- Saturday 29th June
For the first time in several months, the teletext mail service let me down
and didn't respond with any e-mail until Monday. This left the external WWW
sites to scrabble for the first updates and the first one to do so, at about
8.10pm, was Yearling. Next up was Mersinet at around 8.15pm, so my pages
updated at 8.15pm themselves as well (just the winning numbers) with no
further updates until the Monday as I said.
- Friday 28th June
Did the usual full range of testing, including putting the software
through gcc and lint, spell-checking, weblinting and internal link checking.
- Wednesday 26th June
I've removed the page detailing the complaint by Mersinet (via their
solicitors !) since I think I've made the point by now - the reviews
lottery links section may occasionally be brutal, but
I'm careful to make sure that they are as truthful as possible. I try
to be constructively critical in all cases, pointing out the flaws in
pages (or the illegality of them in the case of people selling UK
lottery tickets !). If a lottery site is really good, I will praise it,
but it's sad to say that there's only a handful of such top-rated sites
The tactic of nominating my own pages for a "Yell For The UK Best !"
award didn't seem to work since although I got the confirmatory e-mail
that I'd been nominated, I suspect the judges took one look at it, didn't
see any pretty graphics and ran away screaming :-) Of the shortlisted
sites for the Yell Awards categories, I'm amazed that the
Internet Movie Database
didn't appear in at least one category ! If you thought my site was
an anorak's paradise, the IMDb site holds a warehouse full of them,
with hoods to spare...
Added the usual mid-week sales stuff to the
numerical analysis section. Further improved the
lottery links code to include an icon if there was a link
check failure after 3 tries of the site (on Monday or subsequent days
if the failure is prolonged).
- Tuesday 25th June
Further adjustments were needed to the
lottery links checking code so that
it didn't retry good links during pass 2 or 3 of Monday's full link check
and also properly closed and updated the links data file when links have
been checked. Yet another scratchcard game (the 17th so far - a re-launch of
"UK Treasures") was launched this week, so the usual
info was updated.
- Monday 24th June
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #84. Adjusted the cron jobs and pages
describing them back to their more usual timeslots for next weekend's draw.
Added a Sunday 6pm cron job for the exact jackpot pool since ITV teletext
seem to be incredibly sluggish now to update the figure at the top of each
of their sub-pages to the exact jackpot pool amount. Also moved second e-mail
request back one minute to Saturday 8.08pm because it's still cached from the
first one at 8.00pm.
- Sunday 23rd June
Crazily, ITV teletext failed to update the exact jackpot pool within the
range of my e-mail requests (which I'd extended until 3pm today) !
- Saturday 22nd June
The first and second e-mail requests were too fast, although they had 5 of
the 7 numbers. Instead, Mersinet appeared to be the first on the Internet
to update (at about 9.40pm), followed by Chris Prickett's site (at about
9.55pm). Naturally enough, with these 2 sites having valid updates, my site
followed at 9.56pm by using their figures.
The first teletext e-mail to come back was BBC 2's winning numbers at 10.03pm
and this was followed half an hour later by the first valid ITV teletext
e-mail (still showing an estimated jackpot of £21.5m though). It wasn't
until 11.34pm that an ITV teletext e-mail indicated a more accurate, but still
inexact, jackpot pool of £19.4m.
- Friday 21st June
Fixed a bug in the lottery links checking code that was causing problems if
any site failed to verify during the first pass of link checks. The second
pass wouldn't commence correctly and things were left in a "bad state" to
say the least until the bug was eradicated. I've also added
and icons to all aspects of the
Lottery Links system, so that people can track down the new
links or changed reviews of existing links more easily.
I've now fixed a couple of omissions when provisional results come through
on Saturday evenings.
Firstly, there would have been no icon for the All Winning Numbers
link on the home page once provisional results have become available. This
was actually "correct" because the other omission was the failure to actually
add the provisional winning numbers to that All Winning Numbers section !
Both problems have now been resolved, so the auto-update should, for the
first time in months, properly adjust the winning number tables on Saturday
evenings from now on.
- Thursday 20th June
Received my £10 cheque from Camelot for my fourth
win and have now scanned it in as usual.
Fine-tuned the icon appearance on the home page for
the All Winning Numbers section so that it's independent of the Numerical
Analysis icon. This is because I do mid-week sales updates to the results data
file which affect the numerical analysis, but not the winning numbers
Similarly, I refined the Next Lottery home page icon so that it switches
from to if I do edits in mid-week (if I do no such edits, then the
icon is automatically removed on the Wednesday). Unfortunately, the
actual Next Lottery page can't contain
any or icons
because the manual text in that page actually isn't passed through the
bhs system. Added icon support to the Previous Lottery link on the
Received confirmation via e-mail that my pages have been nominated
(by myself !) for the "Yell for the UK Best" awards, although I don't intend to
put any silly logo on my home page, even if I do win (which I doubt I will
because the graphics aren't flashy like other sites). Added Unclaimed Prizes
and Good Causes figures for the latest week.
- Wednesday 19th June
A letter landed on my desk from the solicitors of Mersinet complaining about
the use of the term "borrowed" in my review of their lottery pages
(it was referring to ideas and not pages and encompassed other sections of their
server) and demanding an apology, so I rebuffed them by
transcribing the letter and my response to it on these pages.
Bought two more tickets for next Saturday's rollover
draw and also added scratchcards and Lucky Dip sales (still awaiting the
Unclaimed Prizes and Good Causes figures).
- Tuesday 18th June
Yes, you've probably noticed all those
and icons everywhere :-) Some of
them are manually inserted (like on this page) and others are automatic
(e.g. on the home page, where I've now have 5 lines of links instead
of 4 in order to accommodate the new icons). To add them in manually, I just
put the string "" or "" anywhere in my bhs file and
I've written code to generate an automatic
or icon if a file/dir is less than X hours old (where X is defined
The current time limits for various pages or sections to be automatically
flagged (as unless otherwise stated) are as follows:
For a multi-paged section located in a particular directory, the code only
checks changes either to the index page (the bhs source, not the generated HTML
of course) or to the data file that the section heavily depends upon (indicated
by a *). The same scheme mostly applies to the InterLotto pages as well of
course. Fixed another bug when the Saturday auto-updates re-generated the
home page - this time a rollover draw caused a mis-calculation of the draw
number of the next lottery.
Oh, before I forget, the and icons are trimmed versions of similar
graphics in the Technology Watch section of our server,
although I got them down to 809 and 238 bytes respectively by cutting down
the number of colours and doing some clean-up edits. This means that these
are the first graphics on my pages to be "designed" by the professional
graphics designers here at Connect,
although I still had to do post-cleaning to make them acceptable for my pages.
- Monday 17th June
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #83. Altered the cron jobs and pages
describing them for next week's draw because it's at 9.33pm instead of
8.03pm (Euro 96 football). Added the rollover amount (and rollover draw
counts) to the next lottery page when there's a rollover due. Moved next
Saturday's second e-mail request to be 7 minutes after the first
(9.37pm for next week, but 8.07pm for the weeks after that).
Added a Sunday 3pm ITV
teletext mail request because of the tardy update at the weekend. Performed
a major update on the lottery links section.
- Sunday 16th June
Even though I got the final e-mail request from ITV teletext back at 12.15pm
today, they still hadn't updated the £9.4m pre-draw jackpot
estimate ! It was updated sometime during Sunday afternoon (too late for
any of my requests), but this is quite surprisingly slow considering it had
been known for over 12 hours that there was no jackpot winner and hence the
rollover estimate of £20m could easily have been slotted in by Sunday
- Saturday 15th June
England beat Scotland 2-0 in the Euro 96 soccer championships (being held
here in England) and I
win my fourth 3-match £10 lottery prize - what
a great day ! The first two e-mail requests came back too fast (again, the
second e-mail returned was just a cached copy of the first...grrr), so there
was a "mixed" update (numbers from BBC 2 teletext and pre-draw jackpot
estimate from ITV teletext) at 8.27pm. ITV teletext e-mail came through at
9.16pm, but this just confirmed the numbers without adjusting the estimate.
Other UK lottery WWW sites didn't fare so well with none of them updating by
8.25pm, so my pages were the first on the Internet to have the results !
Chris Prickett's site again said "Page busy...this page is currently
being updated" - good old CompuServe, eh ? Haven't they heard of uploading
to a temporary file and then renaming at the last minute or is that too
- Friday 14th June
Fixed timezone mistake (only in the page text, not in the entry timestamp
check !) in the
virtual lottery pages when they are auto-changed
during Saturday to reflect the draw day status.
- Thursday 13th June
Switched the percentage figure attached to
unclaimed prizes to be a
fraction of the total prize pool rather than the ticket sales which makes more
sense, particularly during rollover or Super Draw weeks. Added the
usual plethora of mid-week sales figures (scratchcards, unclaimed prizes etc.)
to the pages (a day late because Camelot were a bit sluggish getting them).
- Tuesday 11th June
Finally sorted out the
lottery links code generation once and for all - all the
pages are now created to a temporary file, size checked to see if they
are non-zero and then (if they are non-zero) renamed on top of the existing
HTML file (with a check that the rename worked). This should, at long last,
prevent any zero-length index files, which happened in the early hours of
Monday morning this week.
Moved the full lottery link checking back to 2.05am on Monday morning to avoid
clashing with the GIF changer/purger (which I also slightly shifted to 2.03am
to avoid a further clash with the general page re-generator).
- Monday 10th June
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #82. Changed the second e-mail request
to be at 8.06pm because it's still picking up the cached page from the first
mail request (not my fault - it's the Computing Services Department serving
up old teletext pages !).
Nominated my lottery pages
for the Yell! Best of the UK WWW sites awards
(I've no idea if anyone else has done this, but I thought I'd sneak them in
before the closing date just in case). I didn't go anywhere near the "design"
or "innovation" categories of course, since it hasn't gone through the hands
of our graphics designers (probably a good thing - it still loads quickly !)
not putting a "nominated" logo on my pages (putting awards or rating logos on
your pages is naff) and I complained to Yell! that some American
sites had ended up on the list of nominated UK sites
- Sunday 9th June
ITV teletext finally updated their pages with an exact jackpot prize pool
figure at around 10am, so my updates picked this up at 10.43am.
- Saturday 8th June
The first two e-mails were too fast (as usual), so the WWW fall-back kicked in
and two fallback WWW sites agreed at 8.30pm, sparking an update to my pages.
Three minutes later, the next teletext e-mail request returned (numbers from
BBC 2 teletext) and included the initial £9.6m jackpot pool estimate from
ITV that had come through at 8.05pm. ITV teletext e-mail at 9.14pm returned
to take over the provisional results, although there was still no exact
jackpot prize pool and this remained the case throughout Saturday.
- Thursday 6th June
I was getting a bit bored with the HTML tables in the
winning numbers section,
so I spiced them up a bit by adding BGCOLOR attributes to the various table
tags. You need a fairly "new" browser (e.g. Netscape 3.0beta2 onwards) to
get the benefit of this of course.
I was also hoping to remove the border from the HTML tables at the same time,
but Netscape still leaves a border around each
table cell if its background colour is different from the main background
colour in a borderless table - surely a bug ? I'd have thought that each
cell's background would be tight up against its neighbours with no gaps,
but that's not the case. Getting frustrated, I went in the opposite direction
and added a big border around the tables to give them a "plinth" appearance -
if you can't fix it, then just magnify the problem instead :-)
- Wednesday 5th June
Fixed some minor table heading alignment problems in the pre-formatted
version of the InterLotto draw order page.
Also fixed the "Draw Order" link in the UK and InterLotto individual lottery
pages which had been pointing to the old location of the draw order page.
This persuaded me to run the internal link checker, which picked up other
references to the old location, so I've modified those as well.
Finally exorcised the old winning number index page which had hung around
simply because I didn't delete the old manual version once I'd written code
to generate it automatically. Added a couple of "go away !" pages in the
InterLotto section that I'd forgotten to install.
- Tuesday 4th June
Fixed a buglet with the
Lucky Dip sales page (not enough
N/A lines), but as soon as I put a note about not getting Lucky Dip
figures for a while, Camelot phoned with the latest two weeks of data !
- Monday 3rd June
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #81. With the unexpected appearance of
the number 39, a flaw in the scaling of the frequency barchart GIFs was
discovered (it was scaling off the edge !) and duly fixed. Confirmed that
the Camelot phone line no longer has details of the Lucky Dip sales, but I've
sent a letter off to Camelot asking for contacts for a regular feed of such
I finally resolved the issue of the £1 jackpot prize discrepancy for
Lottery #79 when Camelot found someone who
knew the formula (yes, it took them 2 weeks). You can read that individual
lottery page for the full details, but basically they round down twice -
once to the nearest 10p and then later on to the nearest pound !
- Sunday 2nd June
ITV teletext woke up a little bit and changed the pre-draw estimated jackpot
pool (£9.7m) to a post-draw estimated jackpot pool (£11.6m), which I
picked up at 9.05am. However, it wasn't until about an hour later that they
finally put the exact jackpot pool on their pages and I also got that
- Saturday 1st June
The first update appeared at exactly 8.05pm, which is probably a record
(only one minute after the draw was completed). A shame that ITV teletext
failed to update their jackpot figure at the top of their sub-pages today -
it wasn't until tomorrow that they got their act together.