- Wednesday 31st December
The final live and exclusive Internet commentary for 1997 of the lottery TV
show and draw went smoothly and I beat everyone else (including teletext) to
putting up the full results.
- Saturday 27th December
The live commentary was OK, but I had a problem with the bonus
ball during the live update
(it looks like when 2 or more people do a live update of the
bonus ball at the same time, it doesn't register it :-( ).
Had the full results up before anyone else again.
- Thursday 25th December
Phoned up Camelot (yes, their lines are open today) and picked up
the scratchcard sales figure for last week as promised.
- Wednesday 24th December
The live commentary and draw went OK, but the TV show tried to set a
first by announcing the number of jackpot winners live on the show.
However, it went hopelessly wrong and they had to sheepishly exit as
usual, keeping the viewers in the dark until their bulletin some 75 minutes
later (and some 30 minutes after I had the full results on my
pages !). Hopefully, they'll try it again on Saturday - it's something I've
been campaigning for on my
TV show page for 3 years now (though I'd like
the full results on the TV show, not just the number of jackpot winners) !
I tried to phone Camelot earlier than usual to see if this early announcement
had woken them up too, but no - they were on their usual slow full results
schedule (45 mins after the draw), which I put up on the Web first and
a mere 7-odd hours before the official lottery site will actually get around to it.
Anyway, it looks like I may have to code something extra in for the number
of jackpot winners immediately after the draw, so that the Web pages can
display them as soon as the TV announces it.
Phoned up Camelot to get the latest sales figures (not at work of course,
so can't pick up the fax), but they didn't have the scratchcard sales
figures for last week, so I'll get those tomorrow.
- Tuesday 23rd December
Our intranet finally came back at about noon today, so things are back
to normal (we hope) now.
- Monday 22nd December
We're doing some work on our intranet today, so I won't be able to do any
updates until the evening (unless they are of a staggeringly important
nature, in which case I'll hack the home page manually on the live server).
- Sunday 21st December
I've been fiddling with the access statistics configuration file to get ready
for a full year report - from tomorrow onwards, there should be an expansion to
include things I want for the year-end summary. This site has been almost
twice as popular in 1997 than it was in 1996 !
- Saturday 20th December
The live TV show commentary and draw went OK, but Camelot took almost
an hour to release the full results (I barely beat the BBC to announcing
the number of jackpot winners) and it seems that ITV teletext updated
at about the same time as I did, which proves that Camelot were
sluggish, because I usually beat teletext by several minutes.
Performed a dummy full results run this morning and ironed out a minor
message display problem because of the rollover/Super Draw joint status of
- Friday 19th December
Bought a couple of extra tickets for tomorrow's Super Draw. I was a bit confused
as to whether to buy 2 or 4 extra tickets, but decided on the former,
especially since Camelot aren't adding the rollover on top of the £25m
- Thursday 18th December
Corrected a rounding up error in the displaying of figures in comma-separated
values pages (I was adding 0.5 to numbers, which was OK for integers, but not
for floating point numbers).
- Wednesday 17th December
The live TV show commentary and draw were fine, but chaos ensued
when the full results came through because the jackpot wasn't won,
making next Saturday's draw both a rollover draw and a
£25m Super Draw !
Frantic re-coding to cope with the draw type clash
ensued and I discovered that Camelot don't term such a draw
a "rollover Super Draw". Instead, the draw type with the highest
jackpot pool value dominates the official description. In Saturday's
case, this makes it a Super Draw (because even a Saturday rollover
would only net £14-15m).
Slightly modified the external link redirecting CGI because Internet
Explorer 4.X + an HTTP/1.0 proxy server + the redirect didn't work. I had
to add a status return code of 301 (Moved Temporarily) to force MSIE 4.X
to behave properly. It's the only Web browser in the universe to fail
with that combination (even MSIE 3.X works OK), so it's clearly an MSIE 4.X
bug. The ISDN changes yesterday were reversed today, so my home connection is
working (well, you wouldn't be able to see these comments this evening if
it wasn't !).
Our intranet at work was dead most of the morning because of a fibre optic
link failure. Didn't affect this live Web server, which is on a completely
different network, but it meant no-one at Connect could log in or surf the Web
at all :-( Received the latest sales figures fax from Camelot and duly added
the figures to the pages.
- Tuesday 16th December
A change to the ISDN configuration meant I couldn't connect from home tonight
(I expected this, because a similar reconfig a while back caused the loss
of my home ISDN for two whole weeks), so the config will have to be reversed
tomorrow to let me back on again for the live updates.
- Monday 15th December
The whole of MerseyWorld including this lottery site now tracks external
URL clicks via a CGI I've written. This includes, obviously, the lottery
links section and any other external links I have on these lottery pages.
Tidied up the re-directing links, particularly for PLUSLotto, which needs
the CGI to re-direct to another CGI !
- Saturday 13th December
The commentary and live draw were fine, but I had a minor auto-refresh
update problem after the draw. I fixed the refresh code bug
inbetween the draw and getting the full results through, the latter of which I
made available before anyone else as usual.
Fixed a bug with memory allocation
for a variable used in the PLUSLotto automatic results filtering. The
bug must have been there for about 2 years and only surfaced when my work
machine was upgraded to 10.20 and the unallocated pointer caused a core dump !
So much for debugging :-)
- Friday 12th December
There was a bit of a delay with last week's sales figures - the two people
who normally send me the fax from Camelot are either ill or on holiday !
I got a reply from my phone call about the figures and have them all
available on the site now.
- Wednesday 10th December
I had to restart the chat room once tonight but, other than that, the
commentary and live update were fine (and no auto-refresh problems for
a change !). Camelot took an age to get through to
("all our lottery line operators are asleep" :-) ) and I insisted on hanging
on once the BBC had announced the number of jackpot winners (and Camelot
claimed they hadn't got the full results). Despite the
delays, I got the full results up before anyone else again.
- Tuesday 9th December
NFS locking problems have been fixed (by restarting the lockd/statd
processes on the NFS server), so I'm back to my own machine at work for
building lottery software again.
- Monday 8th December
My work machine has been upgraded to HP-UX 10.20, but there's some NFS locking
problems that cause the login to hang for the user I utilise for updating these
pages ! I've temporarily shifted to another 10.20 machine for lottery
software builds until the locking problem goes away.
- Sunday 7th December
Spent some time improving draw day home page and individual lottery
page generation w.r.t. the auto-refresh. Set my home machine's clock
to both last Wednesday and yesterday so that
I could test the time-sensitive code that's been disrupting the page
generation over the past few draws.
I don't link to the hi-res index page from the home page any more
when the page has auto-refresh
(typically 7.30pm to the draw time) because there's no benefit to looking
at the hi-res page during that period (the Java countdown to the ticket
sales closing doesn't apply for instance and the hi-res page is very
similar to the normal home page).
Wednesday's auto-refresh starts at 10-minute intervals rather than Saturday's
5-minute intervals because of the excessive Wednesday time between ticket closure
(7.30pm) and the TV show start (8.45pm).
I no longer compile software with any optimisation on my home machine (up until
today, one source file was compiled with optimisation, but since I don't
run that code [for the Best Performing Tickets page] on my home machine, there
was no point in doing so). The work machine still builds with level 2 or
3 optimisation, except on a draw day when only the Best Performing Tickets
code is compiled with optimisation.
- Saturday 6th December
The live TV commentary and draw went OK (had some people in the
chat room from
www.cricket.org shortly after the draw [don't ask me why :-) ]),
but I had problems with the auto-refresh again, which is
most frustrating (I will debug this at home tomorrow).
Got the full results out before anyone else as usual.
- Thursday 4th December
We've reverted back to the previous version of the chat room, so I've put it
back on the page again. Cable Internet fixed a problem with the router
for this Web server that I reported to them this morning, so the laggy,
intermittent access that's been bothering us has finally gone away.
Picked up another couple of lottery tickets for Saturday's rollover.
- Wednesday 3rd December
The chat room applet/server author upgraded the Java classes
at 7.02pm and, an hour later, I discovered that it had some
nasty bug in it that caused it to go berserk after about 10
minutes, so I had to pull the chat rooms this evening (not just
affecting the lottery, but Scousers and Liverpool FC chat rooms
amongst several others).
Anyway, I reverted to home page Web updates via the live updates
system (and manual home page hacking with vi), but I'm not sure
that the live updates system actually worked ! Anyway, I definitely
got the numbers up on the first page re-generation and then had
to phone Camelot several times to get the full results, which
eventually turned up at the belated time of 9.45pm !
I put the full results up and beat other Web sites and both ITV
and BBC teletext, but I noticed that the official Camelot site actually
said it was a rollover at exactly the same time as I did. They
could have had a bit of fame there, but they dismally didn't
back it up with the actual full results (e.g. the amount that
was rolled over for instance...), so they let everyone down
Today was bad from a network point of view - our Cable Internet
connection seemed to have a fair chunk of bad routes for the
incoming/outgoing traffic, plus our own intranet at Connect is
running like a sick pig at the moment (we're going to fix that
shortly). Received the latest sales figures fax from Camelot
and duly updated the pages.
- Tuesday 2nd December
It needed 3 reboots, a kernel re-configuration and much fixing, but we
finally did it today - we've upgraded the live server to HP-UX 10.20 at
long last (it was the fourth time we'd tried it).
- Monday 1st December
At 9.40am this morning, I received e-mail from someone "apparently" inside
Camelot for the first time ever. It's from someone called Hilary Smith and
had the subject line "Re: Comments from the Internet". Looking at the mail
headers, it seems legitimate to me, although it's disappointing that the
e-mail address is under the btinternet.com domain, rather than the more
obvious national-lottery.co.uk domain. Before you ask, the body of the
message just said "If this is the page you want you could bookmark it.",
which is rather cryptic to me :-)