What's New On These Pages: December 1995
Next month: January 1996
- Saturday 30th December
Sensational news as the first ever double rollover looks like creating a
huge £40m jackpot for the
of 1996 ! Also,
£10 with the second ticket I braved the cold to buy last Thursday - my
second-ever win. Lottery auto-update failed because the Computing Services
Department switched off their teletext service it appears. The code to flag
a failed update at 9.30pm also failed (ho hum) - a simple path error on my
part that's now been fixed.
- Thursday 28th December
The last time I had to buy a second ticket for a rollover was some 15 weeks
ago, so I nearly forgot this time. Luckily, there's a newsagent on the Liverpool
University campus at long last that has a lottery terminal, so I bought my
usual supplementary ticket there (yes, another University Closed Day and
everything was frozen solid thanks to sub-zero temperatures).
- Wednesday 27th December
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #58, even though it was a
University Closed Day. I was surprised to see the first ever triple rollover
virtual lottery, because I was convinced that enough
people would play the first ever double rollover draw and win it !
- Saturday 23rd December
BBC 1's lottery drama, It Might Be You, aired at 9.25pm and was pretty
silly. Now would you hide a £25m-winning lottery ticket in a
grubby book called The Gourmet Guide To Sex (which is likely to be
thrown out) ? Also, did anyone notice that the playslip and the ticket seemed
to be combined and that the world's best paper plane (it flew for about 3
minutes !) can be made out of one ?
- Tuesday 19th December
Added a total of 6 new analysis pages (4 for the UK lottery and 2 for
InterLotto) which basically indicate exactly which draws a number has appeared
in (the same code is used - with only a few conditional statements to
differentiate them - for all the new pages). The reason for their inclusion is
not only boggle the mind, but also to provide a superior rival to David West's
new UK National Lottery
David's version uses HTML tables, which is something I may consider in
addition to the various pre-formatted tables I currently use. I think the
info in my new pages is more comprehensive than David's because it includes
numeric frequencies (rather than just judging them by the width of the "bar"
in the HTML table), the longest gap between draws that the number went
"missing" and also an indication as to where that gap is. I also present the
table in four ways by including or excluding bonus numbers and also listing the
numbers in ascending order or in frequency order - David only has the one
- Monday 18th December
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #57. Went back through the
virtual lottery entry logs both before and after the prize sponsorship
started. Found one user before and another after that had discovered the
case-sensitive loophole in the e-mail address check - both users are now
banned of course.
Passed all the lottery software through "gcc -Wall", which is very handy
to find mismatched printf() parameters (I wish HP's ANSI C compiler did
that !). Also put the code through "lint" and, finally, did the usual
"spell -b" on the lottery pages.
- Friday 15th December
Spent some time in the evening experimenting at home with various optimisation
levels and code tweaks to speed up the
best performing tickets page.
I discovered that "gcc -O4 -funroll-loops" isn't as good as "cc +O3" for
HP-UX machines. Manual code tweaks included counting downwards in loops
instead of upwards [optimises better], skipping bonus ball checks
in InterLotto version of page and various experiments with char vs.
short vs. int (turns out that int is the best for combination code).
In the end,
I managed to get 100,000 tickets checked per second with the InterLotto
page (36 seconds in total) and 15,500 for the UK lottery version (6 times
more lotteries to check), which completed in 15 minutes on my home machine.
I think I'll leave that one alone for a few months now !
- Thursday 14th December
The Lottery Links individual pages now have their
links verified regularly: every Sunday and each day after that until they
succeed. This picked up about 10 potentially faulty links, which I've been
weeding out appropriately. The winner of virtual lottery #8 accidentally
lost their claim security code, so the prize is rolled over to
virtual lottery #9.
I've moved the warning notice about the netscape save/print resubmit bug
higher up the returned virtual lottery page, but I now only display it if
HTTP_USER_AGENT contains the string Mozilla.
I discovered that a user had been attempting to submit two virtual lottery
entries with an upper case username part of their e-mail address for the first
one and a lower case username part for the second one (the user is now banned).
It highlighted a loophole in the virtual lottery submission - I wasn't treating
e-mail addresses case-insensitively. I am now, so users won't be able to sneak
that one past me again !
- Tuesday 12th December
Fixed draw day auto-announcements for the
InterLotto pages - I'd left the cron job set to
Saturday evening when it should now be Thursday evening of course ! Found
a browser (w3c) that can just transfer the header of a specified URL, so I've
started to put in code to auto-check the lottery links. It's under test this
evening and will be properly activated on Wednesday evening.
- Monday 11th December
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #56. My Makefile for the lottery
CGI programs didn't have a correct dependency when the virtual lottery
questions file is updated (it has since been corrected), meaning a live version
of virtual lottery #8 had a CGI expecting last week's answer ! I had to
zero some 30 entries and post up a newsflash once I'd corrected the error.
Panorama kicked up a big fuss about GTech (the US partner in the UK
lottery consortium), who are being investigated by the FBI for dubious
US activities and also may have attempted to bribe Richard Branson to pull out
of his lottery contract bid. One wonders why Branson never made a formal
complaint: he just "mentioned" it to the lottery regulator [who is now denying
that Branson ever said any such thing to him - things get murkier by the
- Thursday 7th December
claiming to display UK lottery results had actually copied my own
draw order page [removing the
machine name and ball set and displaying the info in H3 instead of PRE].
Not only was there no mention of myself or these pages, but the guy had also put
a copyright on his version of my page and says he'll even password-protect
it for members of his (dubious) lottery syndicate only in the future !
I'm afraid I lost my cool on this one and not only flamed him in
rec.gambling.lottery, but also
checked the WWW logs on the Connect server to discover that he'd visited
my lottery pages several times in the past fortnight or so and, yes, had
viewed the draw order page. I will periodically "remind" this guy until
he either puts a credit on his version of my page or removes it entirely - his
actions are really not in the spirit of the Internet...
- Wednesday 6th December
Shifted the first Saturday evening mail out forward a minute to 8.01pm -
pretty risky, but the previous 8.02pm mail outs were getting a response at
around 8.25-8.35pm, which is too slow really.
- Monday 4th December
Uploaded the results for
Lottery #55 - nice to see an
individual jackpot prize over £10m for a change !
- Friday 1st December
Minor document tidy-ups (bet you won't spot where they are !) - it's something
I have to do occasionally: proof-reading [there's no way around it].
Previous month: November 1995