What's New On These Pages: July 1995
Next month: August 1995
- Monday 31st July
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #37. Slightly adjusted balls
containing the digit "1" so that they were better centred.
Yep, it's the last day before the big move to another server...
- Saturday 29th July
ITV teletext were being awkward by using "MILLION!" as a separate word
following the approximate jackpot value (11.3), which foxed my automatic
parsing code. I've now adjusted it to handle this. Perhaps I was "lucky"
then that the Computing Services Department switched off the teletext
service yet again and frustrated my auto-updates.
- Friday 28th July
Major redesign of the pages, including the use of ALIGN=center attribute to
centre paragraphs, headings and images - this works OK on arena and netscape, so at
least 2 browsers understand it ! The home page is now
completely centred and I've removed horizontal lines from most of the pages.
I've shortened the links on the home page so that they fit on only three
lines - when there's enough screen estate free, I want a clickable graphic on
the home page to handle the links and the text links will be then reduced in
font size (<H5> or something similar).
Created a new
index page for the winning numbers, so that
I could reduce it down to a link on the home page.
Increased GIF cache on the new server to 16MB, since there's plenty of
filestore (nearly 4GB) available there. The old (current) server still has a
GIF cache of 8MB, but I will wind that down after 1st August.
- Tuesday 25th July
Well, that's it for The Liverpool Daily Post - no more interviews for
them after they used the infamous dreadful photo for the third time
in an article on Page 7. They
called me a "lottery wizard" this time instead of "lottery king". Ho hum -
no doubt there'll be another 6 weeks of skitting from my colleagues about
that too. BBC 1's You Decide, hosted by Jeremy Paxman, spent 50 minutes
debating the pros and cons of the UK National Lottery and ended up wasting
everyone's time by having a 50%-50% phone vote at the end as to whether the
lottery was good or bad !
- Monday 24th July
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #36. Increased the minimum
prize cutoff to 7 prizes on the most prizes won page, because
the 6-wins ticket list was getting too long. Adjusted footer countdown - I was
rounding down the number of days left, which meant it was a day out !
Widened the Total column in the
total prizes page because the
total prize payouts have now exceeded £1 billion. Added another mail
check at 8.00am on Monday morning because it seems the Computing Services
Department reactivate their teletext service just before then.
Oh dear, the Liverpool Daily Post just won't go away ! It looks like
I might be featuring for the second time [third time if you include its
sister Echo paper] in this local newspaper - they phoned
me up for yet another interview. I told them that they really don't
need a photo of me [especially after using a dreadful one on Page 3] - why
can't they just use some screen shots of the lottery pages like anyone with
any sense would ? If they publish that awful photo again, I will refuse any
further interviews with them.
- Saturday 22nd July
The Computing Services Department predictably switched off their teletext
service, so no auto-updates again...
- Friday 21st July
Synchronised the old and new locations of the lottery pages to within 30
seconds of each other by sending e-mail from the update script if any
pages change - this in turns sparks off mirroring of the pages across
the two servers.
- Tuesday 18th July
Added a new
How To Run A Syndicate page,
extracted - with extra personal comments - from the Playing In A Group
leaflet Camelot released last week. I had to phone Camelot up and get them to
send me the leaflet - nowhere in Liverpool had it !
Ditched the striped line graphic that borders newsflashes - it's somewhat
superfluous and allows me to consider a new third graphic on the home page
- Monday 17th July
Uploaded the results for
The total ticket sales for the 35 weeks exceeded 2^31, so I've been moving
some of the variables and output routines over to double-precision floating
point (adding 0.5 to calculations to avoid precision errors). Previously,
I'd been using ints/longs (both mean the same on UNIX). Fixed a minor bug
in rounding in the table versions of the winning number lists (I added
5 instead of 0.5 to round up !!).
ITV's World In Action
really laid into the UK National Lottery tonight.
Most of their points were valid (though tackily presented), but they totally
missed the mark with interviews with a couple of blokes from a 10-strong
syndicate who won
Lottery #9's jackpot and only ended up
with £12,000 each. This was a completely freak result that the TV
documentary really hyped up. Of the 28 non-rollover lotteries so far, there
74 millionaires created - an average of more than 2.5 per non-rollover lottery,
so you are very likely to become a millionaire if you win the jackpot.
I did agree with their point about the lack of a Quick Pick button
on lottery terminals, but I think it would be useful more for the convenience of
the general public than anything else.
World In Action were trying to imply that it would reduce the number of
unused combinations (therefore less rollovers and lower average ticket sales),
which is possibly true, but we
currently have a 5 to 1 ratio of ticket sales to combinations, so I don't
think that would have as a big an impact as the show claimed.
- Saturday 15th July
The teletext mail arrived at 8.34pm and the 8.35pm job only just caught it.
I've moved next Saturday's first mail-out forward another minute to 8.05pm.
Apart from that, everything went smoothly for a change.
- Friday 14th July
Fixed pluralisation error in the Notes section of winning number tables -
it didn't say "...main numbers are..." when more than one number was tied at
the top of the frequency table - it previously incorrectly stated "...main
number is...". Highlighted the jackpot in bold in the winning number tables
if it was a Super Draw.
- Wednesday 12th July
Duplicated yesterday's page move to another username with the live
pages this time. Luckily, I knew the major pitfalls and was ready for
them ! Looking at the mail filtering problem, I think it'll have to wait
until I close down the old pages on 1st September (there are complicated
reasons for the delay, but basically it would mean coding temporary
kludges that I'd have to rewrite in September).
Mail filtering would mean that within 5 seconds of the teletext mail server
mailing back the results on a Saturday evening, the home page and appropriate
individual lottery page would be automatically updated. At the moment, I'm
playing cat-and-mouse: guessing when the teletext mail will come back and
multiple cron jobs
to try and catch it - not a good solution.
- Tuesday 11th July
On my home machine, I moved the lottery pages from my filestore to another
new username so I can completely separate the lottery goodies from my other
WWW bits'n'pieces. It went surprisingly smoothly and the reason for
the move is so that when I do it tomorrow on the live system, I don't get
weekend lottery e-mail in my own personal mailbox and it will also allow me to
experiment with mail filtering under the new user without worrying if I cock
up it completely [there's no way I could test under my own user with a high
risk of losing any (non-lottery-related) incoming e-mail...].
- Monday 10th July
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #34. Moved the "Bonus" and
"Ball" strings in the 7-ball GIFs one pixel higher/lower so that they
don't "crowd" the bonus ball. Redesigned the logo at the top of the pages
yet again - it's not as tall (the inner box has been removed) and it now
has an embedded Union Jack. Despite the extra "detail", it's still only
- Saturday 8th July
Despite mailing at 8.07pm (the earliest since the draw moved to 8.13pm),
the teletext mail took even longer to arrive (came back at 8.32pm). I've
now added an 8.35pm cron job to catch these sorts of delays, plus I've moved
the mail-out back a minute to 8.06pm.
- Friday 7th July
Due to a mis-configuration of the network at our end (for a change !),
network connections were lost between 3.15pm and 5.15pm. Everything's OK
- Thursday 6th July
To the end-user, the hacks to the lottery C code I slaved over today
produce exactly the same output as the old code did ! However, the code
can now handle more than one lottery a week - the results data file now
uses day offsets from
Lottery #1 (i.e. 0, 7, 14, 21 etc.)
rather than actual dates. This also allows me to simplify the expiry
boundary check, which would have been impossible prior to the data file
format change if there was more than one lottery a week or if the draw day
changed from Saturday.
The code and data file changes are in advance of a possible switch to
2 lotteries a week - an idea Camelot are currently considering.
I no longer hard-code the time zone into the lottery binaries - it's
picked up via strftime()/localtime(). I reformatted my SyQuest cartridge
(with fewer inodes to increase the space available) to hopefully avoid future
problems, but I may end up having to mediainit it.
- Wednesday 5th July
Temporarily added a newsflash and page for a TV researcher who's
doing a documentary for Channel 4 on the lottery and wants "interesting
lottery stories" (e.g. people spending their life savings on tickets etc. etc).
Added a new Commercial Lottery Sites page,
mainly because they've started to crop up in significant numbers, plus it's
probably about time I listed shareware and commercial lottery software,
much against my better judgement since you've got to be extremely gullible to
actually buy lottery software...
- Tuesday 4th July
Bought a second ticket for the rollover. Discovered that the US magazine
did a feature on gambling on the Internet and mentioned my pages as the first
URL in a gambling article for the
July 1995 issue !
- Monday 3rd July
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #33. Removed the dull Daily
Post article. Added some links to various pages from the
synopsis page. Added a new
prize structure page, which was split off from the
About The Lottery page and further expanded to
cover some quite complicated inter-category rollover rules. Adjusted rollover
formula used to calculated estimated jackpot pool -
it's now (rollover amount+1m)*2, rounded down to the nearest million.
This closely fits the last 5 rollovers, so I'm happy with it - it estimates
a potential £19m jackpot for
- Saturday 1st July
Ho hum, the Computing Services Department switched off their teletext mail
server yet again and didn't bring it back online until 7.55am on Monday
morning, so no auto-updates as usual :-(
Previous month: June 1995