- Friday 27th February
I've been tweaking the list of auto-grabbed WWW results sites, because some
aren't updating or have changed their format to something that can't be
parsed - I'm still not scanning the official lottery site, because they
have two sets of results on the home page and it's tricky to know which one
to go for (I have no draw day-specific scanning code - I tend to go either
by the draw number if it's there or by a unique string in the winning
- Wednesday 26th February
The draw went OK-ish tonight - I had trouble with the draw order analysis
on the individual lottery page immediately after the draw for some unfathomable
reason (some debugging on that is in order). Fastest on the Net for the
full results as usual (the only draw in about the last month where I wasn't
was because of total ISDN failure), though I suspect BBC teletext might be
browsing my site for the results (see tonight's
draw page for more details).
Despite Camelot claiming they wouldn't have figures until next Monday,
I phoned them up this morning and, lo and behold, they had last week's
figures, so I've made them available (fastest on the Net).
Finally got down to some more Super Ticket Checker coding
and it's now about 20% complete (I'm working on the front-end forms
first - it doesn't actually do any checking yet !). I don't want to
release it until it's complete, but I estimate there's about 30 hours
of coding left until it's ready for launch. When it is ready, it'll
blow everything out of the water that's on the WWW at the moment
(the current system is already the best, he says modestly, but this
new system is twice as good again).
- Tuesday 25th February
Bought another two tickets for tomorrow's
Super Draw. Camelot are now saying that it takes them nine days
(yes, you read that right - over a week) to release the scratchcard, Good
Causes, unclaimed prizes and Lucky Dip figures. Hence I won't be able to
get the figures for last Saturday's draw until, incredibly, next Monday.
It won't stop me hassling them for the figures though...
- Saturday 22nd February
The draw went reasonably OK, although I may have left auto-refresh on for
several minutes after the draw (it's difficult to tell - Netscape has
really bad reload bugs in it !). Does it need saying that I beat everyone
else (TV, teletext, WWW) to the full results ? Nah, I didn't think so :-)
ISDN didn't play up this time, thank goodness !
I've also been updating our unofficial
Liverpool FC pages since Alex Brown
left yesterday, despite the fact I'm an
- Wednesday 19th February
I was poking around the live server and found out that the GIF cache I
use for generated GIFs wasn't being cleaned out via the cron job I set up
(it's been fixed now) and had grown to 54MB instead of the 16MB limit I'd
set for it ! My ISDN connection has been highly dodgy since Sunday and
it proved "problematic" this evening as it got worse and worse during
the live draw and eventually refused to connect for over an hour from
about 8.20pm onwards. :-(
I've lowered the estimated jackpot for Saturday draws to £8m,
because the ticket sales fell last Saturday (slightly) and if they
fall again next Saturday, it's unlikely the jackpot pool will reach
- Tuesday 18th February
Bought two more tickets for tomorrow's
Super Draw (I must confess that I nearly forgot to do so, because
the jackpot's "only" £7m !). Finally got a fax through from Camelot,
but they are incorrectly only giving out weekly Lucky Dip figures, rather
than twice-weekly - I've asked them to investigate this and come up with
the correct frequency (they've admitted that they should be
twice-weekly, but they aren't releasing figures that way !).
- Monday 17th February
Received the 8th cheque for my 10th
win this morning. Fixed the problem with the Max
box - it needed a system reset, so my home connection should be OK tonight.
I shudder to think how many connects/disconnects our other clients had made
to the Max box today before the fix though (major ISDN phone bill...).
Camelot don't have any Lucky Dip figures since the 5th February and no
Unclaimed Prizes or Good Causes since the 8th February, which is really
strange ! I'm waiting for them to phone back to indicate what's going on.
- Sunday 16th February
Frustratingly, I couldn't dial in properly via my Pipeline connection today.
It was connecting to the Max box at work and then immediately dropping the
line :-( It was especially annoying as I had the home page newsflash saying
there isn't going to be a Super Draw next Wednesday, when in fact
there is one (it was announced overnight by Camelot as a £7m
guaranteed Super Draw jackpot).
Never mind, it gave me the chance to code at home and work on installing the
latest ImageMagick (3.8.1) - I use the montage and import commands from that
graphics suite for my lottery goodies. The documentation for the new
ImageMagick failed to mention that the default background colour and the
default gravity when joining GIFs together with montage had changed, but I
simply added the appropriate options to set them to the old ImageMagick (3.6.3)
The biggest problem with 3.8.1 was that the import (screen grabber) command
has mysteriously lost its "-transparency <colour>" option, which is
a right pain - I've asked the author to put it back in. Until that's fixed,
I'll have to continue to use the old 3.6.3 "import" command.
- Saturday 15th February
The draw went reasonably well, although I had problems with the live updates
when two other people joined in :-) There was a post-draw refresh snag again,
but perhaps Right Said Fred's drawn out performance had something to do
with it (delaying the start of the draw by 3 minutes).
I've lowered the estimated jackpot prize pool for normal midweek
draw to £4m.
- Thursday 13th February
Fixed the prior ticket history problem immediately after a live Super
Draw - I'd accidentally discarded the winning numbers temporarily until
I sorted it out. Also adjusted the refresh kick-in for Wednesdays (it's 10
minutes later than Saturdays of course), which went a little crazy yesterday.
- Wednesday 12th February
I can't say I like Super Draws when it comes to my page
updating code - little things go awry with the pages (this time,
the prior history of the ticket wasn't displayed on the individual
lottery page !). I also had a problem with the 10-second refresh
kicking in too early (easily fixable). I was fastest on the Net yet
again with the initial
stats and the full results...it's hardly worth mentioning this
Sorted out when particular stages of live updates are allowed -
winning numbers after 8.00pm (Saturday) or 8.10pm (Wednesday) and
exact jackpot pool after 8.45pm (because Camelot can be quite
fast on occasion). Estimated jackpot pool for a normal week's
midweek draw is now set to £5m after last week's dreadful
sales (it was £6m). Fixed a problem with the output of
which Super Draw it is immediately following a live Super Draw
(it was wrong by one !).
Had to do an emergency fix just after midnight this morning
on the draw day announcement code for the
individual lottery page when there's a Super Draw - I was losing
track of the correct draw number for one thing !
Another problem cropped
up because I've installed the latest "bhs" binary that now rejects any
source files that don't end ".bhs" - the manual comments section of each
individual lottery page had ".html" source files, so bhs was hanging
asking if they should be renamed to .bhs :-( I've renamed all the source
files to be .bhs files, like they should have been in the first place and
adjusted code to run bhs on those renamed files.
- Tuesday 11th February
Fixed an "obvious" bug that only appears for a couple of minutes immediately
after a live draw - I wasn't adding one to the frequencies when displaying
the live analysis on the individual lottery page. Modified the triggering
of and icons on the lottery home page to take account of midweek
- Monday 10th February
Finally got the exact ticket sales figures from Camelot at 9am.
Camelot phoned me back with last Wednesday's Lucky Dip
sales too. My subscription
certificate came through the post this morning - I'm covered through to
February 1998 now :-)
I've started coding a "Super Ticket Checker" section to combine the Have You
Won ? and Multiple Ticket Checker sections into one interactive CGI section,
but it's a fairly large task that I'm only about 10% the way through at the
moment. Camelot finally fixed the old winning numbers at 2.14pm - nearly
40 hours after they misled people by labelling week-old numbers as the
latest ones !
- Sunday 9th February
The full results came through some time shortly after 10.30pm
(a record delay of 26.5 hours).
I had to rely on a composite of BBC and ITV teletext initially,
though ITV teletext eventually updated with the full prize amounts
and number of winners.
Sadly, neither teletext lottery sections had the
online ticket sales, so I estimated them by using the reverse of the
prize structure formula. I can't ring Camelot to confirm the figures
of course, because their public phone line shut down at 3pm !
- Saturday 8th February
Tonight's draw went reasonably well - nothing particularly wrong with it
from my page updating point of view. Chris Prickett failed to do a
live TV show commentary until near the end of the TV show...hmmm.
Camelot's computers failed and the full results weren't announced this evening !
At 10.51pm, Camelot (or should I say Nethead ?) screwed up their home page
by keeping the 1st February's (draw #116) winning numbers [too lazy to edit the
IMG SRC tags obviously !] and putting the 8st (sic) February date and draw #118
on it instead :-(
This is a near-fatal error because someone might rip up a winning ticket for
the 8th February because they'd compared it to the 1st February numbers on
the official site !
- Friday 7th February
Did the usual round of spell checking (3 errors because I hadn't done it
in a while), re-compiling with gcc (longjmp/setjmp warnings from the new
Yell code, but ignorable), passing the C code through lint
(minor name clashes with system routines that have now been fixed)
and weblinting (syntax checking) the HTML documents (no errors !).
I'm a little unsure as to whether I'll get the Lucky Dip figures for the
first midweek draw on Saturday or Sunday, but I've now coded the Saturday
draw page to only include the Saturday Lucky Dip figures
when I eventually get them sometime next week. This is a bit confusing,
so hopefully it will be become clearer in about a week's time...
- Thursday 6th February
Cashed in my £10 winning ticket and bought 2 more tickets for next
Wednesday's Super Draw (or rollover if Saturday's jackpot isn't won).
- Wednesday 5th February
The draw updates were just about OK - I had problems with the Super Draw
hitting some dusty parts of my C code and producing dubious output in the
individual lottery page shortly after the draw. I did emergency surgery on
the code and fixed most problems there and then, but the rest needs
careful scrutiny to more permanently fix it. Not quite as bad as Chris
Prickett's "1" ball, which appeared as one of the six main numbers
After prying some answers from Yell about the minimum needed to complete the
nomination form satisfactorily, I managed to concoct a quickie
form for nominating my site for a Yell Award 1997 (Best Non-commercial Site
and Best Personal Site categories). I basically make sure the name and
e-mail address are OK and then I check they haven't already nominated me.
If that's OK, then I POST the info to the Yell CGI with the appropriate fields
all filled in. Oh, there's security measures to stop other people using
my super-convenient CGI to nominate their own sites !
I won £10 for the ninth time !
Hey, no shock that
Chris Prickett has also suggested people nominate his site for a Yell
award, but his link points to the mega-cumbersome official form, which
might put off potential voters :-(
Adjusted teletext page requests from BBC teletext after they created a
staggering five lottery pages (555-559). I now request BBC page 558 and
ITV page 123 several times during the day so that I'm e-mailed breaking lottery
news as it happens. I still request BBC page 555 for the winning numbers on
Actually bought a copy of the Daily Express newspaper today
because I was mentioned in it (no URL unfortunately, despite me making the
effort to spell it down the phone to the journalist yesterday :-( ).
The 35p spent on that was compensated for
by getting two free copies of The Sun newspaper today (two copies
because they had free entries into a syndicate for tonight's draw - I'm
sure that I could have walked off with 10 copies from W.H. Smith if I
was being really keen !).
- Monday 3rd February
W.H. Smith in Liverpool finally got the new How To Play
leaflet in, so I've duly
Bought two more tickets for Wednesday's
- Sunday 2nd February
Improved returned page from a virtual lottery submission by dynamically
adjusting the sentence that says when you can enter the virtual lottery after
the current one depending on exactly when you submitted an entry for the
- Saturday 1st February
Enabled midweek draw info so that the CGIs are all built and primed with
the code prior to the last-ever "Saturday-only" draw. The draw itself went
quite well, apart from some individual lottery page description code being
executed for a rollover that shouldn't have been until the full results were
available - I've fixed this now. Chris Prickett seemed to have serious
problems, including only starting updating just as the draw was about to start
(no live TV show commentary !) and some strange things were going on post-draw
on his site.
Assuming that Camelot only issue weekly Good Causes and scratchcard
figures (I have a call into Camelot asking them to clarify this), I have coded
the individual lottery pages so that future Wednesday pages only list
the ticket sales, Lucky Dip sales and manual sales. Future Saturday pages
will include everything the current Saturday draw pages do plus the
Wednesday ticket sales and a new weekly ticket sales line (Wednesday+Saturday
ticket sales added together), to which is added the weekly scratchcard sales
to get a weekly combined sales figure.
Completed similar coding for the Sales Figures section so that the tables
for Good Causes, Combined Sales and Scratchcards would skip Wednesday draws.
To clarify how the tables are updated, I've added an appropriate note below
each table. Still wondering if I'm going to get 2 faxes a week from Camelot
from now on !