Tag Archives: technology

Trading Rooms – Ideas, tech and thoughts about sharing

I started to think there could be a downside to my rather monastic approach to trading based simply on the fact that listening to the voices in my head isn’t particularly productive. I posted something on this before but then struggled to execute anything on it since I didn’t see a way of making it work technically

As I’m currently working in an office the social part of the job is actually quite good fun and so parking off in splendid isolation has started to feel somewhat uncomfortable. Having people around also lends itself to accountability and since I’ve a slightly lazy disposition accountability is actually useful for me.

A longer term ambition actually includes taking the ‘online’ model associated with other businesses described in books like ‘The Year without Pants’ (about WordPress), ‘Rework’ (about Basecamp) and ‘Lean Startup’ (about Bootstrapping web startups) to apply them to trading or a group of traders.

I’ve spent some time in/around/with various groups and trading collectives and my impression is that the ‘community’ of traders that are active seems to be quite small here in Europe/UK. Of course America is bonkers and timezones present some challenges so I’m going to expound on ideas mainly focused on UK/EU and related regions.

One very clear conclusion I’ve come to already.

Text only chat like forums, blog posts and even what’s provided in Tradingview’s chat (there’s quite a lot of features here) isn’t good enough for the purpose and open to way too much abuse. Typing anything you like (and trolling) is very easy and without penalty whereas verbalizing abuse or making trolling type remarks aloud is a completely different proposition. There’s a self policing element here ’cause you immediately sound like a whiny six year old when you open your mouth.

So what are my technical criteria?

  • Voice based
  • Everyone can talk/contribute
  • Free

Text is too slow and as I’ve pointed out above – open to too much anarchy. There’s a social barrier to verbal abuse that’s a great leveler. If lots of people hear someone getting picked on there’s generally a move to even up the debate or at least calm it down without some sort of ‘moderator’ class having to exert the ban hammer – which is a form of escalation/bullying in its own right.

Everyone should have the ability to contribute/talk and ask questions. This is really how a community builds, evolves and ultimately sustains itself. I’ve been in a few environments where it’s effectively one person’s show and I’d suggest that eventually these will all die out sooner or later. The ‘guru’ model works for teaching but not really in a live, fast moving environment – it also turns the whole experience into a TV like ‘passive’ experience for those in the room. They feel like they’re involved in something but unless they take the reigns they’re really not. It just becomes entertainment

Since I’m proposing everyone has the ability to contribute the subscription model has to die.

Charging anything from £50 to £100 per month for what amounts to maybe 30 minutes of useful/actionable information per day is somewhat ludicrous. All the rest is mostly banter, fucking about and existential arguments. Raise the bar by dumping the entry price sounds counter-intuitive but I think it would encourage more engagement since participants would be vested in having the community succeed overall.

More important than the technical side is the ‘social’ rules and norms required.

  • Common beliefs / trading approach
  • Invite and moderation by consensus
  • Active participation is encouraged
  • Anonymity

It’s very hard to hold a group together without a common reference point. With traders it would need to be driven by a consensus around how to ‘see/trade’ the market otherwise there’s a fairly large risk of a decent into ‘who’s methodology is best’ type arguing. If you want to get into that dead-end then go back to TradingView’s text chat and fill yer boots

Invitation/moderation by consensus basically means its not open to everyone who sticks their head in the door automatically. Unless all participants are operating at a more evolved level than the vast majority of the internet (unlikely) then some checks and balances are inevitable. That said a light touch approach should be entirely possible.

Active participation is something that can be artificially encouraged but is mainly on the shoulders of individual members. If no-one speaks up then it’s going to get very boring very quickly. There should be no free lunch if (as I’ve seen elsewhere) where 10% of participants consistently carry the whole venture. Everyone should be happy to throw ideas into the mix and this really depends on the culture driven by the members. No-one wants to add to a debate where they’re worried about getting chewed up.

Anonymity as a requirement is something I’ve struggled with. I haven’t got any issues with this myself but what I have seen is that unless it’s a feature you don’t get the critical mass of participants required for the effort to be self sustaining. There’s no way around this at the moment and this is why some of the tools available aren’t acceptable.

So there are some tools out there but you can quickly rule most of them out: –

  • Skype – no anonymity, not scale-able enough, people don’t engage with it enough since it’s linked into their other (non trading) activity. It seems to be too ‘personal’
  • Google+ no anonymity, not scale-able with voice, screen share resolution is pants, no participant controls, limited time allowed, someone has to initiate an ‘event’ and Google+ text posts are so bloody hard to use/search and curate in any functional way I just want to shout at the screen…
  • Omnovia, GoToMeeting, Webex – seriously too costly, one presenter only, not collaborative, why do you actually need live screen share? (I’ll come back to this point)
  • Slack – what GoogleWave tried to be (and failed) and it’s quite ‘real time’ but hasn’t any VOIP functionality so… what’s the point?

What have I seen work?

You’ll laugh but the tool I’ve seen which meets these requirements is…

Teamspeak 3

Yes, that geeky gamer VOIP app from MMORPG’s actually fulfills all these requirements very well indeed. Since you’re not in the business of selling on goods/services the annual server cost is zero for less than 32 participants. You could still scale this up and not have to worry about paying for more users either – although I’m still trying to get my head around how their licensing works.

I’ve seen this work very well off the back of the Bitcoin trading community which has effectively splintered from TradingView. Finally, I mentioned live screen sharing above so here’s two reasons why I don’t think it’s mandatory.

  1. Someone else’s screen is just a massive distraction – it’s no telly, ok? Rather concentrate on your own view of the world and your own trades/analysis and then share them with a link to something visual. The internet is drowning in free screen-capture clients 😉
  2. If it’s a trade idea it should be communicable in a static chart. If you have to explain it live then break off and use something else temporarily if you have to.

I don’t think live screen sharing is a requirement for day-to-day operation (teaching, yes but I’m not addressing that) so there you go. This is what I personally think works, what doesn’t work and how I suggest people go about it if they’re interested.

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The next big web thing and how it relates to trading…

Do you know what the next ‘big’ thing will be on the web? It’s busy happening now.

Formerly, if you weren’t a programmer and you wanted to combine information to show something new then you needed to spend a stack of money developing something…

However this gap between coding knowledge and creativity is closing. As long as you have the idea you will soon be able to create it. Someone else will provide the glue – all you will need to do is have the idea to stick it together. Go look at www.ifttt.com for a great example of this.

Let’s take a commonly known portal like Stocktwits who have just released an API. What this means is that you can trigger events off of things happening – what about trades? Let’s say you want to see the consensus view on EURUSD and you’re aware that often the consensus is wrong so you are interested in taking the opposite position.

I’ve spent some time reading the EURUSD stream on Stocktwits and have been very surprised to see what people are doing i.e. maybe I’m not so terrible after all – can I somehow use this insight into the behavior of others? Why not? I’m sure you smart people out there can extrapolate from here.

During a webinar a couple of months ago the presenter called for an app that only showed what ‘crappy’ traders are thinking/doing. They were/are using this as another information source since if there’s a lot of noise about a certain play it may mean they have less inclination to actually trade it. The herd is usually wrong so avoid the herd, right? Smart or what?

So eventually I stumbled across a mobile building app thing called Infinite Monkeys.

What I’ve done is taken the feeds of a number of twitter people who have consistently shown their ability to call false breaks (i.e they post positions that actually become turning points) and collected them together in one single app which I can watch on my phone.

Do you know of any particular names/traders on twitter who deserve a place on this platform? Please comment so I can add them!

All contributors will be able to download the app for free or just subscribe or something. It just took the idea and some small amount of time. It wasn’t difficult. At all. Really – it took me 10 minutes, I’m not posting about this to sell/promote an app but I did it to re-enforce the following point. Go make your own even!

This type of ‘mash-up’ has been happening in the creative sphere since I was a kid – yes, I remember when sampling was new and the internet only came in green.

Now the same revolution is coming to data. Every business critical system we use at work is driven by a database – whether it’s on a server or on ‘the cloud’. The people who can use, run, interrogate and leverage the data at my place of work are the ones that run everything or are making steady career progress.

This might be Salesforce where you are or some other tool whether it’s for CRM, production or stock management. You may be a hell of a nice guy but the guy who can look at the data and answer the question intelligently without having to first guess is soon going to be your boss…

So the data is coming. Your intelligent analysis, your ability to use/filter and slice this information will become increasingly central to your success.

  • We are not knowledge workers anymore – if you want knowledge you can Google it
    • When programmers get stuck that’s the first place they look!
  • Platforms are evolving to a point where all the data will soon be accessible

All those pop-psych books like ‘Freakanomics’ (so many of them) or the genius of Steve Jobs (people will pay a premium for an elegant PC that just works) come down to insight and finding the truth that others can’t see.

Unless you’re a niche, niche, niche specialist you’re now (pretty much) a commodity

Knowledge was power

Insight is now power

There’s always an answer

I firmly believe there’s always an answer available to any problem that you might face. However the challenge lies in actually asking the right question or being able to see the problem correctly. You can spend an awful lot of time pursuing what you think is the answer to a problem only to find out the question which first arose was the wrong one. That’s slightly opaque so I’ll try to use a (short) real world example to illustrate what this post is about.

I’ve recently found huge problems going to the gym during the week.

Frankly the last thing I want to do at 7-8pm is drag my ass to the gym. I’m just too knackered and the whole experience wakes me right up so my body doesn’t calm down till midnight by which time I’m a corpse 8 hours later when I should have already been up at 7 a.m. to go to work… Ugh…

I’ve spent two months beating myself up for only going to the gym once or twice on the weekends and given what I’m trying to achieve physically that’s not enough. What happens is you go in on the weekends and destroy yourself (too much weight) and are a wreck the rest of the week… it’s no fun.

I thought this failure was related to self-discipline/laziness and so on but taking a bit of a step back from the problem recently I figured out that if I joined a gym close to work I could spend 40 minutes in there each lunchtime, save money (on Costa lunches) and be more productive in the afternoons also. Bonus!

The problem wasn’t ‘not going to the gym in the evenings’ but actually I should have been asking ‘How can I train every day?’ If you ask the right question then the answer seems easy.

With respect to trading (yes we got on topic eventually) I’ve been looking at the problem which is that since I’m working full time it’s very challenging to gain trading experience that is useful and which I can learn from.

What I mean by this is to learn a new skill you need to be able to repeat it over and over under the same/similar conditions before you can internalize it, before it becomes truly ‘yours’. However if your exposure to the market is haphazard/piecemeal and under pressure that’s nothing like how you should be trading. Also given the fact I miss opportunities to learn/set-ups intra-day the actual number of potential learning experiences I’m exposed to is actually very small…

Now I began approaching this problem by looking at radically changing my work life (not currently possible) then at the hours/markets I could trade (yes, to a certain extent) or simply mothballing the whole topic till I’ve gotten myself into a position where I can trade full time. This last sentence is hugely ironic and contradicts all my reasons for learning to trade.

It hit me that, since there are no shortcuts, what I’m looking for is chart time. The right question to ask is actually ‘How do I get more experience in front of the market?’

Happily I stumbled across this program which allows you to ‘trade’ from historical (live recorded) data at an accelerated pace. Since I’m not back testing a robot but learning to trade ‘price action’ in a discretionary way (that suits my psychology) I can now do this evenings and weekends to improve my competence in a structured way. The alternative being attempting to ‘read’ the market and place a trade having glanced at a chart in between doing actual work…

You can hopefully see how what I was doing before simply led to frustration, losses and a very haphazard learning experience!

Back way off topic again but to wrap up properly… If there’s an issue you see in your life then you need to check yourself.

  1. Are you trying to solve the right problem?
  2. Are you asking the right question about what you’re trying to fix?
  3. Are you simply scared of making the change you know you need to?

So my friends, onwards and upwards!

Electronic life management…

I’m always on the look-out for the best tools to manage my life. Less time spent managing or trying to hang on to things in my head means more time for creativity and thinking… I simply like to be organised so that I can relax. Here are some highly recommended tools to help organise your ‘stuff’… Remember, if you’re managing your trading as a business (and you should be) then you need to be organised enough to dedicate time to it.

To Do list – Google Market App – ASTRID

Simply the best to-do list manager for Android phones which sync’s with google tasks. Coming soon to a PC screen near you also. I have no idea what the heck ‘Social Productivity’ might be but you can check it out here: www.astrid.com or www.weloveastrid.com (apologies, I don’t own an iPhone)

Brain-storming and mind mapping – TheBrain

Simply awesome and hugely powerful for recording absolutely everything about a subject, a number of subjects and everything going on in your head. All your ideas and crazy dreams can all go in here and it’s visible and interlinked. I am a huge believer in mind-maps and brainstorming so I’m a big fan of this (having tired all the other ones). More on The Brain in posts to come but go have a look here as it’s free to trial

Trade recording – Filemaker

Now, I am not an IT wizard so don’t have anything near the patience or skills to get my head around SQL or attempt to do this myself, however, those nice people at Filemaker have done it for me. I use a database to record my trades and analysis – not a spreadsheet. More on this shortly about why and how it works for me but you can go check it out here.

And finally, unless you’re using a Mac, for your own sanity and peace of mind (if you’ve not already done this) you need to go upgrade your kit to run Windows 7. No, really, it’s about time. I know it’s alot to pay for a toolbar 😉 but actually means having a lot of charts open it’s really easy to manage what you’re doing. Regret not upgrading from Vista a lot sooner.

So hopefully that’s useful to some people. Next up (Wed?) will be part 1 of 6 on Teaching yourself to trade which can apply to anything (but of course using trading as an example) and references tricks and tips I’ve used to achieve successful outcomes in learning a new thing.

Diversification

Ach, the wonders of modern technology! It’s now simple to set up a bunch of indicators and then watch what’s going on… So if gold drops to below 1448 then I’m buying 🙂

Free EOD data

I asked IG index whether they had more up to date documents for their Pro-screener, Pro-builder and Pro-backtest apps because the ones on their site are all listed from 2008… and it appears they get all this from another company!

Go to http://www.prorealtime.com/en and get the latest documentation (v3.1) which is more comprehensive and explains a shed load more things you can do!

Also you can sign up for FREE End of Day data from them without any worries. Excellent.

Efficiency and saving time

I guess one of the things I’ve been struggling with, especially as I began looking at placing trades on FTSE 350 stocks is that there are a LOT of stocks and really who has the time to go through them all every day so you don’t miss a potentially lucrative trade?

I believe in the efficient use of systems to optimise what I’m doing.

With eSignal and going through the K2A course you get a version of their screener that’s set up for PowerPlays’ though it seems the only way to really expand this to other criteria would be to pay for a monthly (increased) data rate… Not particularly ideal given where I am at the moment.

Also, eSignal isn’t linked to any of the broker packages I use so I’d have to see a position and then enter it in another package which, unless it’s just end of day creates a time-lag that could lose me some points! What I found today is great! You can program IG Index’s Pro-Screener for FREE!

This means that if you can describe something then you can write it down and if you can write it down it means you can program it to look for 350 stocks for you in seconds! w00t!