- Saturday 28th March
Talk about chaos - this was a particularly trying Saturday for the following
- Whatever You Want overran by 8 minutes and 20 seconds, cutting
down the debut of the National Lottery Big Ticket down to 46 minutes
and 40 seconds.
- The National Lottery Big Ticket show was dismal, there's no other
word for it.
- The lottery show started before the
lottery tills had closed ticket sales for that draw (though the draw didn't
take place until about 7.55pm).
- The BBC foolishly split the announcement of the 4 TV Home Play numbers
into two sets of two numbers, which made things highly confusing.
- I haven't automated much yet w.r.t. the TV Home Play numbers, so I was
having to type some stuff in manually (not a good thing, because I predictably
didn't quite get it right).
- After the show had ended, Camelot realised that they'd used the wrong
ball set to draw the 3rd TV Home Play ball, so they had to re-draw that ball
off-camera and honour the two sets of 4 numbers (meaning that there's
potentially double the number of TV Home Play jackpot winners !).
Despite all of this, I still had commentary on the full TV show,
the main lottery draw live and also put up the full results before anyone else
(Camelot took an age to get the full results though - almost an hour).
I've now re-coded the ticket checker
and the TV Home Play winning numbers page to allow for the corrected sets.
It's too tricky to display the corrected set and the original one
at the same time in the ticket checker, so I just switch the matching numbers
when I spot that the corrected set matches instead of the original set.
Oh, I've only allowed for one number to be corrected (like tonight's fiasco) -
any more than that and it all comes crashing down :-)
Added a TV Home Play winning numbers page, just to let people
manually inspect the 16 weeks of numbers without having to
use the Ticket Checker.
- Wednesday 25th March
The live TV show commentary and draw update went OK - the Java
graphical update on the chat room page was fine (though comments
like "6 ... a white ball" don't exactly excite people much !).
Put up the full results before anyone else as usual.
Launched the new TV Dreams Ticket
Checker coding in full now (though you can't actually get checking output
until Saturday night of course).
Merged the new Java classes for the second applet used on the chat room
page (graphical ball update) into our standard classes directory. Also
talked with the author about some improvements, which we may be able to
introduce in time for Saturday's draw.
I've "stealth-launched" the TV Dreams Ticket Checker coding in the early
hours of this morning. It's an option
on the Ticket Checker front-end page, but if you select it, it will
just say "come back after 9pm tonight to see the launch". I'll make a
big song and dance about this world exclusive service after tonight's
lottery draw. Received the usual weekly sales fax from Camelot and
updated the pages appropriately.
For the technically curious, the URL encoding of the TV Home Play
numbers required one less character (5 vs. 6) than the UK National Lottery
numbers, though the first number (range 1-99) is encoded in 2 characters.
This theoretically means I could probably allow more than 42 tickets
to be checked at once, but it's hardly worth it - with odds of 7.3 to 1
to even just get a set of TV Home Play numbers (not necessarily winning
ones), it would cost an average of £613 of TV Dreams
scratchcards for someone to exceed the 42 limit...
- Tuesday 24th March
Continued TV Dreams Ticket Checker coding - it's about 75% complete now
and will be launched tomorrow. Of course, there's
still page coding for a TV Dreams winning numbers page to do, as well
putting the results on each appropriate individual lottery page and
the lottery home page, but the Ticket Checker is as much coding as
all that put together ! I have a TV Dreams results data file now of course,
but nothing planned in terms of live updates or anything.
- Monday 23rd March
Received a subscription news leaflet - Camelot have finally woken up
and allowed 7 sets of numbers to be subscribed and also support Direct
Debit payments. Now all they need to do is to allow credit card subscription
payments via the Internet from non-UK people and they'll have got it right at
Continued the TV Dreams coding and have now nearly completed single ticket
- Saturday 21st March
There were plenty of people in the chat room for the TV show commentary
and live draw, the latter of which successfully used the new second applet
to graphically update the balls live. There's still a few snags with it
(particularly the failure to re-read the per-ball comments file as each
number is entered via the chat room, plus no way to delete a wrong ball
if I make a mistake !), but I was pleased with its debut. I beat everyone
else to putting up the full results as usual.
Took a breather from TV Dreams coding to add a second applet on the
chat room during draw evenings to indicate the winning numbers graphically
live (it's a bit dull just having me typing in the numbers textually in the
chat room, so this displays appropriately coloured balls).
The new system also relays a pre-generated TV-show like phrase for each winning
number to the chat room, plus I can force a sort of the balls at any time.
The Live Updates system also modifies the Java PARAM tags on that second
ball-displaying applet, so even if someone comes in mid-draw, they will get a
(sorted) copy of the balls. All numbers are re-transmitted by the applet
at each update, so they will correctly update within 8 seconds of someone
coming in during the actual draw (which could mean "unsorting" them if I
haven't forced a sort yet).
Because I'm now dynamically generating the Chat Room HTML code depending
on the time of day and day of the week, I took the opportunity to code the
message at the top ("Next Lottery Chat Room event:"...), so I never have
to edit the page manually again (which I was astonishingly doing until
today). Oh, I didn't write either the Chat Room or the ball displaying
applets before you ask - they were done by a couple of Java experts at
- Friday 20th March
allow it to jump to the option as soon as it's selected. I used the
"jumping menu" code on the Netscape home page to implement it.
Received the sales fax from Camelot (a bit later than usual) and
duly updated the pages.
- Thursday 19th March
Started modifying the Ticket Checker system to include the TV Dreams
scratchcard TV Home Play numbers (4 numbers each Saturday for 16 weeks
from 28th March onwards). You can't see the new code yet because I've only
enabled it on my home machine, but I also took the opportunity to convert
some of the clumsy radio buttons into selectable menus (which I may add
runs that option without needing to click on the form submission
- Wednesday 18th March
The chat room was fairly busy for the live TV show commentary and draw update.
I mis-typed the number of 4-match winners (causing my formula check to complain)
and it took about 5 minutes for me to spot this, but I still beat ITV and BBC
teletext to the full results anyway.
- Saturday 14th March
It was strangely quiet in the chat room (empty or people coming in and leaving
quickly afterwards) until the live draw itself, when 5 or 6 watched it in
the chat room. I had the full results up before anyone else of course.
- Friday 13th March
Fixed a bug with the bonus number draw order offset when two or more people are
updating the Live Updates system simultaneously. Because it's always the
7th ball drawn, the draw order offset is now forced to 7 (it was incorrectly
coming out as 0 sometimes).
I've had an interesting "feature" with the newsflashes archive in recent
weeks - I had so many newsflashes in the space of 2 months that my purging
code to delete newsflashes older than 2 months didn't work because I'd
assumed I wouldn't have more than one newsflash per day (so the maximum
newsflashes allowed before "problems" deleting them occurred was 61).
I've raised that limit to a maximum of 255 newsflashes in a 2 month period,
which is unlikely ever to be reached !
- Wednesday 11th March
The live TV show commentary and update went OK and I beat everyone
else to putting up the full results. Belatedly noticed that the
official lottery site had put some info up about TV Dreams last
Friday (hey, only 3 weeks after they were launched !) and they also
have an intermediate latest results page, though the home page
remains as static as ever.
Received the latest sales figures fax from Camelot as usual and duly
updated the pages.
- Saturday 7th March
The TV show was strangely shifted to 8.05pm, was 25 minutes long
(why ??) and even featured Mystic Meg for the first time in months.
The live commentary of the TV show went well and I had the full
results up way before BBC teletext and ITV teletext (and a full hour ahead
of BBC TV themselves, who went into an Eddie Murphy movie straight
after the lottery show).
- Wednesday 4th March
The live TV show commentary and draw update went OK and I displayed the
full results before anyone else.
Received the usual weekly Camelot fax and duly updated the sales figures.
- Tuesday 3rd March
Finally received the full TV Dreams Rules booklet from Camelot, so
I transcribed the more relevant bits onto a new page.