Red Nose Day 2019 is live

II’m doing another Red Nose Day lecture. This time I’m talking all about Air Quality. In Rhyme. Just because it’s important doesn’t mean that we can’t have the occasional (and I do mean occasional) laugh when talking about it.

I’m going to talk about good air and bad air, and then describe how you can get involved and build your own air quality monitors and use them as part of the awesome Connected Humber Monitair project. It might even be interesting and useful, as well as raising some proper cash for great causes.

And David from Eagle Lab Hull is going to bring along some donuts.

As usual, entry to the lecture will be free, but you may have to pay to get out. If you can’t make it to the event then you can still contribute here. And there will be a video. Oh yes. And if I hit my funding target I will wear a tutu. Again.

Red Nose Day Racing and Rhyming


Well, that was a fun day. Up bright and early to head up town to talk about the Great Robot Race on Radio Humberside, then home to write some poetry, then up to c4di to run the first race (which went rather well as you can see above). Then home for another radio chat, then tea and finally out to the University to deliver a lecture in rhyme. And race some more robots.

This is the winner of the first ever Hull Pixelbot Great Robot Race, who succeeded by using a cunning trick called "taking the race seriously".


This is the racing action at the Lecture in Rhyme

..and these are the winners of the rhyming race.

A good time was had by all, I took 149.68 over the two events, which I've generously rounded up to 150 pounds. That'll make my total takings up to over 600 pounds once I pay it all in. Not quite tutu money, but I'm happy with that.

If you want to take me closer to my 1,000 target, you can still give me some cash here.

Red Nose Day 2017

Don't forget that this Friday is Red Nose Day. I've got a couple of Hull Pixelbot themed events going on.

Great Robot Race

On Friday 24th of March at 3:00 pm in the Ground Floor Boardroom at c4di we're having a Great Robot Race. We'll have lots of robots for you to drive, and a tricky course to negotiate. With a "Big Prize" for the winner.

Robots and Poetry

On Friday 24th of March at 7:00 pm in the Large Lecture Theatre in Applied Science 3 at Hull University we'll have "An Evening of Bad Poetry and Robot Dancing". It will be the first outing of my robot dance group, tentatively named "The Pixelbotettes" (now there's a word my spelling checker hasn't seen before). They'll be going through their routines while I attempt to find rhymes for technical terms. And just so poetry fans don't feel left out of the racing action, we'll have another "Great Robot Race", just for them.

The event is open to anyone from Hull, you can find a map of the university campus here if you want to find your way to the Applied Science 3 building. Doors open from 6:30.

If you're in Hull, you should come. If you're not in Hull, I'll make sure that it is all captured lovingly on video so you can enjoy (ha!) it later.

Sponsor Me

Please, please, whatever you do, sponsor me here. If I get more than 1,000 pounds pledged I'll consider bringing the tutu out of retirement. If I get more than 2,000 pounds pledged I'll definitely not wear it. Now there's an incentive.


A sneak peek at the "Pixelbotettes" at their first rehearsal....

Red Nose Day Robots

Comic Relief Lecture Poster.png

I've got confirmation of the venue for my world famous (in my world) Comic Relief lecture in rhyme for 2017. I've been producing bad poetry in aid of charity for over twenty years. This year I'm breaking one of the immutable laws of showbiz:

Never work with children, animals or robots.

My lecture will be accompanied by a horde of Hull Pixelbot robots, each of which has a mind of its own (and isn't afraid of using it). You'll even be able to control the robots yourself during the lecture. As long as you've sponsored me here.  

I've chosen a crack team of robots to help in the presentation. Above you can see them being put through their paces.

The lecture starts at 7:00 pm in the Large Lecture Theatre in the Applied Science 3 building on the Hull University campus. You can find a map of the campus here.

There is free admission to the lecture but, as always, you'll have to pay to get out. I'll have robots guarding all the doors.

Please come. Bring money. Bring a friend. Bring pies.

Red Nose Day MonoGame Video Now Online - with Tutu Action

"Because the world definitely needs a man dressed in a tutu explaining how to create video games....."

After a bit of time learning how to use Adobe Premiere again (I learn to use it every time I have to make a video - at six month intervals) I have now got the recording of the Red Nose Day lecture ready for the waiting world.

You can choose to regard it as either a "Poetic masterpiece combining rhyme and technical achievement in a single, flawless whole" or "Twenty minutes of my life I won't get back". Whatever.

But if you do get anything out of it, please throw some money my way by visiting here:

Red Nose Day Lecture, with Tutu pictures

Well, there goes any level of credibility that I might once have had. The lecture in Rhyme went well, but at the start I was overcome with guilt about reneging on my Tutu promise for two years in a row. I hadn't met my, admittedly very ambitious target, but over 800 quid is not to be sniffed at. Thanks for your generosity folks.

Anyhoo, I took pity on the audience (is that the right way to put it) and tutuified myself as you can see on the right.

After that it was pretty much an anti-climax I guess. The audience were great and laughed at nearly all the jokes.


A video was taken and I'll have it onto the Internets as soon as I can. Because the world definitely needs a man in a tutu explaining how to create video games.

My favourite bit though was when I was doing a tutorial session this afternoon and someone said they were a bit upset to find that I'd changed back into my normal outfit. So I said, "You mean you want a tutu-tutorial?". I live for moments like those.....

Rob at 10 Downing Street

Well, that was fun. Some time back I had some correspondence with the Red Nose Day folks about my efforts with the charity over the years. Turns out I've been doing lectures in rhyme for nigh on thirty years. Which is scary. (actually my plan is to keep on doing them until I get one right...)

Anyhoo, the result of this was an invite from Samantha Cameron, wife of the Prime Minister, to a reception at Number 10 Downing street. Along with a stern injunction not to make a fuss until after the event was over, for security reasons.

The good news is that now I can tell folks about it. The great news is that the event was amazing. We turned up with a mix of fund raisers and Red Nose Day partners and spent a while in this posh reception room drinking free drinks and eating free food.

Samantha Cameron gave a lovely speech about the work of the Red Nose Day folks and then David Walliams, of Little Britain and Channel Swimming fame, turned up and read his Comic Relief book "The Queens Orang-utan" . Finally there was a speech from the Comic Relief head honcho, who's name I've sadly forgotten. Apparently they expect the charity to break the one billion pounds raised barrier on Friday, which would be completely amazing.

Another  David, David Tennant, turned up to mingle. Sadly he moved on before I managed to have a chat or grab an autograph, but I did manage to get an autographed copy of David Walliam's book, which was wonderful. After that we had more mingling, drinks and nibbles. Turns out all the folk involved with Comic Relief are all splendid people. Who'd have thought?

Then, on the way out we all queued patiently to take our pictures on the hallowed threshold of the home of the Prime Minister. There was a strict embargo on the use of phones and cameras during the event, but it was nice to get one "I was there" image.

I do the lectures because they are an interesting challenge to write and great fun to deliver. Plus they bring in a bit of cash. It was really nice to be recognised for the work. The next lecture is on Friday 13th of March at 12:15 in the Robert Blackburn Building on the University of Hull campus.

You are welcome to come along. Free to get in, but expensive to get out....

If I hit my target, I'm wearing a tutu to deliver the lecture. You can sponsor me, and bring me one step closer to total embarrassment, here.

Red Nose Day Tags Now Available

If you have discovered that what is missing from your life is a small, 3D printed piece of plastic with a unique arrangement of disks and squares on it, in a variety of colours, then I have just the thing for you. A Red Nose Day tag.

They are on sale in aid of Red Nose Day from our Departmental Office in Computer Science. They look great on a key-ring or as novelty ear-rings. Every one is unique and we will be using them in the lecture on Friday for some fun and games. They only cost a pound each. Bargain.

And don't forget that you can sponsor me, and maybe get me into that tutu, here.

Seventy Degrees Print Bed for Perfect Prints

I've been doing a lot of 3D printing lately. For some reason I've got it into my head that it might be neat to sell little 3D tags as part of the Red Nose Day event. Which means I have to print them. Una, my lovely 3D printer has been misbehaving a bit of late, prints have not been adhering to the print bed very well and their undersides have been a bit rough.

Last night at C4DI I was talking to Robert and he reckoned the way to get perfect prints was to print with no adhesive on the bed and whack the printing bed temperature up to 70 degrees (which is actually rather hot for my tastes).

Anyhoo, I tried it today and it works a treat. The PLA sticks to the clean glass surface and then when everything cools down the prints just pop off the print bed with no problems. And each print has a lovely glassy smooth finish on the bottom.

I'm kind of annoyed that I didn't try this earlier. Why would I have a heated bed on the printer if I didn't actually make it properly warm? Anyhoo, I'm now turning out lovely tags. They'll be on sale next week.

Free Red Nose Day Games

If you have a Windows 8 or more PC, or a Windows Phone 7 or more phone, you can sample my wonderful Robs Red Nose Game.

  • Windows Phone version here.
  • Windows PC version here.

Once you've played it for a while you can then go and sponsor me here.

Pro tips for the game:

  • When it asks you to touch all the noses, it means at the same time. I promise there won't ever be more noses than fingers.
  • When it asks you to turn the nose upside down, turn your phone or tablet face down. According to Peter this works really well with docked Surface machines. Or something.
  • It gets really hard in the later levels, when the noses start falling off the screen.

To See More of this Picture - Sponsor Me

Last time I did a Red Nose Day Lecture in Rhyme I offered to wear a tutu if I hit my target on the sponsorship page. Rather sadly we missed by only 16 pounds.

This year the offer still stands, and to show my faith in my sponsors I've actually bought the tutu.

So, if you want to see me make a complete fool of myself, as opposed to the incomplete version that is normally on show,  you can sponsor me here.

Red Nose Day + Three Thing Game + Pink Tutu : What could go wrong?

A note for your diaries folks. On Friday 13th of March I'll be doing one of my (in)famous Lectures in Rhyme in aid of Comic Relief. You can find out more (and sponsor me) here. You can also marvel at the strange distortion of my face in the picture. Or perhaps I always look like that. Ugh. 

Anyhoo, after the fun and frivolity of the lecture we'll be embarking on a Red Nose Day themed Three Thing Game. We'll have "rent a thing" events and allow you to exchange your real money for extra "Bank of Thingland" pounds to get more auction winning powers.

My fundraising target is £1,500. If we reach that before the event I will do the lecture wearing a pink tutu. Apparently you can get away with a lot of stuff in the name of charity.....

Sooo Close.


By a combination of RFID tag sales for the prize draw and accosting people who were injudicious enough to turn up at the lecture carrying money (I did let one lad keep his bus fare home though) I was able to take 210.90 pounds in cash down to the bank this morning and pay it into the prize fund.

Added to the amount given by my wonderful sponsors, this takes the total to 984.98. Just fifteen pounds and two pence short of me having to wear a tutu for the lecture.

Talk about precision planning. Go me.

If you haven't got round to sponsoring me and want to send me over the edge, so to speak, you can still donate at:

Red Nose Day Fun and Games


Some of the audience, before the show started. Profuse apologies to the folks on the very front row. For some reason I didn’t point the camera in your direction.

Today did not dawn in an auspicious manner. I went into work prepared to put the starting touches to the presentation (only kidding, it was actually mostly written, but I have a policy of never finishing a talk until just before I really need it.). Anyhoo, I plugged in my shiny Sony and got all manner of USB “in and out” sounds. Truly, my machine was playing the hokey cokey with all my devices. A dance which ended with a bunch of unknown USB devices in Device Manager. Oh well. My first thought was my keyboard, but experiments indicated otherwise. USB hub then.

Ho hum. Time for a reboot. So I shut the machine down. And found I had 14 updates outstanding. Arrgh. This of course made my machine unusable for a lot longer than I had planned for. Wah. And when it came back, of course the USB drivers for the Gadgeteer (the thing my Lecture in Rhyme was all about) had broken. After another reboot (five updates that time) I managed to get something to work. By now we were about fifteen minutes from the presentation. No pressure.

Anyhoo, thanks to an awesome audience I managed to get through it all. Even when the demo failed because of lingering USB issues. Fortunately “The Door of Mystery” worked fine, and picked key number 71.


This is the lucky winner. I look a lot more pleased than him, perhaps because I’ve finished the lecture.

There are videos of the lecture, but they are kind of meaningless without the slide deck. I’m going to spend some time this weekend making a “director’s cut” with a narration that will hopefully make more sense.


Thanks to every one who sponsored me, the folks who turned up and had their pockets emptied, and apologies to the three people who wandered into the lecture theatre just after we had started only to have me point at them and shout “NEW PEOPLE. GET MONEY FROM THEM!” Apparently they turned tail and left in a hurry. I hope they’ve stopped running by now….

Red Nose Day Rhyming



I spent a big chunk of this evening writing poetry. Thanks to Carl for his donation, which gets him into the script.

As long as I can find something that rhymes with “Carl”.

If you want to sponsor me, and who doesn’t, then visit:

If we get more than 1,000 pounds then I will wear that tutu. You can find out more about my previous Red Nose Day triumphs here and here.

We will definitely video the lecture, and who knows, some of the students might try to live stream it too. Keep coming back here, and to my Red Nose Day sponsor page for news.

Red Nose Day Door of Mystery


Sometimes a good idea can take away your entire Sunday.

“The Door of Mystery” is an unique fundraising idea that takes the old style, simple, raffle idea and turns it into a new, high-tech, complicated form. To take part all you have to do is buy one of our special “Red Nose Day” tags for two pounds and then take it to “The Door of Mystery” at my office in the Robert Blackburn building to find out your entry number. Then, at the presentation on Friday we will build a “Door of Mystery” machine of our own and then use it to pick the winner of the competition. The prize, courtesy of Microsoft Research Cambridge, is a Gadgeteer kit of your own.

The tags contain an RFID chip which is read by a Gadgeteer board inside the door unit. The unit contains an SD card with a list of RFID values which are mapped to entry numbers. Show your tag to the door and it will tell you your magic number.


This is the guts of the prototype device. I’ve cannibalised my Tweet Printer case to use for the project. I’m going to print a proper one later. If I get round to it.


I’ve got 100 RFID tags to sell for Comic Relief. Each one has been keyed to the system and you can buy them from the departmental office. Perhaps we’ll think of other uses for them over time..

You can sponsor the whole shebang over at:

Red Nose Day with Gadgets


I’m doing it again. For more money. If you want to see a show that has laughter, tears and pathos (and that’s just the hardware demos) then you should come along.

You should also sponsor me at:

I’ve set the target really high, at 1,000 pounds. But if I get that much I will do the entire lecture wearing a tutu.

And just to let you know, I have sooo got the legs for a tutu.

Red Nose Day Pictures


Some of the audience, watching me code under pressure in rhyme

Jamie Wins a Phone

Jamie picks up his winnings. Don’t I have big elbows?

Agnes Picks up her phone

Agnes was the winning bidder of the second phone. This is where the money changed hands….

We’ve done the final tally and it turns out that adding together the sponsorship money, the cash taken on the day and phone auction we ended up raising over 1,260 pounds for Comic Relief. Great stuff. Thanks to everyone who helped. To Microsoft for providing some lovely prizes and an awesome phone, to Adam and Mike for sterling technical support and the audience, for laughing in most of the right places.

You can find a video of most of the event here: I’m trimming the live recording together at the moment, should be available soon. If you have any pictures of the occasion then I’d love to see them. Put them on Flickr tagged Robinrhyme.

Many apologies to the hapless lecturer in the session before mine, who must have been perplexed as to why there was a huge number of students in silly hats waiting outside, and a nervous bloke trying to get in and set up some cameras and stuff…

And now I’ve got a First Year tutorial. Not in rhyme, thank goodness.