TLC Weekly Update July 30, 2021

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Can’t believe it is already the end of July. Time flies when you just work until you are so tired and crash in bed day after day.

An interesting video explaining why first class is disappearing. Airline business is indeed a tough one. I wonder how long it will take for the industry to recover from covid.

A friend sent me this video about people dumb enough to go online shopping for hitman. Are people really losing their common sense these days?

After watching this video, I want to get one of these beautiful chess sets too. Maybe I will buy myself that this Christmas …

Some of you asked why I have time to watch all these videos and read all kinds of articles while complaining about not enough time to work on my projects. Well it is quite simple to answer – I accomplish all that during my lunch and dinner. And I only eat two times a day.

This will be a Canadian long weekend. My schedule wouldn’t change though – research and development is a forever grind that takes someone who enjoy the process.

Have a nice weekend all!

TLC Weekly Update February 19, 2021

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This year 2021 is definitely at least as bizarre as year 2020. Looking at the extreme weather we experienced this week, I wonder what else is in store in coming few months. I will not be surprised if it gets any colder here in Toronto, the polar bears will come visit us.

One good news I got this week is that Big-Game Hunter ES, the fully automated trading strategy I have created, made it to the Top 10 List at Striker Securities. BGH is the only day trading strategy made it in the list.

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BGH had some tough time over the past 2 years from technical issues to dealing with Trump’s tweet storms. I am confident that with fewer disruptive events, BGH will do fine going forward.

When I was searching for performance evaluation methods online, I came across this interesting video about the origin of minesweeper and solitaire that extends to a talk about performance feedback and evaluation. Understanding this is useful for anyone, traders included, who are trying to improve their skills of any kind.

For those of you interested in building your own PC, here are some good news for you – the Intel iCore series CPU prices just crashed hard. And in fact, if the momentum tells anything, it may persist for a while. The pressure on price came from multiple front, including the leak of the pricing of the next generation iCore CPUs.

In my case, I don’t need the latest and fastest computers to do my work which is mainly research and development of trading algorithms. Due to limitations of the trading platforms available in the market, there is really no point to pay top dollar for the top of the line computer models. Instead, I use multiple cheap computers at the same time. If one computer is doing some heavy duty optimization work that can take hours to get the results, I simply continue to work on a different set of trading algos on another computer.

Every famous investor going on TV or other media these days are talking about how unreasonable the stock markets are at the current price level. However, majority of them are also experienced enough to not going short against the markets. Not that I believe in the bullshit of Elliot Wave Theory, but trading legend Paul Tudor Jones really sums it up nicely,

“There is no training, classroom or otherwise, that can prepare for trading the last third of a move, whether it’s the end of a bull market or the end of a bear market.”

There is no shame to take profit or lock in gains on some of your long term holdings given the current high valuation of many stocks and the indices. Not protecting your capital is very irresponsible for your financial well being.

Have a great weekend all!

TLC Weekly Update December 11, 2020

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Another interesting trading week almost over with all eyes on next week’s US electoral vote event (Monday, Dec 14) that may result in some shocking twists and turns. All these states filed their cases with the US supreme court may not impact the outcome though. But what if they do? I can’t imagine the mess we are going to see …

This is the time of the year people start to read up the astrology predictions for the coming year. One recurring talk about Dec 14 and Dec 21 this year keeps coming up. The other funny one is the talk about Mayan end of the world year was not 2012 but 2021. I am not a believer in astrology based on Zodiac birth month. It is still fun to read and watch astrologers, both experts and pretend ones, making forecast about people’s future.

I just learned about Russia’s organic food industry and I am very fascinated that how long will it take US to condemn all organic food because it is mostly imported from Russia.

My research on history for some mysterious reason landed me on this story about the evolution of bats. It is a good read though.

A good video by Yahoo Finance asking Paul Tudor Jones his view of the market. It is a short video packed with good info and his thoughts about the stock market may surprise you.

I am writing my 2021 business plan at the moment. After a year of total chaos and surprises, I have so much to add to my usual contingency plan. Trying to anticipate what has never happened in our own life time is difficult. Hence the research into past history to see what can happen and how that impact the economy and our lives becomes very useful.

For example, what if we have another major power outage like year 2003. Or that something like Ebola, instead of COVID-19, is spreading worldwide. The goal is to figure out what has to be done so that I will not react to these crisis level situations unprepared.

And of course, end of the year is a good time to clean out the junk. I finally have to throw away my trusted Samsung all-in-one printer / scanner. It served me well for over 10 years. Over the years, its drum died first, so I could not use it as a printer but I still keep it as a scanner. Then the scanner cover broke last time I moved so all it can do was doing autofeed scanning. And now its autofeeder gave in.

So after all, I ended up buying something this holiday season. Like it or not, life is a series of surprises.

Have a great weekend all!

TLC Weekly Update September 4, 2020

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What a week for the stock market – when everyone was talking about the market would never go lower because of the Fed policy, next thing you know we got a one day drop of more than 6% in Nasdaq 100 and 3% in S&P500. Usually September and October are the more volatile months so more fireworks is very likely in coming few weeks. On top of that, we have US election in early November. This is going to be very interesting for aggressive traders going into the end of this year.

Robert Greene just released a new video on human irrationality. It is a long video (about an hour) that I think everyone should watch and learn from it.

For those of you who grew up with the Apple II computers, you probably played the game Prince of Persia. Here is an interesting video on its creator Jordan Mechner who figured out how to break the Apple II hardware limitations. What he has accomplished shows the importance of having multiple voices in any large scale projects. If he had stayed the course of doing what he thought the game was all about, Prince of Persia would not have becoming the iconic classic games of all time.

And remember, never ask a surgeon whether you need a surgery – interesting talk of clash between Canada’s CMHC outgoing chief and Canadian real estate industry.

Looks like this weekend I will have a break from my marathon meetings. I need this badly as my biological clock is totally messed up over the past few weeks. Some “me time” for meditation and exercise sounds like a plan.

Have a great long weekend all!

TLC Weekly Update June 5, 2020

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It looks like I still cannot escape to my cottage this weekend. So instead of preparing for the trip, I try to be more productive and wrote two articles on trading technologies. First one comparing different hardware of their trading strategy optimization speed. And the other one about Windows 10, whether it is time to trust it for trading.

I was talking to several fund manager friends this week. They are all sitting ducks at the moment because of the uncertainty going forward. Yet they do not have a way to explain to their clients why the stock market is behaving the way it does. The part that Nasdaq 100 printing new all time high is especially funny because they are questioned by their clients why they failed to take advantage of the crash.

Lucky that I don’t need to handle calls and emails like this.

One thing I know for sure is that this is a unique event that we have experienced like nothing else in human history. After the fact everyone is a genius. However, the indices are not telling the truth of what is happening in the real economy. I know from my contacts that many companies that are not well capitalized enough or that they do not operate defensively before the outbreak lock-down are gone already.

People are in distress. Yet the stock market is back to near all time high can really poke the nerve of many. If we see revolutions in many western countries within next 12 months, it will go down in history that the central banks are at fault in causing the world real chaos.

Mark Manson has an old article on Why You Can’t Trust Yourself, it is a good reminder why we need routines and process to improve our performance in almost anything. The central bankers obviously lack both as they have been making bad decisions all the time.

On the lighter side, check out this old video clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I am not a political person. I hate politics and hate to talk about politics even more as people gets too emotional on these things. I think if Stephen Colbert is more neutral with his stance, he can create same routine for every single politicians in US.

Have a great weekend all!

Not All Display Port to HDMI Adaptors are Created Equal


Over these few weeks, thanks to my Lenovo Yoga died on me (mentioned here), I have to buy a new set of external adaptors. Since the Lenovo Yoga has two USB-C ports but no regular USB port, I have to purchase external adaptor that is built for USB-C. It has its advantage for sure since I just need to use one single port for connection to my 4K HD monitor with ports for networking and other USB devices all in one compact device.

Now that I am using Microsoft Surface Pro 6, all these gadgets no longer work. Trust me. I tried. I even found a USB-C convertor to plug into the Surface USB 3.0 port and no luck. The USB ports on the adaptor kind of work but not the networking port. Definitely no output to the monitor either.

So I have to give them all up and buy myself a new all-in-one adaptor which I found on Amazon.

 

It works … except that the HDMI port does not produce the 4K resolution on my 4K HD monitor. I tried everything including direct changes to the resolution settings. It just cannot get my 4K monitor to display 4K.

So, I tried this on my 4K TV. And it worked. Damn, that’s annoying.

So I ordered a simple display port to HDMI adaptor hoping that it may solve the problem this time.

And nope. It has exactly the same problem. They just cannot sync with my 4K monitor.

Some people asking exactly the same question why the adaptors are not working. The vendors and some other “smart” users blame the problem on the HDMI cable saying that a low quality one will not work. Well, I am using exactly the same cable that used to connect my Lenovo Yoga to the same monitor. I also use this same cable for the connection to TV which works. Don’t tell me it is its low quality causing the problem.

The search goes on. I eventually bought this adaptor.

And it works! I finally found one that works with my 4K monitor giving me 4K resolution.

I don’t blame the other 2 adaptors for not being able to output 4K resolution on my monitor. After all they both can produce 4K output on my TV. My guess is that the 4K specification can be very tricky so a better adaptor may be able to handle more types of monitors.

Lessons learned.

TLC Weekly Update August 23, 2019

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Hitting writer’s block over the past few days is kind of frustrating. I understand myself well enough to know that I need to work on something unrelated to these projects so that I can regain my concentration. Hence writing a short article on cold shower feels right. Here it is in case you missed that.

I also translated an old NeoTicker function Range2Period into Tradestation. It is a very useful tool for those interested in building trading strategies.

I passed my daily statements for the reference trading account to my team last week but when I check for the updated monthly performance on the site it is not there. It took me some tedious time to capture those statements from the brokerage website so I was not happy to not seeing the update a few days after. It turned out, my team uploaded the picture file but the backend of the site decided not to serve the updated picture …

And it is now fixed. For those interested in seeing the live performance for June and July you can see it finally. I will also try to write about it in next instalment of my trading automation series.

Lately I have been asked many times on how to immigrate to Canada by people from Hong Kong and other Asian countries. I do have connections that can help people out in this area. So if you are thinking about moving to Canada, drop me an email and I will refer you to the right people.

I replaced my broken Toshiba flat screen TV with one having built-in Fire TV. I never thought that it is now so much more convenient to browse the net on TV. Although I mainly use this as my big quote screen, it is nice to be able to watch something else like Prime Video or Netflix when having my lunch at home.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Surprisingly Smooth Transition into Windows 10

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I spent the past two weeks setting up a new laptop due to the unfortunate event that my original laptop being crushed in the plane while I was traveling back to Canada. Since I do not need my laptop during this period of time, I can use my desktop computer while setting up the new laptop slowly. The experience with the transition from a Windows 8 laptop into Windows 10 is, surprisingly, good.

The Incident

I use a backpack when I travel and my laptop is stored in the part for which thick protection foam is there all around it. I thought it is safe from physical harm. I could not be more wrong this time though. First my backpack was moved away from the overhead compartment where I put it due to someone else having a huge luggage forced the flight attendants to move luggage around to accommodate that. My backpack was moved somewhere else before i can even try to grab it back.

By the time the flight was over, I tried to locate my backpack. It was squeezed down under two hard surface carry on trolleys. I thought it should be alright because nothing bad really happened to my laptop ever through all these flights over the years. I could not be more wrong.

When I arrived home, I found a corner of my laptop was totally crushed. Amazingly, the laptop is still functional and boot up fine. The catch is that two of the ports I needed most are no longer usable.

A hard lesson learned – never store your laptop in a soft shell container.

Finding a Replacement

I am never comfortable with new versions of Windows. I wrote about that many times over the years. Microsoft is infamous in destroying compatible with everything from hardware to software with new versions of Windows. My experience was so bad I never buy a new computer with new versions of Windows. This time, however, I have no choice.

Microsoft has determined that they cannot continue to support their older versions of Windows. Windows XP and the major disgrace Vista are now discontinued from normal support. Windows 7 is still supported but probably not for long. Hence, it is very diffficult to buy any new laptop with older versions of Windows.

First, I would not want to buy a laptop with Windows 8 ever again. That leaves me with only Windows 10 to choose from. I thought, what the heck, Windows 10 is around for sometime already. Everything should be working fine now. Is it?

The Transition

It is not that easy for a road warrior to switch to a new laptop. This is especially true for professional traders. We have so many applications to install onto a computer, it takes a lot of time to get it done. This time around, it took me like a week to have all the necessary configuration done on Windows and the essential applications installed. The more auxiliary applications can wait.

Core applications like Microsoft Office has to be installed. I am very glad that my Office Enterprise 2010 still works on Windows 10. There was a point in time that Microsoft tried to force everyone to use the stupid Office 365. As a paid customer, I seriously cannot accept their proposition that I have to pay up again, as a subscription, that has no added value to my need. As far as I recall, I have been a paying customer of the Microsoft Office software since I was studying in university. Microsoft has to give me a very good reason to pay for another upgrade.

Many other applications are not working well on Windows 10 due to the Smart Scaling issue. That includes quite a number of trading applications. Smart scaling is the changing of pixel density dynamically so that the display device can show you things that you can really read. Given the laptop I get has 4K resolution, if the application is displaying its content using the pixel based method, it will be so small that I cannot see what is displayed at all.

Luckily, Windows 10, after several updates, has find a way to resolve this issue by offering multiple compatibility display options. I got two trading platforms working but one is still in trouble. I will not name names here. I think it is better I report the issues to the developers and see if they manage to come up with anything like a workaround or a quick new release to address the issue.

My Impression

I like Windows 10 a lot on this new laptop. Well, part of the reason is that the new laptop is very impressive on hardware basis alone. On the other hand, Windows 10 gives me a much more comfortable feel in terms of control and flexibility. Windows 10 is delivering what Windows 8 intended to do but failed to do so – a new paradigm without sacrificing the core power of Windows over platforms like Macs. Windows has always been a workhorse type of platform and it is the favorite platform for businesses and large enterprises. Windows 8 deviated from that (so did Vista) and it has been part of Microsoft’s painful memory since.

The truth is that I have to make a lot of adjustments to my usage routines from the last laptop but I am happy to make the transition this time. Unlike last time when I was forced to switch to Windows 8 and took the plunge to change all its settings to mimic Windows 7, I am happily learning to work within the new Windows 10 workflow. Part of this obviously thanks to all the software companies making the transition easier by having Windows 10 compatibility taken into account. The other part is that Microsoft learned from its users what has to be done to make Windows 10 functional.

Dave Bitcoin Saved My Day (and My Bitcoin Piggy Bank)

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I thought I unloaded last portion of my stash of bitcoin last year. Not really. It turned out I have this old bitcoin wallet that I have forgotten on my computer. When I opened it, there was some bitcoin left there. I guess this is how it feels like when someone found out they have won the lottery.

From Heaven to Hell in Hours

The euphoria ended shortly afterwards.

When I try to transfer the bitcoin out to an online service to cash it out, my passphrase was not accepted.

I actually panicked.

Until I resolve this problem I cannot use the bitcoin I have in this wallet at all. After so many attempts to guess what is the correct passphrase, I finally gave up.

There is Hope

Suddenly, I recall reading about a service that they will help you recover your bitcoin. There is no upfront fee, just a percentage of your wallet if they manage to recover the bitcoin for you.

So I looked it up and found Dave Bitcoin and his bitcoin recovery service walletrecoveryservices.com

I contacted Dave through email and explained my situation to him.

After just a few email exchanges, I have decided to give Dave a try.

I struggled a bit with the decision originally because:

1. the fees may sound steep at 20% but in reality it takes a lot of computing power to brute force your way into finding the correct password

2. even if Dave managed to crack the wallet, I have no assurance that he would return the bitcoin to me if he plans to runaway with the bitcoin

However, the fact that the bitcoin in the wallet is as good as nothing if it cannot be accessed anyway. That understand helps me make up my mind.

My Wallet is Saved

The rest of the process was easy. I send an email to Dave with the bitcoin wallet, my knowledge about the password and stated my agreement to his terms and conditions.

Dave is fast. Within a day, he helped me recover my bitcoin already.

Literally, I get my lottery ticket back.

Everything is done as promised professionally.

Bitcoin community is lucky to have Dave offering such a valuable service.

 

If you encounter a problem like mine, I highly recommend that you contact Dave Bitcoin.

Things I Learned from My Hard Disk Trouble While Traveling

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My hard disk trouble started in the early part of February yet I was not able to get it replaced for various reasons. Anyhow, I finally have it replaced by a new hard drive and everything looks fine so far. Throughout this ordeal, I learned quite a few things that’s worth sharing.

Must Have Items While Traveling

Portable Hard Drive is a must-have for quick backup and restore. Without one, trying to buy a decent one with large capacity from a remote city may be very difficult. I have a 3TB one with me all the time while I am traveling. Even if my laptop is reporting a potential failure, I can immediately backup everything so that I know all the latest work I have done with my projects and researches are safe.

USB Boot Drive is another must-have since you cannot really backup your computer efficiently without it. The one I use is the one I recommended for years called Active Boot Disk. I use it to backup my computers regularly and in this situation, I managed to take a snapshot of my laptop the night when I first see the warning message.

With the first two items above, the issue of protecting your valuable data is taken care of. Even if your laptop is toasted while you were seeking for a replacement hard disk, you can still get things working on a new laptop.

To replace the hard disk inside your laptop is a more complicated question depending heavily if you are going to let a computer shop does the replacement for you, or, your laptop can be easily taken apart. Well, I have way too many bad experience with computer stores repair services that I almost always do my own upgrades and replacements now. Even if you are not good with handling computer parts, you should be able to find disassembly videos on YouTube on almost all types of laptops.

You need the following items to complete the hard disk replacement process:

A screwdriver set that can handle all the screw types on your laptop. In my case, my trusted 30+ years old Swiss Army Knife does not work with my Lenovo laptop. I was forced to buy a screwdriver set at the computer store eventually. The story about the computer store in next section.

A replacement hard disk that is at least equal in capacity as your original hard disk.

Finding a Replacement Hard Disk is an Adventure

It took me two weeks in three cities to find a computer store that actually sell decent size internal hard disk. The first two cities are not major ones so my hope was kept really low. But then the third one, being a large city, it still took me multiple attempts before finding a computer store that really sells slightly better hard disk models.

Maybe it is because I am in Europe, but it seems that all these stores are selling both external and internal hard drives at half the capacity we find in America. They are also priced more expensively. The funny thing is that in a big retail electronics store I visited with all kinds of computer related products, their sales people do not even know where the portable external hard drives are located within the store. They have to search the store for like ten minutes before finding the items.

I seriously do not know what to say about that.

Plan Your Backup

It took about 6 hours to backup my laptop with 400G of data. The time it takes is much longer than a typical laptop with same amount of data because I have a lot of highly compressed tick data stored on my laptop. It is very time consuming to backup such data because they cannot be compressed any further by the backup application.

Knowing the amount of time it takes to backup can help you plan ahead of time to schedule a down time for your laptop so that it will not disrupt your normal work schedule. What I did was starting the backup late in the night so that early next morning I can continue with the installation of the new hard disk with restoration right after. Just in case that does not work out as planned, I would quickly swap the old drive back into the laptop to continue my day.

Restoring the hard disk image onto the laptop with the new hard disk is actually a breeze. All it took was just an hour and 20 minutes. Once it was done I just shutdown the laptop completely. When I turned it back on, it was able to boot normally and everything feels the same. Well, in my case, the replacement hard disk is a faster model than the one that came with my laptop so everything actually run much faster.

Lessons Learned

1. Have a traveller set of computer screwdrivers while I am on the road.

You never know when you are going to need to take your computer apart. You do not need to carry the whole set. Just bring the bits for your devices and the handle will do.

2. Do not use SSD on your laptop.

SSD has great feedback from all computer users due to their faster speed. They are also perceived to be safer than the regular hard drives because they do not have moving parts. In reality, however, SSD drives are more likely to fail and have bad blocks developed quickly within first 2 years of usage. Yep, you may suddenly lose some part of your important files on an SSD without knowing it has already happened.

In comparison, the classic hard drives have come a long way as manufacturers of these drives have keep advancing the technology. In my situation, I am very glad that I chose my laptop with a hard drive instead of SSD. My decision at the time was based on the capacity that I need which was not available with SSD. I do not even know that the smart warning ability of the regular hard drives until I get one in this incident.

This smart warning ability gave me the precious time window to replace the drive with ease.

When SSDs eventually fail, they just die on you and you will not get the chance to backup your data first. Hence you will lose your latest work on your laptop one day no matter how frequent you backup your data.

3. Do not use SSD external drives as your backup drive.

For the same reason above, if your data is important to you, you should keep a regular hard drive as your backup drive.

I am sure that going into the future, the SSD technology will improve a lot just like the regular hard drives with better safe guard for our data. Until then, I will avoid SSD on my laptops.

4. Know your USB 3.0 Port on the laptop

The latest external backup drives use the USB 3.0 port for much faster performance. On many laptops, however, not every USB port are USB 3.0 port. Plugging in your external drive to the wrong port, will result in much slower data transfer speed. For example, my backup time of 6 hours will likely turn into 12 hours or more if I plug my backup drive to the wrong USB port on my laptop.

I made this mistake before with my regular backup routine. You can imagine what happen the next morning when I woke up seeing my laptop is not even half way through the backup process …

End Notes

It is not my first time seeing my laptops getting into trouble while I am on the road. To name a few, I have experienced RAM failure, overheating that killed the screen on the spot and bad electricity outlet that fried the power adaptor and the laptop (yes, fire too for those looking for excitement). There are many blizzard situations that we road warriors just cannot be prepared for. My advice is that have the essentials packed with you but don’t panic when things go wrong. There is no point to get upset since computer failure is part of life.

Deal with it and you have another story to tell your friends.

Products Mentioned in this Article

Western Digital 3TB Portable External Hard Drive

List of Western Digital Portable External Hard Drive on Amazon

Active Boot Disk

Portable Screwdriver Set for Electronic Devices