Stress-Free Trader (The Lawrence Chan Blog)
Full time index & forex trader, occasional consultant to hedge funds / institutions, my work leads to my not so normal view of the financial markets. My blog mostly talks about trading, market behaviours and other musings.
Originally this blog is supposed to be organized in a separate website like what most authors do but I don't think I will maintain it properly that way. So here it is as part of this website.
In case you are curious of what I do outside of blogging here:
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I’ve read and discuss about what happens in Ukraine since last week with many parties who are directly affected by the event.
These stake holders all mentioned the same thing which I pointed out to the others – pipelines.
Specifically, the natural gas pipelines built during Soviet Union period in Ukraine are the only means for Russia to deliver their products to other countries.
Today, the news of Crimea’s intention to join Russia has surfaced,
Once southern regions of Ukraine choose to side with Russia, be that an independent state or going back to join Russia, the goal of Putin is accomplished.
The reason is that there are 2 main pipelines going through Ukraine at this point. If Russia gets to control the ones in the southern part of Ukraine, they no longer need to bargain with the other part.
Remember Ukraine is the country that has been playing with fire itself. At the discounted rate for natural gas, they still owe Russia almost $2 billion dollar worth of natural gas. Whoever in that government trying to gain power are not there to help their people. They want to replace the president in exile so that they themselves can make money like him.
Putin obviously already know all possible scenarios that will be played out. He will not get out of this event empty handed.
Technical Challenges In Building Next Gen Real-Time Trading Tools
2014 Mar 5 Wed 21:08:51 | by No comments yet|
Looking back over the past year when we first started the project to build cloud based real-time trading tools, I have no idea it is that difficult. After all, real-time data vendors have been delivering such data for many years. I thought the technology must have matured to the point it would be easy to implement. I was totally wrong.
Time-Poll Has Its Limitations
Learned first hand that time-poll from your server is not a good idea.
When I first thinking of a real-time chat room, my team scrambled up a solution using simple WordPress commenting system together with some additional plug-ins and hacks. It was based on simple time-polling by the end users’ browsers. It worked beautifully for a very short while. As our chat room started to pack with more people, the weaknesses of this solution became obvious.
No matter how much CPU power we threw behind the web site, it kept breaking down from time to time. It is just way too much cost to redeliver the comments again and again. Each additional member joining the chat room to have a look at the discussions added more stress to the server. We had to restart the server several times a day or the web server would become inaccessible. It was a nightmare.
What our members did not know was that it also killed our first prototypes of various real-time trading tools. The real-time chat room was our test on server load considerations. It had proven to us that time-poll could not be the solution we are looking for.
A new solution had to be found.
Server-side push is the technology where the server can choose to push out data to the client with minimal cost to the server in terms of CPU load. What it means is that it is possible to broadcast a lot of information to many clients without overloading the server. It solves the problem with time-polling.
Think of server-side push as keeping a phone call connected all the time with your friend and shout to the phone whenever you want to say something. The other end, your friend, can hear you loud and clear. The nuisance of dialling again and again to establish the connection before delivering your message is removed.
The server-side push technology exists since the 1990s. The implementations of such technology were mainly vertical solutions for firms with special need. The technology company Akamai specializes in this and has been doing this for more than 15 years. The issue with solutions from Akamai and its peers is that they are very expensive for companies serving a small niche with limited number of clients. Companies like eSignal uses Akamai as its backbone for financial data delivery because of their efficiencies in moving large amount of data to many clients. You should understand though there is a premium to utilize such technology.
In 2013, the generic server-side push technology has matured. With several companies offering their services to companies of all sizes, some of them emerged as the market leaders. This offers me a chance to test drive my idea with controlled cost. If it works out, I can create a whole set of next generation real-time trading tools. It is something so exciting I have to give it a try.
One Year Of Testing, One Winner
My team created connections to several server-side push services. We plugged every one of them into our real-time chat room and stress tested them with our sandbox. We have collected statistics on their perform during busy trading days to see if they function properly.
Nine months into our test we did not find a winner.
The last one on my list of services to try out was Pubnub. And it worked out!
Pubnub works so well with our testing that we simply jump the gun to build around it the real-time price levels tool. It is a beauty to see what can be done when the backend provided by Pubnub doing the heavy lifting. We no longer need to worry about the server load issues and can concentrate on functionality and design of the real-time trading tools.
Funny thing with the experiment is that we randomly picked from these real-time delivery services to conduct our tests yet it is the last one out of the four firms we tried out that fits our need. One way to see this is that our time being wasted (almost a year!) and bad luck for us. The other way to see this is that we have learned a lot on the way in connecting our server applications to the internet services.
The Twitter Experiment
During our quest for means to implement real-time trading analytics, we’ve tested Twitter as a means to carry our real-time analytics. We did it out of curiosity – would Twitter, a free service, let us piggy back on its superior infrastructure?
I have documented the experiment back in November. It gave us a different perspective into the issues related to real-time data delivery. Namely, it is still costly to deliver information real-time. Otherwise why would Twitter imposes such limitation on their service?
After one long year, we have managed to solve the real-time analytics delivery issues. In terms of Internet development cycle, that is an eternity. I have been taking it slow for good reasons though.
The obvious one is that trading is still occupying majority of my time I set aside for work.
The other one is that we did not really have the experience in building web applications one year ago. Now we have gained the experience.
The last reason is that we need to develop a set of programming libraries to make the development cycle down the road more manageable. This goal is mostly accomplished as we delivered the latest update to the beta release of the Real-Time Price Levels Tool.
I guess I have run out of excuses to delay our projects any further.
Time to get things done.
Why You Should Think About Buying A Windows 7 Computer Before Halloween
2014 Mar 3 Mon 15:00:29 | by No comments yet|
Interesting License Plates: Something Easy To Remember Eh
2014 Mar 1 Sat 13:10:40 | by No comments yet|
Took this picture while on the road so it is not as clear as I hope for.
Anyway, can you tell what the license number is?
We successfully deployed the new version of real-time price level tool for Emini S&P last night.
It is expected to have minor issues here and there which we will fine tune over the next few days.
If all goes well, we will go beta with the release of the tool for Emini Nasdaq 100 and Euro.
Here is a teaser for those who have not seen it yet.
We are testing the new version of real-time price levels tool tonight.
If all goes well it will be deployed tonight.
Keeping my fingers crossed!
First Bitcoin Bankrun Resulted Some Interesting Outcomes
2014 Feb 23 Sun 20:21:05 | by No comments yet|
Since the crash of Bitcoin at Mt. Gox, people with Bitcoin trapped at Mt. Gox were in a total nightmare. They cannot withdraw money directly from Mt. Gox, they cannot really sell their Bitcoin to anyone else as people all trying to get back their money at once. This ongoing chaos has pushed Bitcoin price down to USD $100-$200 range at Mt. Gox only.
Now, a company called Bitcoin Builder has stepped in to take advantage of the situation. They are offering to take Bitcoin from other Mt. Gox clients at a steep discount rate. Anyone can arrange to transfer their Bitcoin within their Mt. Gox account to the Bitcoin Builder account at Mt. Gox. In exchange they get back a small percentage of Bitcoin back at any destination they have chosen.
Effectively Bitcoin Builder assumed the risk from the panic holders in exchange for a potential windfall.
A very smart move with limited risk!
The other interesting development from this fiasco is that some clients of Mt. Gox choose to protest against the company at its physical location. They have been met with less than helpful assistance from the Japanese government. This is definitely a new low in line with the other governments on how they treat the Bitcoin community.
Home page now sports a complete new look to improve clarity. More twisting of the page is likely but the overall new look is in place. Hope you all like it.
My part in this website facelift is not done yet though. I was lazy when I first posted many articles long time ago without proper tagging. Now I have to go back to each article to tag them properly so that they can show up easily based on user input. It will take me some time to complete that which means the new look for the Article section will be delayed.
There are other changes being made to the site as I type this update.
Will keep you all posted of our progress.
For now, enjoy the new look of our home page!
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