Fred Beckhusen is the President of his company Micro Technology Services, his expertise is in computer design, programming and video systems architecture.
He also supports Open Source and game development in the world of Second Life as the avatar Ferd Frederix with http://www.free-lsl-scripts.com He loves to play with and write about free and cheap tools for making 3-D objects too.
Specialties: microcomputers, software, electronics, electronic management
We are very fortunate to have Fred join the opensim community over ten years ago with his wife Debbie. Together they share a special magic that graces the projects they give to us.
Fred has created and explored extensively while here in the opensim, sharing all the knowledge and content he can through his Outworldz website.
https://www.outworldz.com/ he also has a MeWe community https://mewe.com/group/5bc12bdc322b35103f0965d3 where new DreamGrid (https://outworldz.com/Outworldz_installer/) owners chat at the social site about any technical issues they might have. You will find many of us shooting the breeze on any given day cutting it up and having a good time. Fred encourages chat and communication which creates a healthy community.
He has also contributed to the Ruth and Roth mesh avatar GitHub repository https://github.com/ingen-lab/Ruth, a legally created avatar for the opensim community.
I recently visited his Outworldz grid to really absorb the genius which is Mr. Beckhusen.
Upon arriving you are greeted by whimsical cows that chase you around and bump into you as if asking you for attention.
First thing Fred explained, “I use a lot of materials and normal maps. I hope you have Advanced Lighting model on.
Fred asked if I would like to see his latest project Silent Refueling.
He explained a bit, “Yes, upstairs they are refueling the ship for the last run. It’s in orbit around Saturn. There’s been an accident so its delayed launching the pods to space. The Valley ogre is the host ship. Bruce goes crazy when Earth orders the last remaining plants and animals to be blown up. This is a week or so before that.”
Fred was scurrying about explaining as I tried to pick my jaw up from the floor, completely awestricken by the details in this project. When he would ask did you see this or that, I literally could not speak, there are layers upon layers of many well thought out details. Please allow yourself plenty of time when you explore Fred’s worlds there is so much to absorb.
We then proceeded to Rapunzel’s beautiful little world Tangled Up With Rapunzel. Based on the movie by Disney’s “Tangled”. Fred explained, “The making of Tangled is a good show. Did you see the sequel? There is a short film on Tangled featuring the horse and the lizard. It’s over the top hilarious.”
Here is an intro to Fred’s Tangled Up With Rapunzel, Video
Fred lovingly created all the details seen using Blender. His realistic renderings are what sets his world apart, the use of his textures and materials. See if you can find her crown, hidden about. When you do, please notice the sparkle and shine he has achieved.
A while back I had asked him what he used for creating realistic textures because I was hoping to achieve more realistic metals for my jewelry. Fred explained that he utilizes Substance Painter for creating his brilliant textures.
Substance Painter has a cool physical paint brush that magically applies the material to your model, I love this program too. Even still, metals inworld cannot ever be as realistic as in the real world. We don’t have the same lighting.
Fred explained that we utilize (PBR) and gold is actually black. Physically based rendering (PBR) is an approach in computer graphics that seeks to render graphics in a way that more accurately models the flow of light in the real world.
Even still he manages to create beautiful gold pendulum on Rapunzel’s clock .
Keep venturing on until you find the Nic exhibit if you want your mind totally blown.
I followed the magic effect- riding the NPC horse. Here you will discover a Nicolas Cage inspired project of his image plastered on every item in the room.
If you adore Nic like I do, this room will inspire. It has been described as “Hypnotic, disturbing, glorious", by SLHamlet seen here
Surprisingly, the castle from Tangled wasn't yanked from a game or what have you, but emerged full borne from the head of Fred: "Stared at Disney screen caps, played every Tangled game, watched the movie about ten times. Its scratch built except some chairs and small stuff."
Venturing on I had to visit Fred and Debbie's Gorillas in the Mist installation, you can visit Virunga Mountains, Karsimbi home of the main troupe of mountain gorillas, and herds of wild beast.
Dian Fossey first discovered in the 1970's. Today the Virungas are threatened by war, oil drilling and encroachment by charcoal gatherers and water seekers. Eco-tourism is a blessing and a curse, as eco-tourism drives the economy of both Uganda and Rwanda yet also brings outsiders and pressure to commercialize these very few precious creatures.
Zebras, elephants and other creatures all built using scripts from the Free Script Library at Outworldz. These animals use just two scripts from the library: The All-In-One NPC recorder and the Rider script.
Virunga has many more things to see and do, and there are more herds of wild animals.
Here you will even see Dian Fosseys Home and The Lodge. A plane ride that takes you to their model of the real Virunga Lodge, near the Roz Carr house and her beautiful gardens at Mungongo, Roz Carr's Flower Plantation - next to the plains with the herds of wild zebras. You can go directly to the destination airport, too, at Virunga Airport - take a car to the Virunga Lodge and enjoy the view.
And to your right, across the lake, is Ruhengeri- an African town near the mountain gorillas.
Quite simply, they have given us their “Dream”, it is all here for us to explore, how cool is that to be inside Ferd’s head. These are just a few of his attractions at Outworldz grid. You too must take the time and venture out and explore this phenomenal grid.
I think the community would love to learn the magic behind this incredible man, I wanted to ask our Ferd Frederix a few questions:
Thank you, Fred for taking the time to reflect and share with us your remarkable journey through the metaverse from the early days of Second Life (SL) until now.
MM-Each day I am impressed by the troubleshooting and resolutions I see at the MeWe social site, your immense knowledge astounds me. What was your major and where did you acquire so much technical knowledge?
FF-I got this great job at Mostek when I was just 19, still in electrical engineering school, where we made the first 4k Bit dynamic RAM chips, the HP-35 calculator family, and later, every Fairchild, Motorola, Intel, Zilog and Olivetti microprocessor. It was like a toy shop. I was a group leader with a team that troubleshot hundreds of extremely complex chip-testing machines and PDP-11's. I was able to build microcomputer systems as a hobby before the chips were available commercially, such as an F-8 microcomputer system that played a decent chess game in 1K of RAM. My favorite was a Z80 with a paper tape version of the earliest Star Trek game. I wrote the 16 K Basic interpreter for a test machine at work, and used Star Trek to debug it.
I transferred into the microprocessor design group where we made high performance VME and STD bus systems. The engineer that hired me back then is still working for me on high-end digital thermal and night vision cameras for military and space use. I started a Unix computer company in the early 80's doing hardware designs, and ported three versions of Unix to it. For the last 35 years I've been designing systems and circuits and software in a lot of different computer languages at my company, Micro Technology Services, Inc. (www.mitsi.com). I think of Mitsi as a toy shop, too, and it is a great place to work.
The great thing about my job is I get to work on high-cool-factor things with some very smart people. We were the first company to make a Tempest-rated Trusted Computer for MS-DOS and then Windows. My work on high performance disk controllers led to a design win for SCSI adapters for the first 486 computers. I know Solidworks, a 3D design package, so I get to "play 3D" at work, even though I am slightly cross-eyed and have no depth perception. A lot of our work is protecting people with duress buttons and mass notification systems. We have over a half million 'Don't Panic" buttons in major corporations, hospitals, the VA system, and school systems all across the USA. One of the more unusual things are the first SMT boards for the Space Station. I also led the team on a Saudi Prince’s graduation present - a gold-plated 737 jet with $800-a-yard silk carpet and a real mess of microprocessors. Worked on the CPU for the Casablanca ceiling fans, the first microwaves and IV pumps, a burglar alarm design for Ford, the MarcStar radio receiver and transmitter for T.I. used in tens of millions of cars and keyrings. Their lawyers insisted that we never use their legal name, but agreed that T.I. was not their legal name, so I could mention it. So, I do, often!
At the moment, I am building replacement backup generator controllers for a nuclear power plant. Also am designing mechanical stuff for a new Strobe light controller for school alert systems.
MM-Please reflect we are fascinated to know more. What brought you to Second Life, then on to Opensim?
FF- In 2006, my sons went off to college together and suggested I would like SL and they could use it to chat with me. They did, one time. And they never call. I met Debbie online a year later. We both became SL Mentors and spent several years in the Help Islands teaching people how to enter by clicking the stupid "Exit" sign. And how to dig shoes out of their butts, and lots of other things. They had 15,000 people joining a day back then, and we got to teleport in and out of the Help Islands to help them. We worked together for several years on a very powerful and easy to use (and free) translator. Together we gave away about 140,000 of them. We eventually got them placed in all the Orientation Islands and all the Help Islands. And convinced Blondin Linden to finally fix the stupid sign. Eventually we convinced Philip to pay to add it to the viewer.
I love Opensim even more, because we are both constantly learning new things every day. DreamGrid is another way where we can help many others. I still learn something new every time I log in or help someone set up a grid.
MM-With the DreamGrid software app you have given persons the opportunity to create their very own grid. You have helped countless persons such as myself set up for the first time. Thank you. Where did you get the idea, it is brilliant.
FF- I was using Sim-on-a-Stick back in 2011 to 2012 to scratch-build a David statue without upload fees. I just found the oar again (Condensation Club) last week. This is the finished statue in 2012. It was done in AC3D.
The Mowes package that SOAS uses had links to a web site which had been hacked, and so it was dangerously virus prone. The first DreamWorld was a replacement for Mowes to make it safer, and it also Autoplayed everything from a read-only DVD. It came with a pre-setup viewer with the Linda Kellie "Western Town" OAR and my Dream horse ready to run on it. It took a year to code, and the horse about 18 months to make, all done while SL had mesh in Beta. Amazingly, Opensim had mesh in a few days.
A donation to a Horse Rescue charity would get you a DVD. I later open-sourced it. Then I figured out how to make a DreamGrid run out of a single folder. It has 2,843 commits now, so it has changed a lot in the few 3 years.
MM-Many of us have seen your hilarious Grid Outworldz, it is so wonderful and whimsical, tell me about those silly cows please, how were those created? The sheep too please share with us about the neat animated animals you create and what the process is.
FF- Debbie and I were out shopping. I lost Debbie in all the shoe aisles, and realized the place had scripts and rez enabled. I put a follower script in a ridable cow and found her in no time at all. I should have patented that idea. It was also funny. The next Christmas we had a sled with 8 merry rein cows. It scattered cows all over the sim. I learned many ways to hide cows so they would jump out at her from unexpected places. A herd would swim out to her when she took a boat ride. Mooing in our castle she traced down to a cow on the roof. One was set carefully as a physical prim, up in the top of a tree that I knew she was going to move, so it rained cows. She became expert at dressing mooFerd up for various holidays. The original had a gas pedal that would increase thrust as a way to push themselves past obstacles. But I failed to code a way to let off the gas. We had upwards of 500 people a day visit us back then and someone would always ride off on a cow. It would usually come trudging back. People would always push it and ride it as far as it would go. MooFerd would come running at high speed after bashing its way through a fireplace or some other obstacle. So, I left that code bit out, as it was hilarious. It was definitively a feature and not a bug.
MM-I have always been curious to know more about your regions. How many do you have, what themes and please share a bit about them.
FF – 135 open source OARS are available now. I have about 25 more or so of our own creations that I gradually give away. A half dozen I paid-for redistribution rights, and so you get them for free.
Our favorite creation is an African simulation in Dian Fossey's time named "Virunga". Debbie always loved Africa. It was our first major multi-year project. Debbie and I worked together on everything, and we both animated the animals. We both love how simple scripts can make them seem alive. I also love Alexandria Egypt which was a massive project for ridable animals. A lot of creativity comes from thinking of what year a sim is actually in. Alexandria is made for the day Cleopatra died, 30 BC, on August 12th. The same day Marc Antony, her guard who failed to stop her, and her handmaidens all died. Sadly, that is the day that democracy died, too. Egypt, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, and all of Africa was enslaved as the personal property of Caesar Augustus. Over the next 4 years, he had 25,000 elephants shipped to Rome to be killed in the arena.
As another example, it was hard to figure out what to do with Cinderella's shoe. Was it on the floor of her bedroom? Or with the guards and Prince discovering it? What year was it? We finally decided that the Cinderella sim is on the anniversary of their wedding. From that one idea we knew what to do. The King and Queen are dancing in the ballroom with the mice and Fairy Godmother, who had made them into horses to pull the carriage and are now back again as mice. There is line of citizens waiting to see the famous slipper on display, and some of the guards are dancing in the kitchen to the music from the ballroom. From that and the extra room we changed to the French Disney World version, where their dragons in the caves below. It was a very nice solution to how to bring attention to a shoe.
The carriage is really nice with 11 different NPC's in it. The Fairy Godmother makes it from the pumpkin. It's free to copy too. Just search for Cinderella and take a copy of the pumpkin or the carriage that appears.
MM- Many of us have read the beautiful love story of you and Debbie, it is simply magic. A fairy tale of love that intertwines virtual and the real world, this is quite rare.
I have seen the mesh items she creates too. Does she help with creating your mesh animals? Please share, we would love to know more about her.
FF- We remote desktop to share screens and talk almost every day. We have literally hundreds of projects in a shared dropbox we work on together. Most of what we have done was originally inspired by her. She often asks if I can make something that is impossible, which can't be done, not in our engine, well, maybe it can, if this happens, and maybe.... hmmm. Such as the first ridable NPC animal, a tiger. I was able to make one for just her avatar in Second Life. Eventually, after a lot of work, a rideable tiger worked in Opensim. So, Virunga finally came alive with ridable elephants and other animals.
We both know Blender, and she has taught me quite a few things, like how to make bed coverings for the drapes for Cleopatra's bed.
MM-Many of us utilize your Outworldz website for various items needed as we build our regions. We can find everything here from .oar files to sculpt maps. How do you keep so organized and focused on so many details, does Debbie help with the website too?
FF- No, I am the data hoarder. I use lot of languages, for web sites, it’s “Modern Perl". This means looking at data modeling first, and separating the look from the code. I use a No-SQL system named DBIX::Class to Microsoft SQL and Mysql databases. It runs web crawlers, the Dynamic DNS systems, and lots more. Adding a new OAR is as simple as saving an OAR, with a JPG photo and a text file to describe it. A sculpt would be a PNG, and the system knows to build a 3d rotated GIF automatically using Java. The entire system fits on the back of my LCD in a 4" square NUC PC.
MM- What impresses me the most is that you came onto the scene quietly and created your magic. Never calling attention to yourself or your projects, yet your membership is growing and loyal. I have seen others come along bringing attention to their projects and goals many times these people fail, I think it is because they forget the caring part that you express in everything you do. Please tell me how do you manage to address so many technical issues and attentions to details being just one man?
FF- Lists. Lots of lists. I renamed my Alexa to "Computer" so I can yell To-Do's at her at work and from every room at home. And so she can argue with Data when Star Trek Voyager is on. She likes that. She was in earshot during "While You Were Sleeping" just last week. At one key point, Sandra Bullock says "Peter has one testicle". Alexa heard "Computer add one testicle", so I have that on my list now. I told this to Debbie, and now I have two testicles to get.
MM- How many DreamGrid owners are there now?
FF- 6,156 unique grid names have been booted up and used, though it's overly precise to say so. It is difficult to say anything accurately as almost everything changes, such as IP addresses. So, these numbers can only be compared to older numbers, over time.
Known DreamGrid installs = 6156
Known other Grids = 696
Total = 6852
MM-What are your current and future goals with DreamGrid.
FF- I have a long list of things I would like to do. The most interesting long-term item is to make it run regions on teleport demand, which takes up only as much RAM as you have people in
different sims. It works somewhat now, but only for me. Opensim is like an operating system by itself, with over a million lines of code in it.
MM- What world do you find yourself in most Second life or Opensim?
FF- Opensim, by a lot. I only go to SL to figure out how my birds flew so well there. They don't work as well in Opensim, and I want to fix that.
MM- You have a love for creating .oar files to share freely. I have the Hobbiton Collection which I adore. Please tell us how your .oars are brought to life after realizing the vision? Do you have a set team of persons that help you create them?
FF- Debbie, Joe Builder of Lost World and I collaborate on many things. I purchased redistribution rights to the original Hobbiton as it was very pretty. Then threw out the houses due to copyright issues and made entirely new ones in Blender. We collect sets of pictures for all to see to get the right layouts. I also had access to an employee’s awesome and complete collection of Hobbit books and DVD's. Joe spent weeks tweaking the waterfalls and adjusting hobbit houses. The road is a good example of a simple but invisible change. It was rebuilt in mesh with part of it phantom and part solid with high physics. This lets you ride the horse or the wagon smoothly, and Gandalf can ride his pony cart down it without banging into the rocks that line the paths. Hobbiton was also ideal for a Satyr Farm, so Debbie looked everywhere for open source models for the NPC farmers. David Monday of the GCG grid updated and contributed to the farm. Debbie spent at least a hundred hours, maybe more, making adjustments to the farm. She grew the peaches and made the ingredients for each pie that is sitting on the table.
The next major project is almost done. It is based on a 1974 movie, "Silent Running". What day is it? Just before the movie was filmed on board the Valley Forge, a real aircraft carrier.
MM - With so much questionable content in opensim on every single grid, what are your thoughts as far as what happens now that it is all here? Do you ever see Linden Lab taking action about the content leaving Second Life illegally?
FF - I highly recommend that all grid owners, even those overseas, sign up at the U.S. DMCA office and pay the $6.00 annual fee to file a Registered Agent. This is a necessary first step for legal protection against stolen content. You also need a public DMCA policy as shown in the sample TOS in DreamGrid. This will protect your grid from any content uploaded by others, provided that you follow the simple rules. It does not let you steal anything. It only works for innocent grid operators to protect them from others.
MM- What is your own dream for Opensim? What would you like to see evolve for the software and then also the community?
FF- I love the community spirit of Opensimulator within the DreamGrid owners. I would love to see that grow. I think it’s because you finally have control of your virtual life. People gather together at Mewe to talk through their difficulties, to share a morning coffee and make jokes. And they love to chat about it, as Sunbeam Magic did, and now you. Thank you for doing that here!
Join Mewe at:
Fred, it has been quite the honor that you would accept the interview and share with us a little bit about you. I know many share in my sentiment when I say, thank you Fred we adore you.
Mari entered OpenSim in 2015 as a resident of a grid in Canada, called to manage their magazine as an Editor, thereby meeting her future partner Reyn Softly.
Fred Beckhusen's DreamGrid