- Wednesday 31st March
The live TV show commentary and draw in the chat room went fine - I was the
first to put up the full results (despite someone in the house gabbing on the
phone yet again and me having to force them off !). Camelot's newsroom
never sent me the unclaimed prizes fax today, so I'll chase them up tomorrow.
- Tuesday 30th March
Phoned the Camelot newsroom and they are quite happy to send me the full
list of unclaimed prizes tomorrow by fax - so much for the Camelot phone line
saying they weren't prepared to issue the info to the general public. Mind
you I did say I ran a large Internet UK lottery site (which could imply it's
the official one, but I never said that...), which may have helped things.
- Monday 29th March
I asked Camelot to send me the full list of unclaimed prizes, but -
incredibly - they "can't" release them ! Apparently, the Camelot newsroom
collates the list, but isn't prepared to release them to the public, which
is nothing short of astonishing (why keep a list if no-one's allowed access
to it ?). I'll see if I can phone the newsroom and get anywhere.
- Sunday 28th March
Wrote code to merge a list of expired unclaimed prizes (that I created using
info from a Camelot fax and stuff I'd typed into individual lottery pages)
with the unexpired unclaimed prizes list that I'm auto-grabbing from the
official Camelot site's News page. I currently have a list of 54
jackpot/5+bonus unclaimed prizes, but it's probably incomplete (the last time I
asked for a full list from Camelot, they only sent me the top 15 largest
expired unclaimed prizes :-( ). An unclaimed prize comment (slightly different
if it's already expired) is now auto-inserted near the end of the comments of
each appropriate individual lottery page and, of course, gets re-generated via
an automatic cron job as soon as the prize expires.
Now that the merging code is in place, I don't have to do much manual
maintenance (which was a killer when I was doing it previously). I should
only need to remove prizes that were claimed "at the last minute" and since
I get auto-mailed when a prize is about to expire, I can phone Camelot the
next day to confirm the expiry. I'll request a complete unclaimed prize list
(expired and unexpired) from Camelot to cross-check what I've got. The ultimate
aim, of course, is to open up a new "Unclaimed Prizes" section with a FAQ
and various ways of ordering/slicing up the info. This will be unique on the
Net - no other site has a full list of unclaimed UK lottery prizes !
As another spin-off from the latest coding spree, I am now automatically
e-mailed the official Camelot site's News page (in plain text format for
easier reading) whenever it changes. This will allow me to paraphrase any
announcements that appear on that page and put them onto my site as a
- Saturday 27th March
The live TV show commentary and draw in the chat room went OK
(no streaker tonight sadly...) and I was the first to put
up the full results, though the TV show did announce that there
were 2 jackpot winners before it went off the air.
The official Easy Play Web site failed to correct their
week 33 fixtures list to include the three Euro 2000 matches
that should have been at top of the list (hence, despite me
e-mailing them twice about the error, they only had 46 fixtures
instead of 49 !). The massive 15% drop in Easy Play ticket sales
this week serves them right for getting their fixture list wrong :-)
- Friday 26th March
Added new cron code to e-mail me (at 9.15am) the details, in newsflash format
ready for cutting/pasting, of a 5+bonus or
jackpot prize expiry that's due to happen at 11.00pm that evening. It can't
go up automatically as a newsflash because I have to phone Camelot to confirm
it hasn't been claimed yet (the expiry info is auto-extracted from Camelot's
official site's news page and I don't trust that to be up-to-date !).
- Wednesday 24th March
The live commentary of the TV show and draw went fine - I was the
fastest to put up the full results (despite someone in my house
hogging the phone line yet again).
Received the latest sales figure fax from Camelot and duly updated
the Web pages.
- Tuesday 23rd March
The format of the table of unclaimed prizes on the official Camelot Web
site's news page recently changed, so I re-coded my automatic scan of it
to pick up the new format.
- Saturday 20th March
The live TV show commentary and draw went OK and the BBC announced
there were three jackpot winners just before the end of the show.
With the draw taking place at 8.07pm, it may have been the longest
ever time between the draw and the end of the show (8 minutes).
Despite the BBC announcement, Camelot took a desperately poor
50 minutes to release the full results, which I put up before
To liven up the 25 minute tedium that is the Saturday lottery TV show,
someone decided to streak on the show live, just before the button was
pressed to start the draw ! Brian Conley went off-camera in an attempt to
intercept the person, but sadly TV viewers only got to see the streaker's
head and nothing else. There has been a woman with a bikini gatecrashing
the draw before, but tonight's flashing episode was the first true streaker
for the lottery show. I think they should have one every week !
I reminded the maintainers of the official Vernons Easy Play Web site
(for the second time)
that next Saturday's (27th March) fixture list on their site actually
only has 46 fixtures and not the required 49. Since I auto-transfer
their fixture lists for use in my Easy Play section, I don't allow
any list to be displayed that doesn't have 49 fixtures, so next Saturday's
fixture list is currently unavailable on my pages. I may have to
contact Camelot about this next week to get the full list, since the
official site hasn't been listing it for properly for over a week now !
The week ending today had an all-time record number of hits for this site -
460,886 for the seven days. As I said earlier, a large chunk of these could
be attributed to the rather over-enthusiastic Lycos spider...
- Friday 19th March
Bought another two tickets for tomorrow's rollover.
- Wednesday 17th March
Well, tonight was "eventful" to say the least. Whilst the live TV commentary
and draw went well, I strangely couldn't re-compile the lottery software
in order to generate the fresh set of stats pages and I hadn't changed any of
the code ! It turned out to be a bug in the C compiler upgrade I'd installed
earlier this week - I'll back out the compiler to the previous release to fix
If that wasn't bad enough, someone in my household beat me to the phone and
started gabbing on it just before I wanted to phone Camelot for the full
results ! I eventually stared them off the phone and got the full results
the first time I phoned about 40 minutes after the draw, which was all the more
galling when I found out the jackpot hadn't been won. I didn't even bother
cross-checking ITV or BBC teletext because they probably beat me by a few
minutes thanks to the infuriating delay due to an in-use phone.
- Monday 15th March
For some reason, I had a staggering jump in the number of accesses today -
another all-time daily record of 117,142 hits, which is the first time these
pages have exceeded 100,000 hits in one day (I double-checked the raw access
log because I couldn't believe it and it's correct !). Investigating this
showed that my site hadn't "really" surged in popularity - it was just the
Lycos spider accessing my site 59,066 times (it was following CGI links !)
in one day.
- Saturday 13th March
We had to suffer another 25 minute We've Got Your Number lottery show,
during which not a lot happened (on the TV of course :-) ). My live commentary
and draw update went fine and the BBC announced that there five jackpot
winners just before the show went off air. They managed to do this (for only
the second time ever) because the show was still running some 6 minutes after
the draw had finished !
Yep, me and a dead dog were the only things
left watching the end of the lottery show - who on earth would normally
hang around watching the show more than 5 minutes after the bonus ball has come
out ? It's an obvious fact that people switch over once the last ball has come
out, so why the BBC persist on dragging the show on after that is beyond
comprehension. Mind you, everyone's already watching Who Wants To Be A
Millionaire on ITV anyway, so the point's a bit moot :-)
Annoyingly, the expectation that Camelot will release the full results more
quickly when the TV show is able to announce the number of jackpot winners
correctly was yet again dashed - Camelot took some 40 minutes to release them
(10 minutes longer than usual), by which time ITV teletext also had the full
- Thursday 11th March
Received the latest sales figures fax from Camelot (sadly seemingly only a monthly
event now) and duly updated the pages.
- Wednesday 10th March
The chat room was fairly busy during tonight's live draw, which went OK.
Someone came into the room and claimed that Easy Play may be scrapped
as early as 1st April 1999 (April Fool ? :-) ), but Camelot couldn't
confirm anything about this when I rang them for tonight's full results,
which I got about 45 minutes after the draw.
- Saturday 6th March
The chat room was reasonably busy for tonight's TV show commentary and draw,
which went fine. The TV show didn't announce the number of jackpot
winners this time, so it was left to me to tell the world first, which I
duly did. If I'd have a bought a third ticket (which I do for rollovers like
last Wednesday's), it would have won £10, but since I didn't buy that
ticket, it's a bit academic.
Vernons must be panicking about Easy Play because the all-time low weekly
ticket sales they experienced at Christmas have just been beaten this week by
the appallingly low sales they experienced in the last 7 days. Perhaps the
rollover on Wednesday didn't help, but it just continued a trend of falling
ticket sales since the game began anyway. Surely Camelot and Vernons
must pull the plug on this game soon ?
- Thursday 4th March
This site set a new daily hits record of 80,268 hits today, probably because
of all the people checking their rollover tickets from their work Net
connections the day after the biggest Wednesday draw ever.
- Wednesday 3rd March
The chat room was fairly busy for tonight's rollover TV show commentary and
draw. The TV show itself had a temporary sound fault and they had to put
up a caption about the fault for a few minutes. Luckily, the draw itself was
fine, but there wasn't an announcement of the number of jackpot winners on the
show this time.
Camelot took their usual 35 minutes to get the full results, so I didn't
quite manage to beat the BBC 1 lottery update. Although I failed to match
a single number on my four tickets, it was nevertheless interesting to see
that tonight's draw had the highest ticket sales of any Wednesday draw
to date (Camelot's running of a TV ad campaign for the rollover was probably
what spurred the sales to a record level).
- Tuesday 2nd March
Bought two more tickets for tomorrow's rollover.