Monday, December 29, 2008

A Medical Graphic for Market Flow Analysis ???

New York Times article of what happens inside a cancer cell. This graphic struck me as being apropos to flow analysis of markets.

(The outer ring would be a heatmap of sector movement, the next inner ring would be the current volumes, the next inner rings might show trading movements from one sector to another,...)

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Updates from the Front

It has been difficult for me to get the proper motivation to blog. These past few weeks have been like a punch to the gut of anyone who is working in the financial services industry. Over the past few weeks, we have seen friends, colleagues and relationships dissolve, as the capital markets sector has undergone a painful consolidation. And as managers, it has been especially painful to deliver bad news to some of the very hard workers who we have collaborated with over the past several years.

I am hopeful that in adversity comes new opportunities for my former colleagues. The capital markets sector is not the be-all and end-all in jobs, and there are plenty of opportunities out there for good technical people. As I have said before here ... Always Be Coding. Keep your technical skills sharp. Get out of your offices, read blogs, go to MeetUps, start to code that great new app.

I want to thank my team ... SW, HH, FW, JW, PJ, and JR ... for taking the wisps of smoke and turning them into an application which we hope will signal a new class of applications in my firm for capturing, cleaning, analyzing, and visualizing real-time data flows.

I also want to thank the vendors who have made this year successful for the CEP team. We have given Coral8 much deserved grief at times, but we are confident that with the new technical management, they will deliver some great things to us in 2009.

On a personal note, in addition to heading up the CEP team, I have just taken over the role of Chief Architect and Chief Strategist for Equities (a title that reads better than it is), and I have a new team reporting into me. I have taken over the role of my former boss, but you won't find any gala press releases that trumpet this appointment.

Does this mean that my company will turn into a 100% Microsoft shop, with every application tied into CEP? No, not really.

The title of Chief Architect means a lot of different things in a lot of different companies. In my company, it means dividing my time into interesting things (engaging new vendors and technologies, doing POC's, and trying to convince the business to come up with the budget to follow through on the more worthwhile POC's), and more mundane things (like doing roadmaps, pursuing system retirements, trying to consolidate various efforts, etc). It also means hobnobbing with my fellow wizards in the other divisions (Fixed Income, Munis, Transaction Services, Retail Banking) and trying to overcome the traditional silos to come up with consolidated efforts and cost savings in these difficult times. I dare say that the words "Process Re-engineering" and "Cost Savings" are a lot more important than "Revenue Building" in these times.

It also means that I need to take a sobering look at Microsoft technologies. One of the reasons I was hired into my company was to help the former Chief Architect push Microsoft technologies throughout my firm. However, I like to think that I will not be a shill for any company. Microsoft will have to prove themselves to be worthy alongside the reams of Java infrastructure that we employ. I would also like to think that I can use my new powers for good instead of evil, and that I will be able to push Microsoft to pay more attention to the capital markets sector.

Who would have thought that in the span of one year, Merrill, Wachovia, Bear, Lehman, and WAMU would be gone, and GS and Morgan Stanley would be turned into bank holding companies?

I have no idea what 2009 will bring. All of the news reports indicate that 2009 will be as rough as 2008. But we all need to stay focused so that, when we come out of the muck and mire in (hopefully) 2010, we can all hit the ground running.

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Microsoft Surface

I haven't had much time to blog due to all of the end-of-year things going on at work and all of the turmoil in the financial services industry.

After the Waters USA 2008 conference last Monday, a few of us shuffled over to the Microsoft Technology Center on 6th Avenue and 51st Street. Joe was nice enough to invite us to see a demo of Microsoft Surface.

Surface is basically a giant touchscreen. I would say that it would find its greatest usage in a retail scenario where you would have a single app running all day. Customers would be attracted to the large footprint of the Surface and the compelling graphics that would be offered by the WPF-based apps that run on the Surface.

Some points about the Surface that are negatives for me:

1) Very large footprint. It is roughly the dimensions of a coffee table. The base is filled with cameras and a computer.

2) The surface of The Surface has to be parallel to the ground. You cannot angle the Surface in any way. You cannot place it perpendicular to the ground like a regular computer monitor. This make it very difficult to put on a trading floor.

3) You can only run one application on the Surface at a time. You cannot have multiple apps running simultaneously, and "drag and drop" between the two apps.

4) The surface is not pressure sensitive. Neither is there any kind of tactile feedback mechanism.

5) There is no concept of Z-order (ie: depth).

What you have with the Surface is a very large touchscreen that is designed for retail-based kiosk-type applications.

There are a catalog of "motions" that are available that you can use in your apps. For example, when you put your thumb and forefinger together, the Surface detects a "pinching motion". I imagine that your app is sent an OnPinch event, much like a MouseDown event is sent when you click a mouse. But, my limited imagination does not allow me to think of a good use for motions in a trading app.

I am trying to figure out how to use it on the trading floor. I don't think that it can be used effectively for a trading application. Where I think that it might be helpful is to encourage collaboration between traders, something the replace "The Hoot", but even that is a stretch.

If you can think of a good application for the Surface on a trading floor, please let me know.

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Scott's Powershell provider for Coral8

Scott posted this message on the Coral8 user's group on LinkedIn. Look at his stuff and give him some feedback.

Coral8 & PowerShell

If you use Coral8 on Windows, and you use Powershell for other development and admin tasks, you may be interested in the powershell navigation provider and cmdlets which I've uploaded to

The nav provider supports basic cd and ls commands for workspaces, applications, and streams.

For admin tasks, the following cmdlets have been created

Get-C8Status, Get-C8App, Add-C8App, Remove-C8App, Start-C8App, Stop-C8App

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.