What's New On These Pages: August 1995
Next month: September 1995
- Thursday 31st August
Brought first Saturday mailing forward to 8.03pm because that's exactly when
the draw takes place this week. Added 8.10pm mail check back in because of
the earlier draw. The addition of 0.5 to the Average lines before integer
truncating them in the
number of winners,
total prizes and various
winning number pages wasn't doing them
any good because the division to calculate the average was between two
integers and hence the result was automatically truncated to an integer
by the C compiler. This was fixed by casting the numerator to double, which
has adjusted some of the average figures up by one because their
fractional part was above 0.5.
- Wednesday 30th August
Had some spare time to design a really crappy Virtual UK National Lottery
just the old one without the Union Jack and the word "Virtual" slapped in
at a 20 degree angle. Our graphics designer will probably have a fit about
how naff it looks, but I'm not going to tell her - she can find it by accident
and let out a scream when she does :-)
I only threw together the logo so
that the virtual lottery pages were distinguished as a section in their
own right, so that graphic will do for now. I'm now also automatically
generating the virtual lottery home page.
- Tuesday 29th August
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #41. Completed the "skeleton"
files (a new index.html and then soft-links to it) to replace the old location
files and point people to the new location. The CGI lottery program will also
display the index.html if anyone tries to run it from the old server.
Reduced normal (now £9m) and rollover (2*rolled over amount, rounded
down to the nearest million) estimates by £1m because the last two
estimates have been out by that. It's better to err on the side of
I've completed about 75% of the virtual lottery coding now and have updated
the virtual lottery index to include some of the
sample forms (which can't be used sensibly until next Monday anyway).
I've added code to the entry form stop submissions after the closing date
(7.30pm on a Saturday).
There's also now code to save the number frequencies
of all the week's virtual lottery entries and then copy/gzip the entries log
file (it's not needed once it's been scanned for a winner with, yes, the new
code I've written) before zeroing it for the next week's entries.
Tasks remaining include: designing an automatically generated virtual lottery
home page and creating various stats pages (not as many needed as the "real"
lottery of course, because it's using the same numbers and you may as well
look at the real lottery pages for such info). It's likely that I'll leave
this coding until next weekend, ready for the big launch on Monday, because
I've got the old location deletion to deal with on Friday and I want to get
the mail filtering in on that day too.
- Saturday 26th August
Unsurprisingly, the automatic update failed thanks to the Computing Services
Department switching off the teletext mail server (which they always do on
a Bank Holiday weekend).
- Friday 25th August
I'm now half-way through coding the virtual lottery. The
Have You Won ? form can be used for
checking your virtual numbers each week as well as the numbers on the
real lottery (there will be a checkbox to choose the virtual lottery that
works well in beta-test, but this won't go live until there's a virtual lottery
to check against of course !). I've had to put "Maybe" strings in the Win
column (rather than "Yes" or "No") and I've similarly appended a ? to the end
of prizes because if more than one entry matches the most numbers, then the
prize winner is randomly picked from them. You can't see this either
yet of course :-)
I've completed the code for the running total of virtual lottery entries during
the week leading up to the draw itself
(I just count the number of lines in the entries log file) and that will be
updated daily, plus whenever I happen to manually run the generation code naturally
The "live" running total figure will be displayed on the page returned from the
successful submission of a virtual lottery entry, after being incremented by one
as you might expect ! It's a shame Camelot can't release daily figures on the
ticket sales - it would be interesting to see people's ticket purchase patterns
for the real lottery.
- Wednesday 23rd August
Coding on the virtual lottery is now about 30% complete. I will use the
Bank Holiday weekend to finish it off. I just need dig out an old
encryption routine (home brew, not DES or anything) I wrote a while ago to make
the claim security code less obvious than it currently is ! Other than that,
I've pretty well finished the entry form and need to start handling a claim
form and generating stats pages
(including regularly updated stats on the number of entrants during the
week for the next draw).
- Monday 21st August
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #40. Created a new
Virtual Lottery tree, moved the
proposal into it, added a draft
rules page and then put a link
to the tree from the home page. Coding will start on the virtual lottery
this week and should be completed before the end of August.
- Saturday 19th August
The 8.03pm mail request was too early - I've adjusted it back to 8.04pm.
Apart from that (which meant a delay in the updates because the first response
came back too fast), the auto-updating went OK.
- Friday 18th August
The Connect Web server was unavailable for a couple of hours today - the
machine room was being reorganised (again...).
Fleshed out the Virtual UK National Lottery proposal by
answering my own open questions about some of its aspects.
- Wednesday 16th August
Removed the newsflash from the home page - it might upset a few people I
suspect ! There is a Newsflashes text link in the main text links area now
and I've reduced the footer to an <H5> block ("bad style" according
to weblint, but what does it know ?).
I've also randomised the Connect/Mersey World footer so that people don't get
bored with the same advert. If that wasn't enough, there's now a new
most common pairs page because a few people
requested it. Eventually, I will probably have a sister "pairs that haven't
yet appeared" page, but that list is quite substantial at the moment, so it'll
need another 10 or 15 lotteries to cut that down to a reasonable size.
- Tuesday 15th August
Added extra info to the ticket lines returned from the Quick Pick
and Lottery Perms pages so that past history of wins and prizes could
be easily viewed. Added a
proposal page for a Virtual UK National
Lottery. Bought a second ticket for the rollover as usual.
- Monday 14th August
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #39. Adjusted first Saturday
mailing forward a minute to 8.03pm, not that it will make much difference.
Reduced the GIF cache at the old location to 4MB now that most people are
using are the new location.
- Saturday 12th August
Although the auto-updates worked fine, I'd somewhat messed up the
auto-mirroring of the old location to the new location, so things were sluggish
(only overnight mirroring, rather than mirroring within a minute or so). This
has been fixed now. I also had to mediainit my SyQuest cartridge for the second
- Friday 11th August
After installing mosaic 2.7beta1 for X on my home machine, I removed the HTML
table kludge I'd put in to workaround the appalling table handling of earlier
versions of mosaic for X and - amazingly - it looks like the NCSA folks have
finally fixed mosaic for X so that it no longer displays total crud
whilst interpreting even the most simplest <TR>...</TR> construct !
Now only if they would allow links in tables (it's plainly ridiculous
that it ignores them !), then we could all breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Added a footer on the automatically generated pages to blatantly advertise
Connect and Mersey World.
It'll be interesting to see if anyone complains about this...
- Tuesday 8th August
Moved the lone "1" inside a ball two pixels to the right. Also reduced the
width of 7-ball GIFs by one pixel (443 instead of 444) because there was
actually an unused column on the far right-hand side of the GIF. The last
6 "normally won" jackpot pools have been £10m-£11m, so I figured it's
time to bump up the estimated jackpot pool for such a "normal" week to
£10m, although I suspect Camelot will be more conservative and stick
with their £8m - they probably daren't over-estimate it for fear of
being accused of hyping the lottery.
- Monday 7th August
Uploaded the results for
Spurred on by the freaky numbers (five of the seven numbers drawn were in
the same playslip board column !), I've added a new
board column spread page to keep a
track of the columns each ball appears in.
- Saturday 5th August
The auto-update worked fine, although it's clear that the teletext mail
server only checks the request queue every 30 minutes (0 and 30 minutes
past each hour). Nevertheless, I've moved next Saturday's first mail request
forward a minute to 8.04pm.
- Friday 4th August
Fixed stupid bad italicisation on one of the pages - serves me right for not
previewing it ! Reduced footer on automatic pages to just mention the deletion
date of the old pages.
- Thursday 3rd August
My SyQuest cartridge finally gave up the ghost - it wouldn't even mediainit,
let alone be newfs'ed or mounted. Luckily, there was a spare cartridge to hand,
so I've switched that, but let's just say that I'm not giving top marks
to SyQuest w.r.t. reliability (2 cartridges and 2 drives in 3 months is pretty
- Tuesday 1st August
Moved pages to their
new home on the new
Connect WWW server. Connect is an
organisation primarily targeted at getting small and medium businesses on
Merseyside onto the Internet -
they get free WWW space on our server for the first year of Connect's
existence: much cheaper than the rates on certain other commercial servers
I could mention...
The general public will normally enter the
Mersey World section,
which covers all aspects of Merseyside, including tourism, local councils,
arts, football clubs and there's a
where Merseyside companies advertise and you will eventually be able to order
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