Red Nose Day 2015

Red Nose Day 2015 is on 13th March. And of course I'm doing a Lecture in Rhyme. It will be all about Computer Game Development. If you've never written a computer game before, come along and find out how easy it is. In a poetic manner.

The lecture is at 12:15 on Friday 13th of March in Lecture Theatre A in the Robert Blackburn Building at the University of Hull. It is free to get in, but you might have to pay to get out.

We'll have prizes, songs, mayhem and if I make my sponsorship target I'll even turn up in a tutu.

You can sponsor me here. It's a great cause, and I've been doing the lectures for as long as I can remember.


Red Nose Day Lecture now online


I’ve lovingly rendered the entire lecture, along with slides, into a 28 minute or so action packed video which is packed with action. You can find it above. Thanks again to everyone who came along. To Simon and Peter for taking the videos and Amanda for collecting money. I’d also like to thank the lovely folks at Gadgeteer (particularly Scarlet and Clare) for sending me such a wonderful prize. If you want to do something with Gadgeteer (and you really should) you can find out more about the platform here:

Oh, and there have been some mutterings about the fact that I did manage to raise a thousand pounds but did not perform the lecture wearing a tutu. Turns out that I passed the target last night (Saturday) and the lecture was on the day before (Friday). So this means that there was (and is) no need for any kind of tutu sporting.

And anyway, I think the audience had a lucky escape. The ever-helpful Simon Grey prepared an artist’s impression of what I would look like:


..although I don’t think my arms are quite as muscular as the ones above.

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 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 "Door of Mystery"


“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..