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A Face for Radio? The BBC Interview circa 1997…

A long time ago, I was seeking inspiration for a personal project to make use of new Telephony API’s (Application Programming Interfaces) in Windows SDK (Software Development Kit). This was around the same time the National Lottery was Launched in 1994 for the UK.

In a bid to teach myself some new techniques, I quickly wrote V0.1Alpha of the UK National Lottery Ticket Checker, which basically scrapped data from a results website into a Simple User Interface. The original program relied on Dial-Up Modems, seeking permission from users before connecting to the internet, since it was quite an expensive proposition back then. Anyone remember conecting at 300baud? 2400Baud? Compuserve once offered me an “Upgrade to 9k6” those were wild times 🤣

I released the software free on my website for Windows 95, not knowing if anyone would use it, or know where to look… Over the course of a year I added new functionality, including a Member Manager and Syndicate Checker which tracked players payments, winnings, chosen numbers and kept running totals automatically.

Primarily it was used to help with our Teams syndicate management whilst dreaming of distant Caribbean retirement shores.

The software grew organically, I don’t know how, but it caught the imagination of some popular press for reviews and featured on magazine compilations of the best of the internet. I have to admit I was quite embarrassed as the software wasn’t intended for such attention.

Eventually the app evolved from dial-up modems once ADSL and Broadband were rolled out into homes making it more common place. Users were requesting the permission request be removed, meaning the software could download results and check periodically as more lottery games were introduced.

Over the years. the user community would email suggestions, bugs and about the occasional win. The software didn’t predict winning numbers, it could show you the most popular balls drawn by machine but no statistical analysis, though you can easily export the data into other software easily.

And then one day just before my birthday, I got a message from someone at the BBC asking if I would be interested in being interviewed for their Technology program.

I was offered to be recorded in a local studio or via telephone interview, due to work commitments (I was involved in the biggest UK Chip Card Introduction at the time) I had no choice but to do a telephone call.

The day came, the lovely gentleman from the BBC called with his posh BBC voice and we had a really good chat making me feel at ease, at the moment he said, ok, I’m going to hit record and start the interview… I went to pieces! Nervous AF like a Rabbit caught in headlights was an understatement… in that moment my Radio Career was destroyed 🤣🤣🤣

I was sent the cassette recording of the published on-air interview which was syndicated to other BBC Radio Stations, at the time I was proud as can be. Over the years I thought the tape had been lost and consigned to a recycling bin of the past.

Whilst sorting a cupboard looking for Retro Computer gear to eBay, I found the tape. It’s been more than 20 Years… I found a tape player popped the cassette in and had a listen. It’s much much worse than I remember. Thankfully this was pre my public speaking engagements, I was in my 20’s and just a simple techie…

It’s a reminder of how far you’ve grown as a person, in your oration skills and recognising those rookie errors back then. It helps to playback some of your mistakes to understand where it went wrong to evolve. I still make them mind, just different rookie errors… It’s usually a case of esprit d’escalier only after the event you think of what should have been said. If the interview was done today, I know better of what would work and what would inspire a new generation of coders to make their dreams come true. Lets face it, with more opensource projects available, there’s a wealth of technology waiting to be used in a creative way and the younger generations are taking advantage of this.

As work commitments increased, updates and patches would be released as and when. I’ve said it before, I don’t know what the user base is these days, maybe a handful of people, maybe more? certainly not the volume of people who were regularly using it by the late 90’s. If only I’d charged a quid each for a licence, I could have retired by now 🤦🏼‍♂️. Instead the software has always been freeware. Mind you, this was pre-payPal, and selling software on the internet was a specialist subject and wild-west. The AppStores (whatever you think) have unified software offerings into a central repository (Or Single Point of Truth) that we trust and able to purchase (or not) software without relying on your Yahoo! Foo…

The last update occurred in late 2015 called the “Jack Rose Edition” after a request from a gentleman of the same. It was shortly after this my late wife became poorly and priorities once again changed. Followers of my blog will know the personal issues I’ve been dealing with and Software Development has been on hold a while now.

I’ve had a couple of sarcastic emails from a user who uses fake email address, to express their displeasure for lack of updates/fixes/features/Clairty of position etc. For that I can only apologise to whom ever you are, and appreciate its frustrating.

The current position is that the Jack Rose Edition Source Code has been lost as have a number of prior iterations to Build 1826. I have searched my archive CDs and Backup Drives to no avail. There are a few more places to look, but to all intent and purposes, its probably the last version in this incarnation.

I’ve recognised there’s still a need for something similar, and I started a rewrite (pre 2015) for macOS which is my main development machine these days. Thinking aloud… do people want bespoke applications/software or with software migrating to the Net and Cloud (Someone else’s computer), do they prefer something easily accessible on the net and not have to worry about upgrades and patching? I would be interested to know your opinion.

macOS Pre-Alpha Edition

If the missing source code rematerialises, I’ll make updates to fix and reinstate the member manager. That said, followers of my blog will know that even today I’m still struggling and adjusting to my life as a Widower. Some say I should be over it by now, I say thankfully you don’t have to find out how painful this journey is.

Please let me know in the comments below. Is the need no longer required? Do you still use it? Your opinion counts.


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