Next month: October 2002
Talking of the official site, they have a faulty way of representing the jackpot tier when there's no jackpot winner - they say there's no winners (correct), £0 per winner (incorrect) and, er, £4,855,501 (incorrect) awarded to the jackpot winners. This also messed up their total prize pool line in the table, which of course was incorrectly boosted by £4.8m to £17,762,175. I told Camelot on the phone about this, but I doubt it'll get fixed.
Meanwhile, the official lottery site, whilst actually being available and working for a change on a draw night [thanks to the early draw no doubt] dismally failed to put the winning numbers up for either draw for a full 50 minutes [in fact, I wonder if my complaining phone call to Camelot kicked them into life]. They did at least have the full results up first, only about 10 minutes after they put the numbers up ! BBC teletext was second, with Camelot's phone line trailing in last as they usually do.
The official lottery Web site was as creakingly slow as usual and eventually capitulated to the now-familar "Internal Server Error" pages (yes, including the home page !) for about 5 minutes. Once that subsided, the full results actually were loadable, with the Camelot phone line getting them almost the same time. BBC teletext, meanwhile, unusually failed to have any prize/winners at all by 11.00pm (when the Camelot phone line shut).
I decided to check BBC teletext at 8.45pm and was very annoyed to find out that the winning numbers were up at that point and they'd announced no jackpot winners for the main draw (though they didn't have the full results at that point). I duly updated the site and got the rest of the info from the official Web site and also double-checked it via the phone line once I'd calmed down and phoned them :-) I didn't do any chat room duty because of the lack of a TV show (quite why the BBC showed a documentary instead of the lottery show is anyone's guess).
Looking at my TV mag for next Wednesday, it suddenly dawned on me that there was no lottery TV show ! Instead we get an unwelcome repeat of that awful Dawn French comedy vehicle known as The Vicar of Dibley, followed by a 9/11 documentary about the events of a year ago. So next Wednesday's draw will be done off-camera at around 9.00pm, so it'll be a panic to get the winning numbers...
No problems doing the live TV show commentary and draw and, as seems to be usual nowadays, the official Camelot Web site overloaded and either refused connections or produced an "Internal Server Error" for a full hour after the draws ! I complained bitterly about this to Camelot (since the hour after the draw is indeed the time people want to know the numbers and the full results) and they will supposedly inform their IT department.
FYI, it appears that the official site uses IBM hardware (RS/6000 possibly ?) running AIX and an IBM-branded release of the Apache Web server software. The Web pages appear to be mostly dynamically generated [yes, even the home page], which is a crucial mistake - many of those pages only change twice a week, so it's ludicrous to constantly use CPU to produce a dynamic page each time. Whatever content management system they've got clearly needs to know the concept of generating static pages wherever possible - as it stands, the site basically falls over whenever demand rises, which is hopeless.
Anyway, I used a combo of BBC teletext and the Camelot phone line to get most of the full results up about 50 minutes after the draw, but the Camelot phone line couldn't give me the Extra draw prize pool or ticket sales because their lines closed before they had the info ! Luckily, just as the phone lines closed at 11.00pm, the official site's demand-crashed server sprung into life [people obviously gave up !] and I managed to glean the missing info from there.
Previous month: August 2002