Stock Trading the Getting Things Done Way

I discovered Getting Things Done a few months ago and like many people have implemented a unique blend of its recommendations into my life. Although the philosophy does help you literally get things done, the most valuable benefit from using the system in my mind is stress removal. The stress that I was able to rid myself of was not “jump off a bridge” stress, but the stress of remembering what tasks I had to do – stress I didn’t even realize I had.

There are few activities that require more concentration, hard work, and discipline than that of stock trading. The market is a beast that can reward as well as crush you. Many traders quickly turn into obsessive tape watchers with real time stock quotes streaming from pre-market to market close. The stress that comes from this type of obsession can range from roller coaster emotions of normal price fluctuations all the way to psychological addiction.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve developed a trading style by pulling from various sources: the Investor’s Business Daily, the GTD philosophy, and tons and tons of books on the market. Here are some guidelines that I’ve come up with to apply GTD techniques to trading the market. I’m in no way suggesting you should necessarily do the same – I’m just pointing out what has worked for me.
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Google and Race Web Sites

If you are a race director, why should you take the time to worry about your search engine rank for your race’s web site? What if your site doesn’t show up on the first result page on Google for a search term that identifies your race – does it really matter? Absolutely. Read on to find out why Google can be crucial to your online race registration.
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Pumpkin Run Web Site Up

I finally got the Pumpkin Run web site up and going again. We registered our event with Sign Me Up Sports like we have every year so far. Our online registration continues to account for a larger percentage of our total registrants each year, in large part to our Google strategy, which I’ll explain in an upcoming post.

I’ve used the excellent Kwiki software running on Apache for the web site. It allows me to update the content of the page from any browser and gives a tremendous amount of flexibility. It is basically the same framework that Wikipedia uses for updating web content.

I created a new logo for this year’s race below. It took about 90 seconds of working in the GIMP to produce it. Don’t laugh. This is the logo that we’ll be putting on the socks this year.
Pumpkin Run Logo 2005

Here is the version we used last year:
Pumpkin Run Logo 2004

Pumpkin Run Date Set

The date for the 2005 Pumpkin Run is now set. Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 29th at 5:00 PM. I got official permission from the office of the vice chancellor of UNC, Tony Waldrop, who controls access to facilities at the university. They gave me a release form that all participants will have to sign.

I’m working now to get the web site in working order – it hasn’t been updated since last year. I’ve been starting to look at Google Maps to get a good satellite photo of the race course. I searched Google Maps for an address that I knew was close to the course, then clicked on the Satellite link. I didn’t realize that the “Link to this page” link on Google updates to the zoom and coordinates of whatever you are looking at. However, you have to remove the “q=” portion of the link like this – otherwise the map drifts over to the address you originally searched for. You can actually see the outline of the trail that the race is run on, but I’ll use a photo editing tool to outline it as well.

We are probably going to advertise in the Running Journal, a magazine that has a race calendar that many runners in the area look at for races. I think we could fill up the race without it however.

More later.

Using Backpack and Caller ID

I am a big fan of Misterhouse, the cross platform, home automation program written in Perl. I’ve used it for years along with a cheap caller id modem to log phone calls to a MySQL database. (Careful, the caller id function on many “caller id” modems doesn’t actually work.)

I’ve recently discovered the excellent Backpack service for getting organized. Since Backpack lets you email content to any of your pages, I thought it would be nice to set up an automated call log on one of my Backpack pages.

You can create code that gets fired in Misterhouse when your modem detects an incoming call, so it just requires deciding how you’d like the entry to appear on your Backpack page. Here’s my code that sends email to Backpack using the Mail::Sendmail Perl module. Of course, you’d need to substitute the address of your Backpack page in the To field.


my %message = (
To => 'my-pages-email@username.backpackit.com',
From => 'any-ol-address@domain.com',
Subject => "Note: Call from $displayName ($cid_number)",
Body => "$time_stamp: Add notes here",
);
sendmail(%message);

I then told Misterhouse to reload its code and start using it by pressing the F1 key in its command prompt.

I then called my phone line to test it out. My caller id showed up properly, and the message was sent automatically. I just hit reload on the Backpack page in my browser and it appeared.

Because it’s automated and the Backpack page picks up the email so quickly, it turns out to be perfect for adding notes for a call you received directly on Backpack. By the time you’ve greeted the calling party, your note is ready to be edited on Backpack.

Pumpkin Run To-Do List Lost!

Uh-oh. We think I accidentally threw away the to-do list that Joan and I created right after last year’s Pumpkin Run when all the details were fresh in our minds. This could be a major setback for the organization of the race.

I also have undertaken a major project that’s likely to keep me occupied for at least a few months. On top of all this, we had to take our 3 year old daughter to the hospital after she caught a very nasty stomach virus (she’s almost back to normal now).

I’ll have to regroup and get started on the race planning soon. The first thing to do is to set the date for the race, paying special attention to the UNC Football schedule. I’ll then need to update race web site and set up the online registration, probably through the Sign Me Up Sports service. I’d like to include a Google Map or two of the race course near the Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill, NC.

More later.

Pumpkin Run Organizing Under Way

My wife, Joan Nesbit Mabe has organized a local road race called the Pumpkin Run for the last 2 years. She did a tremendous amount of work organizing the race, getting volunteers, getting permission to use the property – the list goes on and on. It turns out to be a great family event that has gotten more and more popular each year.

Well this year Joan has turned over the reigns to me. Her regret has always been that she doesn’t get to run in the race, so this year she’ll be able to.

I realize the amount of work involved in this because I’ve seen Joan for the past two years work tirelessly to create the event. If you’ve never put on an event like this, just know that there are hours and hours of work that take place before you even arrive on race day.

I’m going to try to use this blog to keep interested parties abreast of the progress I make (or the balls I drop) as this process goes forward. Feel free to follow along and leave comments if you’d like. Or, you can feel free to just show up on race day and run the race, never knowing or realizing the work that was put in. My hope is that others who are organizing a road race might stumble upon this page and pick up on something that they might incorporate into their race. Lord knows I’ve run in some terribly run road races – in fact, sometimes I’ve been the one running terribly.

Dave

Stock Charts Firefox Extension

This extension has been updated for Firefox 1.5 and is available on the Stocktickr Blog. Stocktickr is a new social trading site.

Install the Stock Charts Firefox Extension, or continue on to read more about the extension.

Background:

I am looking at stock charts quite frequently. I used Firefox’s bookmark keyword feature to create a quick way to go to a stock chart for the ticker I wanted. For example, to go to the stock chart for Microsoft (MSFT), I type in the following in my address bar:

c msft

The “c” is my keyword shortcut for the following url:

http://stockcharts.com/def/servlet/SC.web?c=%s,uu[w,a]daclyyay[dc][pb9!b50!b200!d20,2][vc60][iUb14!La12,26,9]&pref=G

Firefox automatically replaces the %s with “msft” after I hit enter.

This works well and is a nice feature of Firefox. However, sometimes I want to view the charts of several stocks at the same time. For example, there are stocks listed at three of my favorite stock related sites: Poormans Investments, Trader Mike, and Kirk Report. Ideally, I’d like to put the stocks listed there in their own tab so I can quickly compare. While it is possible to do this with my nifty keyword shortcut, it takes far too much clicking and typing.

A Better Way

I thought I would try my hand at creating a Firefox Extension for doing what I wanted. Enter the Stock Charts Firefox Extension.

I created an extension that lets you select muliple ticker symbols in a web page seperated by spaces, commas, newlines (or all of the above) and then open a tab with a stock chart for each one. By default, you can choose from stockcharts.com, yahoo.com, or bigcharts.com. You can customize these or add your own.

Once the tabs get created, you can easily go to the next tab using the Firefox Keyboard Shortcuts, ctrl-TAB to go to the next tab and ctrl-shift-TAB to go to the previous tab. Use ctrl-W to close the current tab.

Also, of course, this extension isn’t limited to stock charts. You can add a custom item to the menu to take you to any web site you want – maybe to Yahoo!s message boards for each symbol you select or a Google search for each word in text you’ve selected.

Thanks to the Define Word extension which I borrowed from heavily to create this.