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The Almighty Buck

Using Commoditized Computers Setups for Stock Trading? 32

Posted by Cliff
from the tux-goes-to-wall-street dept.
An anonymous reader asks: "Thanks to Walmart, TigerDirect, and Gnu/Linux, I can get computers at about $200 now. Thanks to Matrox, I have several multi-head video cards. Thanks to a hacker's convention last year, I have a truckload of monitors that haven't been put to use yet. I've been out of the financial markets since 1996. I'm itching to get back in now, especially since conditions will be very favorable shortly. Since I've lost my shirt in the markets already (most investors/traders loose their shirts at least once before striking it rich, and my beating was especially instructive), I'm now ready for better returns. Gnu/Linux is well known to support multiple monitor setups. I've seen 4 monitor setups per box in some financial firms, and I recently read a story on the National Weather Service using 3 monitor setups on another OSDN channel. I've also used a Quotrek trading monitor in the past, for monitoring stocks and other financials in real-time. This was before I was a penguinista. Now that I know a bit about Linux systems, I'd like to know the following: What Gnu/Linux applications can I use to monitor and/or process stocks, options, bonds, financial news, and other related information via low cost Gnu/Linux computing solutions, broadband, and multi-head video cards? Free software only, please"

"I'm not going back to paying hundreds of dollars per month like I did for my Quotrek (an FM receiver for stock quotes, possibly discontinued), or paying many hundreds for proprietary software that may not get the job done, or can't be modified or supported by the community. What free software applications do you use? What is a good multi-monitor layout? Any free software that picks up financial broadcast signals and decodes to a computer screen? Any slashdot tycoons want to help out other Slashdot readers?"

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Using Commoditized Computers Setups for Stock Trading?

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  • Ummm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2003 @06:28AM (#5868208)

    "...I'm now ready for better returns. Gnu/Linux is well known to support multiple monitor setups."

    If I were you I'd spend some time thinking about how not to get financially burned again, rather than compiling Gentoo and fiddling about with X. It may be a cute idea to have your own "trading room", but you'll soon feel stupid when your multiple monitor setup is reporting massive losses of your own cash. And I'm being totally serious here.

    • Re:Ummm (Score:3, Funny)

      by spectral (158121)
      No, see.. the point is, he'll be doing all this stuff trying to get it to work. By the time it's all set up perfectly, the market will have slumped again. He'll then let the setup go to pasture, then when it's about ready to climb again, he'll work on this, miss that one, ad inifitum.

      Therefore, this IS his way of not getting financially burned again, as long as he realizes when the market's headed for a downward spiral :)
    • (Shrug)

      The guy reckons he's learnt from the previous bust, and that the market's likely to start moving up in the forseeable future. He may even turn out to be right. His money (assuming he isn't 'pawning the family silver' that others have a call on), his choice. If he's looking at enough data to fill multiple monitors, though, and he's intending to act on it rather than just play at being a broker with a l33t setup, then it sounds as though he's going to be wanting financial data from the exchanges in rea

  • Numbers (Score:5, Informative)

    by sql*kitten (1359) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @07:16AM (#5868280)
    Fundamentally market data is just a stream of numbers, and once you have access to a stream, it's just a matter of deciding what you want to do with those numbers. There are plenty of Open Source apps for dealing with large blocks of numerical data, for example graphing it, running statistical algorithms over it, and so on, for example Octave and GNUPlot. There is even an open source library [quantlib.org] for quantitiative finance. And don't underestimate what you can do with just Perl/Tk. Postgres can take care of all your market history, and it's datatypes and query parser are sophisticated enough for data mining, or look at KDB [kx.com].

    The problem you have is twofold. All this stuff is quite low level; you could build something as good as Reuters Dealing/3000 or a BridgeStation out of it, theoretically, but now we're talking about money, we're really talking about time. To integrate QuantLib with Octave with GNUPlot will take a substantial amount of work on your part, altho' once it was done, you could process a feed almost as well as any commercial trading desktop.

    The second problem is getting the feed. If you subscribe to say a Reuters data feed for real time streaming quotes, then the cost of a Reuters terminal is really negligible; you're paying for access to the feed. If you take the feed without the terminal, you still need libraries (like SSL) to actually use it in your own application, or you need something like Tibco eFinance to translate it into XML for you, and you also need something that can format messages back to your counterparty in a format they will accept, say FIX or FpML, - this is probably the easiest part to develop yourself, FIX handles all the instrument classes you're interested in. What you need is access to a feed that comes in a useful format, and which can be sourced for in a contract that doesn't involve taking a physical terminal anyway.
    • uh, hold on a bit before you run out there and conquer the market:

      1.quantlib is really used for pricing derivatives and checking the risk profile of options positions. it kicks ass, but i don't think you'll really be able to use it in a real time data feed scenario. i mean, most trading desks (i'm talking professionals not mangy ass day traders) only use something like quantlib once or twice a day. it just takes too long to calculate the greeks (especially the vega) since it's usually done numerically.

      2.
  • by dmorin (25609) <dmorin&gmail,com> on Saturday May 03, 2003 @09:28AM (#5868514) Homepage Journal
    • I'm itching to get back in now... There's excitement, and then there's compulsion.
    • conditions will be very favorable shortly. So you tell yourself.
    • I've lost my shirt in the markets already . And should have perhaps learned your lesson. Admission of a problem...
    • most investors/traders loose their shirts at least once before striking it rich...and justification of why it's not really a problem.
    • I'm now ready for better returns. Expectation of a better future with no reason. Isn't that one of the layman's definitions of insanity, repeating the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result?
    Dude? Seriously. How about a nice savings account? maybe some cd's, short term bond funds? How's your credit card debt?
    • Dude? Seriously. How about a nice savings account? maybe some cd's, short term bond funds? How's your credit card debt?

      No shit. I used to work for real financial traders, doing risk management systems. We thought the day traders were great comedy.

      Note to the OP: If you're so sure you're right about your vast financial acumen and your ability to go up against trained professionals backed by billions of dollars, then prove it by playing a little game.

      Instead of trading with real money, just pretend. Keep
      • I'm just curious, but how did your trader friends figure out when to SELL? After BSchool, I did exactly what you describe, and found I could buy things just fine, but giving up on the stock was the tricky bit.

        If it'd gone up, then it probably ought to go up more, but if it was down, it was due for a rebound. The only time I felt OK about selling was just after a peak, which can't have been healthy.

        Obviously, I'm comfortably in index funds now, and not really paying attention to the market. Whatever kee
        • I'm just curious, but how did your trader friends figure out when to SELL? After BSchool, I did exactly what you describe, and found I could buy things just fine, but giving up on the stock was the tricky bit.

          The glib answer I give is that we used cutting-edge neural networks. But since this is Slashdot, I'll reveal the truth: We had good traders.

          How they got that way, I dunno. The best traders were street-smart guys with nerves of steel who had been doing it for years. If you asked them why they did any
  • by mcgroarty (633843) <[brian.mcgroarty] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday May 03, 2003 @09:45AM (#5868543) Homepage
    Not exactly the original question, but for more than two monitors, your best bet is to grab ATI Radeon PCI cards for each additional head. You can get them at around $60 per head, as opposed to many times that for the Matrox 3 and 4 head solutions.

    If you're using DVI-D LCDs in the mix, don't grab nVidia PCI cards if you can avoid it. Their driver support is flaky at best when more than one card exists, and the unofficial (free) nVidia drivers only support DVI-D on the head the machine boots on.

  • What Gnu/Linux applications can I use to monitor and/or process stocks, options, bonds, financial news, and other related information via low cost Gnu/Linux computing solutions, broadband, and multi-head video cards? Free software only, please

    I find gcc is a solid option, though I use (!gnu) javac more often than not... (kidding) With many of the data feeds coming in as XML, it was pretty easy to parse and display the data. By the time you finish your development, the market might be improving. Free as
  • by T-Ranger (10520) <.ac.sn.otcubehc. .ta. .wffej.> on Saturday May 03, 2003 @11:11AM (#5868795) Homepage
    And the trading takes place on a text terminal connected to an IBM mainframe with code written in the 60's, audited by a cast of thousands, and just plain works. Period.

    So your likely SOL.

    • Its true. He won't be able to pull off anything like what the "big boys" use - not that Linux couldn't... it just won't, not for him, real firms spend millions creating systems to handle their trading, they pay craploads for realtime quotes from the markets themselves, they don't trade electronically through a broker... THEY ARE A BROKER... etc.

      Then again, if the dude wants to play... let him play.
    • Actually, no, not anymore. Certainly trading terminals still exist, but a lot of companies have systems in between the market and their traders that are a lot more than a text terminal.
  • Write your own (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    That's what I did, sort of. I used Qt/Kde with the KHTMLPart to parse through the web interface for Ameritrade and get the quote information. I haven't worked on it for a while, but I got basic log-in/quote retrieval/buy/sell done, but there's no UI yet, it's currently being called via perl scripts to throw the data into a MySQL database for further analysis so I can tweak my strategy. It actually didn't take very long to write the KHTMLPart app to do the basics, only about a week or so, working an hour
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:44PM (#5869504)
    ftp://64.226.245.10/mytrack.linux401.tar

    from a company called "Track data corporation"

    a friend of mine emailed me about it last year, their website http://www.mytrack.com seems to be down at the moment but his description:

    The SDK is a C library and an example test program.

    Once you have the test program compiled and a 30 day trial account setup then you can log into the their system and get streaming feeds on news and stock tickers as the trades happen if you sign up for the live feed or 20 min delay otherwise. To sign up online you also need to download the windows application but once the account is set up then it's not needed anymore.

    haven't tried it myself as I don't trade,
    and don't plan to trade.
  • by paradesign (561561) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @05:03PM (#5870482) Homepage
    GA [gamblersanonymous.org]

    you my friend have bigger fish to fry first. good luck, im pulling for you. if you dont like that, theres always the slots to fall back on when trading goes bad again.

  • I'm now ready for better returns.

    I've been ready for three nubile young women to start attending to my every last desire ever since I hit puberty. Now where the hell are they?

    Here's a hint: the stock market isn't an easy game to be played. Go stick your money in a mutual fund that's managed by someone competent, or invest in a well-run company that's got a long history of success.

    And if you think you're too good for that, you may as well just cut me a check, because in the end your money's just goi
    • If someone has the smarts to earn the money, they have the smarts to manage their money. Just do some research and quit assuming the only way to win is to get rich quick.

      Very few people get rich quick. I'm getting rich slow. Start early, be consistant in your investing (a same percentage every month, preferably over 10%) and ride the long term success. If your looking for a short term miracle just skip stocks and play the lottery. You'll have about as good a chance of succeeding.

      Everyone where I work wast
      • If someone has the smarts to earn the money, they have the smarts to manage their money. Just do some research and quit assuming the only way to win is to get rich quick.

        BTW I have degrees in Finance and MIS with Accounting and Economics being my hobby areas (I could have gotten degrees in both Accounting and Economics as well but I figured 2 degrees were enough). I am planning on getting a Masters in Economics next year (or the year after depending on my financial situation) just for fun.

        Ahh... well,
        • Simply do some research, invest, keep up with the companies you've invested in.

          I guess since you're not confident enough in your abilities, everyone should turn all their assets over to a manager.

          How about buying a house, can you trust yourself to find a low mortgage rate? I guess you'll need your mother to hold your hand on that one too. Can you open a checking account, IRA, savings account, 401k, ...

          The only assinine thing about my comment is I assumed dumbasses like you could figure out how to invest.
          • I see you've realized how idiotic your comment was, hence your need to personalize it and flame away.

            I do quite well as investing, have a rather large 401k, and have owned my own home for quite some time. I've never run a balance on a credit card, never taken a loan out for a car, and save what most people would consider an obscene percentage of my income.

            However, I'm aware enough of society to realize I'm in the minority. What's your problem? You don't venture out of your basement much?
            • I never thought you could do it. I'm so proud of you.

              You are not in the "minority" as you put it. Millions of people own their own homes. I guess you need to pat yourself on the back.
      • Maybe you should use those degrees to read what a post says before you go attacking it.
  • I've used the service from http://www.comstock-interactivedata.com/index.shtm l [comstock-i...vedata.com] in applications. It's a java jar that you can put in your own programs. The system I was using runs it to stuff data into a database and other apps pull what they want from the shared database.

The most delightful day after the one on which you buy a cottage in the country is the one on which you resell it. -- J. Brecheux

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