- Monday 29th September
We decided to upgrade the OS (from HP-UX 10.10 to 10.20) on this Web
server this morning, but it wasn't too successful, so we'll try again tomorrow.
Chris Prickett's site has now been frozen for 5 days, which is one of the
longest periods I can remember him failing to update without any advanced
warning. Of course, this has added about 15% traffic to my site (although
the double rollover effect makes it difficult to judge exact amounts).
- Sunday 28th September
It's taken this site nearly three years to manage it, but it finally broke
through the 200,000 hits a week barrier for the period 21st-27th September.
Obviously, the single and double rollover boosted accesses and I got what
may be a record number of accesses for a Saturday - 37,568 (a combination of
the double rollover draw and Chris Prickett surprisingly failing to update
his pages - which is still the case this morning !).
- Saturday 27th September
No problem with the live draw (had about 7 or 8 people watching it), but getting
the full results was mightily painful - they turned up after 9pm and only
after many frustrating phone calls to Camelot (a good slice of which either
died or came back with an "all lines are busy" message).
Things were so slow at Camelot, I even had to encourage one woman to check
with her colleagues for the full results and she eventually came back and
admitted they'd got them in. All this panic didn't matter too much as,
rather surprisingly, Chris Prickett's Web site completely failed to have a
live TV commentary, a live lottery draw or even to display the winning
numbers (never mind the full results) after the draw !
Of course, this left me with a "live and exclusive" Internet tag on
what's probably going to be the only double rollover draw of the year,
so I can only presume Chris had some dire crisis that prevented him from
updating his pages on draw night.
I just realised that I had no formula for calculating the estimated jackpot
for a triple rollover (which will occur next Wednesday if tonight's jackpot
isn't won of course), so I hastily made one up tonight :-) Luckily, it turned
out that I didn't need it !
- Friday 26th September
Bought four more tickets for tomorrow's double rollover - the first time I've
ever had a total of six tickets for a single draw !
- Thursday 25th September
Took a day off and started work on a new 756-page CGI-based Prizes and Winners
section to replace the paltry 3 pages I have buried at the bottom of the
Numerical Analysis index page. Yet again, this will set a world record for the
size of a prizes/winners lottery section on the Web ! Created a new
UK lottery results category in the Lottery Links section (Colin Riddle
requested it and it was easy to do).
- Wednesday 24th September
The live update went OK (I actually had 5 or 6 people in the chat room for
a change) and I was the quickest to reveal to the nation that only the third
double rollover to date will take place next Saturday (I had the full results
up several minutes before Chris Prickett...not so close this time !).
Received the latest fax from Camelot with last week's sales figures (in fact,
it arrived at 3.16pm yesterday, but I didn't pick it up until this morning)
and I duly updated my pages with the info.
- Tuesday 23rd September
Bought two more tickets for tomorrow's rollover draw.
- Saturday 20th September
The live draw went OK, but Camelot's phone system had me on 20-25 seconds
of hold when I phoned for the full results, which turned out to be crucial
later on. It also didn't help that the woman reading them out ("Sharon")
was incredibly slow at doing so, like she was composing a novel or something.
The cumulative effect of this was that Chris Prickett beat me to the full
results by 10 seconds, which was somewhat annoying after all that, but it's
not the end of the world.
- Friday 19th September
Improved the ticket links returned from the submitted Lottery Perms form
to enter into the newer ticket checking system, rather than the old system.
Sadly, the 168 ticket perm is simply too large to pass as a URL, so that
still can't be checked across all lotteries. Also did the same for the
Number Palace links.
Added a new date range (unexpired draws only) for displaying UK
which means that 9,504 unique pages can be now be generated in that section.
Fixed PLUSLotto's Number Palace, which was going right back to draw #1, rather
than draw #73.
I've now withdrawn the virtual lottery Have You Won ? page
(I doubt very many people used it and it's using old code that I want to
phase out). The next step is to move the Lucky Dip into the Ticket Checker
as a merged sub-section and I can then finally throw away a fair chunk of
- Thursday 18th September
There was mucho confusion about tonight's prize expiry - both Camelot's
phone line and their Web site were claiming that it expired on Monday
(22nd), but I traced my finger over a calendar (180 days = 25 weeks and
5 days) and confirmed it was indeed due to expire tonight. I've informed
Camelot of their error and they corrected their Web site at 2.40pm. The
ticket did, predictably, end up expiring this evening and was added to the
Good Causes fund.
- Wednesday 17th September
Nothing startling to report - the live draw went OK and I got the
full results up before anyone else (although it took 3 calls to
get them from Camelot).
- Tuesday 16th September
Bought another couple of tickets for tomorrow's Super Draw.
- Monday 15th September
Grrr...the Computing Services Department switched off their teletext server
off the weekend, so a flood of teletext e-mails came through this morning
at 8.33am and re-generated my pages with the Irish lottery results
instead - arrgh ! I managed to correct the error less than 90 minutes after
it happened, but I still got three e-mails about it from observant users...
I'd made the assumption that all the crazily-delayed teletext mail had come
through, so I re-generated the pages without a block on the teletext mail
and, yep, you've guessed it - yet more came through. I've put a block on
future teletext e-mails to stop this annoying problem happening again
- Sunday 14th September
Performed major surgery on the PlusLotto Statistics section to bring it
closer to the UK lottery pages. This included making the Lottery Perms
page identical to the UK one, switching the Have You Won ? and Ticket Checker
pages to use the newer UK lottery system, a hi-res index page (no time to
expiry for unclaimed prizes, but otherwise the same) and some new graphics
that the PlusLotto site has.
I've also adjusted my PlusLotto referral link because there's a page with a
single text link (that does auto-jump, but it's annoying) where I was
previously pointing to.
- Saturday 13th September
The live draw went reasonably well, although the woman on the Camelot line
was a bit slow reading out the full results, so Chris Prickett beat me by
a few minutes to putting them up.
I belatedly spotted that the official Web site had put up two new
scratchcards (Fast Cash and Instants Green £75K) instead of one. A
phone call to Camelot confirmed that the Instants Green £75K scratchcard
had indeed been launched - a bit of a sneaky one that one !
- Wednesday 10th September
The live update went reasonably smoothly and I managed to get the full
results up 6 seconds before Chris Prickett, but I think that's close enough
to call it a tie :-) More importantly, I actually won £10 for the
first time since the second midweek draw back in February (exactly 60 draws
ago). Yes, this means that my three wins in 1997 have all been in midweek
Super Draws - bizarre or what ?
Had a day off and used it to tidy up all bad links (which were pointing to
the old Sales Figures and Winning Numbers fixed pages) and to weblint,
spell check, lint and gcc-compile the software and pages.
- Tuesday 9th September
I've removed the "Draw days:" option from the Sales Figures section and
merged the Saturday only and Wednesday only options into the Figures: option
because they only apply to ticket sales. This drops the number of combinations
of pages to 90, but none of them should be "blank" now unless they absolutely
have to be (e.g. early years without scratchcards or Lucky Dip).
Bought another couple of tickets for tomorrow's Super Draw.
- Monday 8th September
Cleared up most of the problems in the CGI-based Sales Figures section,
including sorting out inter-week percentage change columns, including
Wednesday sales when calculating the percentage of combined sales comprising
of scratchcard sales and fixing further links to the CGI on the generated
pages. I've also put better document titles and headings on the Sales Figures
and Winning Numbers generated pages, so that they indicate the year and
(optionally) the draw day covered.
- Sunday 7th September
I don't know about you, but I laughed when the official UK lottery Web
site put up the wrong numbers at 7.05am BST this morning - they said the
number 34 had been drawn when it hadn't (the number 36 had, in fact).
Just another example of the cowboy attitude that Nethead has to the official
UK lottery Web site - they are doing a "take the money and run" job on that
site...it's appalling ! They even claim that today's draw was a "Saturday
draw", which it wasn't. Anyway, I phoned up Camelot and the wrong
numbers were fixed at 11.11am BST.
Well, no sign of the winning numbers at 12.15am BST, which is when the draw
took place this morning. I set my alarm for just before 6.00am BST, got up
early and managed to be the first site on the Net to have the winning numbers
and the full results on the pages. Note that teletext beat Camelot's
phone line to both sets of information, which was poor on Camelot's part !
- Saturday 6th September
All power was off in our Department's Chadwick Tower building
during electrical testing and it didn't come back until about 3pm. I'd
set up my work machine to have a copy of the lottery stuff on the local
system disk rather than importing it via NFS like I usually do, so it was
still possible to update these pages.
- Friday 5th September
Received the usual weekly fax from Camelot (in fact, it was sent at 9.23pm
on Wednesday, but it didn't appear on my desk until this morning) and I duly
updated the sales figures. After a couple of months of intermittently
hassling Camelot, they gave in and admitted they'd messed up with the
jackpot amount for Lottery #159 (they paid out £1 too much to both
of the jackpot winners). I can finally get rid of that warning message
my formula verifier's been outputting for ages :-)
- Thursday 4th September
Bought another two tickets for Sunday morning's rollover draw and, yes,
they incorrectly had Saturday's date on them (obviously Camelot haven't
changed their lottery terminal software !).
- Wednesday 3rd September
Well, Camelot were pretty useless tonight - I phoned them 5 minutes after
the "invisible" draw took place and they didn't have the winning numbers,
which I find rather incredible. It looked like ITV teletext seemed to have
them up the quickest, although I was ably assisted in the chat room by
Alan Dedicoat (the voice of the balls) tonight, who gave me an exclusive
(that the draw was a rollover).
Once I'd put the rollover info up, I phoned Camelot up and, yep, they didn't
have the full results yet either. Most unimpressive to say the least - I
had to phone a second time to get the full results, which I got up at around
8.50pm, shortly after Chris Prickett. This was further compounded by BBC 1, who
not only inexplicably failed to televise the draw tonight, but had no
info (numbers or jackpot winners) for the general public available until a
staggering 9.30pm BST !
One must wonder if the BBC will back down from not televising the lottery
on Sunday morning (12.15am BST draw time), because it's a rollover with an
estimated jackpot of £14 million.
As a consequence of the first ever Sunday draw, I've made code changes
so that a "Saturday" draw is represented as a "non-Wednesday" draw :-) I've
also adjusted closing times on the next lottery page, the Java countdown and
the virtual lottery to be Saturday 7.30pm and not Sunday 7.30pm...
Launched a new CGI-based 210-page Sales Figures section, although it
needs a little fine-tuning (e.g. select just the Wednesday draws for Ticket
Sales and you don't yet get Wed-to-Wed percentage changes :-( ). Note that
because it's now CGI-based, I don't have to generate some 40-odd static
sales Web pages after a draw, so I should knock off about 30 seconds from the
total page generation time following a draw or full results update.
Of course, I had to change generated links in individual lottery pages to
run the CGI instead, but there's a lot of manually entered links that'll have
to be retro-changed at some point now that I've removed the static HTML sales
Once all the niggly problems have been removed, I'll split up the double table
stuff into single tables and add another option for sales order to the form
(which will conveniently double the number of pages to 420 :-) ). Note that
a fair chunk of the 210 pages are "empty", particularly if you select Wednesday
only options with things, and others are nearly duplicates (because "Sat+Wed"
means the same as "Sat only").
- Tuesday 2nd September
Bought two more tickets for tomorrow's Super Draw.
- Monday 1st September
A bit of a minor shocker as Chris Prickett's site (my main lottery rival)
didn't update his pages with the latest winning numbers or results until
late this afternoon. Also got e-mail from Alan Dedicoat that this Wednesday
and Saturday's lottery TV shows have been cancelled. The draws will take
place off-camera on Wednesday evening and Sunday morning respectively.