Next month: December 1997
Added a "Latest.gif" soft-link to point to the latest result GIF (in addition to the Saturday.gif and Wednesday.gif soft-links I set up recently), so that people who want to link (with some sort of credit to my site please !) to the latest result's GIF can do so.
I've corrected some of the slightly dubious date/month/year comparisons when you selected a start or end draw to check using those pop-up date menus. At the same, I extended the year pop-up to include next year if 16 draws into the future crossed the year boundary (that's the case at the moment). I've coded support so that - at last - the date/month/year pop-ups can be used to select future draws.
Corrected the maximum start and end draw range code so that it properly adjusts for Wednesday only or Saturday only ranges. I've improved the footnote at the bottom of the draw range page by also specifying the full date when stating the latest possible allowed future start and end draws.
Note that you can "check" tickets that are completely in the future even though the page that's returned doesn't have any checking results (the draws haven't taken place yet of course !). The reason for allowing this slightly unusual check is so that the returned page can be bookmarked ready for when the first draw of the check does indeed take place.
When I phoned for the full results, Camelot's phone system was engaged and then said all its lines were busy when I tried again (I blame Alan Dedicoat for jamming the lines - he read out the lottery phone line number just as the draw was about to take place !). I wasn't too happy that, by the time I got through, BBC 1 had already announced the number of jackpot winners and how much they'd won. This was compounded by the woman on the line claiming they hadn't got the full results, so I persuaded her to check and they did have them !
Despite all this, I still easily beat BBC and ITV teletext to the full results, especially since the latter was still blowing its own trumpet about how it's going to have in-vision winning numbers live (big deal - ITV pop up the numbers anyway !) and "more facts and figures" (er, not in the same league as my pages I suspect :-) ).
I've extended the Super Draws section to include similar info for rollovers too. I've fixed a bug in the PLUSLotto auto-update (it was stupidly dropping the bonus number if the winning numbers weren't supplied in the update, but other info was).
Prior to the change, people would have to wait until the first draw of the ticket took place and then bookmark that draw as the start draw and the "latest draw" as the end draw. This was unsatisfactory because the bookmark would work OK for the draws, but would carry on extending itself (because of the "latest draw" setting) well after the final draw of the ticket had taken place. It's now possible to bookmark the exact ticket you've bought (which doesn't necessarily have to be a multi-draw ticket of course).
There were many people in the chat room when the TV show and draw took place, but it was frustrating not being able to generate the initial stats. Anyway, I phoned Camelot 3 times to get the full results and noted them down correctly, but I transcribed the number of 4-match winners incorrectly into my results data file. I was busy accusing Camelot of a mistake when I suddenly spotted my own error and sheepishly backed out of the phone call :-)
Fixed a bug in the Super Draws statistics pages - I'd not used the right variable to display the highest Super Draw jackpot prize at the bottom of each table. Received the latest sales figures fax from Camelot and duly updated the Web pages.
For the curious, the first site to use these links (with my permission) is UK Online (although when I last checked this, they'd got the widths wrong so the GIFs look a bit screwy - I've e-mailed them asking them to correct this). Note that anyone else linking in this manner must obtain permission from me first and I expect my main URL of http://lottery.merseyworld.com/ to be linked to on the same page as well (to ID that the GIFs come from my site).
Nice to see that when ITV teletext page 123 goes its own way and tries to create its own lottery news, it continues to get it hopelessly wrong. Today it claimed that if tomorrow's £15m Super Draw jackpot wasn't won, then Saturday's jackpot pool would be a guaranteed £40m (they'd done the dumb thing and just added the two Super Draw figures of £15m and £25m together !).
In fact, Camelot have confirmed that Saturday's draw would be a "normal" rollover draw if Wednesday's jackpot isn't won (i.e. no guaranteed jackpot), but since £15m would be rolling over, the jackpot for Saturday may indeed reach or exceed £25m, but definitely won't be either guaranteed or reach anywhere near £40m...
Another user reported a problem with the number of header columns in the Prize Winners CGI when the number of winners page is sorted in any method other than date order. This was because I'd not allowed for the additional "No." column indicating the position - this has been fixed now. Bought another two tickets for Wednesday's Super Draw.
Fixed a problem spotted tonight with the generated Super Draw pages during the "twilight zone" (i.e. post-draw, but pre-full results). I was listing Super Draws for which I didn't have the full results yet - I've now fixed this anomaly. Completed the other two program-generated statistics pages for the Super Draws section - one in jackpot top-ups order and the other in ticket sales order.
Added a long overdue Super Draws section that includes a FAQ and a stats page, although I only had time to do the date-ordered version initially. It's the only place to find out the "top-ups" applied to each Super Draw, as well as Super Draw highs, lows, averages and totals of course. I keep thinking that it should be part of one of the CGI sections, but it doesn't fit comfortably in any of them really.
Decide to take a day off and all hell broke loose. Firstly, Carol Smillie has her second baby (a son), next Camelot and the BBC are to drop the word "Live" from the lottery TV show (presumably meaning more pre-recorded segments - maybe even the musical artist will be pre-recorded ?), next the Saturday show will be more based around the guest celebrity and then finally the Wednesday show will shift to 8.45pm GMT from 3rd December onwards.
Mind you, I got annoyed enough at 4.03's inability to close the document source or info windows (ALT-W worked with 3.03, but it doesn't with 4.03), that I've gone back to 3.03 during page development (I look at the source code to pages a lot when coding - it's the easiest way to "debug" CGIs).
Someone rightly spotted that the Lucky Dip section of the Ticket Checker wasn't picking "RKL Random Numbers" when that option was selected. It was a simple fix to correct the problem (I'd passed zero to the function involved all the time, rather than zero = truly random and one = RKL random numbers). Popped into Tesco tonight and picked up a couple more tickets for Wednesday's rollover draw.
Continued the coding started yesterday and added comma-separated values versions of the Prize Winners pages, which means that all the figures I now keep are available for importing into spreadsheets or lottery databases. Probably cutting my own throat (makes it easier for someone else to set up a rival lottery site for example !), but people have been occasionally requesting CSV pages so I've completed the task at last.
Received the usual weekly sales figures fax from Camelot and duly updated the Web pages. Spotted that the HTML tables in the Sales Figures section were mis-aligning in PC Netscape 4.X, so I added 's in various places and that seems to have done the trick.
Somewhat unusually, I actually got a letter today from someone who seems to have got both confused and excited that the 6 numbers that they typed (or Lucky Dip-picked) in the Ticket Checker system had won a jackpot - they seemed to think that checking your numbers entered you into the UK lottery ! Anyway, a quick check of www.four11.com found his likely e-mail address (nope, it wasn't in the letter), so I sent him an e-mail clarifying his confusion.
Whilst the live commentary and update were fine, the full results took an eternity to get from the Camelot line. It took 7 phone calls and someone on the line to finally get off their backside and check if they were available (they were 20 minutes late releasing the figures) for me to get the full results, by which time ITV and BBC teletext had put them up anyway...grrr...
Previous month: October 1997