Monday, February 26, 2007

Flying with Rich

I went flying this past weekend with Rich. It was very windy. It was so windy that, when we pointed the nose directly into the wind and put down the flaps, we were able to make the plane go backwards in the air.

Rich flew co-pilot in my Mooney 20G. Rich owns a very big mutual fund. Rich has a TBM 700. I hope I fly Rich's plane some day.

My wife always asks "Why don't you work for Rich?" I say that friends and business never mix, and friendship is always more important. Silly Marc.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

One of my Son's New Bands

They are playing at the Starland Ballroom (the local mecca for punk, hardcore and metal bands) in Sayreville, New Jersey on March 17.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Barcap Boom

Word has it that the developers at Barcap are jumping for joy at their bonuses this year. After several years of sub-par bonuses, and difficulty last year in bringing new developers on, Barcap finally saw the light and rewarded their hard-working devs with a decent chunk of change.

Companies should realize that Wall Street is an extremely small, tight-knit community, and that word of good and bad bonuses spread like wildfire. In order to retain good talent and hire new talent from other companies, a firm has to have a good reputation with regards to bonuses in the IT department. It doesn't matter if your traders and sakesmen are getting 300% bonuses ... it's the IT department that has to write and maintain the systems that drive trading operations.

Consider the cost of losing the only person on a team who knows the code of a complex system. Think of the time you have to spend hiring a replacement (taking time from employees to do the interviews, headhunter fees, sign-on bonus, etc), doing the knowledge transfer, and waiting for the perosn to get acclamated to the system. How much does a company spend when it loses an experienced hire and tries to bring on a new one? Would that amount of money, if applied to a bonus, suffice to retain a talented individual?

Often times, it is not the fault of the IT managers. It's a matter of convincing the business that IT really matters.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Separated at Birth

Don Demsak (DonXml) and Kent Tegels (Enjoy Every Sandwich).

Kent is the SQL Server curriculum developer at DevelopMentor. I took his most excellent course this week. I was surprised to see that I was the only person with a manager title in there. Surprisingly, lots of Visual FoxPro people were there. I didn't know that anyone used VFP in a corporate environment.

Don, Kent and I hoisted a few beers and claws at Ulysses Pub on Stone St, right in back of the Goldman Sachs building. Both will be at the MVP Summit in March, and I hope to attend sessions that are being hosted by their respective groups. I also hope that a lot of the "shortcomings" in SQL Server 2005 that Kent pointed out will be addressed by Microsoft in future releases.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Spring.Net supports JMS

True to his word, Mark Pollack has delivered JMS message integration in the latest version of Spring.Net.

I also need to check out ActiveMQ. They have integration with C#/.NET through NMS. It would be interesting to see if there will eventually be some integration with WCF. I will certainly bring this up at the MVP Summit in March.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Syncfusion for Hierarchies?

According to Chris, the Syncfusion Grouping Grid is giving his developers heartburn when it comes to all of the hierarchical and grouping related functions. Syncfusion certainly has its place in a simple, one-dimensional world, and will probably be continued to be used by Wall Street companies for real-time blotters. But this opens up the door for companies like Infragistics and DevExpress to come up with a really fast, bug-free, grouping grid for the kinds of blotters that we know and love so well.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Farewell to The Scotsman

Our token Scot has moved on to make Market Data Magic at another firm. One of the truly great market data experts in the world ... I am sure that we will be meeting at the Brandy Library for a snifter or two, if you can manage to drag yourself downtown (take the S or 7 to Times Square, then take the 1 downtown to Franklin Street).

I might even get Mike Roberts to join us, since he seems to be a frequenter of that establishment. (Mike, take the 2 uptown to Chambers St, transfer for the 1.) Maybe we can convince him to move his Tuesday Night XTC club to the Brandy Lib. Wouldn't it be fun to try to convince Mike (the author of CruiseControl.Net, when he was at Thoughtworks) to join our little group as the CI/Agile expert.... We can even get CD down so I can steal some dispatch patterns from him.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

HPC on Wall Street - Hardware Acceleration

Sam Brown of the University of Utah just came out with some slides on his initial forays into hardware acceleration. He contrasts the use of Cell Processors, FPGAs, and Multi-core processors. He was trying to speed up 2-Way Wave Equation Modeling, which is not a financial application, but the lessons that he learned can be applied to those of use who are doing (or exploring) HPC in Wall Street.

The big effort is in unrolling loops and parallelizing your code. Using the POSIX PThread API and multi-core cpus is the easiest thing to do. With 4 threads (2 dual-core 2.2 Ghz Opterons, 4 GB RAM), he got a 11x improvement on one set of benchmarks, and a 2x improvement on the big application.

The FPGA system used the Altera Stratix II FPGA. He got about a 14x improvement on the initial set of benchmarks, but the development effort was a lot harder. It took 12 hours to get the design onto the FPGA chip.

The Cell systems were a Sony Playstation 3 (!!!) and a IBM Cell Blade with 2 Cell Processors with 8 SPEs each (a Cell processor has 8 SPEs, which function as coprocessors.) The Cell results were generally disappointing, with the author wondering if he programmed the Cell correctly. One thing that I have heard about the Cell is that it is very difficult to program. Perhaps companies like PeakStream can help you with this effort.

(For instant gratification, the money shots are slides 28, 29, and 30)

What can hardware acceleration do for you? Faster pricing of derivatives. Faster generation of risk values, especially for exotics. Better overnight stressing.

The problem is in acquiring the skill set to parallelize algorithms, deal with the development environments (especially debugging), learning new variants of C, and getting buy-in from the business.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 16, 2007

My New Favorite Place

The Brandy Library is in the TriBeCa section of New York City. Plush furniture, wood-paneled walls that contain top-shelf liquor, amazing scotches and brandies, interesting tapas to knosh on.

My scotches for the evening were Ardbeg Uigeadail and Caol Ila (18 years). Jerry was sipping their Hot Apple Cider all night. To top it off, a great "hot chocolate".

(I am not affliliated with the Brandy Library in any way ... just a satisfied customer.)

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sharing XSDs between .NET and C++/Win32

Free products for generating C++ code for XSD's :

A further list of products can be found at

I am in the market for a FREE XSD->C++ code generation tool that I can use to share schemas between .NET GUIs and C++/Win32 servers. Matt pointed me to these two.

What is the best JaxB/Castor equivalent for the C++/Win32 world? I'll let you know when I have finished my evaluation.

(Morgan Stanley makes it easy with CPS and their SOAP libs... every firm should have one of these)

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 09, 2007

Just returned from London, where 2 inches of snow managed to shut down most of the city. Even the newscasters on Sky News were lamenting the fact that London (with one week of advance warning) cannot seem to deal with white powder.

Got together with some ex-colleagues, who were marvelling at the Lodnon consulting market.
The hot areas are Grid Computing, with the prevelant stack being DataSynapse and Tangasol. Also demand is picking up for WPF, with Morgan Stanley leading the way. The daily rates for qualified individuals are about 1000 pounds per day, which at the current exchange rates, is about $2000.

There is a well-known financial consulting firm who shut down its London offices last year, telling employees that they were losing money and that there was no money to be made in the London market. Hmmmmmm.....

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft's Compute Cluster Server and Digipede can make any inroads intot his market. There seems to be a very strong bias against using .NET for a grid infrastructure, something which I hope to see turned around in 2007.

I got a chance to walk around Canary Wharf a bit more this time. I hope that JL gets to go to the Gaucho Grill (Argentinian Steaks) and Nobu (Japanese) on his upcoming trip. But I need to have TS take JL out for a night of karaoke, and take some pictures to prove it! (Our karaoke outing got cancelled because of the snow .... to the relief of the collective ears of the London Equities Architecture group!)

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Welcome Back Crispin

Crispin has a new blog ... but you'll have to find it for yourselves!

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Syncfusion GridControl vs GroupingGrid

I am starting to write the grid abstraction for my client-side framework. Developers will code to a "virtual grid" API, and there will be adapters for the actual implementations of the grids (Syncfusion, Infragistics, WinForms, DevExpress, etc).

Because most of Wall Street uses Syncfusion grids for trading apps, this is the first adapter that I need to write.

Syncfusion has 3 different grids: the regular old GridControl, the DataBoundGrid, and the GroupingGrid. The grouping grid is used a lot in my place to provides rollups of data. You would think that the GroupingGrid would inherit from the GridControl, but unbelievably, it does not. The API sets are not even consistent.

I have spent my time using Lutz Roeder's very excellent Reflector to try to hunt and peck through the Syncfusion class hierarchy in search of the various classes and functions in the GroupingGrid that implement the same functionality as the GridControl. The fact that I am dealing with two incompatible API sets has increased my work by 100%.

C'mon Syncfusion ... you should know better than that!

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 02, 2007

New York Code Camp

DonXml is organizing a Code Camp on Saturday, March 3, in New York City. Last year's camp sold out in 24 hours and they had to max out at 150 attendees. This year, they expanded the number to 400, so there should be plenty of room.

Don is looking for speakers, especially from the financial sector. So, all of you people from Goldman, Morgan, JPMC, Citi, DB, Barcap, Lehman, hedge funds, etc .... get ready to spill the beans! Come tell us all how you are using .NET at your jobs.

Don is also trying to organize a Java/.NET Code Camp in New Jersey, and is looking for some company to donate space. Get in touch with Don if you are a North/NorthCentral-based organization that can donate some conference facility for one Saturday.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Microsoft MVP Summit

Although I am not a Microsoft MVP, I have been invited to attend this year's MVP Summit in Seattle as one of the 20 "Influencers" of .NET technology. I hope to see some of the readers of this blog over there and share in some good Washington State microbrews. The summit runs the week of March 12. (Big shout out to Joe Rubino for this event...)

Coming from the capital markets sector, I will be most interested in the following:

Windows Compute Cluster
- how can Microsoft compete with establish grid players like Platform
- how do they cooperate with other grid vendors (ie: Digipede) that we might want to use for some lighter projects
- tie-ins with Excel Services

Analysis Services
- how can we use Analysis Services to perform risk analysis
- how can we use AS in a quasi real-time mode to perform real-time risk analysis and performance attribution

- what new compelling visualizations for trading systems can WPF give us
- performance aspects of WPF for trading systems

- would love to see WCF expanded to Tibco RV and EMS. That wouold give it more bang in the Capital Markets area.

SQL Server
- what is coming down the pike for SS that would be most applicable to our systems (time-series, complex event processing, etc). Will they be doing anything to get into Vhayu's and Streambase's space?

Capital Markets Strategy
- I have been very vocal with Microsoft about their (lack of) coherent strategy for Capital Markets. I want to see what plans they have for the entire stack. Let them demonstrate to me that they are think about coming out with best-of-breed components along the entire stack, and that people will take Microsoft seriously for server-side components.

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Off to London Again

I'll be in London again on the week of February 5, so I will be moderating the comments sporadically during that week. A week of hard work, and a kareoke session on Thursday night. The last time I was there, I found that the Brits could not handle their tequila shots very well (The Aussies and Kiwis were only slightly better). They have promised to practice while I was away .... we'll see if their hard work paid off. Maybe Terry will take a few photos...

©2007 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved