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Comment Re:HFT is organized theft (Score 1) 476

Walmart (or large supermarket of your choice) divides the shopping universe into insiders and outsiders. The resources to compete are beyond the means of any but the most sophisticated and connected organisations... (etc).

This is how captialism works - you start up, you make some money, you make barriers to entry ( for other potential entrants to the market.

I'm not saying HFT is all good, but they're not actually all-bad either. See my other comment above for my thoughts on pension companies causing flash crashes at much, if not more than HFTs. Pension companies make maybe one or two trades a week, and hold stock for a long time. It's hard to call them HFTs, and yet they're a significant part of the problem.

As for your comments on Wall Street types - I don't disagree with that at all. Making money at all costs isn't good for anyone. However, ethics and responsibility are hard to engender on people who have none.

Comment Re:The profits have been competed away (Score 2) 476

Actually, Flash Crashes are as much a symptom of automated *slow* traders, like pension companies and such like. They make maybe one or two trades a week, they hold stock for a long time, and they (supposedly) do nice things for their customers (I personally disagree with that last bit, but I'd say people generally like pension companies, whereas they generally don't like HFTs).

When a crash starts, the price of stock X drops below threshold Y which triggers many automated trading systems to dump the (large volumes of) stock they hold. This has a reinforcing effect on the downward trend. Thus, even more thresholds are reached and even more trading systems (and humans) dump stock, and so it goes on. In a weird way, if pension companies made a 100 trades a week instead of just one, then there'd be 100 different thresholds, and so 100 selling trades at different prices - which actually would slow down the crash speed. Keep going with that thought until you get to 1,000,000 trades per week ;-)

Meanwhile, HFTs see the downward trend, sell stock somewhere else at a slightly higher price than you can see, then buy it back at the lower price in your market. They're actually not contributing to the downward trend, at least not in the significant way dumping tens of thousands of shares in one transaction does.

In the last NY crash, I seem to remember some algo trader proudly saying "we turned everything off when we saw the crash happening". Actually, you don't want that, because it reduces liquidity, which means you won't get the tighter bid/ask spreads that you would if there was more liquidity. That means if you're desperate to sell, you'll end up selling at some horribly low price, rather than one just a bit lower than the last sale was made at. You can see this with some crazy share prices reported during the crash.

If ever you happen to find yourself holding cash in a market that has no liquidity, then offer really low prices for stock. You'll get filled because someone will be stupid enough to sell at that price (maybe they made their money and they don't care). Then offer really high prices to sell it to someone else - assuming there's someone willing to buy, you'll make a tonne of money. This isn't arbitrage, and carries significant risks (which HFTs generally don't like),

As for HFT vs. HFT - they're quite clever at spotting other players in the market. If they can beat them, they'll play, otherwise they'll move elsewhere. We may have run out of places to go, but that's only so long as the other stocks aren't suitable.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 476

Or to put it another way...

Jim has an apple. He calls out "who will give me 50 cents for this lovely apple". Jon likes apples, so heads head over. Just as he raises his hand to call out, Flash the Wonder Trader runs down to the market, buys an apple for 30 cents, comes back in and says "I've got an apple for 45 cents". Jon buys his apple for 45 cents, and Jim is left with his over-priced apple rotting on his desk.

I'm not saying HFT is all good, but it does some positive things for you, the little guy (Jon in this example), as well as some bad things too. It also does good/bad things for the big guy (Jim in this example).

Comment Re:What are they trying to achieve? (Score 4, Insightful) 244

There is a possible conspiracy though.

The government (Cons) want to pass through the so-called "snoopers charter" to make note of all of our emails and web traffic. The LibDems and a few others have blocked this so far, but we've recently had a murder case (April Jones: during which it was found that the killer had had child porn on his computer. There are now the requisite "block child porn from the internet" calls, as you'd expect (including the NSPCC saying there's a link between looking at kiddie porn and going out and harming children). Further, John Carr, the government's Internet advisor has said Google et. al should be logging actual humans to searches (not just IPs or pseudonyms) ( - side comment: I should imagine Google is probably the worst place to find 'hard' porn of any kind, let alone kiddie porn, so this seems deeply flawed, regardless of your stance on such things).

So... the conspiracy here is that the government has pressured the police to have a bit of a crack down. When the police find it difficult, they too can join in the cries for "we need more monitoring on the internet, because otherwise crime fighting is hard". That'll bring the police in line with MI5, the Culture Secretary and the child-porn fighting public who are asking for action. Then, the government can re-propose it's draconian measures, and we'll all accept them because we don't want to be paedophiles.

I'll give it a month before the chief of police says something like "I wish we had more powers to monitor people's internet usage".

Comment Re:Ah, the wikihouse - interesting but *so* expens (Score 1) 96

I didn't read TFA (obviously), but I read the summary as you could download the architectural plans for a house. That sounds pretty good - if it says "this bit is double-skinned brick work, with an 8" RSJ sat on top of it", then that's enough to go off and build it - even without the fabrication technology (although if someone ever makes a brickwork 3D printer, then you could use that).

You probably wouldn't want to go ahead and do it without some specialist oversight, but getting plans for someone else's house and putting something like it on your own land sounds like a great idea.

As an anecdote: my university had a class room block that was actually a copy of one of those "out of town" office blocks. They didn't create anything new in the design, they just got the builders over and said "okay, we'll have another one just like it here, please". It wasn't a particularly pleasant block to be in, but that's why they put the Faculty of the Built Environment in there (no kidding!).

Comment Re:The future for Yahoo.... (Score 1) 260

I'm ex-Yahoo, and I know first hand how utterly rotten the culture was when I left. I once was on a mission to decom a handful of crappy servers running some really crappy code. They were once, in the mists of time, used to perform some tracking on a particular campaign, and were the brain-child of an idiot architect. They cost money to run, so I tried to find who consumed the information they produced. I checked around, and actually found people very helpful - it turns out, no one was using the data, so I could literally have just switched off the servers and no one would care. BUT they were still serving tracking pixels on a number of sites. I then log tickets with all of the properties I could identify asking them to remove the pixels from their pages - "it'll make your page load faster, and it'll mean we can switch these servers off, so save the company some money" (ie. "come on guys, this is a good thing"). I'd say I got about 30% traction - that is, about 30% of the properties involved actually went and did it in the following 6 months. The others just ignored me, and so I suspect those servers are still humming away today - thousands of dollars and a few years later.

So anyway... the point is, there's a long way to travel. There's a huge amount of cultural change required to even make small changes to any of the hundreds of Yahoo properties. From what I hear, Marissa is challenging the property owners to make a big change in 3-6 months - some will make it, some with hack their properties to shreds to make it and some will fail. From there, I guess she knows what she's up against.

I for one do hope they make it. Despite everything, an Internet entirely without Yahoo leaves things a bit too open for the likes of Google and Facebook. Yahoo's got the scale, and they still have a massive, massive user-base. Hopefully they can turn that to their advantage and be a credible player on the Internet. I'm sure people will say "yeah, but Facebook is better" or "Google search is better" or whatever, but that's not the point. Yahoo just needs a few niches that are the best there is (which Flickr could be, if they keep going).

Actually, on Flickr - the mobile App is actually pretty good. I can't admit to using it all that much because I'm a photo-luddite, but the app is quite nice. That's not to say it's perfect, but it's going in the right direction.

Comment Re:France isn't representative of Europe (Score 1) 293

France is also quite racist in the "global top 10 racist countries" (if there were such a thing). They're therefore quite inclined to keep immigration as low as possible. In some ways, this is a good thing for France, but as shown here, in some ways it's bad.

(Side note: A Swiss political party were running ads on trains that depicted some white sheep pushing the black sheep out of the country)

Somewhere like the UK is generally much more multi-cultural, and much more accepting of immigrant workers. Even with all the UKIP and Daily Mail crazies, we're still a remarkably welcoming place (London especially). That's not to say there's no racism, but it's a whole lot easier to come here to work than it is in France.

My point being that a French person whinging about how difficult it is to work in France is, as you say, not at all representative of Europe.

Comment Re:We're artisans (Score 1) 326

I tend to call myself an Electronics Engineer (rather than an Electrical one) because I'd rather fix the neighbour's TV than I would put in some new power sockets or fix their kitchen lights for them. If I'm trying to avoid their TV, then I call myself a Digital Systems Engineer, which seems to qualify me to fix broadband and Windows PCs.

At work though, I call myself a sysadmin so I get to work on Linux machines and write some Perl ;-)

Comment Re:My theory (Score 1) 1010

...and since Adobe (and lots of other people) want to move all their apps to the "cloud", it'll only be a year or two before all you need is that same old 2.0ghz C2D laptop to do all that hefty photo editing. I'll bet the owner of that laptop will be just fine for years to come, even though he's going to take up photography next year.

Comment They're using a consumer 3D printer (Score 1) 113

They're using a printer you can buy on Amazon:

Why the hell would you build anything for 4 people? Surely they can live in a big hole with a lid, can't they? This seems more like a job for a mining machine than a 3D printer. Then again, I'm not a rocket scientist, so I don't know what I'm talking about.

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