Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Confucius Say.....

My friends and family can attest that I could easily get by eating PF Chang’s 3 days a week, as long as the other 4 have pizza involved. Tonight the Chang’s Spicy Chicken was superb.

It’s this fortune cookie I can’t get over.

No one conquers who doesn’t fight.

What? I went from polishing off one of my favorite meals to contemplating my lifetime goals in 2.9 seconds! Even faster than those Ferraris at Wynn Las Vegas. I wanted my fortune to say that people like me or that all my dreams will come true without having to vote for Pedro. Instead, this thought is all over me. I had to shave and shower just to see if it would go away, but nope. Even after my favorite show Rock Star: INXS, it was on my mind.

No one conquers who doesn’t fight.

I know there are many applications for this and many examples in our world today. Lance Armstrong. Tiger Woods. Superman. Pretty much anyone who refuses to take NO for an answer is a fighter, and as a result they conquer. I’ve fought to achieve, and it takes determination. I worked for my All-American plaques, but it wasn’t easy and I sacrificed a lot of other things to get that label. Winning takes effort and pain and…..WORK!

But what about trading? That’s the part that’s bothering me. Trading isn’t always about sweat. I can’t grit my teeth on this trade and force it to work. I can’t look at the guy beside me and decide that I want it more than him and go get it. Profits are often elusive. Profits don’t care how many charts I looked at last night, or what size my trading account is, or how many trades I’ve executed over the past decade. To get them I have to be right.

I took vacation a week ago, and this week the market isn’t moving yet. My brokerage wonders if I’m at the movies instead of logged in. Basically, this week I haven’t been in the fight much at all, so how am I supposed to conquer?

Then I realized this doesn’t apply directly to my next trade. How could it? If it did, then one day my determination might blow out my account, and that would be bad for business! So, since I can’t apply this from one trade to the next, I have to look at the process in order for this to work. I have to look at my results over time, my effort over time, my P&L over time, and THEN decide if I’m fighting hard enough to conquer. The fact is that as a trader, if I want to be successful and keep losses under control, I must check my ego at the door every day.

Times like this when the market is offering very little (as I stated tonight in my swing trading newsletter), my JOB is to sit back and wait for the market to come to me. I can’t go on attack mode when I don’t have an edge. My job at the moment is to wait for this market to indicate a direction, set up some quality chart patterns, and THEN enter the fight.

Until that happens, I’m going to assume these are lucky numbers on the back of this little paper and not Fibonacci retracement levels.

Have a great night,

The Stock Bandit

Monday, August 08, 2005

My Trading Hardware

Because I trade for a living, needless to say, it’s important to cover all the bases! While I do not continually buy the latest and greatest gear, I do my very best to be sure that I can rely on my equipment and have peace of mind.

I have 3 PC’s, two are desktops and one is a laptop, and all are made by Dell. I have found Dell to be extremely reliable and their service is excellent. Plus, they are located right up the road from me! All of these PC’s are Pentium 4’s with 2.6GHz on up. I find that RAM makes the biggest difference in operating speed, so go with 1GB if you can – you will certainly see a difference. Each of them has an ample hard drive, although I do not find that of greatest importance. The desktops have video cards which support two monitors each, so I have a total of 4 19” Dell LCD’s in addition to my laptop screen. I want plenty of screen space so that I do not have to open and close windows throughout the day. This is all on one big bow-front desk, so it is a lot of screen space in one place. My wife refers to it as “geek world!” The LCD’s are excellent monitors and take up far less space than the old school CRT boxes. In the upper corner of the room I have a wall-mounted television so that I can watch premarket news and unfolding events (but it’s usually on mute).

I have two internet connections: cable, and a DSL line. The cable connection consistently has tested 5 times faster than the DSL line, making it my primary connection and the DSL a backup. What’s great is that DSL works in the event of a power outage, so I can still place orders when the lights go out from a storm or nearby construction. More importantly, I have a pair of backup batteries which my machines can run on for about 25 minutes if the house loses power, giving me plenty of time to exit positions or place protective stops. They are called UPS backups, or uninterruptible power supply, and you can find them anywhere from Amazon to Office Depot. When the power goes out or surges, my machines never know the difference and my money is not at risk. I run each modem through a router, which allows me to connect multiple PC’s through the same internet connection wirelessly. It’s great to be able to take a laptop into another room to monitor positions or outside in the back yard to play Frisbee with the dog (he learned to catch it in the air last week, so I’m proud!). The routers also serve as hardware firewalls, helping to protect my PC’s from all the bad guys on the internet. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend one. Mine are made by Linksys and Netgear, and I have no complaints.

Generally, I will login to my trading account on the primary desktop, and use the other desktop for working on my stock picks website. The secondary PC is also where I run Trade-Ideas.com’s real-time streaming stock alerts software, as well as TCNet charting software. I use the laptop for financial news sites (like Briefing.com), e-mail, and travel.

I should mention that I own two external hard drives, one for each desktop PC and I scheduled the backup software to run nightly. This way, any changes I may make to my trading platform layout, the website, and everything else always has a duplicate copy. I have made the mistake of not backing up frequently enough in the past, and am determined not to lose the data which is so important to me. Pick one up, you will someday be glad you did!

Sitting at a desk so much of the day requires a comfortable chair, and I bought a Herman Miller Aeron. It is a little pricey, but offers ergonomic solutions which many others don’t. When I get up from my desk at the end of the day, I want to feel just as good as when I sat down.

My hardware may be slightly behind cutting-edge, but in the field of technology that will almost always be the case. I sleep much better at night knowing that if a hard drive were to fail, not only do I have the data stored elsewhere, but I have at least one other PC I can use while I seek a replacement. If trading is your business, don’t short-change yourself with the hardware you select when your trading capital is on the line! Eliminate worry and you are one step closer to focusing on finding profits.

Have a great week!

The Stock Bandit