Next month: December 2006
Sorted out the Euro Millions Sales Figures percentage change mistake - I'd been comparing each week's figure with one from two draws ago, not one, whoops! This completes the fixes I mentioned I needed on Friday night, but there's still more work to be done on the Euro Millions ticket checker before I can link to it and officially mark the Euro Millions section complete.
Server problems were fixed, so I could update my data files and regenerate all the pages again (having to carefully cross-check the generated ones with the hand-edited ones I did last night - no mistakes in the latter, amazingly enough!). Ironically, the percentage of each tier w.r.t. the UK prize pools in Euro Millions was initially wrong (a bug that I finally fixed later in the day), whereas the manually edited version I did on Saturday morning was correct!
Bought two more tickets (online) for Wednesday's main Lotto single rollover draw, though I had to top up my account by a further £5.50 (cos I only had 50p left after last week's Euro Millions ticket purchase) to make it my usual minimum of £6 (which buys me three sets of two tickets - the lowest amount you can put in if you buy two additional tickets at a time like I do).
The other thing to note here is that the 5+1 UK prize was indeed boosted by the UK lower-tier top-up that's given because we pay £1.50 (=2.23 Euros) instead of non-UK countries' 2 Euros. This explains why Camelot's total prize pool figure of £123,232,395 doesn't divide nicely by 20 to give the UK prize of £6,750,278.40.
OK, time to list what's wrong with the pages that I have to fix tonight (I'll mark this off as [done] when they're fixed and, yes, you can tell I did zero testing for this unique event :-) ):
At around 11.00pm (just as Camelot's phone line shuts down for the night), the Irish and Portuguse official sites finally displayed the full results - but still no sign of a UK official site update! This included the ticket sales, which did not set a record - see for yourself how the sales fell nearly £11m short of the record set back in February this year, despite rising another 33.5% compared to last week's draw.
Trying to sort out what to display on the home page is going to be "fun", because I've put zero pounds/Euros/winners as the 5+2 prize, which will confuse my code no end, so expect some frantic re-coding in the next hour or two. Meanwhile, I stuck the info about the top 2 tiers in the newsflash to keep people informed. Fixed the wrong "rolled over" lines that were on the individual result page, but there's several other things wrong with that page that I'm working on.
During the interminable wait (now 10.15pm), I managed to update the draw order of the Euro Millions balls and also found out from the UK official site via its Draw History section that the jackpot prize pool is £123.23m. Bizarrely, the first place Camelot put info about the number of jackpot winners on the Net, er, wasn't on its own official site. Instead, they decided - at 10.20pm - to yap to the Press Association, which was in turn picked up by Sky News. Yep, plenty of "Camelot said" and "a Camelot spokesman said" in there - Richard says "update your own useless site first before giving the info to other people!". Around the same time, the BBC News site put the info about the 7 UK jackpot winners in its completely unreadable ticker (ever tried that with large fonts like I do - hopeless!).
The official Portuguse site seems to have gone into temporary meltdown at around 9.45pm (2 mins or more to load a page), whilst the official Belgian site reported "Service Unavailable" at 9.55pm. Challenge TV (I didn't see this - was reported to me by "jw" in the lottery chat room) confirmed the £123m jackpot prize pool in their 90-minutes-after-the-fact recorded run-through of tonight's draw at just before 10.00pm, but they didn't announce the number of jackpot winners :-( Still no update on any of the official sites w.r.t. the full results and the French-Swiss official site now seems to be extremely slow too.
Irish site updated the jackpot prize pool amount (183,109,056 Euros = about £123.6m depending on the Euro currency rate) at around 9.35pm, so expect full results by 9.50pm or so. The jackpot pool increased by 29.5m Euros (16.1%) compared to last week.
Now we're into the long wait for the full results - usually the official Irish site updates just the jackpot prize pool (and nothing else - not even the number of jackpot winners) first of all any time between about 9.40pm and 10.00pm and then follows that up 10-15 minutes later with the full prize pool information. I've never understood why the Irish get just that info the first (they don't even display the winning numbers until the jackpot prize pool update!). Portuguese site (completely with bizarre use of SSL) now taking 30 seconds to load its results page in...
I matched no main numbers and one Lucky Star on my ticket (yes, I used the new Have You Won? page to check it!), so no £120m for me, sob. The official UK lottery site updated just after 9.00pm (and several minutes after me...). They also managed to remove the last reference to the £120m Euro Millions jackpot from their home page in another "smart" move. :-) Same result for my mother's numbers, BTW, she also matched no main numbers and one Lucky Star.
I'm now in the lottery chat room, talking live about the draw - less than 15 minutes to the numbers appearing (hopefully). I'll still keep this blog updated naturally enough. Someone on Digital Spy claims to have had the numbers at 8.31pm, but I don't think I'll trust them somehow :-) Turns out "steviem"'s numbers were right - confirmed by the French-Swiss site at 8.56pm.
I know I've ranted about it in these pages before, but will the official Irish site's Euro Millions results page please remove that irritating scrolling Java applet that often contains vital info (like the countries of the winners). It scrolls slowly across and often has out-of-date info (i.e. referring to last week's draw well after this week's has taken place), so that when it does update (usually by 10.00pm) with the crucial info, you tend to ignore it. Arrrgh! For example, it now says "next Friday's jackpot will be 180m Euros. Play early!" and this is more than an hour after that draw's terminals have closed. :-(
Ho hum, my Max DSL just decided to drop my connection and re-negotiate at a slower speed, so it's probably a good idea to stop Azureus running for the next few hours :-) Daily Play full results (no jackpot winner for that - perhaps an omen for Euro Millions?) grabbed OK at 8.34pm. Still got to laugh at the German-Swiss official site which is now producing the classic "empty HTML" page:
<html> <head> <title></title> </head> <body > </body> </html>...and it'll be doing that all night, don't worry :-)
Is it just me or does the UK official site make no effort to "excite" end-users as the draw time approaches. Here we are over an hour after the terminals have closed and the "£120m colossal Euro Millions draw" logo has vanished and there's barely anything on the home page about the massive draw tonight apart from "Next Est. Jackpot £120,000,000" in a normal font stuck half-way down the page. You'd have no idea that there's a potential world record individual lottery prize on offer tonight!
8.22pm and the German-Swiss official Euro Millions site is already showing signs of draw night stress - don't hold out much hope for that one later on then! In fact, that site tends to always go titsup.com around most week's draw nights. You'd think they'd upgrade their servers (or improve their code) if it keeps happening week after week. Meanwhile, the French official site is now doing its usual impression of a dead duck (yes, even the static page they've put up overloads their server).
You've got to love Firefox's "Open All in Tabs" bookmarks option - I've used it to put all the official Euro Millions sites in a bookmarks folder and then load all of them into tabs at once. Slowest to load with some 45 minutes to the winning numbers are the French-Swiss official sites and the useless French official site, which replaces the results page with a static page of "oh, there's 180m Euros to be won tonight" for hours on draw evenings - pants! The last time we had a 12-week run of Euro Millions, half the official sites played up and collapsed under the weight...could be fun to see what happens tonight...
The winning numbers for the first draw of the night were picked up OK by my auto-grabber at 8.05pm GMT - but it's for the dismal Daily Play game that no-one in their right mind ever plays, surely? I'll be picking up the Euro Millions numbers from either the UK or Swiss official sites, whichever is first (usually it's the UK one for the winning numbers at least). I'll be in the lottery chat room for live discussion at 8.45pm GMT in case you missed the home page announcement.
So what's happening tonight then? Well, I'll be frequently updating tonight's entry as the information rolls in from the 10 (yes work that one out) official Euro Millions Web sites. If you want to watch a recording of tonight's Euro Millions draw on UK TV - yep, it's not broadcast live anywhere in the UK (well done, Camelot, for that), it's on Challenge TV at 9.55pm GMT tonight. Sadly, Challenge TV is a subscription-only channel for cable and satellite viewers and has the viewing audience the size of a gnat's backside - that's how important Camelot thinks the Euro Millions is.
It's been interesting today looking at the various news Web sites to see what they're claiming about tonight's Euro Millions draw. The one and only BBC article so far reckons that there will be a 650% rise on normal ticket sales levels, whilst a remarkably similar UK Casino Times item goes even further and states that sales are "expected to reach record levels".
A quick look at my Euro Millions sales figures page (I knew I'd slogged through that code this week for something!), shows that last week sales were £135.3m and the record, set at the end of the last 12-week run on 3rd February this year, is £191.6m. This would mean that ticket sales, which increased 21.2% last week, would have to increase a further 41.6% this week. It's within the realms of possibility I guess.
It's the last day of my work break and I managed to get the Euro Millions Lucky Dip working OK (see the Euro Millions home page). Again, no public announcement on this one because you can stray off the normal path and run into trouble (i.e. join up with the Main Menu and run into half-baked code!). I'm mainly working on the HTML table version of the Euro Millions ticket checking code, so don't go pre-formatted because it doesn't work yet.
Update: Have You Won? is now available and I've linked to it from the Euro Millions home page, but I haven't formally announced it yet. Why? Well, the ticket check only works for that narrow set of parameters (1 ticket, 8 weeks, HTML tables) and if you try to wander off the path (e.g. via the "Main Menu" navigation), it'll quickly collapse.
8.27pm GMT today marked a historic time in my ticket-purchasing history, because that's when I finally bought - online - my first ever Euro Millions ticket for £1.50. I used the first five numbers of my first main Lotto ticket (in my current 2-tickets-per-draw 2-year subscription) and then split the two digits of the 6th number to make two separate Lucky Star numbers. No better or worse than Lucky Dip, but at least it ties into the only game I regularly play.
I also persuaded my mother to pick up a Lucky Dip Euro Millions ticket printed out on a Tesco till receipt (I always think this is a "risky" form of printed ticket - you might accidentally throw it away along with the shopping receipt!).
And, yes, I have the whole of this week off work (nicely timed for Friday's final draw in the Euro Millions rollover sequence) in case you're wondering how I have the time to do this! Now that the Prize Winners page has been done, I've actually opened up the Euro Millions section for the first time. Hopefully, I can get the ticket checking code done tomorrow - after all, I've got a Euro Millions ticket to buy and I want to see how my numbers have fared in the past...
Further update - the Euro Millions All Winning Numbers page is now complete. Don't freak out that the number of millionaires is higher than the total number of jackpot winners - this is because there was a recent draw with three millionaire 5+1 star winners.
And here's another page just finished - the Euro Millions ticket sales (in pounds sterling, but actually pan-European). I've switched the default for sales figures pages to display the pre-formatted text version because the HTML table version can be a bit mis-aligned depending on your font settings.
Final change for today is the "completion" of the Euro Millions Numerical Analysis section, although I knocked out a page or two from it because the code was getting too tricky (two "bonus" balls wreaks havoc with everything!).
After reading a news.com article on how IE7 isn't being pushed in one almighty go via Windows Update (it's being spread over 3 months instead), I thought it might be interesting to find out the current browser split and see if IE7 has overtaken Firefox yet on this site. I already have a script to analyse the logs based on browsers and here's what it came up with for the last month's worth (yes, it does it on hits rather than pages, but we're interested in browser proportions, so that's OK):
Browser Hits last month %age Win IE 6.0 2799291 76.75% Firefox 414170 11.36% Win IE 7.0 236556 6.49% Safari 59330 1.63% Others 137958 3.77% =================================== Total 3647305 100.00%Yes, this is the power of Microsoft and the monopoly they have on the desktop - they start pushing out an update, even "gradually", and it changes the browser balance of power within weeks. It's looking that IE7 will overtake Firefox next month - usurping it in 2 months after Firefox took over a year to build its current market share. Oh, in case you're wondering where Opera and Netscape are - they clocked in at a weak 0.52% and 0.39% respectively. Does anyone still run Netscape out there, especially since it's a Windows-only browser with dubious security issues (aka allowing pages to be viewed using IE's rendering engine and ActiveX)?
My view on IE7? Well, the UI appears to deliberately break Windows GUI guidelines and browser navigation icon placement conventions, maybe to reinforce the impression that this is a "new" browser. Quite why the menu bar isn't enabled by default (at least you can enable it if look hard enough) and not at the very top of the window is, well, completely unfathomable. Scattering the nav icons around the UI seemingly just to be different doesn't make any sense either and I've no idea how to remove the search dialogue box (yes, you can switch it from MSN Search to Google, but I don't want to see it all!).
Having said all that, if you can forgive the extreme UI oddities, it does appear to be a better browser than IE6 (which isn't saying much admittedly). If you really must run Internet Explorer (and in this day and age, there are better browsers out there such as Firefox and Opera you know?), then use IE7 rather than IE6 and avoid switching on ActiveX except for Windows Update.
Previous month: October 2006