- What's the URL for your lottery home page ?
- Hang on, didn't your lottery pages used to be somewhere else ?
The lottery pages were originally on the Liverpool University Department of
(which has been recently revamped with much better
presentation and content) between Thursday 17th
November 1994 and Thursday
31st August 1995. The pages were deliberately maintained on two servers
but from Friday 1st September 1995 onwards,
they were moved to the Connect WWW server only. Their latest move, exclusively
to their current
location, took place on Sunday 8th
December 1996 and should hopefully be the last
ever move of these pages.
- You're one sad individual. Why can't you get a life ?
Because I have to win the lottery to buy myself a life :-)
- OK, we know you're sad. But why are you running these pages ?
For "fun" mainly. I've always had a penchant for reference books with exact
lists of figures (e.g. check out the brilliant Guinness Book Of Answers)
and UK National Lottery numbers lend themselves to this perfectly. Of course,
it also kept me well exercised in C programming, HTML and various supporting
packages such as the ImageMagick suite.
I also reckoned that the UK media would be lazy when reporting lottery results
and I've been sadly proved 100% correct. Most newspapers have cut down the
reporting to the winning numbers, the jackpot amount (often infuriatingly
rounded) and the number of jackpot winners and that's if you're lucky. Also,
my pages are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (machine crashes and
network breaks not permitting) from anywhere in the world and - importantly -
they are completely free. Why should anyone have to pay to find out lottery
- Why do I keep seeing "Connect Internet Solutions Limited" mentioned on your pages ?
I now work for a commercial company for the first time in my career -
Connect Internet Solutions Limited
(aka "Connect"). This was incorporated on 1st August 2002 and is currently
situated on the campus of the University of Liverpool.
- Are you (or Connect) associated with Camelot in any way ?
No, and it makes these pages much harder to maintain of course ! Camelot
wouldn't give me permission to use their logo (probably understandably,
since these aren't official pages) and they won't tell me
how many jackpot winners there's been for still-running
(top secret info apparently...) or the frequencies of numbers on purchased
tickets (more clandestine stuff).
- How do you manage to keep over 1,000 pages consistent ?
The current layout was first released on Monday 12th
February 1996 and uses a custom C program I
wrote called "bhs" (basically a C pre-processor to HTML converter) to allow
the use of definitions, macros and conditional code in HTML and in
CGI and page-generating programs I've written. Further details can be
obtained from the automatic page generator document.
- What's so special (unique)
about your lottery pages ?
Despite the availability of over 300 lottery sites on the Internet,
my lottery pages have several unique features:
If you see another site with any of the above (currently unique) features,
let me know,
because I'm still waiting
for other lottery sites to catch up after 3 years...
- Why aren't they just called 'The National Lottery' pages ?
Firstly, the pages are on the Internet and hence I needed to
identify the UK specifically because many countries of the world have national
lotteries. Secondly, Camelot have copyrighted the phrase 'The National Lottery',
but not the phrase 'The UK National Lottery' I suspect...
- Have any really important WWW sites got a link to your pages ?
Hmmm...I only know of a few (e-mail me
if you know of any more):
of UK Top 30 site links often features my site.
- CNN Financial
to my lottery links section twice (but they also stole my ball
graphics and bizarrely converted them into a JPEG !).
- The BBC's Web Guide lists my winnings numbers index page (but not the rest of the site !) - type "lottery" in the search to find it.
- Yahoo! has my pages listed in
several of their categories, including the
UK National Lottery and
- Lycos have an A-Z of of WWW site reviews and my pages
are listed as the first match when you
for the word "lottery" (albeit a wrong link !).
- UK Index's
Top 20 links followed from their
site in May 1998 included my pages at #5.
- Where have I seen you or your pages mentioned outside of the Web ?
Here's a list
(please e-mail me
if you spot any more):
UK magazine (August 1998 - part of an article
on PLUSLotto's Millions 2000 site)
- The Daily Express newspaper (Wednesday 5th February 1997), but no URL :-(
- Net User magazine (November 1996),
who gave my pages a glowing review, but only a 4 out of 5 rating :-(
who actually gave these pages a 5 out of 5 rating.
- Nicky Campbell on BBC Radio 1 apparently had my pages as "Web Site Of
The Day" (week starting 22nd July 1996), but you had to e-mail him to get
the URL !
- Internet Now
Edition CD-ROM (June 1996) - copies of
my pages (with my permission) from early March.
- The Independent UK newspaper (11th June 1996) - a huge close-up
of my balls (if you pardon the expression) and they said I was an
"obsessive statistician" !
- The Web magazine, although the
review was actually negative, claiming the pages are "drab" (May/June 1996).
- The Sunday Times Innovations supplement, although they claimed
that my pages were part of
Catech Web Illusions ! (Sunday 3rd March 1996)
- ITV teletext page 321
didn't specifically mention the URL, but it must have been my site, surely ?
(Friday 5th January 1996)
- .net directory
(now known as Connect) (November 1995 [Issue 3] and January 1996
- Channel 4
teletext page 652 featured
my lottery pages (the first UK teletext pages to do so -
Saturday 20th November 1995)
- I've been told that someone on
(Channel 4 TV UK soap) mentioned "let's
go and find some [UK] lottery sites on the Internet" and that could only have
been referring to my pages surely ? :-) (Friday 22nd September 1995)
- BBC Radio 4's paper review at the end of the midnight news
(Wednesday 26th July 1995) and during What The Papers Say at about 8am in the
Today programme on the same day.
- The Liverpool Daily Post newspaper yet again (25th July 1995 and no URL unsurprisingly)
- Internet World US magazine
(July 1995 gambling feature)
- The Independent newspaper (10th June 1995)
- The Liverpool Daily Post
newspaper (6th June 1995 - no URL !)
- The Sunday Telegraph UK newspaper (4th June 1995)
UK magazine (June 1995)
UK magazine (May through to December 1995 - old URL though)
- The Program (ITV Granada
region only, 27th April 1995. The only appearance of these pages on TV !)
- Personal Computer World magazine (April 1995)
- The Liverpool Echo
newspaper (2nd January 1995 - general Internet interview)
- The Guardian Online newspaper supplement
(22nd December 1994)
I also have the dubious honour of refusing interviews with BBC Radio
Merseyside and BBC Radio 5 Live (twice !) about the lottery, not
that it matters much since as far as I'm concerned, radio is obsolete
- Where do you get all the info for your pages ?
The winning numbers are available from anywhere you look (TV news, teletext,
newspapers, stores etc.), but more detailed info (exact number of winners,
individual prizes and total ticket sales) is much harder to come by.
ITV's teletext page 123 is probably the best of a poor bunch, although prone to
errors and the fatal disease of "rounding". You can also get the info from
lottery terminals upon request, although this seems to exclude total ticket
All other media is pretty well hopeless and I've now resorted to the Camelot
phone line as the only consistently reliable info source available to the
general public. Unfortunately, some of the questions I have can't be answered
by the phone line, so Camelot now send me a regular fax (usually on a Wednesday
or Thursday) with "delayed" figures (scratchcard sales, unclaimed prize
figures etc.). I'd prefer it if Camelot had Internet e-mail
because it would save me a lot of hassle.
As for other stuff I comment on, some of it is my own work
(e.g. noting unusual sequences) and other bits are gleaned from ITV's teletext
and the reasonably useful
Electronic Daily Telegraph (it
chains common stories together by putting a backwards link at the bottom of
each story - quite handy).
Note that the second Camelot Reports and Accounts stated (on page 20)
that you can get results from the TV show, national newspapers, lottery
retailers, teletext or the lottery phone line, but they dismally
failed to mention the Internet, which is the only place you'll easily
find the entire set of results right back to the first draw (the phone line
can do it, but it'll take you a couple of hours to have them recited to you
and it's likely the operators would refuse to do this for you).
- Why don't you supply a list of so-called hot and cool numbers ?
Basing your selection on the most or least popular numbers in, say, the most
recent 15 draws has two serious flaws: 1) The balls have no past history, so
relying on previously drawn (or not drawn) numbers is pointless and 2) surely
basing your prediction on the full sets of previous winning numbers is
more sensible ? This is why I have a sorted list of
number frequencies based on
the sets of 6 main numbers drawn in all previous lotteries. Despite my
misgivings about using past lottery history to predict future draws, I have
also adjusted my
number selection strategy to make sure at least
one of the numbers isn't in the union set of the most/least frequent winning
numbers (this is purely because some people will choose all their numbers
from this union set).
- Why aren't the balls on your WWW lottery pages shaded ?
Because the resultant GIF would be 5 or 6 times larger, use more colours
(important with UNIX browsers) and take proportionately longer to download,
particularly for non-UK users. The balls were designed primarily to generate
a GIF with the least numbers of colours used and hence the smallest possible
size (2.5K for 7 balls on average). Note that all the non-ball GIFs on these
pages are now interlaced and all the ball GIFs are transparent of course
(but not interlaced, because then they couldn't be loaded into Java applets).
- I'm a casual Web surfer and want to see pretty graphics everywhere -
why haven't you some huge GIFs or JPEGs
for me to look at ?
I must admit that the pages are fairly functional - minimal graphics and
a concentration on textual content. It's why you won't see many screen shots
of my pages in Internet magazines, but perhaps it explains why there's more
than 300,000 hits to these pages each week.
If I were to add more graphics, I think I'd put them in a separate area
of their own (a sort of "lottery graphics gallery" if you will), so that those
prepared to wait minutes on end to download graphics would have their own
sandpit to play in. You must remember that no page currently has more than
5 inline images and even those are all under 3K each - the
home page has
less than 12K of text and graphics in total for example !
- That UK National Lottery logo at the top of your pages is a load of
rubbish. Why can't you use the official logo ?
Because it's owned by the Secretary Of State (i.e. OFLOT) and they are
extremely touchy about anyone using it without official permission. I tried to
go to Camelot to get this permission and was refused, but since they don't
actually own the logo, it looks like OFLOT are the next step. In the meantime,
I will design an alternative logo or I welcome submissions by anyone who
has more artistic talent than I do (i.e. just about everyone).
- Why go to the effort of generating a single GIF of six balls on the fly
when some of the forms are submitted ?
Because it's quicker to run a program to generate a single GIF of six balls
than to allow six separate HTTP connections to get the individual balls. It
also allows me to cache recently generated GIFs and skip the
generation code if it is already cached. If you still disagree with me,
try some of the
other lottery sites out there that have
individual images for each ball (I specifically criticise this because of
the extra connections it involves).
- Why don't you use plug-ins, frames, Dynamic HTML, ActiveX and HTML 4.0 ?
Plug-ins are too platform-specific - they often only work on PCs
(and maybe Macs...if you're lucky) and may require the end-user to
download and install software that they may not want to.
Frames are a potential future addition to the hi-res
index page (and the links off that page), but there
will always be a non-frames route available with this site.
I will only use Dynamic HTML when the W3C have a confirmed standard for it -
there's no point in using it until then because Netscape and Microsoft have
different implementations of it.
ActiveX is a horrendously proprietary and insecure kludge by Microsoft that
will never, ever be used on these pages - Java will be used instead.
HTML 4.0 isn't fully implemented by even the very latest Netscape and
Internet Explorer browsers and backwards compatibility with older HTML 3.2
browsers is a problem (particularly w.r.t. style sheets). Again, the hi-res
index page route will be the place to introduce HTML 4.0 features - I will
eventually start using them.
- That dalek voice I hear when I click on the jackpot amount - that's not
you is it ?
Yes...it...is...albeit with sound samples cut into too many slices: words
ending in "ty", "teen" and "and" are actually split into 2 samples, which
was probably a mistake because it gives the wrong tempo to the speech. I need
to redo the samples using a single sample for all words with those three
endings. It also means re-coding the CGI speech program of course. The other
big snag is that the typical total length of the speech is about 75K of
sound samples, but there's not much I can do about that.
- I don't trust your results - how careful are you with them ?
Very careful ! I phone up Camelot to get the full results and then I
enter them in my results data file. I now have code that calculates the
individual prize amounts
(based on the prize structure formulae)
and compares it against what Camelot/teletext are quoting. Any differences are
immediately flagged - if this happens, I phone back Camelot and have an
argument with them. Despite all the Camelot phone lines being manned by
operators with PCs in front of them, there's probably been about half a dozen
times where I've been given incorrect info (usually, but not always,
provisional info later changed due to error).
- I want to start my own UK National Lottery WWW pages. Is this OK ?
Sure ! The more competition the better - in fact, you should
e-mail me with your URL,
so I can check it out and add it to my
links pages. However, you will find I will be adding
more and more features over time, so people starting from scratch may find
that my pages already cover every aspect of the lottery that they want to
use, so you're probably better off just setting up a link to my pages :-)
And, no, you don't have to e-mail me for permission to link to my pages -
the more links to it there are, the better.
- Are these FAQs *really* Frequently Asked Questions ?
Er, strictly speaking, no. They're more a list of things I think
people might ask me :-) Some of them are indeed FAQs, but I made up a lot of
the questions myself !
- Yawn...got anything else to say about these pages ?
Yes, try selecting the logo at the top of the page.
You might also have "fun", if that's the word, by going through
probably the most comprehensive What's New section
you're likely to see outside of NCSA/Netscape...