Next month: August 1997
It turned out that the ImageMagick release I was using couldn't create a non-interlaced GIF in the format I needed directly using a single montage command (the GIF viewed fine in Netscape, but wouldn't load into the Java applet). I then discovered that you could create a Java-friendly non-interlaced GIF by passing the montage-created GIF through convert with the appropriate options (which is what I'm still doing).
Of course, I don't like the idea of having to run two utilities and create two GIFs, so I transferred the latest ImageMagick release and found that it can't create a "correct" GIF with montage at all ! It turns out that it's doing something strange with the colour palette that the previous releases didn't do, so you end up with a 246-colour non-transparent GIF where it should be 7-colour transparent GIF ! I've basically had to back out of the hacks and this chaos will probably result in a delay of the release of the applet (which I was hoping to release tomorrow, but will probably be put back until Monday now).
Worse was to come as the ISDN Max box at work simply refused to let me connect from home at around 4.30pm. By the time I decided it wasn't my end to blame, the technical staff had gone home and there was no-one to investigate. At the time of writing, I don't know if this problem has only hit me or if all the Connect staff are connectionless from home. Never mind, it gave me a chance to catch up watching Babylon 5 and ST:Voyager :-) And, yes, I had to dump the page changes to SyQuest, ready for restoring at work, something I only do when there's no ISDN available.
The live commentary and draw went smoothly and I was the quickest to display the full results again (Chris Prickett was a bit slow again - after 9pm), although I thought I wouldn't be when the woman on the Camelot phone line gave me the wrong number of 5-match winners and I had to re-phone them !
I didn't check Chris Prickett's site until I'd got the full results through and I was surprised that whilst he'd updated his home page this morning, he didn't update his pages with the winning numbers or prize amounts/winners until just before 9.30pm !
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE DOCUMENTS MAY BE PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL AND IS INTENDED FOR THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE ADDRESSEE DESIGNATED ABOVE. If you are not the addressee, any disclosure, reproduction, distribution or other dissemination or use of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please contact us immediately by telephone so that we can arrange for its return.
Of course, I'm transcribing the sales figures from the fax onto my Web pages for thousands to read :-) Don't panic, Camelot know I do this - I think the paragraph is just a cover-all.
Popped out and bought a couple more tickets for tonight's Super Draw, which was belatedly announced only yesterday by Camelot.
The bug was a consequence of attempting to keep the tickets internally in unsorted order and only sorting them when displaying them. My code fix still keeps the tickets in unsorted order behind the scenes, but now properly indexes into them prior to ticket deletion.
Well, what a fun day ! Somewhere around 11am today, the off-line server used for Connect/MerseyWorld development blew a power supply (will be fixed tomorrow) and also tripped the fuse in the machine room, bringing down 3 other machines (including the live server). We got all but the dead machine back up within an hour, but there's navigation problems with MerseyWorld at the moment (will be OK when the dead machine is fixed).
Of course, that dead machine had software and files that I use for the lottery pages, so I spent several hours today rebuilding stuff to use alternative paths on other disks (plus I even had to copy the live WWW pages onto a different off-line disk !). I took the opportunity to upgrade ImageMagick 3.8.2 to 3.8.7 (I use montage to join lottery balls together and import to dump the frequency graphs), but I found out that the program generates bizarre balls because the author has changed the behaviour of the software yet again. I reverted back to 3.8.2 for the moment.
Anyway, I think I've fixed everything now (I even had to set up new cron jobs for tonight's draw, since the dead server would normally run those) and I'm going to have "fun" tomorrow reversing all these hacks when the server comes back again. The only thing I couldn't get working properly is the automatic mirroring of lottery pages between the off-line filestore and the live server - I have to log into the live server and run the mirroring script manually, which isn't a hardship, but easy to forget !
Amongst all this chaos, I still managed to slip out and buy two extra tickets for tonight's Super Draw...
I was close to blowing my top about this because I would have easily beaten Chris Prickett to the full results if I'd been given the right info and at a reasonable speed. Instead, I had to phone the line again (got someone else, thank goodness) and obtained the correct 5-match prize. When I re-generated the stats, I identically tied with Chris Prickett, so you can imagine my frustration about this. Debbie, if you're reading this, you should be ashamed !
Received a fax from Camelot with the latest sales figures and duly added it to the pages. Since Chris Prickett hasn't updated his equivalent since mid-April, I've basically got exclusive sales info on my site from that date onwards, so I figured it was time to crow about it :-)
The live draw went reasonably well and I got the full results first time when I phoned (strangely minus the unwon jackpot amount - it was completely inexplicable why I wasn't given this - I was told the prize pool and ticket sales !) from Camelot the first time I phoned. I put those up (beating Chris Prickett) and then re-dialled for the unwon jackpot amount. By the time I'd re-entered that, Chris had re-generated his stats, so it was basically a tie (I was first to announce everything but the exact unwon jackpot)...hence, we're both "fastest on the Net" this week :-)
The University's Net connection returned at about 8am this morning, which was a relief because it could have been tricky for my live lottery updates if it hadn't (my page generation is done on University machines, which I couldn't get through to last night from home !). The live update is therefore "safe" and will go ahead as usual tonight.
The live update went reasonably well (bearing in mind I have to update the main pages and type each number into the chat room !), although Camelot took until after 9pm again to release the results and pot luck dictated that Chris Prickett phoned them up before I did and beat me to the full results.
My formula checking code immediately threw up a warning, so I phoned back and confirmed the relevant figures I needed and, yes, Camelot have made a mistake. Either they've rounded 99.6p up (when they are supposed to always round down) or they've forgotten (or have now officially abandoned) the part of the formula that insisted that you round down 45% of the ticket sales to the nearest 10p to calculate the Pools Fund.
I rushed home early today (missing a rather late 5.33pm fax of last week's sales figures from Camelot) to make sure that the move of the Ascend Max box at work wouldn't mean I'd be ISDN-less for tonight's live draw. Luckily, after some IP re-configuration, things worked again...phew !
Previous month: June 1997