Next month: November 1997
What was even more surprising was how incredibly sluggish teletext was. ITV teletext finally put the full results up about 20-30 minutes after me and BBC teletext only admitted that there was one jackpot winner just after 10pm (over 30 minutes after I had the full results up), nine 5+bonus winners about five minutes after that, but no full results until about 90 minutes after the draw had taken place.
Clearly Camelot must have procrastinated sending the details out to the press services, allowing ordinary members of the public to phone up and get the results (or look at my Web pages of course) whilst teletext sat on their behinds waiting for the info to be dished up them on a platter (and hugely late).
BTW, BBC teletext no longer puts the lottery results as a newsflash off its main news index (page 102), so its lottery section (pages 555-559) is now crucial for informing its viewers and this makes its well below par performance tonight doubly disappointing. Shame on you, BBC teletext !
I've added an option in the Ticket Checker to add up to 14 tickets at once to the check in a manner similar to the old system (although this is better because it allows pasting multiple rows of numbers from another window into the free-form text box in addition to manually typing them in).
Several people had requested comma-separated values for the winning numbers so that they could import them into spreadsheets like Excel or perhaps into lottery databases. I've coded these now as bare-bones pre-formatted text pages (no bolding, no links, every field separated by a comma and minimal headers and footers).
Admittedly, I was also spurred on by Colin Riddle, who's starting to become my main rival and is currently supplying a comma-separated winning numbers list on his pages.
I switched the live commentary to the Web home page instead and the live updates went OK. I was fastest to get the full results on the Net (and I beat ITV/BBC teletext) as usual.
Connect completed its move from one building to another 300 yards away (no, don't ask why we're doing it, we just are :-) ), so that meant that all my equipment was packed into crates, lorried over to my new (more spacious) office and then unpacked. I had my work machine set up just after 3pm, which was lucky because less than half an hour later, the 100th PLUSLotto/InterLotto draw took place and I use my work machine to automatically generate the pages of course !
We've tweaked down the disk buffering even further on this Web server, but the extra RAM has arrived anyway - we'll be installing it today or tomorrow (though we're moving today - Connect has left the building !).
Still experiencing periodic thrashing of the Web server (though not as bad as before) - probably need to trim the disk buffering even further. Roll on the extra RAM, which should be here by Friday.
All of this impacted today's Web serving of the lottery pages, which was highly sluggish to say the least - for those into UNIX, the load average was regularly exceeding 30, whereas normally, it's below 1. It made my job of live updates difficult - it took me long enough to get into the chat room where I did, miraculously enough, manage to commentate on the TV show to another person who'd also managed to get on.
Submitting the winning numbers via the live updates was tortuously slow (over a minute instead of a couple of seconds !), but I managed to get the numbers on eventually. The full results were put up fairly promptly, but I'd deliberately killed off sendmail (e-mail handler) to reduce the load, so I had to manually mirror everything across, which also didn't help the load.
Basically, the server is flailing around using up too much RAM and I'm just trying to patch up leaks in a sinking ship really...it's depressing. Sorry to go on about this, but it is my main job at Connect (I'm the Webmaster) and I feel I'm letting down everyone badly, but it's out of my control - our server has coped fine until this week, when it's tipped over the edge. Things won't be any better next week until we get the extra RAM installed.
I couldn't get on the chat server (jammed full of LFC fans I think !) to do a live TV show commentary, so I just edited the home page and put the info on there. I used the Live Updates system as usual, but then had to do the second half of the WBA vs. LFC commentary, so I didn't get around to putting up the full results until about 10pm.
Received the latest sales figures fax from Camelot this morning and duly updated the pages with the info. Serves me right for not previewing the next lottery's page after adding a couple of URLs for one of the guest stars - it was messed up (now fixed of course) :-( We tried to upgrade the OS of this server yet again and, sadly, failed again. This means we'll have to look at another way upgrading the machine (possibly from DAT tape or disk-to-disk copy). Most frustrating !
I've set up new hi_archive trees under the UK and PLUSLotto Web areas and am now generating "hi-res" versions of the lottery pages as well as the normal lo-res versions. Initially, this just means a couple of HTML tables instead of the pre-formatted ones, but eventually I will put the Java applet currently in use on the hi-res index page on each individual lottery page too.
The hi-res index page, of course, points into the hi-res individual lottery pages (as do any links followed by the applet). The next thing I need to do is to have hi-res indexes into the CGI-based sections, so that HTML tables are turned on by default in the form (and turned off by default if you go to the normal lo-res indexes). Note that HTML tables generated by those CGI-based sections now link individual lotteries to the hi-res individual pages, not the lo-res ones.
Oh, I also re-jigged the layout of the prize amounts/frequencies in each individual lottery page to accommodate the HTML table format and also included green and red colours for rises and falls in the figures for the normal lo-res versions. It all sounds easy, but it took about 6-7 hours of solid work to get it all displaying nicely ! Corrected a minor problem with the first draw's hi-res page (table cells weren't quite right).
Note that the introduction of a CGI-based link on the home page (the first such permanent link ever) has allowed me to further differentiate between the normal home page (index.html) and the hi-res index page (hi_index.html) by making the CGI link switch on HTML table support by default for the hi-res version of the Lucky Dip page. This is a concept I intend to extend further as time progresses (eventually, I want to make the hi-res index page the new home page and relegate the existing home page to be a lo-res alternative version).
Added a new machine/ball set frequency page to the Numerical Analysis section (quite easy to do and surprising that I hadn't done this before really). Although I'm generating a PLUSLotto version as well, I'm not linking to it because it looks bizarre (only the Heidi machine has been used for the PLUSLotto draws to date, so there's not much point to the page at the moment).
Hunted down all "old" CGI ticket-checking links on my pages and updated them to point to the new ticket checking system instead. This included the jackpot ticket prior history links on the Triva Analysis pages, the prior history link on individual PLUSLotto draw pages and about 10 of the individual lottery pages.
Also corrected the start draw for PLUSLotto draws in the CGI ticket checking URLs - should be draw 73 of course. Once they'd all been tidied up, I added a warning to the old ticket-checking CGI code that it would be obsoleted on 1st November and that users should re-enter their tickets under the new system.
Didn't get a fax from Camelot today, so I phoned them up and received all of last week's sales figures except for Lucky Dip, which I'll have to wait until tomorrow to get hold of.
Bought two more tickets for tonight's Super Draw. Received a fax from Camelot with last week's sales figures and duly updated my pages (amazing Lucky Dip figures - 22.1% of ticket sales !). Chris Prickett's site remains sadly out of date after almost a week of inactivity.
Previous month: September 1997