- Saturday 29th March
The infamous post-draw auto-refresh problem still persisted - it only
crops up because my code is highly time-sensitive and doesn't like rubbish
such as Noel's House Party (which overran by 3 minutes !) upsetting
One slight change to
the virtual lottery tonight is that the next question (for Wednesday 2nd
April's virtual lottery draw) will have its "clue link" pointing to the
top level of our MerseyWorld
site rather than directly to the home page related to the question. This is
to persuade people to check out the rest of our site, which was the whole
point of setting a virtual lottery question in the first place !
- Friday 28th March
Finally had a day where I could concentrate on coding for the lottery
pages for once...turns out to be a public holiday of course.
Passed the pages through weblint, lint, gcc, spell checking and link
checking because I hadn't done all those for a while and one or two
errors were starting to creep in. Reduced draw evening
refresh frequencies to every 30 seconds prior to the draw
and to every 8 seconds during the draw now that we're on the
new Cable Internet line.
- Thursday 27th March
Bought another two tickets for Saturday's rollover.
- Wednesday 26th March
Considering the madcap state we've been in for the last
few days, the live draw went ridiculously smoothly. No
auto-refresh problems, beat everyone else to the full
results (again) and someone even won the virtual lottery !
We're now even getting incoming e-mail and not bouncing
it (mains testing had left the mail server down until
about 7pm), though I can't actually read it and reply to
it yet...I'm off to watch TV now anyway :-)
Received a small Good Causes leaflet through the post from the
Department of National Heritage (I phoned them up and
left my details on an answerphone, never expecting to hear
from them ever again :-) ) - I've transcribed the details
and made them available.
The chaos from yesterday continued today unabated
as most of the day was spent sorting out
things we'd done on the old server that hadn't been set up
on the new server. I think we've now caught pretty well
everything, although machine room mains testing throughout
the day disabled incoming and outgoing e-mail from our
site (and left the old server down for most of the day).
Found a few minutes inbetween the mad activity to update
last week's sales figures.
- Tuesday 25th March
Switched over to a new Cable Internet line and a new
server machine, which basically caused 48 hours of chaos
(we're finding all sorts of little [and some big] things to
- Saturday 22nd March
The draw was so-so - the auto-refresh problem returned
unfortunately (ended up having to hand-edit the refresh stuff
out !). Beat everyone else to the full results, but that's
to be expected :-)
- Friday 21st March
Bought two more tickets for tomorrow's rollover.
- Wednesday 19th March
The draw went smoothly (solved the refresh problem - it was a faulty
configuration I'd installed to mirror back the blocking file) - the
only minor snag was that it took 3 phone calls to Camelot to get
the full results (but I still beat BBC teletext to putting them
up, though they had the "no jackpot winner" announcement at about
the same time I did).
I've disabled the algorithms for estimating the rollover jackpots
because there's no firm data (from a 2-draws-a-week rollover) to use
to extrapolate the estimate from. I just lobbed in a £12m
(regular £8m + £4m rollover) figure for the moment - it's
as good as any other estimate ! Personally, I think they should
increase the rollover limit to 6 consecutive draws now there's
two draws a week, rather than the 3 consecutive draws it is currently
- Saturday 15th March
The draw was reasonably OK - I think the refresh problem (which is still
there immediately post-draw) is due to a failure to copy back a live blocking
file to the build machine (so it still thinks the live draw hasn't taken
place !)...I'll investigate this.
Everything was OK for the draw, er,
except for the strange beeping and error message on the LCD display of my
temporary 3Com ISDN box. I powered down everything as a precaution and it
seemed OK 10 minutes after I powered the equipment back up.
- Thursday 13th March
I've disconnected my Pipeline 50 ISDN box at home and given it up for about
2 weeks so that it can be used to run the ISDN network we've just set up
in Clayton Square shopping centre,
providing free ISDN-based Web surfing for the general public between
14th and 23rd March in Liverpool !
Its replacement is a 3Com AccessBuilder Remote Office 500 ISDN access
(formerly known as an "Arpeggio Lite") and I can't say I'm impressed with
it - it's definitely a lot slower and also tends to like to hang
and disconnect an edit window (though not the whole login session) on
seemingly random occasions. I'm going to insist on getting back my Pipeline 50
once its finished with at Clayton Square...
- Wednesday 12th March
For some reason I've yet to discover (more hours of testing are ahead...),
the live update, er, refused to update live :-( I forgot to re-compile with
"Wednesday" defined in the C code, which may have contributed to this problem,
but I think it'll just require lots of "artificial live draws" to sort it out.
Still getting the page refresh persisting for far too long after the draw
has completed :-( Was fastest with the full results again, but you expect
that now anyway ! Received the latest sales figures from Camelot via fax.
- Monday 10th March
Corrected many links for the older virtual lottery
questions so that they didn't generate a
"this document has moved" messages (we've been moving companies from
one server to another over many months, so the URLs have changed
- Saturday 8th March
The live draw went OK, although I
had some post-draw refresh trouble (I think it's because I've been deleting
the live updates file too quickly after the draw). I mis-typed the ticket
sales on the first full results generation and had to correct it several
minutes later - just as a friend walked through the door and disrupted further
analysis for about 3 hours...
I've temporarily pulled my Yell Awards submission form (and just linked to
the official form) because they changed their CGI recently and the old
CGI doesn't work any more - I suspect they did it purely because of me
(hey, nowhere does it say you have to use their nomination form !).
I will re-code the form later tonight and make it live again shortly - they
ain't going to stop me :-)
BTW, it's my mother's 60th birthday today !
- Friday 7th March
Received a fax from Camelot for the latest figures and it turns out someone
on the Camelot phone line gave me the Instants sales figure from 51 draws
ago, instead of the latest one...grrr... I've now corrected the problem.
- Wednesday 5th March
Finally got most of the sales figures for last week's draws, though
Lucky Dip wasn't available. I tried to persuade them to split up the
Lucky Draw into separate Saturday and Wednesday figures, but wasn't too
successful I suspect. Had to do an emergency Live Updates re-compile for the
estimated jackpot pool minimum amount - I'd set it to £6m ages ago and
forgot about this sub-£4m jackpot tonight. Luckily, I managed to compile
and FTP the binary across during the musical interlude in the TV show :-)
Got given the wrong info (number of 4-match winners) by the lottery line
initially (the total prize pool didn't add up), but I phoned back and had the
fixed info less than 10 minutes later...and still beat other sources to
the full results !
- Monday 3rd March
Had a day off, so spent several hours going through all the live updates
and post-draw page generation with and without Super Draws and fixed
various persistent bugs in the updating, particularly on the individual
lottery page and its frequency/appearance analysis. Switched Lucky Dip
sales figure info to be Sat+Wed figures - I've given up hope of persuading
Camelot to release these on a per-draw basis, despite the fact that this
is exactly what they should be doing ! I've left conditional code behind in
case they ever do come up with separate Saturday and Wednesday figures.
The pound's been getting stronger against the Swiss Franc, so I plugged
in the latest tourist rate into the currency conversion (dropped the
virtual lottery prize conversion to below £200 :-( ). Adjusted the
timing of the appearance of new and updated icons on the home page - I've still
not got it quite right !
It's come to my attention
during today's testing that any rollover estimate for a Wednesday draw (and
perhaps for Saturday draws to a lesser extent) is going to be
wildly out for quite a while because of the lack of prior Wednesday rollovers
to base an estimate on. I suspect I'll have to put a "cap" on this until
we get a couple of Wednesday rollover draws to make the estimates more
accurate. Strangely, we haven't had a rollover since the midweek draw started -
I was expecting them to be more frequent...
- Saturday 1st March
The draw was OK again, although I had trouble stopping the auto-refreshing,
until I realised I hadn't done the virtual lottery draw yet :-)
Camelot's phone lines put me on indefinite hold (so I looked at BBC teletext
instead for the initial prizes/winners results and they got it wrong predictably
Fixed Super Draw problems I had on Wednesday - they shouldn't happen