What's New On These Pages: October 1998
Next month: November 1998
- Saturday 31st October
We were re-organising our network today, so there
were planned disruptions from
5.00pm onwards, causing a delay in my uploading of the list of today's Easy
Play score draws and also a reboot just as the lottery show was starting.
Luckily things were back (although somewhat laggy) during the show and
my live commentary proceeded, albeit with a chat room lag right as the
balls came out :-( The Web page updates were done live though and I had
the full results up before anyone else.
- Wednesday 28th October
It was reasonably busy in the chat room tonight (half a dozen or so
people) and they were waiting for me when I entered with just under
10 minutes to go to the TV show [maybe they thought it started at
8.30pm GMT instead of the new time of 8.50pm GMT ? :-) ]. The
live TV show commentary (not that there's much of it now) and draw
went OK and I put the full results up before anyone else.
- Monday 26th October
Received a fax from Camelot of the first four weeks of Vernons Easy Play fixtures
and typed them in to fill the gap left by the official site's fixtures,
making this site the only
one on the Net to have the complete set of Vernons Easy Play fixtures (the
official site doesn't) !
Bolded Vernons Easy Play score draws in the fixture lists to make them more obvious and
this also proved a useful double-check because it will flag up any fixtures
that don't match my score draw list (the two are held separately and are
now cross-referenced properly). I will start work on generating various
stats pages based on the score draws vs. fixture lists shortly.
- Sunday 25th October
Disabled cron jobs that attempted to grab other site's Web pages.
It was pointless because they were always slower than me, plus I've
got the Live Updates system that allows other users to submit the
winning numbers if I'm not around. Switched timezone variable over
(now into GMT).
I now automatically check the official Easy Play site once a day
for a new fixture list appearing and grab that, parsing it for my pages.
Strangely enough, the official site doesn't have the fixture lists for
the first 4 weeks of Easy Play ! I suspect I'll have to chase Camelot
up for those...
Initially, there's a set of fixture list pages, plus links to those
from the Vernons Easy Play results page and each individual Vernons Easy Play page. When I get the
full set of fixture lists, then obviously the percentage of draws per
team can be calculated (at the moment I only have absolute figures) and,
apart from generating an additional draw frequency table in percentage
order, I will able to add the "Matchmaker" predictor that the official
Vernons Easy Play site currently has.
This picks out the 11 fixtures where teams have
the highest combined percentage of draws, though strictly it should
do it on home draws for the home team + away draws for the away team,
which I suspect the official "Matchmaker" doesn't do. You also don't
want to trust any fixtures involving teams with little data on them
(e.g. if either team has appeared in less than 50% of the fixture
lists to date, then ignore that fixture entirely). Of course, you'd want
a history of how the "Matchmaker" algorithm has done, so you can see
how tweaking the formula improves it over time. All irrelevant really
because you can't pick your own Vernons Easy Play fixtures anyway :-(
- Saturday 24th October
The live TV show commentary and draw went OK with about half a dozen people
in the chat room. I put the full results up faster than anyone else (including
beating the official Easy Play site again - its results service was
even "unavailable" for most of the evening !). Easy Play had its first
randomly generated score draw, its first abandoned score draw result and
"celebrated" the 10th consecutive week of falling sales, which could have
been due to the appalling weather we had this week.
- Thursday 22nd October
Received the latest sales figures fax from Camelot and duly added the figures
to my pages. Disappointingly, these only seem to be arriving fortnightly now,
plus there's something dubious about the 26th March 1998 unclaimed prizes
figure (£274,709, which is about a quarter of its normal value) - it's
in brackets in the fax, presumably meaning it's a provisional figure.
- Wednesday 21st October
I had to restart the chat room just before the (only 10 minutes long)
TV show started, so unsurprisingly, there weren't exactly many (2)
people in the chat room when the draw took place. The TV show was
eerily quiet (no studio audience, which was astounding !) and with
no guest star and only a filmed report to suffer, the show whizzed
by in no time. I put the full results up faster than anyone else as
- Saturday 17th October
Today was busy because of the Everton vs. Liverpool soccer match, but I'd
finished my live commentary on that before I needed to turn my attention
to Easy Play and the main lottery results. Beat the official Vernons Easy Play
site to both the set of Vernons Easy Play score draws and the full Vernons Easy Play results by about
half an hour each time ! As for the main lottery, the live TV show commentary
and draw went fine and I put the full results up before anyone else.
Vernons launched their full Easy Play Web site today and it has a reasonable
set of info, although I'm not keen on the design (bright blue background
and they've not made their GIFs transparent). Biggest failure - and the
official Camelot Web site suffers from it too - is that they don't put the
latest Easy Play result on the home page: it's two levels down on the
- Wednesday 14th October
There were half a dozen people in the chat room to see the live TV show
commentary (last Dreamworld show ever hopefully) and draw, though competing
against the Maverick movie on ITV and a live Euro 2000 England
soccer match on Channel 5 probably meant bad BBC 1 ratings for tonight's
lottery TV show. I put the full results up faster than anyone else as usual.
Had a day off and decided to take a look at the latest ImageMagick (4.1.2)
to see if it could be used to create the 7-ball lottery GIFs, but no such
luck - there's bugs in it which forced me to carry on running a version
that's about 2 years old ! I've reported the bugs to the author in a lot
of detail, so hopefully it will get fixed soon.
- Saturday 10th October
There were a reasonable number of people in the chat room during
the live TV show commentary and draw (including one poor guy who
having trouble connecting with his Linux box !). I put the full
results faster than anyone else, including the dire Easy Play
ticket sales, which must have Vernons running around like a
headless chicken by now...
In a particularly anorakish move, my BT "Best Friend" phone number
(which gives me a 20% discount) is now 0845 9100 000 and the other
Camelot number (0645 100 000) is also in my BT "Friends and Family" scheme
(a 10% discount for that). Both numbers are only charged at local call
rates, but BT have an outrageous 5p minimum call charge, so I get hit
by that when the Camelot phone line drops me or I choose the wrong option
on their tone interface.
- Friday 9th October
After a delay of more than two weeks, Camelot finally faxed me through some
sales figures, though the expired prizes figure for the 26th September
(only £274,709) looks "provisional" because there's brackets around
the figure on the fax.
- Wednesday 7th October
There were a fair number of people in the chat room for the live TV show
commentary and draw (including an ex-Connect colleague !), both of which
went well. I put the full results up before anyone else as usual.
- Saturday 3rd October
The live TV show commentary and draw went fine (had about 6 or 7 in the
chat room for the draw) and I put the full results up before everyone else.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was the Vernons Easy Play sales failure -
it's now below £1m for the first time and the sales have fallen for every
one of the seven weeks following the initial launch. Bad timing, then, for
the official Easy Play Web site to be considering launching a new design
(due this month according to their current home page),
since the game might not survive beyond the New Year unless sales stabilise.
- Thursday 1st October
Bought two more tickets for Saturday's rollover draw.
Previous month: September 1998