[Click here to return to journal index]
© Copyright 2003-2004 by Commodity Systems Inc. (CSI). All rights are reserved.
Website Links: This CSI website and Unfair Advantage system contain hyperlinks and automatic links to websites operated by parties other than CSI. No association with or endorsement of third-party websites should be inferred through these links. They are provided for your convenience and reference only. CSI is not responsible for and has no control over the content of third-party websites.
The CSI Team - At your service:
Andy, Betty, Bob, Debbie, Denise, Fran, Heather, Jason, Jeanean, Jose, Josh, Kathy, Ken, Kurt, Linda, Mike, Nassrin, Patti, Ron, Rosie, Rudi, Sabrina, Sean, Steven and Terry.
Topics discussed in this month's journal:
Hurricane Season at CSI
Button, Button — Who’s Got the Button?
This edition of the CSI Technical Journal is dedicated to Kurt Wagner, Rudi Cabral, Mike Feran, Steven Davis, Jeanean Savage, Kathy Snyder, Ron Franz, Ken Arneaz, Sierra Vavra and Andy Pelletier for unselfish efforts beyond the call of duty.
Hurricane Season at CSI
All of us at CSI appreciate the concern and interest many customers have shown for our welfare since Hurricane Frances blew through on Labor Day weekend. I am relieved to report that our building, the CSI database and all of our staff weathered the storm just fine. Thanks for asking. For those of you wondering how we managed, here is our story.
First, let me explain how we viewed the threat in the first place. In southeast Florida, we tend to watch the tropics with a casual eye from late June through November — Hurricane Season. We have lived through too many false alarms and near misses to get excited about every cyclone in the Atlantic basin, but we keep contingency plans and emergency supplies on hand, just in case. At CSI, our major safety net is the huge propane-powered generator that sits in a covered, fenced enclosure in our parking lot. We have religiously paid for maintenance on this equipment for the past 20 years; money well spent for the security it brings.
As powerful Hurricane Frances churned toward us in late August and the forecast track was adjusted and readjusted closer to home, the tropics got our attention in a big way. We had seen the destruction Hurricane Charley brought to the west coast of Florida just three weeks before, so our watching of the tropics took on a definitely non-casual quality as the weekend — and Frances — approached. The office was secured on Friday evening and we all went home to look after our families and brace for the storm.
It had been more than three decades since a major hurricane hit Palm Beach County where our office is located in Boca Raton. I’m not sure if the record books will show that our luck held or not, as Frances’ official landfall was one county to the north in Sewell’s Point, about 60 miles from our office. Even so, battering winds, with gusts reported upward of 90 m.p.h. hammered Palm Beach County for a very long time. Although structural damage was minimal in our area, utilities were paralyzed for days after the storm. In all, 660,000 county utilities customers lost power.
On Sunday after the storm had passed, I met several CSI employees at the office to survey the damage. We were relieved to see the shuttered building in fine shape, with only some relatively small black olive and tabebuia trees littering the parking lot. My spirits began to sink when I found that the electronic locking system wouldn’t let us in the building. Apprehension built when someone noticed that the so-called automatic generator wasn’t running. No emergency lighting could be seen. It was beginning to look like maybe Frances would be a disaster for CSI after all.
Over the next 24 hours I learned that our building maintenance company had allowed the generator to become inoperable, and that servicing was unavailable under the circumstances. Telephone lines were also down. Our best laid plans for handling service through a power outage seemed to be unraveling, but good fortune and the efforts of the wonderful CSI staff saved the day.
Mother Nature herself helped CSI avoid a devastating blow. Frances had slowed to a crawl as she battered the nearby Bahamas as a category 4 storm, and she also lost strength in the process. Frances had been downgraded to a category 2 storm with winds of 105 m.p.h. as she approached the Florida coast. When the storm did hit, it came in to our north, leaving Boca Raton in the southern, weaker wind field.
Frances’ winds began arriving early Saturday, then roared though the night and finished blustering (mostly) by Sunday evening. This time line gave us an opportunity to prepare on Friday without putting our staff at risk. With the U.S. Labor Day holiday on Monday, we had much less data to capture and fewer customers than normal seeking service the day after the storm. Non-critical staff stayed home to clean up on the scheduled holiday.
Although CSI’s office lost electric power for several days and phone service for a few, the fickle course of hurricane feeder bands left some local areas relatively unscathed — that is — with full utilities. We were able to set up an off-site server nearby to receive and transmit data. Our database manager’s home became CSI’s satellite office, complete with data feeds and a skeleton staff of data specialists gathering and processing overseas data on Labor Day. Remarkably, several members of the CSI team braved lingering squalls, navigated inoperable traffic signals and skirted downed trees to reach their temporary workstations and process data for our customers.
Boca Raton is at the southern edge of major power outages caused by Frances, so I was able to travel south into Broward County to secure the supplies necessary to continue operations. On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., when the U.S. financial world was humming, we set up a generator for the office and even found enough scarce fuel to run it. Without the usual air conditioning or lighting, the CSI staff worked tirelessly collecting, verifying and posting worldwide data for our customers. Our phone lines came back on Tuesday and power was restored Wednesday at 4:48 a.m. Halleluiah! I credit our location directly across from Boca Raton's City Hall complex for the prompt return of utilities, as ours were restored much earlier than nearly all other homes and businesses in the area.
CSI's data preparation staff and our engineering personnel managed to keep everything in working order in the storm’s disordered aftermath. Their unselfish willingness to keep you, our customers, happy and in business made it possible for us to deliver data products regardless of the odds against our doing so. Rest assured, those who met the call of duty to deliver market data on time were doubly rewarded for their diligence in serving our customers.
Despite Hurricane Frances, we didn’t miss a day of updates. Even our commercial customers received full transmissions. We regret that updates were later than usual and some customers were unable to retrieve data because of various outages beyond our control. As a result of possible storm related delays for both commercial and retail accounts, we are in the process of arranging the procurement of additional power generation equipment and redundant Internet access through remote Internet DSL lines. We also are looking to invest in additional redundant data sources through an alternate location, remote from our current Florida source. Hopefully this will help us to protect customers in the event of future tropical disturbances.
If you were adversely affected by our service delays, we apologize for the inconvenience and urge you to retrieve any missing data as soon as possible. The database is complete, accurate and available for updates at this time. For those of you who didn’t notice anything unusual with your data, great! That’s what we were striving for.
They say an occasional hurricane is the price of living in paradise. Hopefully we’re paid up for a while. As this newsletter goes to press, many people in our community are still struggling to overcome the effects of Hurricane Frances. We’re dealing with power outages, leaky roofs, shortages, perilous road conditions, etc, but we will persevere. Our hardships don’t compare with the death and destruction Hurricane Ivan wrought in the Gulf Coast region and beyond. However, now that we know first-hand the awesome force of a hurricane, we will probably keep a less casual eye on the tropics for some time to come. We wish the best to everyone who was affected by Frances, Charley, Ivan and other forces of nature, and offer free replacement data to any of our customers who lost their CSI database in this year’s storms. We expect to provide data as usual throughout the season.
Thanks to all our customers for your patience, support and continued patronage.
A few kind words from our customers (We deeply appreciate them):
Just wanted to say thanks for getting the data back up and running! After 17 years I had no doubt you would pull it off!
Jim Raker, Editor of SmartDayTrader
Thanks for your remarkable data recovery and availability for Tuesday September 7th. I do appreciate it.
Jim, in Tacoma Washington
I just wanted to drop you a line to portray my thanks to Rudi and co at CSI for the help we have received this morning in bringing our systems up-to-date. When I heard yesterday of your location I really didn't anticipate receiving the standard files for at least a day or two, but I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I arrived in to find CSI were contactable (especially during such a late hour of your day) and people were working to bring everything back on-line. Our systems are now fully up-to-date and data supplied to clients - this has greatly exceeded my expectations. Thanks very much to all involved.
Kate Hancock, Energy Data Services Manager
SunGard Data Management Solution, London
CSI's employees are the finest people on the planet! You all should be recognized by the President. Two hurricanes later, and the data keeps coming. Remarkable work. Thank you from all of us out here living off your work and data.
Each month in this column, the CSI technical support staff addresses issues that may be of interest to many subscribers through this question-and-answer forum. This month they discuss differences between the demo version and a full subscription to Unfair Advantage®, data retrieval following hurricane delays, assuring data integrity and CSI’s handling of company mergers, acquisitions and spinoffs.
Q. I’m using the Unfair Advantage® demo that I downloaded from the web. CSI seems to be the best service for historical end-of-day data, but I wish it included foreign markets such as FTSE and NIKKEI. Is there any chance you’ll be adding them?
A. True, our demo version doesn’t include overseas markets, but our full service does. When you convert to a regular CSI subscription, you’ll be able to choose between North American or full World coverage, so London’s FTSE, Japan’s Nikkei and scores of other world markets will be available to you.
Q. I was unable to download data on September 7th because of Hurricane Frances’ impact on south Florida, I suppose. I didn’t see any problems the next day, but wonder if my CSI database is damaged.
A. You must have tried to download updates before we made our one data posting for the day, which wasn’t available until almost 8 p.m. We regret the inconvenience, but want to assure you that your database should be fine. Any unsuccessful or incomplete download is automatically recollected on your next retrieval session, and Unfair Advantage always re-collects the last successful daily update with each download. These redundancies are in place to assure that service lapses, regardless of cause, don’t corrupt your database. We are unaware of any customers having residual problems at this time.
Q. Is there a way to make sure that my CSI data files are not damaged?
A. Yes. Simply run a Database (DB) Integrity Search from UA’s Database menu. This will alert you to possible problems and allow you to replace any damaged files.
Q. What happens to the data in the case of company mergers, acquisitions and spinoffs?
A. When two listed companies merge or when one company is acquired by another, one symbol survives and one is delisted. The data for the delisted company remains available to chart or analyze. The surviving company symbol continues to be quoted as usual.
When a new company is spun off from an existing company, the existing company (Company A) typically issues shares in the new company (Company B) based upon each shareholder’s equity. For example, the investor might receive one (1) share of Company B for every four (4) shares of Company A owned. Since the shares of the existing company will decrease in value because of the new company shares issued, CSI shows this as a dividend on the first day the spun-off company begins trading. The dividend amount will depend upon the price of the new company and the formula chosen for the spinoff. For example, if Company B starts trading at $6, and the formula is one share of Company B for every four shares of Company A, the dividend shown for Company A will be $1.50, which is this company’s per-share reduction in value.
If you are using Unfair Advantage’s Position Manager to keep track of your holdings and you enter the shares of Company B on the day it begins trading, make sure that you disregard the dividend. The value of the new shares in your portfolio will offset the apparent loss in Company A, producing an accurate statement of your account.
Button, Button — Who’s Got the Button?
Are you using CSI data with analysis software that is CSI-compatible, but not necessarily seamless in its use of our market data? The Unfair Advantage (UA) system, with its data retrieval, portfolio management, graphics and analysis, meets all the needs of many subscribers, but for others, UA is merely a data conduit, bringing input data to third-party analysis software. If this describes you, please read on for information about the new One-Button Update possibilities that can simplify your life.
Several months ago we introduced new software for retrieving market data from CSI that launches and runs Unfair Advantage in the background from a menu prompt included in third-party analysis programs. Our program is called CSI Market Data Software, and since it can be launched from a single button, we refer to the service it provides as One-Button Updates. So far, this has been distributed with resounding approval by Welles Wilder of Delta Society Int’l in their Delta Graphics programs. Delta Graphics users simply click the “Get CSI Data” prompt on their File menu to retrieve the latest daily update and maintain all required files automatically. From there, analysis on a Delta Society-maintained portfolio is just a few keystrokes away.
Another approach to One-Button Updates that is almost as easy to use is Unfair Advantage’s EZ Downloader. This feature, which is available within the Unfair Advantage program group on your desktop, proceeds directly to data retrieval and distribution with Unfair Advantage. Our many customers who run VantagePoint analysis software use this feature. The professionals at Market Technologies (makers of VantagePoint) work with the CSI support staff to maintain current downloadable portfolios, assuring that VantagePoint users have exactly the appropriate market mix for analysis — automatically.
In both cases, customers who use One-Button Updates need not know anything about running Unfair Advantage because the entire process, from defining a portfolio to identifying export file locations, even launching the UA software is handled automatically, in the background. There is no need to navigate through UA's comprehensive menus because CSI’s staff maintains the appropriate portfolios under Welles Wilder’s or Louis Mendelsohn’s direction.
Although Delta Society is the first major software producer to use CSI Market Data Software and Market Technologies is the first to make regular use of the EZ Downloader, both are available to others and we hope they will gain broader patronage over time. If you are interested in using one of these new CSI services with your favorite analysis software, please suggest to its makers that they contact CSI about the new "CSI Market Data Software" or EZ Downloader for One-Button Updates.
Be sure to let them know that the CSI Market Data Software interface can be supplied directly with their analysis programs and run as part of the analysis routine, allowing their customers seamless access to CSI data. The downloader program and assistance from our programmers are provided free to software developers, as is the maintenance of portfolio(s) on our host computer. The EZ Downloader requires no re-engineering of any software.
We encourage customers with multiple trading platforms to suggest seamless CSI compatibility through One-Button Updates to the makers of every analysis product you own. UA will accommodate them all. The more investor interest analysis software vendors see, the more likely they are to join in.
So far, only Delta Graphics and VantagePoint programs have “got the button.” We don’t know which trading software will be next, but we’ll be sure to let you know. Thank you for your help in spreading the word.
If you're a software developer and want to get involved, give us a call at 800.274.4727 or 561.392.8663, or send an email to email@example.com. A CSI technician will contact you to answer your questions and provide the necessary software and information to get you started. We'll work with you on portfolio compatibility as well.
Delta Graphics Software from Delta Society, Int’l:
VantagePoint Software from Market Technologies:
All information and data on this website are
© Copyright 2002-2004 by Commodity Systems Inc.
(CSI) All rights are reserved.
800-274-4727 | 561-392-8663 | 561-392-1379 (Fax)