Next month: February 2004
When I checked the "problem figures" from last night's draws, they'd fixed the incorrect Extra unwon jackpot figure, but still haven't corrected the drawn order of the balls for the Extra and Daily Play games, which I confirmed from Camelot's phone line were most definitely not in ascending order.
Also, both the Extra and Daily Play balls tonight were supposedly drawn in ascending order if the official site is to be believed (unfortunately, I spotted this after the Camelot phone line closed down at 11.00pm - will have to ring them again tomorrow to confirm this is really true).
As is typical of many Net-using programs, the suspiciously small download of the syndicate software revealed that in fact it was a dreaded Net downloader that promptly decided to upgrade my Jet DB driver software to 4.0 SP 7 (I think) before rebooting and continuing the install, which, when complete, required a second reboot (grr...two reboots to install a piece of client software...no wonder I hate Windows). It should be noted that the .exe for the actual install was itself downloaded from the Net, though unless they have a regular version check for updates (maybe they do) in the final software, this isn't much use.
Anyway, after setting up a fake syndicate with a fake e-mail address, I finally got to the Syndicate Management section, where I could "check results" and I opted to just manually check the New Year's Eve draws. The proxy access log duly updated with what I was after, but it should be noted that Camelot is also dubiously recording the syndicate manager's details via an "upload.do" CGI they've got - they send the syndicate manager's name, address, e-mail, phone and mobile number. Hmmm...one wonders if they'll be selling on that info. Maybe I should write a program to fill that with random dummy data to annoy them :-)
The access logs also showed that they have a list.txt file containing a list of XML files available for download, though they only go back to July 2003, don't have ticket sales, don't have the drawn order of the balls, don't cover the Daily Play draw (neither does the syndicate software, which is poor considering Daily Play's been going since September !) and have repeated lines for draws in the list.txt file for no obvious reason. If they're only intending to keep the last 6 months, they probably should have just had one big .xml.gz (gzip-compressed XML) file that they download to cover the lot.
Of course, I feel that syndicate manager software should probably be entirely Web-based (allowing access from anywhere and from pretty well any Web-capable platform - yes, including Mozilla and Linux, both of which still can't access the online registration/games on the official site after over a year !). Since Camelot are already collecting syndicate manager's details, the privacy issues would be no different.
One surprising omission from the software is that surely any syndicate that's just for the main game should tie into the new online ticket purchasing so that the manager can just click a button and buy the tickets for his or her syndicate online ? Yet another reason why the software should be entirely Web-based and not restricted to just Windows users.
As they stand, the XML files disappointingly contain less data than if you parsed the official site's Web pages (which I do now via a combination of shell script, awk and curl for the Daily Play draws). Yes, there are CSV files you can download from the official site for the games, but they only have the numbers in drawn order and the machine/ball set (no prizes, winners or sales).
Previous month: December 2003