T2W Guide to Trading : Techies Corner

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Old Feb 15, 2004, 9:08pm   #1
Joined Dec 2002
T2W Guide to Trading : Techies Corner

T2W Guide to Trading: Techies Corner
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Edited by rossored - Last Updated: 01 November, 05

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Editor's Message:
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Welcome to the T2W Techies Corner Guide. We hope that this new initiative will over the next few months develop into a valuable resource for both new and experienced traders alike. The guides will always be a work in progress - there's plenty of gaps that need to be filled - but hopefully through the collective collaboration of the site's members we'll quickly fill them.

If you'd like to volunteer as a particular forum editor please email us at volunteer@trade2win.co.uk with a description of your trading experience and the reasons why you think you'd make a good editor.

rossored
7th Feb, 04

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How does it work?
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  • Each forum will have a guide which will act a digest of information concerning the subject of that forum
  • The guide will always be the top thread in the forum
  • Each guide will have an editor who's job it will be to update the guide
  • Please contribute to the guide in any way you can. The editor will integrate your suggestions, feedback and text into the guide - whereupon your post will be removed.
  • For a full description and to discuss the guides further please use this thread
Techies Corner Guide Contents
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1. The Guide
2. FAQs
3. Recommended Forum Topics
4. Glossary


5. Further Resources
a) Related Links

b) Recommended Reading
c) Useful Software

6. Technical Guides
a) Hardware Guide

b) Connection Guide
c) Online Security Guide
d) Multiple Monitor Guide

1. The Guide
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1.1 Introduction

I anticipate that this guide will be one of the most visited and frequently-updated ones on the site, due to the nature of our business and the medium in which its conducted. As I've said above, I expect it to be a work in progress - more so than the others, probably - so please contribute tips and useful hints.

As I'm also First Steps Editor, some of the links you'll see below have been cribbed directly from that forum, as they bear relevance to both First Steps/Help and Techies Corner.

I'm reasonably technical, but I am certain there are other members who are infinitely more so than myself. Needless to say, I hope to learn a lot also, as well as using this Forum to spread the vast quantities of useful / useless information that we all hold

1.2 The Other T2W Guides

Here is a list of links to all the guides that T2W runs.

T2W Software Guide
T2W Data Feeds Guide
T2W Options Guide
T2W Forex Guide
T2W First Steps Guide
T2W Techies Corner Guide
T2W Indices Guide



2. FAQs
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  • What kind of hardware requirements are there for trading?
  • What sort of connection should I be using?
  • What about online security?
What kind of hardware requirements are there for trading?
These days, hardware is updated so frequently that it can be difficult to keep track of what is about. Four or five years ago, a state-of-the-art PC came with a Pentium 2 Processor running at around 300Mhz clock speed, 96MB RAM, a CD-ROM drive and a couple of USB ports if you were lucky. Today, we have clock speeds over 3GHz (3000Mhz), 512MB RAM on many machines, and CD-ROM/DVD players/writers that run five times as fast as older machines. I have incorporated a hardware guide at the bottom of this guide for more in-depth reading.

What sort of connection should I be using?
Generally speaking, ADSL (Broadband) should be your choice of connection. However, given the UK's rather antiquated telephone system, its possible that you may not be able to receive broadband in your area. The next cheapest option is of course dial-up, which is much slower but cheaper than the broadband alternative of a satellite connection. Again, I have included a section on ADSL/Dial-up/Satellite at the end of this guide.

What about online security?
Easy!! Put simply, you MUST have a firewall. There are several free, excellent firewalls available on the internet. You should really scan you PC for viruses every day, and run a spyware detector every 24hours too. You can setup the PC to automatically run these tasks as frequently as you choose, or run them manually yourself. Check the Online Security Guide under Section 6 for more details.


3. Recommended Forum Topics
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Disk Defrag
Started by Hampy
Some good questions and answers about Disk Defragging.

Satellite Connection
Started by rexyu
Some excellent technical Q&A on satellite connections.

4. Glossary
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ADSL
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. ADSL works by splitting your existing telephone signal into two - one for voice and the other for data. ADSL technology can work at up to 8Mbps download. The most popular services in the UK at the moment are running at speeds of around 512Kbps - this is 9-10 times faster than dial-up - although speeds of up to 2Mbps can be obtained. Upload speeds are 256Kbps on all products and hence this is why it is "asymmetric", because the download speed is different to the upload speed.

CPU
Central Processor Unit - its performance is rated by its clock speed. Higher speed = better performance.

Defrag / Defragmentation
A process where the bits of data that make up your hard drive are moved back into an orderely position within the drive, allowing faster access to files. Fragmentation occurs each time files are used, and "Defragging" should be performed regularly.

Dial-Up
Connecting to the internet via a standard phone line or modem, rather than ADSL technology.

Data Transfer Rate
The speed at which data is sent and received across the internet.

Firewall
A software system designed to prevent unauthorised access to your PC.

FTP
File Transfer Protocol. The protocol used on the Internet for exchanging files.

GB
Gigabyte. Used to define hard disk size. One gigabyte equals 1024MB.

Host
A computer system that is accessed by a user working at a remote location. Normally, this term is used when there are two computer systems connected by modems - the system that contains the data is called the host, while the computer at which the user sits is called the remote terminal.

IP
Internet Protocol. Part of the connection that allows you to send and recieve data over the internet.

IP Address
An identifying code for a computer or device on a TCP/IP network.

ISDN
Integrated Services Digital Network. Another alternative for connection if you can't get broadband and are fed up with dial-up.

Linux
An alternative and popular OS to Windows.

MB
Megabyte. Used to define hard disk size. When used to describe data transfer rates (mbps), it refers to 1 million bytes.

Motherboard
The most important part of your PC. Every component within your PC connects at some point to the motherboard, so make sure its compatible!

OS
Operating System. On 90% of new PC's, this is Microsoft's "Windows".

Packet
A piece of a message transmitted over a packet-switching network.

Proxy Server
A server that sits between a client application, such as Internet Explorer, and a real server. It intercepts all requests to the real server to see if it can fulfill the requests itself. If not, it forwards the request to the real server.

RAM
Randomly Accessed Memory. There are two types of RAM - Dynamic (DRAM) and Static SRAM. SRAM is faster and more efficient, but also more expensive of course.

Server
A system or device on a network that manages network resources

TCP/IP
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. Think of this a bit like the post office - the "IP" bit allows you to post the letter, as it were, but without the "TCP" bit, the letter doesnt know where to go.

Trojan Horse
A destructive program that masquerades as a benign application. Typically, this can be a program that claims to rid your PC of "ABC Virus", whilst quietly installing another one over it.

Virus
A program or piece of code that is loaded/sent to your computer and runs without your knowledge.



5. Further Resources
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a) RELATED LINKS
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PC Help
PC Pitstop – Help with all kinds of PC Problems
Gibson Research – Internet Security Site
Internet Parasite Remedies
Zonelabs - Excellent Free Firewall Software
Sygate - Alternative Free Firewall Software
Ad Aware – Free Spyware Detector
Spybot - Free Spyware Detector
Javacool - Spyware BLOCKER
AVG Anti-Virus Software - regularly updated and FREE
AntiVir Virus Software - better than AVG, and also FREE
Online PC Virus Scanning
Further Virus Scanning Online
Pandasoft Online Scan
Security Updates Calendar
Virtual Dr PC Forum - New!

Technical Links
ADSL Speed Test
A guide to ADSL
Virus Map - updated Hourly
PC Technology Guide

Installation Help/Queries
Black Viper - Installation help with MS products




b) FURTHER READING
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Your recommendations please!!!


c) SOFTWARE LIST
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Your recommendations please!!!


6. Technical Guides
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Hardware Guide
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When you are looking at buying either a new or replacement system, there are many things that you must consider. Among them should be criteria such as upgradeability, type of CPU, RAM size and hard disk size.

Upgradeability is important whether you are on a budget or not. Regardless of your budget, the last thing you want to be doing if you choose to replace your machine for "abc reason" is copying all your data, passwords, programs etc from one machine to another. Hence, it is easier and often far cheaper to upgrade your current machine or replace parts on it than buy a completely new system. However, not all machines CAN be upgraded, and it is important to check with your chosen retailer if this is the case.

Check for simple things such as the physical size of the machine case. For example, if you get to stage where you're wanting to run more than one monitor, you're going to need plenty of space for all those graphics cards. More cards mean more space, and many graphics cards now measure up to 19" - some off-the-shelf packages in the UK may not cater for this requirement.

Your CPU is the heart of the machine. All current hardware should be running on Pentium 4 (or equivalent) processors for the best performance. Older, cheaper processors are of course available - Intel Celeron processors, AMD K6 - but these will not offer the performance of either a modern Pentium or AMD Athlon processor. Additionally, many modern trading platforms and brokers have minimum standard for operation - most these days will require at least Pentium 3/Equivalnt, and speeds of at least 700Mhz.

RAM (Memory) plays a vital role in PC performance. Put simply, the more RAM you've got, the better. If you're upgrading, buying one large chipset and installing it in one set of RAM sockets will give better performance than 3 chipsets or equivalent size spread across 3 sockets - the data simply has less distance to travel. For the majority of traders and applications, 256MB to 512MB is sufficient.

Your hard disk size also plays an important role in your PC's performance. Go for too small a disk, and you'll find that as it approaches it's capacity limits, the PC's performance will slow down as it struggles to find the data you're wanting in the time you're after. You'll also find the space fills up rapidly with applications, data and so on. Again, most systems now come with a minimum of 40MB, but plenty go well in advance of that.




Connection Guide
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As a trader, your connection to the internet is of paramount importance to your business. No connection means no charts, no data, no internet trading. You can still phone trade of course, but its slower and less convienient.

You have four options when it comes to connectivity. For many users in the UK, the only one currently is a Dial-Up connection, which will normally run at 56kbps, and cut itself off every two hours, although there are some which don't do this. This 2-hour cutoff can be painful if you're unlucky enough to be in a position as the 2 hours comes up, and you struggle to get back online to manage your trade (yes, I speak from experience when I couldnt get ADSL myself).

The second option is broadband, also known as ADSL. Of course, this option is only open to you if your phone exchange is ADSL compliant. If you're with BT or use a BT line, you can go to BT's website to register your interest in broadband, and once the interest level in your area gets to a pre-set "trigger" level, BT will arrange for the exchange to be made ADSL-compliant.

The real advantages to running on ADSL are speed of connection and no 2 hour cut-off. Typically, connection speeds are 512kbps (ten times faster than dial-up), and this will normally cost £25-£30 a month, although at the time of writing you can get a 150kbps connection from Tiscali for around £16/month, and a 1Mb connection will be around £30-35/month.

Your third option - and a less common alternative these days since the arrival of Broadband - is ISDN.

ISDN is somewhat slower than broadband in terms of download rate : typically, a 500kbps ADSL connection will take a 1MB file in around 20 seconds : ISDN runs at around 128kbps, and finishes downloading the same file about 2 minutes later, but this is still about 3 minutes faster than dial-up at 56kbps.

BT currently do ISDN for around £27.00/month (roughly the same as ADSL), but you have to have the line converted by them (currently £75) for ISDN use. It splits the line into two (just like ADSL) allowing you to surf and use the phone at the same time. Of course, if you use the line for calling and surfing at the same time, the speed is only 64kbps. You need to use the line solely for surfing to get the 128kbps...

The fourth - and most expensive option - is Satellite Broadband, which is useful if you must have broadband, but are in an area which has zero chance of ADSL connection in this lifetime.

Satellite broadband allows you to have a fast connection (up to 2Mbps) from around £60/month. However, the downside can be the delay in data transmission - ie click the button, then wait a couple of seconds for a response - the download speed, which can be half that of landline-based ADSL, and of course the cost.




Online Security Guide
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As a trader, your online security should be air-tight. If you're using ADSL, your ports can be scanned by hackers across the globe, and you could find passwords stolen, trading accounts hacked and all kinds of nasty stuff inhabiting your PC.

Fortunately, it seems that for every hacker, there is someone trying to stop the hacking.

The most important element in online security has to be the firewall. The firewall is a piece of software that prevents unauthorised access to your PC whilst you are connected to the internet. Basically what it does is examines all the data coming into and out of your PC, and blocks those messages that do not meet certain criteria. There are several types of firewall "behaviour" :
  • Packet Filter
  • Application Gateway
  • Circuit-level gateway
  • Proxy Server
Packet filter: this method looks at each "packet" entering or leaving the connection and accepts or rejects it based on user-defined rules. Packet filtering is quite effective but it can be difficult to configure. In addition, it is susceptible to "IP spoofing".

Application gateway: this method places security mechanisms onto specific applications, such as FTP servers. This is very effective, but can cause some drop-off in performance.

Circuit-level gateway: this method applies security processes when a TCP connection is established. Once the connection has been created, packets can flow between the hosts without additional checking.

Proxy server: this method intercepts all messages entering and leaving the network. The proxy server simply hides the true network addresses.

In practice, many firewalls more than one of these techniques simultaneously to increase user protection.

Many machines now come pre-loaded with effective firewalls, but some (such as Microsoft's standard firewall on Windows XP) are ineffective. There are a few methods of testing firewalls for their effectiveness - GRC run an excellent one called "Shields Up" (clicking this link will cause a security question to pop up in your browswer) which is great for letting you know how good/bad your firewall is.

I have incorporated an excellent free firewall link in the "PC Help" section above.

The second element in your online security should be Anti-Virus software (again, there is another link to some free anti-virus software in the links section above), which should be checked for updates regularly. Most if not all Anti-Virus software will have some kind of scheduler built in which will check for updates on a regular basis in case you forget.

The third element should really be a "spyware" tool (also called adware): a good description of spyware is basically any piece of software that gathers information through your internet connection without your knowledge. Often useful for nothing more than advertising purposes, spyware is often found within web-downloadable applications and will install itself without your knowledge. Once installed, it will quietly sit there and gather and transmit information back to a third party. This also eats into your bandwidth, and can slow your internet connection. Information gathered by spyware can of course include things like credit card numbers, passwords etc etc. Not ideal if you rely on the web for your business, as we do as traders.

There are two useful spyware tools in the "links" section above - AdAware and Spybot. Both are free .



Multiple Monitor Guide
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Most trades now operate with at least two monitors – some say it is impossible to trade with just the one, but a lot is down to personal preference.

If your trading involves watching more than one instrument – perhaps for confirmation of a signal, or simply because you like to have you finger “on the pulse”, two monitors or more can be a distinct advantage.

Many traders, of course, will just not understand the process of upgrading, and simply buy a larger single monitor, increase the screen resolution (and hence desktop space) and enlarge / reduce applications to fit the new workspace. However, a large monitor - for example, 21 inches - is not only heavy, but cumbersome and expensive. Plus, if you’re trying to run an Internet browser, two charts, your order interface/broker software…. its not really going to work, or you’ll end up clicking the wrong thing. Buy instead of sell, for example…

Depending on what sort of machine you use, upgrading to two screens can be fairly simple. For example, if you trade off a laptop (like me) you’ll find a little socket on the back which is normally used for powering projectors, etc. Just go out, buy your new monitor, plug it into this unused port, and get Windows to extend your desktop onto this monitor ( right click on a vacant part of the desktop, then go to Properties/Settings – then click on the “2” monitor icon, and highlight the box that says “extend my desktop onto this monitor”. Job done!

However. If, like most people, you trade off a desktop, the task is a little (but not a lot!) more complicated.

One of the first things you must do (apart from buying the monitor, of course) is add another Graphics Card (also called a video card) to your existing workstation. The video card is the part of the computer that sends all the information back to the monitor, and this card sits in the back of the PC, with a port (or ports, depending on the card) that you plug the monitor itself into once the card is installed on your system.

You can have 1, 2 or 4 port graphics cards, depending on how much you want to spend and where you get them from. Obviously the more ports you have means the more monitors you can have.

There are some interesting threads on the boards by various members relating to the installation and use of multiple monitors, which I have listed below.

I’ve also found a thread by Skimbleshanks which has a number of excellent and useful links to other sites regarding installing multiple monitors. The thread itself can be read here, or the links below will take you directly to those sites.

Realtimesoft – Multimonitor Guide
PC Mech – Installing Video Cards

There was also a link to installing Multiple Monitors on Win2k, but that seems to lead to a blank page now.

There are some additional links below to both other sites and threads on T2W, full of useful information on setups, systems and do’s and dont's.

MultipleMonitors – Resources & Reviews

T2W – “Two Screens”
Started by Zebra

T2W – Dual Monitors
Started by Newtron Bomb

T2W – Multi Monitor PCI/AGP
Started by Finlayson

T2W - Multi Monitor Problem
Started by IvorM

Multi-Screen Setup
Started by Star-trader
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Last edited by rossored; May 25, 2004 at 7:49am.
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Old May 21, 2004, 7:43pm   #2
 
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Joined Nov 2003
Rosso, maybe you could include this in the guide: http://www.virtualdr.com/ its probably the best IT Forum I have ever seen.
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Old May 25, 2004, 7:50am   #3
Joined Dec 2002
rossored started this thread Thanks IK. Added to guide above.
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Old Dec 9, 2004, 3:24pm   #4
 
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Thank you!! I am NOT techy minded! Your multiple monitors section pushed me into finally getting another one to use with my laptop.
and about damn time too.
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Old Dec 9, 2004, 3:27pm   #5
Joined Dec 2002
rossored started this thread Glad to have been of help!
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Old Feb 14, 2005, 7:51am   #6
Joined Jan 2005
Yes indeed, As I am a technician myself, I would like to compliment you on this Guide. Very well done.

"Simple ideas lie within reach only of complex minds"
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