A Proper Trading Desk Lets You See Less not More

September 12th, 2008

I came across this article by Alan Farley (who I interviewed a while back). In the article he describes his trading desk and how he has things arranged, what subscriptions he has, etc. I’m always interested in hearing how other traders’ have things arranged – I devote a good deal of thought to my trading routine and am always looking for ways to improve it.

What struck me as I read about his setup was how similar it is to mine – from the chart layout even down to the columns I sort by in my watchlist. The other thing that struck me was this quote:

Seriously, though, just a few stocks on a big watch list will trigger decent opportunities during a typical trading day. It’s our job to uncover these hidden gems and to avoid getting eyestrain looking at everything else. Sadly, this is a task at which most traders fail, i.e., they get so overwhelmed by randomness, there’s no brain space left for the real thing.

This underscores the main purpose of your trading desk – to allow you to easily focus on the small subset of data that you can profit from. This is the opposite of a lot of new traders that try to fill up their trading desk with as much data as possible as if they’ll miss something if they don’t cram 20 indicators onto a chart. There’s an infinite amount of data out there that you could look at. Your better off ignoring everything by default and deciding what not to ignore instead of the other way around.

Hat tip to Trader Mike for the article link.

Projected Volume in QuoteTracker

March 11th, 2008

I’ve recently started using QuoteTracker as my charting platform to see how I’d like it. So far I think it’s fantastic – every bit as good as eSignal (for most things). Here’s a great feature that’s in QuoteTracker that, after using it for a couple days, makes me think it should be in every charting platform.

Before a candle completes, QuoteTracker displays the “projected volume” of the candle. So at the current rate of volume during the current candle it projects how large the volume bar will be when the candle completes. What a great, intuitive feature – I love it.

QuoteTracker Projected Volume

I’m still clinging to a couple different charting platforms, which I’ll discuss in a future post. For now, though, QuoteTracker is working well. Hat tip to Eyal for turning me on to this.

Replay the Trading Day Using Automatic Screenshots

February 11th, 2008

Here’s an article that I wrote for the CyberTrader Newsletter a couple months ago:

Have you ever looked back at the end of a trading day and thought “Why in the world did I do that?” Everything seems so obvious at the end of the day, but, of course, traders have to make decisions without the benefit of hindsight. It can be quite helpful to “replay” the day to figure out why you made certain decisions at certain times to determine whether you made mistakes. Taking an honest look at yourself can help you discover ways to improve your trading. Many traders are too quick to sulk about their losses instead of using them for what they are: extremely valuable opportunities for future trading success.
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Mark Up Your Charts for Free

November 29th, 2007

I’ve just noticed that you can get a fully licensed copy of Snagit – the software I use (and most people) to mark up image files.  I use it to capture image files of my charts and draw arrows for the entries and comments on the charts and then post them to the blog.  I still rely mainly on the charts that StockTickr creates for me automatically, but I like to be able to go back and review the actual charts that I trade off of every day.

Here’s a good example of a chart that I created using Snagit back in August:


Couple Losing Trades, One I’ll Prevent in Future

June 1st, 2007

I took a couple losing trades today – small bets, but losses nonetheless.  Here’s one that caused me to take some action.


In the above chart, I was looking for FMCN to break 45.00, so I entered a buy stop limit order for 50.05 with the stop at 50.01.  Well, as you probably know the stop price gets triggered by the ask for buy stops (bid for sell stops) and you can probably guess what happened.  The ask went to 50.01 for a split second (I’m just assuming since I didn’t see it on level 2) and my order was triggered and filled at 50.00.

Of course, the price soon retreated and I was stuck with something I didn’t want.  This has happened to me a couple times before, but this time I decided to do something about it.

CyberTrader has some great alert templates that you can use to set up all types of complex conditions for orders.  If you don’t use CyberTrader now, don’t, I repeat, don’t start using them because you’ll wonder how you ever traded without the Alert Templates once you start.  😉

I set up an alert template to execute an order when the ask reaches a certain point AND the trade price reaches a certain point.  Once you save the template, you can use it for any stock and you only have to fill in the shares and price levels that you want.  A huge time saver.  Here’s a screenshot of the order I’ll be entering next time around.  I just right click on the FMCN’s chart or level II screen or the entry for FMCN in a trading list and choose my alert template that I called “Buy Stop Limit Order”.

Buy Stop Limit Alert Template

What Have You Permatabbed?

June 1st, 2007

I’m pretty sure it was Maoxian that introduced me to the Faviconizetab Firefox extension. I’ve combined that with the Permatab Firefox extension for a few select sites that I have open all the time. I’ve just added WallStreak to this group, which reminds me that I’ve been meaning to post about this.

Here’s a screenshot of my browser:

My Permatabs

Here’s the list of the sites that have made this elite group from left to right in case you don’t recognize the favicons (I bet some of you can):

What deserves a place in your Permatab list?

Speaking of WallStreak, I find myself using it more and more. It took me a while to warm up to the idea, but WallStreak is sort of a niche Jaiku for traders which I think makes sense, especially since Jaiku struggles to keep up with surging demand.

StockTickr Broker Plugin Screencast

May 10th, 2007

Here’s a video showing the StockTickr Broker Plugin at work. It currently comes in two flavors: CyberTrader and Interactive Brokers. As I’ve picked up my trading pace, this plugin has been a huge time saver by automating my record keeping. So now StockTickr automatically enters my trades into my journal and generates all my charts with my entry, exit, and stops plotted on them.

This only becomes more valuable with time as my database of performance history in my journal gets larger and larger. I can filter my journal on all sorts of fields – daytrades versus holding overnight, uptrend days in the overall market versus downtrend days, and a ton of other useful parameters.

Sign up today and automate your record keeping.
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Interactive Brokers / StockTickr Beta Plugin Available

May 7th, 2007

Data entry is boring and error-prone – wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pull your trade executions right from your broker into your journal automatically? That’s exactly what you can do if you’re a CyberTrader client or now an Interactive Brokers client.

One StockTickr Pro subscriber says with this plugin along with automatic chart review that he’ll save 30 to 45 minutes every day that he used to spend manually keeping records.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for StockTickr Pro if you’re not already.
  2. Download and install the StockTickr/IB Plugin.
  3. When you’re ready to upload your trades to StockTickr, simply start the plugin from your start menu.
  4. Click Logon to connect to TWS and StockTickr.
  5. Click Load Executions to load the executions into the plugin window.
  6. Click Send to StockTickr to automatically send your executions into your journal.

The plugin will automatically compact your executions into trades. For example, let’s say you put in a trade of 200 shares and got filled for 100 shares at 50.10 and the other 100 shares at 50.12. The plugin automatically determines that was a single trade and loads 200 shares at 50.11.

There’s a free trial for StockTickr Pro, so sign up today.

Here’s a screenshot of the plugin in action:

StockTickr/IB Plugin

Automatically Generating My Watchlist with the Trade-Ideas API

April 12th, 2007

I’m always looking for ways to cut down on the time I spend on my daily trading routine. Many of my various trading tasks are performed much better by a computer. In my experience, if there’s some task that you do that can be safely performed by a computer, then I believe it’s worth a one-time chunk of your time figuring out how to automate it. I’ve spent sometimes a few hours automating a task that only takes me a few seconds to do manually. There are many benefits to doing this: Read the rest of this entry »

New R Tables in StockTickr Journal

March 20th, 2007

A few subscribers have already noticed, but I added some “R tables” to each entry in your StockTickr Journal. The reason I added them is because I use R values as a guide for moving my stop. For example, when I reach 1R of profit in a trade, I’ll move my stop to breakeven. As my trade reaches 2R, I’ll usually move my stop again. How far I’ll move it depends on a few factors, but these whole number R thresholds are where I make my decisions.

I used to compute these numbers in my head and write them down on a sticky note when it looked like my trade was approaching 1R. The math is not hard, but I don’t like doing even simple things that could be more easily done by a computer. This is why I added the tables to the StockTickr Journal. Now, I enter my trade into the journal as soon as I make it and this R table is immediately available without my human error factor.

Just hover your mouse over the green dollar icon in the journal next to the ticker symbol to see the R table.

R Table

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