Bill GatesI'm getting an Intel Core Q6666 and 2Gig RAM. Should I get Vista Ultimate 64bit version? Or just the 32bit Business version? This is for heavy number crunching and trading.

Tony Corso explains:

Unless you have a 64bit application [or you're writing you own code with a 64bit compiler] a 64bit OS won't buy you much of anything. And 64bit Vista has far fewer hardware drivers than the 32bit version. In fact, if you are using purchased software, you might find it runs faster under XP-Pro than under Vista.

As to the processor, there is a relatively cheap 2.6GHZ Quad Core Intel chip [about $275 on NewEgg; the 2.8GHz 'extreme' Intel Quad Core is more than twice as expensive]. Get one of those, and get 4Gig of RAM [make sure your motherboard can see it].

Multiple cores won't do much for you if the software isn't designed to use 'em. At the OS level, Vista automatically assigns my Firefox browser and Excel spreadsheet to different cores, and at the application level Excel2007 'auto-magically' multithreads cell recalculations across multiple cores.

And when considering motherboards, the more recent Intel motherboards have hardware RAID controllers built in [data spread amongst Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives so if any one drive fails your machine doesn't care and your data are safe].

You might want to consider chaining four drives to that controller so that you won't be gnashing your teeth when you get the inevitable middle of the trading day hard drive hiccup.

Matthew Chlapowski adds:

I was investigating the same problem just a few days ago. To answer your question, 64bit Windows Vista is unlikely to offer you any performance improvement with just 2Gig of RAM. You would have to invest in hardware with at least twice that much RAM, if not four times, to see any improvement. Eventually systems will come with that much memory, but there is little software out there that takes advantage of the added power of such a setup, and few motherboards support it. I would just stick with the Business 32bit version right now, and maybe think about upgrading in a couple of years. That is, unless you are willing to pay top dollar for a system that supports at least 8Gig of RAM , and for the software designed to use it.

Definitely do get an Intel quad-core processor like the Q6600 for number crunching. I've seen benchmarks on those processors and they absolutely smoke anything else available. Benchmarks with Fritz 10 Chess (one of the most intensive number crunching applications on the market) showed Intel quad core processors completing calculations at nearly twice the speed of any other processor you can buy. Don't even think about getting anything else.

Naturally, newer and better things are always in the pipeline, but you have to pull the trigger and buy sometime!



 Watching emotional stocks reminds me of the behavioral patterns I see in the psychiatric patients I deal with every day, especially when it comes to the beginning or ending of a trend.

When a patient loses control of his behavior he often becomes a danger to himself or others, requiring intervention on the part of the hospital staff to keep someone from getting hurt. Having observed the buildup to acting out behaviors many times, I have noticed they usually follow a pattern.

First, there is an event that the patient perceives in a way that provokes anxiety, leading to a progressive buildup of tension. The tension can sometimes be released through safe means, like a private discussion of the situation or voluntary medication, but that is often rejected or is not enough, and the patient reaches a point where he explodes and must be restrained before he hurts someone (usually himself). The emotional peak usually lasts until he is restrained, either physically or with involuntary medication, but regardless of the means, he tends to act out until he reachs a point of maximum emotional outburst and is unable to continue further.

The change at that point can be dramatic, and even the most angry and violent patients usually have an emotional collapse at that point from the dissonance of wanting to act out but being unable to do so. The most common behaviors at that point are either crying uncontrollably or falling asleep, and often one leads to the other. It is the job of the hospital staff to guide the patient from emotional extreme to stability.

There are useful parallels between the emotional state and behavior of the acting-out patient and an emotional market. If you fight the trend you can expect a battle, but when the momentum and emotion can't move the market any farther or an event causes an emotional shock then you have a tradable opportunity, and can expect a regression to the mean (and maybe a lot more). At the least, one is likely to see a market stop trending and go sideways for some time. Once in a while though, the patient (or the market) fakes you out and continues the previous trend or behavior despite everything that happened. If that happens, either get out of your position fast or call the police for help — depending on which situation you're dealing with.

Learning to discern a significant emotional change from one that won't have a lasting effect is the art. I'd like to find a way to quantify these emotional turning points, but I haven't found one yet. Until then, intuition and experience will have to suffice.

Denise Shull asks:

Can we say for sure that quantification produces better results than intuition and experience?



I've been hearing my coworkers talk more frequently lately about how much they are making in the market and how smart they feel because of it. These are not market-literate people, and if they are feeling like market geniuses then I can't help but wonder if this bull run might be entering its last leg. That observation and an article from CNN Money caught my attention.


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