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Notice: The views and information expressed in this document reflect the opinions and experience of the author Robert C. Pelletier. Neither CSI nor the author undertake or intend to provide tax advice or trading advice in any market or endorse any outside individual or firm. All recommendations are provided for their informational value only. Readers should consult competent financial advisors or outside counsel before making any software purchase or investment decision. CSI does not stand behind or endorse the products of any outside firms.

© 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.

September 2004
CSI Technical Journal
Volume XXII, Number 9
Page 1

Topics discussed in this month's journal:
  Eight Great Dog Day Activities
  Tech Talk
  Important Notice About Intraday Updates

Holiday Schedule

CSI will be closed for voice communication on Monday, September 6th for the U.S. Labor Day Holiday. The CSI host computer will be accessible as usual, and data from those exchanges that remain open will be available at their normal times.

Eight Great Dog Day Activities

The Dog Days of Summer are almost over. Sirius the Dog Star is moving away from the sun and the Tropics are really heating up. There’s no better time to jazz up this newsletter with a little hot dogging about Unfair Advantage®, especially when we’ve got something to howl about. Here are eight fresh Unfair Advantage features to explore on a dog day afternoon.

1) Automated on-time updates: This new function lets you download the market(s) of your choice as soon as they become available from CSI. The Download/Distribution screen offers the choice of “Download Now,” which initiates an update immediately, or “Wait for…” a variety of market updates. As you can see in the example at right, you can now wait for updates from the Pacific Rim, Europe, the CBT and CME, as well as an assortment of other choices, including, “Wait for Online Newspaper.”

Addition #1 - The new download features allow for automated on-time updates.

When you choose a “Wait for” update, Unfair Advantage monitors the Update Status of the selected market group and begins your download as soon as it becomes available from CSI. Everything that has been posted up to the time of your access is transmitted.

This feature is handy to use with the relatively new market “list” feature, which is also shown in the example. It allows you to specify which markets will be updated during a given retrieval/distribution session and lets you skip the distribution process for markets that haven’t been updated. A real time saver!

2) Easy E-mail correspondence: We’ve added a new feature to the Unfair Advantage “Help” menu, which is “E-mail your Question.” This selection automatically launches your e-mail composition software and even fills in our technical support staff’s address: support@csidata.com, and the subject: “UA Question.” Best of all, this feature automatically includes valuable reference information about your installation, including your Unfair Advantage version number, your User ID and your Windows® version.

3) Are you a Gann fan? If so, you’ll be glad to know that Unfair Advantage’s Chart Tools have been upgraded to include “Gann Fan” and “Gann Fan w/Reflection.” Chart Tools are reached by clicking the wrench icon on the toolbar or through the “Chart Tools” menu’s “Apply Tool” selection. See below for an example of a Gann Fan chart.
New feature #3 - A monthly Gann file of September Wheat showing a Gann Fan with Reflection (from Chart Tools).

4) Close-up Snapshots: You don’t have to be on vacation to appreciate a close-up shot. The Unfair Advantage “Snapshot” now lets you isolate a single market for viewing, if that’s what you’re looking for.

To use this feature, first click the camera icon just as you would to view a snapshot of activity for all commodities or for your portfolio(s). For the scope of this request, click “This commodity/stock” and then enter the appropriate symbol in the corresponding text box. If your symbol could be either a commodity or a stock, please clarify by appending (s) for a stock or (c) for a commodity. If you aren’t sure of the symbol, click the [Mkts] button and scroll through the UA Factsheet for your selection. The result will be a table identifying the most recent open, high, low, last, net change, volume and open interest for your selected market.

New feature #4 - A single-market snapshot showing market data for just CBT T-Bonds. A snapshot could show all commodities, all portfolios or one portfolio, as desired.

5) Automated Backup/Restore: Whether the threat to your system is summer squalls with lightning strikes, frequent software installations or stealthy viruses, it’s always a good idea to back up your valuable data. That’s why the Unfair Advantage “Database” menu now includes “Make Backup Now.” This function first checks your database for integrity, which can take a while, and then it allows you to specify the location of your backup. We’ve added a corresponding “Restore Backup” feature to help you use your backup file effectively. We recommend you back up your database weekly and whenever you upgrade your Unfair Advantage software.

6) Documenting the Database: A complete listing of the most current CSI Stock Factsheet can now be exported as a CSV (comma separated variable) file. You’ll find this feature on the “Distribution 2” screen of General Program Settings in UA’s Preferences.

7) Friendlier Than Ever: Unfair Advantage now supports automatic portfolio designation and creation for four different software programs (One Day at a Time, VantagePoint, Omnitrader and Natural Order). These can be effortlessly coordinated during installation. Of course, UA is still compatible with dozens of programs through support of CSI, MS, ASCII and Excel formats.

8) Studies Galore: Why not while away a summer’s day engrossed in market analysis? We’ve added dozens of technical indicators to the “Interpreted” studies section of UA’s charting indicators.

To view the list, create an Unfair Advantage chart and then click the “Change Indicators on Chart” icon (it looks like gears). At the Study Toolbar, click [Add Study] and then, at the “Select Study” window, click the [Interpreted] button. Right-click your mouse in the Code Editor window to display the current offerings. There you’ll find new features such as “The Bull Bear Balance Indicator,” the “Swing” indicator, “Time and Money Charts,” “Regularized Momentum Indicator,” access to factsheets and much more. As always, you can optimize and customize these studies through Unfair Advantage, and your selected studies will be added to the Study Toolbar menu.

New feature #8 - An Unfair Advantage chart showing General Electric stock with the Daily Rise Indicator and Swing Index, two of many new studies.

As fall approaches - and we hope it gets here soon - Sirius the Dog Star will move away from the sun and these “Dog Days of Summer” will be history. We’ll still be striving to add more features that keep Unfair Advantage a bright spot in your daily life and a trusted companion in your trading adventures.

Happy Trading

Bob Pelletier

Tech Talk

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 custom programming and various aspects and uses of the Pricing Format (conversion factor) that is employed by Unfair Advantage.

Q. I have an idea for market analysis, but don’t know how to program the algorithm. Will someone at CSI do it for me?

A. Investors often ask us for custom programming services or to recommend outside firms who perform such services. We regret that we cannot provide custom programming or referrals at this time. Such an effort could compromise our principal objective of providing helpful and useful factual information that supports customer interests in the markets. Although there are many fine CSI-compatible programs, we cannot specifically endorse or recommend any outside firm.

Q. How does one go about interpreting the Pricing Formats shown on the UA Factsheets?

A. The pricing format refers to the conversion factor used by UA in interpreting prices. CSI Conversion factors explain a shorthand convention that, when applied to pricing information for various markets, will uniquely identify the exact price of any given market. These, along with other entries on the factsheets are explained in the Unfair Advantage Users’ Manual. To view them online, place your cursor in any Factsheet column and press the key. Scroll through the entries until you reach the appropriate entry, as excerpted below. They are also explained in the Factsheets you can download and view through the UA website.

PRICE FORMAT KEY: For those who want to fully understand conversion factors, here are the details: A positive conversion factor simply tells how far the decimal point should be placed to the left within a given value to obtain the actual "newspaper" price. A negative conversion factor indicates that the final (rightmost or terminal) digit(s) represent fractional values as: -1 = eighths, -2 = 16ths, -3 = 32nds, -4 = 64ths; -7 means that the last three digits are in 32nds and halves of 32nds; -8 means 32nds and quarters of 32nds. The terminal digit for this last factor will always be 0, 2, 5 or 7 for 0, 1, 2 or 3 quarters, respectively. This pricing format method emulates the way the CBT displays their prices for 2-Year T-Notes (CSI #382). For those users of third-party software that can’t accommodate a -8 conversion factor, we offer 2-Year T-Notes with a conversion factor of -4 as CSI #207. This particular series loses a small amount of pricing accuracy, however

Although most CSI users need not concern themselves with conversion factors, the conversion factor system is key to saving space in data storage and space both for newspapers and computer disk resources.

Q. Prices for CBT Treasury Notes (CSI #150) are expressed in 64ths, so the series has a CSI Price Format of -4. I would like to see these values expressed as 32nds. Can I do this by simply changing the price format (conversion factor) to -3?

A. Sorry, but the conversion factor (presented as Price Format) can’t be used in this way. It interprets data supplied by the exchanges and is not intended to convert data between various presentations. Changes to the conversion factor could result in inaccurate prices and could also interfere with proper functioning of UA’s Trading System Performance Evaluator (TSPE) and Position Manager modules. Therefore, we do not recommend any Price Format (conversion factor) changes, and disclaim responsibility for the consequences of such changes.

Important Notice About Intraday Updates

UA's SnapQuote and Position Manager features are handy ways to capture 20-minute-delayed quotes on various stock and commodity markets. However, since both of these services direct your web browser to third-party websites for data, excessive or prolonged use can result in loss of service.

Some of the third-party sources we reference have apparently begun sampling the IP addresses of users accessing their data, and may disallow access if they feel you are abusing their free services. Therefore, SnapQuote and Position Manager must be used for occasional or sporadic intraday updates only, and only on those markets you are actively trading. We believe that by limiting your intraday updates in this way, you can avoid adverse consequences. Your cooperation is required to continue using the free Snap-Quote and Position Manager features.

If you have experienced a loss of intraday quotes, a change in Internet Service Providers may remedy the situation, but there is no guarantee of ongoing intraday updates.

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