graphics and media capabilities.

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In the final gallery at the Museum of Me, robots meticulously assemble hundreds of your photos into, well, you'll need to visit to see!

 

"We are not 'in your face' about Core i5 or Intel branding," she said. "First you have the experience and then at the end we flash the brand badge. This is a better way for us to create an emotional connection."

 

Projector Inc., the agency in Japan, suggested they create music that would play inside Museum of Me. So they worked with artist Takagi Masakatsu, a Japanese composer who solicited more than 400 different recorded voices from his Twitter followers. Those voices were woven into the Museum of Me's musical score.

 

When it was finished, it represented a compelling new way to share people's digital lives. Becky Brown, who heads up Intel's social media center of excellence, said it was evident pretty quickly that more capacity was needed as the word spread.

 

"This thing just took off," said Brown. "We were watching comments on our fan page, and some people were saying things were lagging, and that that's how we knew we needed to add more server capacity."

 

Rather than this being an entirely new idea however, Murty sees it as triangulating and processing a variety of insights.

 

"Very often great ideas are ones in which people draw on two or three parallel sources of inspiration," he said. "The fact is, the pieces of the puzzle were there. It is just that we assembled them with the help of the talented people."

It is the world's second-largest economy and the world's largest labor force. It is China, and Intel is recruiting talented women who live there or want to return — women who are graduating from Chinese and American universities at nearly the same rate as men and who make up 40 percent of MBA students in top-ranked programs.

 

Even as Intel actively recruits technical and non-technical women in China, the company is realizing it has to focus on retaining them as well. While women's opportunities in China are growing, they are dealing with cultural expectations that they are responsible for child and elder care according to Intel managers in China. Other issues include gender bias and travel time.

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Roz Hudnell (center, in blue jacket), Intel’s diversity director, with other participants of the recent Global Advancement of Women conference held in Beijing. (photo by Easly Blessed)

 

 

"It's not easy for women to have a role in this [high-tech] industry," said Helen Tian, operations manager of Intel Labs China and co-chairwoman of the Beijing chapter of Women at Intel Network, or WIN.

 

Still, women represent a rich talent pool that no company can afford to ignore.

 

Roz Hudnell, Intel's diversity director, recently hosted a conference in Beijing and unveiled a report she co-authored titled, "The Battle for Female Talent in China."

 

The report included data from 4,350 college-educated men and women in Brazil, Russia, India, China and the United Arab Emirates. Findings showed that women are flooding into universities and graduate schools, representing 65 percent of college graduates in the UAE, 60 percent in Brazil and 47 percent in China.

 

During her visit to China, Hudnell met with representatives from the United States embassy who are working with companies to develop a formal leadership exchange program to advance female leadership in China. The agreement between the United States and China is being led by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Liu Yandong, the highest ranking woman official in China.

 

"Businesses should be discussing diversity in the global context and working to hire and retain a workforce comprised of people with different perspectives, backgrounds and cultures," said Hudnell. "It's vitally important as we strive to get closer to end-users and capture new markets."

 

Lara Tiam, Intel's human resources manager in China, said that while there are millions of working women in China, a shortage of technical women exists. Despite that, Intel China managed to exceed its 2010 goals to hire more technical — and non-technical women — mostly for the assembly test facility in Chengdu and the new Fab 68 in Dalian.

 

"A big recruiting draw for women in China is work flexibility — the ability to work from home at least once a week, and the culture of flexibility that allows them to attend to family concerns as needed," Tiam said.

 

Other incentives, she noted, are maternity laws that protect working women from the time they become pregnant until their child is 1 year old, and cultural norms in which grandparents often provide childcare for their working daughters and sons.

 

However, women who relocate from their hometown to go to Fab 68 in Dalian and Chengdu often lose that support system. In response, Fab 68 has set up childcare support for the working mothers. Both Chengdu and Dalian are currently exploring options to support children's education as well.

 

"For our Technology Manufacturing Group sites," Tiam explained, "60 to 70 percent of our recruiting is coming from recent college graduates, which the company affectionately refers to in its classic acronym language as "RCG's". We have an active internship program where employees spend from 3 months to a year with Intel before they graduate. We take them inside the factories and they learn the tools and the environment."

 

"In China, a social stigma is attached to using professional help or placing parents in assisted-living facilities," said Wang-Li Moser, general manager for corporate programs in Intel China. "That responsibility typically is taken care of by daughters, working or not."

 

Tiam said that given the young workforce in China, Intel China is not currently concerned with a mass exodus of women (and men) leaving to take care of elderly parents. But the company is aware of this issue and working to address it.

 

Factors like the one-child policy in China — with many parents pushing their daughters to succeed "just like boys" — and dreams of a modern lifestyle with a spacious apartment and fancy car are boosting women's enrollment at universities inside and outside China.

 

CiCi Li, a staffing manager for Intel's China operations, visits a number of Chinese student associations at U.S. universities to persuade women studying abroad to return to China.

 

Li said most of these women would have preferred to stay in their native China, but there are limited top-rate university spots for the massive number of applicants. Plus, Li added, their parents are still back in China and many students want to be closer to home.

 

Li also meets with Chinese Intel employees working outside of the country who might want to return to their native land. Most of them left China to study, graduated, and then accepted job offers in other parts of Asia and the States.

 

Because Intel is hiring more women in China, participation in WIN is increasing, and there are now chapters located in every major China site.

 

Employee groups such as WIN help women in emerging markets build networks — one of the four pillars of success to attract and keep talented women, according to the report. The other three include finding talent early at universities; giving working women international exposure and providing plenty of support for families in the host countries; and building ties to clients, customers and communities.

 

"What I find interesting are the nuances and the cultural implications of what women are going through around the world," Hudnell said. "In China, you now have women entering the workforce who are the products of the one-child policy, and the need for them to develop careers and take care of themselves and their own parents is imminent."

For some tech industry analysts, shock and awe from the annual computer industry Computex event in Taiwan has been displaced by disappointment and desire for device makers to take smarter approaches, particularly those companies fixated on competing against Apple's line of iPads.

 

"There were over 50 new tablets launched at this show, and they all basically follow a PC model of just creating devices with lower prices and very little innovation," wrote Tim Bajarin, industry analysts at Creative Strategies, in a recent article for PCMag.com.

 

"Of the 50 tablets I saw, there was probably only one or two that might even have a chance of selling a modest amount," he wrote.

 

Even prior to this year's Computex, IDC analyst Mario Morales expected to see, "an evolution of where they (companies) have so far failed in the areas of smartphones and tablets. Last year, most companies made a big splash by announcing so many types of different tablets that never saw the light of day."

 

CCS Insights analysts John Jackson looked forward to nothing more than "incremental iteration on tablet and mobile computing form factors."

 

"I'm a bit skeptical about seeing anything that would cause oohs and ahs," said Johnson.

 

These analysts have buttressed their criticism with what they believe is desperately needed to meet tablet sales predictions from research firms, including some that are expecting to see over 200 million tablets sold per year by 2014.

 

"Where they're missing the real formula is being able to provide the complete solution where they're bringing the hardware, software and the content piece together and that's why I fundamentally believe we're going to see a shakeout in the tablet space," said Morales.

 

"Most companies are making the mistake of going directly at Apple in the consumer space. They are ignoring the clear opportunities to play in areas that are more vertical, in fields such as educational and medical that now underserved."

 

Morales points out that HP with their Palm OS and understanding of enterprise markets, and RIM, which can leverage their email technology, are two companies positioned to grow tablets sales in vertical industries.

 

Bajarin suggests that Apple will dominate tablet sales well into 2012, and warns that tablet makers shouldn't focus solely on hardware.

 

"I went by one booth of a key semiconductor company that had nine tablets using its chip, and they all looked pretty much the same," Baharin continued. "Even worse, it just took a stock version of Android and put it on the tablets with no ties to services or any enhanced UI."

 

"Content and services, will become more important in the market," said Johnson, who says it's vital for new tablets and smartphones to be designed with a complete ecosystem of hardware, software and services in mind.

 

According to Johnson, innovations in smartphones could move quickly into tablets, especially context-aware, location-based services that leverage camera, GPS, RF and other technologies built inside mobile devices.

 

"We will also see companies exploiting the full capabilities of the sensory subsystems that we're on today's smartphones. These sensory subsystems are becoming mainstream and I think we have yet to see the full potential of these drawn out or made available to third party developers. That's going to be a bit of a wow-factor, maybe a subtle one at first, but something that will be pretty obvious in the next two or three years."

 

 

For a self-described redneck, Morris Jarvis sure doesn't fit the mold. For one thing, he's a building information modeling project manager in suburban Phoenix, not a poor Southern farmer as the true definition of "redneck" suggests. Jarvis also has a college degree -- in aerospace engineering, no less. And not one of his leather belts is personalized.

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Instead of the usual car or two, Morris Jarvis’ garage in Mesa, Ariz. contains a quarter-scale space shuttle that, when fully funded, will make suborbital test flights around Earth. Jarvis has a goal to eventually carry paying passengers in future versions of this prototype.

 

Oh, and the man has a spaceship in his garage. And he wants to send people into space using standard off-the-shelf technology.

 

The spacecraft is the real deal as far as prototypes go. And once he's fully funded, Jarvis plans to take the craft on suborbital test flights around Earth en route to a final version he hopes will eventually carry paying passengers.

 

"If I wrote a book it would be called, 'Redneck Rocket Scientist: The Older I Get the Faster I Was,'" Morris said, smiling as what he was standing next to – a quarter-scale NASA space shuttle, basically -- hardly helped sell the country bumpkin image he tries to project.

 

If Jarvis ever does write that book his friends say he should, it would probably begin with what he describes as a "dysfunctional childhood" that took him to a ranch in New Mexico and the east-central Arizona towns of Eager and Springerville. At times he lived with no radio or TV, other times he earned money splitting wood. But even if he did flirt with a sub-sophisticated lifestyle, his destiny for great things later in life was determined at the age of 4 when he watched the moon landing along with the rest of the TV-accessible world.

 

"I hunkered down in front of the TV. I was glued to the set," he said. "I struggle with the question of when I got an interest in space because there was never that moment, but I do remember the moon landing."

 

At the age of 12, Morris built his first liquid rocket engine with alcohol found in the garage and oxygen used for much different purposes by his ailing mother. The result was what they call in model rocketry as a "CATO," an acronym that stands for "Catastrophic Take Off." Or "Catastrophe At Take Off" depending on who you talk to.

 

"I didn't understand the concept of cooling yet," he recalled. "After a couple of seconds it was glowing and you could tell this wasn't going to be good. I ran for cover and the rocket blew up. It shattered. My mom came running out just in time to see me putting the last of the fire out."

 

And this man wants to take you into space.

 

"Since then I got an aerospace engineering degree and got better on that sort of thing," Jarvis said with a confident smile. "I understand that cooling is a big deal now."

 

Had Jarvis not taken a 2-year assignment in Ireland for his day job with Intel, where he's worked for 14 years, the Hermes Spacecraft project might have been at the next stage by now. That's conducting simulated landing tests with the craft attached to a trailer at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. This involves a high-altitude balloon that stretches 400 feet in diameter taking the craft to about 110,000 feet, then gliding back to Earth.

 

"That's taking the spacecraft to 3 percent atmosphere. You're basically in space," Jarvis said.

 

Initial test flights would be remote-controlled, but later could be piloted, according to Jarvis, who said the last step is to build a final version of the Hermes with a heat-resistant carbon composite skin and attached to a hybrid rocket powered first stage. After reaching approximately 150,000 feet, the Hermes would then detach and fire either a self-built engine or, if there's funding, an XLR99 rocket engine now sitting inside an old craft in California that was developed for the Air Force's X-15 project. After expending its fuel, the Hermes would then coast to reach a max altitude of 70 miles above the earth before arching over for its zero "g" return to the atmosphere. Once back inside the Earth's atmosphere, the Hermes would then glide back to Earth for a runway landing.

 

Intel technology powers most of the data gathering, test and communications systems of the Hermes, named for the mythological Greek messenger of the gods. Showcasing the capabilities of its high-performance, low-power platform products, Intel asked Jarvis to transport the Hermes to the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco in 2008. The craft's first public display was a show-and-tell for the new Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor SoC [system on chip] product line and the Intel Atom processor Z5xx series.

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Scattered about Morris Jarvis’ backyard are remnants of past projects and the first car he ever bought: a 1/3-scale Model T he paid for by doing electrical work, at age 12.

 

"This is all off-the-shelf technology," Jarvis said. "These are the same chips available to the public, as is everything else used in the making of the Hermes. The math is there, the hard physical science is out there. Nothing new – it's all cookbook stuff."

 

Jarvis makes it sound so easy. But besides know-how, who you know is as important for a project like this. Besides corporate support during various stages from ADI Engineering, Dot Hill, GE Fanuc, MicroSun and National Instruments, in addition to Intel, Jarvis has the backing of several people he affectionately calls "fellow dreamers."

 

Among them is John Oliver, an Intel computer architect and hardware designer who designed and built the remote cockpit for test use and is currently helping with marketing and fundraising. Steve Reed, another Intel employee who works in the Embedded and Communication Group, was instrumental in program approval and funding.

 

The most decorated "dreamer" has already lived the dream. Retired NASA astronaut Story Musgrave, the first person to fly on six Space Shuttle missions, attended the developer conference where the Hermes was on display. When asked by a journalist if he'd "fly in that thing," Musgrave responded "sign me up" and even volunteered to pilot the Hermes' first manned test.

 

Like with so many dreams, it's all a matter of time and money, with an emphasis on the latter.

 

"When you're working out of your own pocket, like we are, you take baby steps," Jarvis said. "To do the first balloon launch we need $1.5 million." The price tag for the first rocket launch is roughly $5.5 million.

 

"Honestly, the only thing that separates me from Burt Rutan and Richard Branson is money," Jarvis said, referring to the designer and maverick billionaire who, by this time next year, could be sending well-heeled Virgin Galactic passengers to the same destination as where the Hermes would go.

 

"Branson is charging $200,000 a ride and collecting $20,000 down payments," Jarvis said. "He already has more than $60 million in down payments. There's a lot of money in this business and we want to be a direct competitor to Virgin Galactic.

 

"Hopefully at some point we'll get that angel investor who wants to dive right in."

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The Hermes' first flight is planned to be an unmanned, tethered flight at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, during which Morris Jarvis (pictured) will control the spacecraft from a remote cockpit like this on the ground.

 

When that day arrives, by Jarvis' calculations the balloon launch could happen within a year and the first rocket test maybe a half-year later.

 

The frustrating thing for Jarvis and team is there had been funding over the years, but much of that dried up, along with a documentary on the Discovery Channel, due to the economy and that Ireland gig.

 

"Stars misaligned," he said. "I went away and everyone knew that if I wasn't pushing things the project would slow down. Then the economy just cratered. Programs like this are the first to get cut. It's no fault of anyone's."

 

No stranger to economic crashes – "I'd rather deal with those than the other kind," – Jarvis was forced to scrap the forerunner to the Hermes because of the dot-com crash of 2000. "The investor we had lined up lost his ass," he said.

 

The remnants of that project are in his backyard, along with a few of the 14 total cars and trucks that remind Jarvis why he convinced his wife to not live under the rules of a homeowner association. Some of the four-wheeled machines are eyesores -- rusted, dented, tattered interiors -- but Jarvis, who, yep, is into ground vehicles, too, is quick to point out that all but one runs and what's under the hood for some would excite subscribers of "Car and Driver."

 

"I bought a shop and my wife got a house in the process," Jarvis laughed as he stood in front of his East Mesa home, which had the selling point of a canal right-of-way on two sides and a retention basin on another. "The only real neighbor I have is a bigger redneck than I am."

 

As for Susan, his wife of 3 years, "not including a 5-year engagement and being together for 15 years plus," Jarvis said she doesn't share his passion for space and speed. "Amazingly understanding" is how he describes her. No doubt hubby scored points when after returning from Ireland he named the spacecraft the "Sensational Susan."

 

How many rednecks get to do that?

 

Morris Jarvis has a goal of being able to take paying passengers into space, using off-the-shelf technology. Here, Morris shows off his prototype spacecraft modeled after the NASA Shuttles now being retired.

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