Author Archives: DiJodi Dubratt

Tall Grass House on the River

Tall Grass River 1

This is Tall Grass, nestled into a site along a river. I changed some of the interior materials to feel more at home in the Pacific Northwest setting, but you can’t really tell from the outside.Columbia west_013 edited

The parcels along this river are flat, and they encourage tenants to align their houses straight along the river, in a straight east-west direction. It is so much more interesting if you don’t do that. Angle the house so that when you stand inside your view is directed along the river bank – the view is better if it is directed up and down the shoreline. The shoreline is the interesting part. There is no law that says your house has to be aligned on  the compass points, but I rarely see houses in SL that aren’t.

Many boats sail up and down this river, and planes land here, too. I really enjoy watching them.

Tall Grass River InteriorI was only given a few hours to terraform the land. So I had to do the best I could, and then maneuver the house and the landscaping to fit what I had. I think that’s a good thing. In the real world you need to make the house fit the landscape. It’s expensive to sculpt the land to fit the house, so it’s better to start with the land, and then design a house to fit. I think much better results are obtained when you go with what you have, rather than trying to change the land fit a preconceived notion of a house. Columbia west_015


Tall Grass House Returns

A long-overdue post to announce the return of one of my favorite houses – Tall Grass.

Tall Grass vendor

Tall Grass fell victim to inventory loss, and I had no backup copy. Lesson learned. Thankfully a friend had a copy of the house. I had to painstakingly copy each prim, texture it, then add scripts to operate the doors, privacy windows and security settings. I decided to upgrade a number of the textures while I was at it, and I’m very happy with the result.

This house was inspired by the tall grass prairies of south-western Minnesota, and the Native Americans who lived there. The weather on the prairie can change rapidly from baking sun to frigid temperature, from lashing rain to snow and back to sun again in the course of a day. I’ve experienced all of that plus hail, tornadoes and flash floods, all common in Minnesota and the Dakotas. If you’re living a nomadic life on the prairie, you need a sophisticated home to protect you from this constantly changing weather.

I recently had the opportunity to examine an authentic Lakota Sioux Tipi up close, and it’s a very intricate piece of engineering. It’s what architects call “switch-rich,” meaning the dwelling can be easily opened and closed to the environment depending on how much ventilation, heating, cooling, light or shade is needed. What especially struck me was how the skin of the dwelling served as a canvas on which to record the history of the family. When the family folded up the dwelling and moved it to a new place, they took their symbolic history with them – a deeply important act for a culture with no written language.

When I designed this home a few years ago, I was interested in capturing some of the aspects of a nomadic home on the prairie – both the structure and the cladding made of lightweight, easy to transport and assemble materials, seemingly assembled directly on the earth.  While the reality of building a home like this would be somewhat complex, I wanted people to look at the materials and think “I could buy all of this at Home Depot, and screw it all together myself in a weekend.”

After I had designed and built Tall Grass, I realized it some things in common with one of my favorite houses, the iconic Magney House at Bingie Point by Australian architect Glenn Murcutt.

Murcutt also had in mind the idea of a nomadic home, built of the lightweight aircraft materials which were important in settling the Australian outback, plus the lessons about switch-rich dwellings he learned from designing for Aboriginal clients.

With a Land Impact of only 117, I really feel this house delivers a lot of interesting space and detail for very few prims. In fact, I like this house so much that I made it my own personal home, and I look forward to sharing that in my next post.

Tall Grass is on the Second Life Marketplace :

Tall Grass Dream Book 3 for marketplace

What you want to ask Ebbe Altberg, new CEO of Linden Lab

See my thought in the comments section.

Jo Yardley's Second Life

I’ve been invited to have a chat with Ebbe Altberg, the brand new CEO of Linden Lab.

I have of course a big pile of questions and there probably is not enough time to ask them all, but I wanted to give the readers of this blog a chance to ask him some as well.

So, leave your question to mr Altberg in the comments section below and if I get the chance I’ll ask it.

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I’m at the Home and Garden Expo!

I finally made it to the Second Life Home and Garden Expo as more than a tourist. I have a new home I’m selling there, with all proceeds to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

The home is called “Gull Lake” and it comes in two flavors. One is my usual Minnesota Modern North Shore palate of materials – warm wood, stone, glass, bronze.


Honestly I really like that palate, but I’m a bit tired of building with it. I’ve tried to declare the North Shore series of homes “done” for a while, but people keep asking me to do custom homes, and I don’t refuse.  But I think now I am done.

I’ve long wanted to use a quite different palate of bleached woods, concrete masonry units, grey tile and steel. It is cool, beachy, modern and calming. I am calling it the “Global Warming Edition,” as the palate reminds me of natural materials that have been blasted by the sun. This is the palate that drove the design, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Judging by the sales at the Expo, others like these materials, too.


Please visit the homes in Second Life.

The Gull Lake “Global Warming” House can be seen at the Expo:

The Gull Lake “North Shore” House can been seen in my meadow on Toor:

The Expo is really quite an experience, sixteen sims of homes, furnishings, and garden items, plus entertainment, hunts, and raffles. The talented people in Second Life are so inspiring to me, and I am very proud to be with them at the Expo.

Update on My Adult Content Neighbor

An update on my previous post:

It took 10 days, but the Sex Jungle was finally persuaded to move to the continent of Zindra, where adult content is allowed. In the mean time, I waited, and watched as my neighbor bought up most of the vacant land in the region, and continued to build adult playgrounds. My visitor count plummeted from dozens of visitors a week to zero.

After my neighbor moved, it took another report to Linden Labs to get the obnoxious for sale sign he left behind removed. And I used all of this time to think about why playing on the mainland was worth it.

Why pay $15 a month or more for something that can be spoiled in a heartbeat? Would you pay $15 a month for coffee that is sometimes bitter? Or a package of socks that may or may not have holes in them? And when you brought the socks or coffee back, you had to wait 10 days for something to happen? Of course not. You’d move on to another option.

So I dumped my mainland to a land shark, and the gallery has been moved to a private island, where it will be safe and beautiful and nobody will ever see it.

Tateru Nino recently had a good blog post about The Dynamism of Second Life, in which she noted that Second Life isn’t a product or a service, its  “the flow – the dynamism – between products, services, customers, creators, developers, communicators, marketplaces, billing systems, and more.”

When any part of dynamic slows down, the whole SL system is hurt. It’s Linden Labs’ job to keep the dynamic humming. And its hard to do, because the dynamic isn’t made of mechanical parts, its made of people. People who get tired and discouraged when the dynamic isn’t working for them, and then they stop trying.

In my case, the dynamic broke down, I stopped trying, the mainland lost a nice build, the region becomes more empty, less vibrant, less attractive to buyers. And, perhaps, it goes the way of several other regions in the area that disappeared overnight. Not a way to build a world.

I Guess Its Now OK to Have Adult Content on A Second Life Moderate Region

Despite numerous complaints to Linden Labs over the past few days, my new neighbor on Piera Salino is still there.

He now has three separate stores, each with sex pose balls in the open for anyone to use. He sells sexually explicit adult items and child avatars in the same space. He advertises in his profile and in the classifieds, inviting the public to use the space for adult activities.  All of this on a MODERATE mainland region.

All of these are blatant violations of the Terms of Service, the Maturity Ratings policies and Ageplay policy.

Why is this guy still here? Why does Linden Labs ignore blatant violations of their rules?



Why Second Life Mainland is a Bad Investment

 or, How I was Banned from the Sex Jungle

I have a little art gallery on the Second Life Mainland. I have been meaning to blog about it, but hadn’t quite gotten around to it yet. It looked like this:

It is on the top of a steep hill, with land and houses below it. I only own to the edge of the hill, not really wanting to pay very much for something that isn’t producing revenue. I figured that if somebody bought one of the adjacent small lots they would build at the foot of the hill, because steep hills seem to flummox the average SL builder.  And this has proven true for the past year.

I’ve personally always enjoyed the wild-west atmosphere of the mainland. There are your occasional jerks who just don’t care what they build, or what anyone thinks of it, but mostly I’ve found people who have expended care and thought in creating nice places. I wanted to invest  in that, and create a place on the mainland that had some architectural interest and would be an asset to the neighborhood.

I use the past tense (“This is what it looked like,”) because this is what it looks like now:

That is my gallery to the left of the black block, on the top of the hill behind the pink tree.

One of these “occasional jerks” has moved in next to me and erected a gigantic black pile of ugliness. Setting aside the aesthetics of this sophomoric attempt to create a warlock’s castle out of a shoebox and some faux stone wallpaper, there is simply no reason that this build needs to be this big, or be there at all.  People teleport directly there, so they don’t care if it’s underground, in the air, or (as in this case) on top of a couple of huge, empty boxes. And it doesn’t need to be in the snowlands, it is clumsily decorated with tropical plants, and has a tropical theme, although the word “theme” implies some coherency of purpose, and this is merely a mess. So why the owner thought this particular parcel was perfect for his business is beyond me.

But there is nothing I can do about it. My only course of action is to dismantle the gallery and abandon the land. The nice neighbors to the north don’t want the land, because their building is on the next sim, and you can’t join parcels over sim boundaries. Nobody will buy the land with the black monstrosity in their face. Its no big deal to abandon it, I didn’t pay much for it. Mainland is practically free for exactly the reason we’re seeing here – who wants to pay a lot of money for something that can be made worthless in an instant by some half-wit?

However, I may not have to leave because I don’t think the black pile will be there long. For one thing, he’s selling very cheap items for a few L$. Most of the items you can get for free elsewhere. If the quality of his wares matches the quality of his architecture, he’s not going to sell much. With Linden Labs vacuuming money out of his pocket every month, and nothing coming in, he’ll soon tire of the game.

But the real reason he won’t be there long is that the business is called “Sex Jungle” and it sells all sorts of adult items, and contains an adult “playground.” And it just happens to be located on a Moderate sim that doesn’t allow explicit adult content.

When I talked to the owner about this, he insisted that the “M” after the sim name meant “Mature,” and he had done his homework, and the land was for sale as an adult parcel, and he could do whatever he wanted with his land and why didn’t-you-just-stop-being-a-hater-and-now-you’re-banned!!!! Wow, that showed me. Banned from the Sex Jungle. I’ll never live it down.