Lottery Post Journal

Lottery seminar

Bird posted information about an upcoming seminar in the Mystical forum, so many of you may have missed it.

https://www.lotterypost.com/thread/140697.htm

He is giving two seminars on September 3rd, and there are only 30 slots available for each seminar.  So if you are interesting in attending, don't wait to signup.

You need to PM Bird to signup.

I always wanted to see this happen

This video is only like 5 seconds long, but it had me laughing for about 5 minutes...

http://videos.streetfire.net/video/f4517542-ee59-4c7e-893a-09948329a895.htm

(I fixed the link.)

Support lifecycle for Microsoft products

Here's an interesting web site I found today.  It describes how Microsoft supports its products over time.

Microsoft Support Lifecycle

At the bottom there are links to various listings for each and every product, showing their current status.

For example, here's is the complete product list:

http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifeselectindex

So, you can see things like the retirement of Windows 98.

Since just about everyone owns a Microsoft product, it is good to know that there is a place to find the up-to-date info on product retirement.

Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List

I wish I had seen this blog entry from Scott Hanselman a long time ago.

This list contains some of the coolest developer tools.  I think the struggle will be to keep myself from installing too many of them.

Scott Hanselman's Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List

The first one I installed is just incredible — Notepad++.  It is a replacement for the Notepad program that comes with Windows, and does every possible thing you'd ever want to do with text files — in a tabbed interface.  Developers will especially like the colored text, which can be changed to something like 3 dozen different language varieties.

After installing the new Notepad++ program, it's pretty easy to replace the existing Windows Notepad.  First go to c:\windows\system32 and rename notepad.exe to something like notepad_old.exe.  Then, in the c:\program files\notepad++ folder, create and then run the following batch file:

copy /-y "notepad++.exe" C:\WINDOWS\System32\dllcache\notepad.exe
copy /-y "notepad++.exe" C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386\notepad.exe
copy /-y "notepad++.exe" C:\WINDOWS\System32\notepad.exe
copy /-y "notepad++.exe" C:\WINDOWS\notepad.exe

Voilà! Now every time you open a .TXT file, or select "View Source" from IE it opens in Notepad++.

By the way, only people who are, say, intermediate computer users or better, should attempt this. 

Global Warming = Bigger Glaciers

Let me start by saying that the Global Warming thing is a bunch of crap.

That being said, a new study showed that "global warming" (which itself is a load of crap) is causing glaciers to grow.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/tyne/5283278.stm

The funniest part (of this crap) is that this time when they found that the glaciers were growing it was a bad thing. LOL

So I guess any change in size of the glaciers is a bad thing.

But then again, didn't the Earth go through constant ice ages and warm periods, where the glaciers would grow and shrink constantly?

So maybe the US government has secretly built a time machine, and they are using it to travel back in time to make the glaciers grow and shrink, so that the current growing and shrinking (caused by "global warming", which is a load of crap) would fit with the past growing and shrinking, which could not be caused by the load of crap global warming.

They probably also created oil when they went back in time, so that George Bush and Dick Cheney (and the evil Haliburton) could get rich.

Then they went forward in time to the 1970s so they could install bombs in the World Trade Center as it was being built, so that the US government could blow it up on 9/11.

My personal reaction to the new ranking and graphics

Well, it's been almost a day since I posted the new ranking system, as well as all the new graphics.

My feeling is ...WOW.

I had no idea that I would have such an emotional feeling attached to the new ratings and graphics.  For me, it's as if the forums are brand-new again, with lots of new things to discover again.

Does that sound wacky?  I hope not.

Normally when I post something new, like a new feature or page, it's a feeling of relief that another weight (out of a long list of weights) has been lifted, and I can move on to the next thing.  With this, it's completely different.  I actually find myself sitting back, paging through the forums, just to gaze at everything.

I am astounded at just how "right" the ratings have turned out.  I think maybe the good feeling I get looking at the ratings comes from the fact that it was something I brainstormed myself, and so when when I put it in place and it worked beautifully, there was some kind of visual confirmation of, "now that was a good idea".

With something like a forum web site, there are something like 10 billion web sites out there, so almost every idea has already been thought of by somebody.  But there are a few times (like this) where I think I've actually come up with something new.

Is this a nauseating post?  Well, it's my blog, so I'm allowed! Big Grin

I think one of the things that makes this ratings system work, where it may not work on most other forums, is the fact that Lottery Post has been around so long, and has so much data and content.  For a site that has not been around so long, or doesn't have many posts or members, it would not be able to create a nice distribution of ratings.

There are a few other adjustments that I'll make to the appearance of the member "badges" on the left side if posts, but nothing too substantial.

At last, a new feature that I can truly enjoy myself.  Life can be good sometimes.

More Lottery Post Site Changes

I made some significant changes tonight that I've been working on for about a week.

  • Added a Permalink to every forum post in a topic, so people can link directly to a post. The permalink can be obtained by clicking the small icon to the left of the post date/time.  (Definition of Permalink.)
  • Added completely new member rankings system, based upon consistency of posting to the forums.  (Blog post describing the new ratings system.)  Long-time participation combined with consistent daily pariticpation yields the highest rankings.
  • Rankings are re-evaluated by the Lottery Post system automatically every night, and every member who was promoted during the night will receive a PM to let them know.
  • Removed 1-5 star display that used to show the member level, and replaced with graphic badges showing the member level.

I designed the new membership badges myself.  I'm not really an artist-type, so they went through several iterations and different ideas before I came up with that design.  The "glossyness" of the badges was an idea I came up with after seeing some of the new Windows Vista UI.  Every time I need to come up with new graphics, I'll probably add them with Vista's new look & feel in mind.

I used Adobe Photoshop to create the images, for those who care about that kind of stuff.

I hope everyone enjoys the new changes, and gets value out of rankings that are a huge improvement over raw post count.  It won't be perfect, but I really like it.

Things you would like to say at work

  1. I can see your point, but you're still full of crap.
  2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronouce.
  3. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
  4. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
  5. Ahh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again.
  6. I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  7. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  8. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
  9. What am I? Flypaper for freaks!?
  10. And your cry-baby whiny-assed opinion would be...?
  11. This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.
  12. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
  13. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
  14. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?
  15. Chaos, panic, & disorder — my work here is done.

New IE7 RC1 Available

The latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer version 7 is now available.  It is called "Release Candidate 1", or RC1.

Release Candidates are created when the feature set for the product is complete, and all that's normally left is bug fixes.

I am writing this right now using IE7 RC1, and everything appears to be working quite well on Lottery Post.  I really like the new IE.  It's much better than Firefox, IMHO.

http://www.microsoft.com/ie/

New Member Ratings

In the near future I will be adding a new member classification system that distinguishes members based upon their length (years) of steady commitment to posting and sharing at Lottery Post.

Actually, I started developing this as a way to cut down on the number of people who register a membership for the sole purpose of spamming the boards.  I was looking at identifying new members based on the number of days in which they come back to Lottery Post and post new content to the forums.

That's a lot different from the number of posts, and a very important concept.  Someone who shows the commitment to come back several times and post in the forums show that they are most likely interested in lotteries in general, rather than just posting a quantity of messages in order to reach a certain level and gain access to what they need.

Therefore, a "New Member" will not become a "Rookie" until they have posted for a certain number of days.  (For example, they post a message on August 1st, and then wait another month and post a message on September 1st.  That counts as 2 days, not 31.)

That got me thinking about how the concept of posting days, in comparison to the overall number of days that Lottery Post has been around (somewhere around 2,300 days at this point), would give a nice unbiased indication of how consistent someone has been in sharing ideas, numbers, discussion, etc., without regard to number of posts or membership level.  (I refer to the number of days that Lottery Post has been around as Lottery Post days.)

I refer to the calculated ratio (number of posting days divided by the number of Lottery Post days) as the member's rating.

If a person posted every single day since the site was launched (or close to it) they would have a rating of 100.  If they posted a handful of days or less they would have a rating of zero (0).

This is a new idea that I've come up with.  I have never seen another web site use this kind of rating, so this is some real out-of-the-box stuff.

It is my feeling that someone who has a high rating is by extension someone who has developed a very deep knowledge base of lotteries in general, as they would have been exposed to literally years of every type of information about the lottery, and in fact have participated to a very high extent, regardless of whatever their opinions may be, or whatever games they enjoy playing.  If you were to mention any particular lottery topic to a member with a very high rating, it is very likely they will have a good deal of knowledge about it, and would be able to help others to understand the topic.

In short, such people would be excellent resources on Lottery Post, and that is exactly what a rating system should capture!  Hence, I would consider this new rating system to be a breakthrough concept for identifying important resources on Lottery Post.

Will there be people who receive too high a rating?  Maybe.

Will there be people who receive too low a rating?  Perhaps.

Will there be people who agree with the ratings system?  Yes.

Will there be people who disagree with the rating system?  Yes. 

Will some people be resentful of their rating?  Almost definitely.

Despite whatever flaws will exist (nothing is perfect) I believe the rating system gives a much, much better measure of lifetime achievement/participation than a raw post count.

Plus, the fact that people cannot manipulate post-count ratings (because it is based upon days, rather than quantity of posts) means that hopefully people will not feel the need to post higher quantities to either achieve a higher "top poster" rating, or to keep their existing rating.

To date, I have built most of the back-end database code required to generate the ratings.  I have also built new graphics and terms for the various rating categories.  I still have a bunch of inter-connecting code to write, but hopefully it won't take too much longer.

Undoubtedly, I will continue to fine-tune the rating system over time.

As always, I welcome feedback, whether it is positive or negative.  I cannot promise that I will agree, but I promise that I will listen to, and seriously consider, all input.

CSS Changes for IE7

For developers: great blog post by the IE7 team detailing all of the CSS changes and enhancements in the new IE7.

http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/comments/712830.aspx

By the way, from what I can gather the latest version of IE7 -- RC1 -- will be released soon, maybe even tomorrow.  (RC1 stands for Release Candidate 1.)

Rating of Topics

I'm sure lots of people have noticed the 5-star rating control at the top of each topic.  Lots of people have been rating various threads, which is just great.

So far the ratings are only shown at the top of the topic, but in the future they will also be shown on the forum page (the page that shows all the posts in a forum), as well as the Active Topics page.  You'll be able to sort by rating, among other things.

The other thing I will be adding is that people will be able to click on the rating and see exactly who rated each topic, and what rating they gave.  That will hopefully put peer pressure on people to not abuse the rating system by arbitrarily giving bad ratings just because they're not feeling happy that day.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with people giving ratings of "poor", but at the same time we all want a system in which the ratings are honest and helpful -- like ratings of books at Amazon.com.

I suppose this is also a way of putting people on notice that I will be opening up the ability to see who posted each rating, so please only provide ratings that you can stand behind.

A Joke!

How  do you get a sweet little 80-year-old lady to say the F-word?

Get  another sweet little 80-year-old lady to yell *BINGO*!

Muslims face extra checks in new travel crackdown

This is an interesting article.  The "Government" the article refers to is the UK government, not the USA.  Here are a couple of things I find interesting:

  1. Why is it that the USA government cannot do the same thing?  It is preposterous that the UK, with its much more liberal attitude has instituted these types of airport background checks, but the USA is still wanding 80-year-old grandmothers.
  2. I suppose it's not surprising that the liberal newspaper in the UK who wrote the article (The Times) chose to devote all of the content to how the Muslims feel about being checked, rather than explaining to the public about why the government sensibly instituted the additional checks.  It's not surprising, but it is counter-intuitive.

Muslims face extra checks in new travel crackdown
By Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent

THE Government is discussing with airport operators plans to introduce a screening system that allows security staff to focus on those passengers who pose the greatest risk.

The passenger-profiling technique involves selecting people who are behaving suspiciously, have an unusual travel pattern or, most controversially, have a certain ethnic or religious background.

The system would be much more sophisticated than simply picking out young men of Asian appearance. But it would cause outrage in the Muslim community because its members would be far more likely to be selected for extra checks.

Officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) have discussed the practicalities of introducing such a system with airport operators, including BAA. They believe that it would be more effective at identifying potential terrorists than the existing random searches.

They also say that it would greatly reduce queues at security gates, which caused lengthy delays at London airports yesterday for the fifth day running. Heathrow and Gatwick were worst affected, canceling 69 and 27 flights respectively. BAA gave warning yesterday that the disruption would continue for the rest of the week.

Passengers are now allowed to take one small piece of hand luggage on board but security staff are still having to search 50 per cent of travelers. Airports have also been ordered to search twice as many hand luggage items as a week ago.

BAA was criticized yesterday for failing to commit itself to recruiting more security staff and for claiming that its existing 6,000 staff at seven airports would be able to handle the extra searches. Tony Douglas, the chief executive of Heathrow, said that X-ray screening of hand luggage would be much faster under the new rules on size and contents, leaving staff free to carry out more searches.

The new measures, which include a ban on taking any liquids through checkpoints, are expected to remain in place for months. A DfT source said it was difficult to see how the restrictions could be relaxed if terrorists now had the capability to make liquid bombs.

The DfT has been considering passenger profiling for a year but, until last week, the disadvantages were thought to outweigh the advantages. A senior aviation industry source said: "The DfT is ultra-sensitive about this and won't say anything publicly because of political concerns about being accused of racial stereotyping."

Three days before last week's arrests, the highest-ranking Muslim police officer in Britain gave warning that profiling techniques based on physical appearance were already causing anger and mistrust among young Muslims. Tarique Ghaffur, an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We must think long and hard about the causal factors of anger and resentment.

"There is a very real danger that the counter-terrorism label is also being used by other law-enforcement agencies to the effect that there is a real risk of criminalizing minority communities."

Sir Rod Eddington, former chief executive of British Airways, criticized the random nature of security searches. He said that it was irrational to subject a 75-year-old grandmother to the same checks as a 25-year-old man who had just paid for his ticket with cash.

Philip Baum, an aviation security consultant, said that profiling should focus on ruling out people who obviously posed no risk rather than picking out Asian or Arabs.

A DfT spokesman refused to make any comment or answer any questions on profiling.

AIRPORT UPDATE

  • British Airways plans to cancel forty short-haul and four long-haul flights from Heathrow today as well as eleven domestic flights from Gatwick. Other airlines expect to operate near-normal schedules.
  • All airports will allow passengers to carry one small piece of hand luggage, but no liquids are allowed through the security search point other than prescribed medicines and baby food.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2313135,00.html

Site transformation update

Things have really been stabilizing on Lottery Post, after a period of a 2-3 of weeks of constant changes.  The architectural changes to the web site are dramatic, and include code and concepts that I have been working on for about 6 months now.

I am happy and relieved that it appears those efforts have been successful, particularly with regard to improving the general performance of the site.  Pages that took close to a second to generate on the server are now taking a few hundredths of a second. 

And the improvements have only just begun.  I have certainly gotten over the biggest hurdle of implementing a completely new thread page -- the most complicated page on the site -- as well as new pages for posting new topics and replies, but there are many more pages to convert.  As each page is converted over to the new technology the performance of the entire web site is improved, as some of the strain of the older pages is lifted.

Transforming a page from the old technology (classic ASP code) to the new technology (ASP.NET 2.0 with Atlas technology) involves completely rebuilding the page from the ground up, so it does unfortunately take longer than I would like.  The positive aspect of it is that because I have to rebuild the entire page, it gives me an opportunity to implement changes to the page that I've intended to do for a while, but didn't previously have the opportunity to address.

Thus, every time a new page is converted, the performance of the site improves, and there are normally functional improvements as well.  Plus, with the pages rebuilt in ASP.NET, they become easier for me to change later on, as it is a much more capable and extensible programming language.

One of the things that I have been working on this week is the RSS feeds.  I'm not sure how many people have been taking advantage of the RSS feeds, but if this is the first time you've heard of "an RSS feed", then you owe it to yourself to find out about it.  Hmm..... I feel another blog post coming.  I think I'll save this topic for another post.

Farewell, Bill Gates

This is a perfect send-off to Bill Gates as CEO of Microsoft.

https://members.lotterypost.com/todd/Letterman.Gates.wmv

Regarding the latest terror threat

Can someone please explain to me why the United States government is still allowing universities to bring exchange students from Middle Eastern countries into this country?

This is perplexing.  Maybe I'm just not smart enough to understand why.

Video presentation of forged photos

For your viewing pleasure....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ5Rj4yBGdU

Staggering invasion of privacy

AOL Users: you must check out this story to see what your ISP has done.

This is exactly what privacy advocates have been warning about for so long.  These huge companies like AOL (and Google) are collecting mountains of data on everything you do online, and make no mistake, it can be tracked back to you and used against you.

In the case of this story, AOL has for some unknown reason released 20 million search records from its database to the general public, for anyone who wanted to see it.

AOL has since taken down the link to the data, but I obtained a copy myself, and it is quite interesting.

Apart from being outraged by what they have done, I have learned just how easy it is to figure out who is searching for what.

The link article above describes how to figure out who you are looking at the search results.  It's true: I did some poking around in the data, and it is fairly easy, even though they have replaced AOL usernames with numbers.

From a selfish standpoint, one thing that is pretty fun to see is how popular Lottery Post and USA Mega are in the search results.

From a privacy perspective, I can match up AOL queries to people, because people often search for their own name, to see what is posted about them out there.  AOL has structured the data so that the searches for each user is grouped together, so it's very easy to see what sites one person surfed to, in order of date and time.

I told you it was a staggering invsaion of privacy, didn't I?

By looking at my own web server logs over several years, I know that many Lottery Post users do not bookmark Lottery Post to come back here each time, they actually type the words "lottery post" into their search engine, and then click on the link that comes up.  (Don't ask me why,  but it's probably just because they don't know enough about computers to bookmark a favorite link.)

Knowing this, I can easily pick out the Lottery Post users in the AOL search listings, because they are the ones who frequently type "lottery post" for the search term, and then click on Lottery Post each time.  (Other people who aren't looking specifically to come to Lottery Post will type something like "NY Lottery", and Lottery Post will happen to come up high in the search rankings, so they click on it.)

So here's one snippet of search results that shows how easy it is to see what a lottery post user is interested in, and where they've been.  I specifically chose one snippet that did not reveal too much, and did not appear to be from a LP member (or have porn in it).  Keep in mind, there are many, many instances where people would be shocked to see what is in there because anyone could see exactly which Lottery Post member was doing the searching, by what was typed in the search terms.

UserSearch TermDate/TimeRankURL
762549ringtones  4/20/2006 23:30  
762549ringtones4/20/2006 23:351http://www.sprintusers.com
762549ringtones4/20/2006 23:355http://www.ringtones.lt
762549ringtones4/21/2006 0:012http://www.sprintusers.com
762549ringtones4/21/2006 0:014http://www.ringtones.lt
762549the who4/21/2006 0:05  
762549omhttp4/21/2006 16:28  
762549funbrain.com4/21/2006 16:46  
762549medco health solution4/25/2006 19:293http://www.topix.net
762549medco health solution nj4/25/2006 19:441http://www.indeed.com
762549medco health solution nj4/25/2006 19:449http://money.cnn.com
762549medco health solution4/25/2006 19:47  
762549www.medco health solution4/25/2006 19:47  
762549www.medcoheathsolution4/25/2006 19:48  
762549www.hotmail.com4/25/2006 22:51  
762549www.medco health solution4/27/2006 11:59  
762549mereck4/27/2006 12:18  
762549merck4/27/2006 12:191http://www.merck.com
762549striderite shoes4/27/2006 15:07  
762549striderite shoes store4/27/2006 15:12  
762549striderite4/27/2006 15:141http://www.striderite.com
762549ga lottery5/8/2006 0:061http://www.galottery.com
762549powerball5/8/2006 0:131http://www.powerball.com
762549mcg5/10/2006 15:481http://www.mcg.edu
7625491023695.odto605w.info5/10/2006 18:54  
762549powerball5/11/2006 15:512http://www.mnlottery.com
762549powerball5/11/2006 15:511http://www.powerball.com
762549si5/12/2006 21:01  
762549disneycannel.com5/12/2006 21:02  
762549disneychannel.com mothersday5/12/2006 21:06  
762549mothersdaycards.com5/12/2006 21:111http://mothers-day-cards.lowadjustableratemortgage.com
762549mother's day cards5/12/2006 21:25  
762549g355/12/2006 22:15  
762549325i5/12/2006 22:151http://www.bmwusa.com
762549powerball5/15/2006 20:582http://www.lottery.state.mn.us
762549ga lottery5/15/2006 21:001http://www.galottery.com
762549ga lottery5/15/2006 21:002https://www.lotterypost.com
762549ga lottery5/15/2006 21:001http://www.galottery.com
762549powerball5/18/2006 21:341http://www.powerball.com
762549go army5/21/2006 18:091http://www.goarmy.com
762549used cars5/21/2006 19:17  
762549milton ruben5/21/2006 19:351http://www.miltonruben.com
762549wonka.com5/24/2006 16:331http://www.wonka.com

The ranking shows what number that particular link came up in the search results.  See how you can follow the date/time to see this user's search patterns?

Comparison of real & fake Reuters photos

Here are the two photos, one right above the other, for easy comparison.  When the pictures are put side-by-side, the extent of the photo doctoring becomes clear.  Someone spent a lot of time changing the photo.

Shame on Reuters for posting that photo, which anyone can see is fake.

I guess if the photo showed the devistation to an Israeli town they would have erased a lot of the smoke.

Fake Photo:

Reuters - fake photo

Real Photo:

Reuters - real photo

Much, much faster

Anyone else noticing the big performance boost since late last night?

I have been trying to get an advanced caching technique to work, and finally figured out what I needed to change last night.  Good thing I didn't give up at 1:00 AM when I started getting tired!

Basically the way it works is that I set up a sort of message conduit, called a SQL Dependency Cache, between the SQL Server 2005 database and the ASP.NET 2.0 server.  The web server notifies the database that some of the important queries that are made often should be monitored, and new values retrieved only if a change has been made to the affected row(s) in the database.  Then the web server stores the results of the latest query in memory (in "cache").

So the database watches those rows, and if a change is made, it sends a message to the web server, notifying it that what it has in cache for those rows is no longer valid, so the next time the web server needs that data, it fetches the data from the database rather than the cache.  And then a new database monitor is placed on those rows until the next time it is changed again, and so on.

An example of a data that is cached would be information about a particular member, such as their username, profile info, number of posts made, board settings, etc.  It is accessed every single time a new page is presented, so it's obviously a very good candidate for caching.  An example of changed data would be if the member posted a new message to the forums, so their number of posts counter would be incremented by one.  Once that happens, the old data stored on the web server for that person is no longer valid, so the next time the data is needed it is gotten from the database instead of the cache.

It is actually as complicated as it sounds, which is why this kind of stuff can be so difficult to implement, and why it's a big deal once it finally works.  It's also very cool, from my perspective, to see the huge direct impact it has on everything working much faster.

New 'Latest Blogger' View

I have changed the Lottery Post home page section that displays the latest blog entries.

That section was intended to point people to the lastest blogs that have been updated, to provide visibility for blog authors to make people aware of their posts.

What has happened, that I did not intend, is when a few people do a mass-posting of several entries to their blog, that home page section becomes pretty useless, because only a couple of blogs are shown, as the others are pushed off the page.

So I've renamed the section to "Latest Bloggers" and changed the way it works.  Now, instead of just showing the last 15 blog entries, it shows the most recent blog entry for the 15 latest bloggers (blog authors).

This will keep new entries on the home page a little longer, and hopefully encourage more people to post to their blog, because it will make sure they don't get lost under people who post many entries.

Those who post a lot of entries:  keep posting away!

New ASP.NET technique for hybrid site

I finally finished the new Active Users page at Lottery Post, which gives a much more accurate count than the old page.  There are a couple of entries in the Change Log that talk about some of the issues I faced in rebuilding it.

As people reading this may be aware, I have been slowly transforming Lottery Post from a classic ASP site to a site based upon ASP.NET 2.0.  Although it is possible to run a "hybrid site" consisting of both technologies, it can be very difficult to manage, especially with a complex and sophisticated site like Lottery Post.

One of the biggest issues I face is that even though the classic ASP and ASP.NET pages run in the same web site, they do not share the same session object.  Therefore, the ASP.NET sessions tracker is not "aware" of page clicks on classic ASP pages (and vice-versa).

This issue has several deeper ramifications for Lottery Post, centering mainly around usability issues, but the Active Users page is the clearest way to demonstrate the need for a solution.

There is very little information out there on running hybrid applications using classic ASP and ASP.NET, and most of what I've seen requires complex custom code using SQL server to store session state, etc.  Over the past several months I've been mulling this around, trying to come up something more elegant.

I finally developed a very cool technique that gets the two environments talking to each other.  I haven't seen this technique used elsewhere, so I guess I'm the originator of it, at least for this particular issue.

In ASP.NET I created a special page which generates a 1-pixel image and writes the image to the output stream.  That special page also looks at the Request object's QueryString to take values passed into the page to do whatever manipulation is necessary in ASP.NET.  It could also look at the values in the cookie, since the cookie is passed to the server during an image request, but I didn't need to use the cookie in this case.

I'll refer to this special page as an "image-page".

In the classic ASP pages, I added an <img /> tag to every page, which uses the image-page URL in the src attribute, and passes a couple of values in the QueryString.

So, in effect, every classic ASP page is "calling home" to ASP.NET and sending whatever values it needs.  The 1-pixel image in every classic ASP is invisible to the user.

One other important detail is that in the QueryString of the <img /> tag I include a quasi-random number at the end, so that the classic ASP page does not use a cached version of the image-page.  (It will always retrieve a fresh copy from the server, because the URL is different every time.)  The added number I create is based upon the DateSerial() number, plus the Timer() number.  I prefer not to use Rnd() because I don't like the idea that Rnd() creates patterns of numbers, rather than numbers that are guaranteed to be different every time.

This is the framework of the ASP.NET page that captures the classic ASP session and returns a 1-pixel image.

<%@ Page ContentType="image/gif" %>
<%@ Import namespace="System.Drawing" %>
<%@ Import namespace="System.Drawing.Imaging" %>
<script runat="server">
     Sub Page_PreRender(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs) Handles MyBase.PreRender
          ' Look at QueryString, processing... 
           Dim objBitmap As New Bitmap(objPage.MapPath("space.gif"))
          objBitmap.Save(objPage.Response.OutputStream, ImageFormat.Gif)
     End Sub
</script>