I know that most traders are not tech savvy and there’s a lot to learn when it comes to keeping in step with technology and modern Internet resources. In this article I am going to cover some free tools and tips that will improve your Internet experience.
Getting information faster and better
Everything is getting faster nowadays and if you want to keep up with the latest news and trading related articles, then you must adapt to modern ways of accessing information. Manually checking all your favorite news sites, one by one, is an old fashioned way that will only consume your precious time. It’s a lot more efficient to use feed aggregators and Web 2.0 resources to stay up to date with everything that can help you in your trading decisions.
Twitter – Everyone has heard about twitter but only a few of you are using it. Overall, it might be a place where everyone talks, but no-one listens – thanks to all spam bots and aggressive marketers. But if you know how to use twitter, you’ll probably love it. Did you ever wonder what’s so special about Twitter and why it became so popular? The answer is SPEED. News travels instantly on Twitter. If you know who to follow, then you won’t need to check the old-school news sites one by one. News sites are so yesterday!
I recommend you to use a better twitter client, not its native one. TweetDeck is one of the best choice at this moment and best thing about it is that allows you to create columns to group similar twitter accounts into lists (i.e.: news, friends, traders, favorites etc). From its settings you can disable the Desktop Notifications if you find them annoying or you can set them to appear only if there is something new in a specific column/list. This way I get notifications only when my favorite twitter users are posting something new, in a special column.
The Stocktwits: Forex stream is also a great resource and it is available in TweetDeck.
Here is how my TweetDeck looks like:
Getting rid of email spam, controlling your subscriptions
RSS is a protocol providing a way to receive content and news without using an email. Using a RSS client, you have much better control over what you are receiving and you can unsubscribe from a site at any time.
As some of you already know, I’m posting links to interesting articles from around the web almost daily. People use to ask me how many hours do I spend on Internet, visiting so many web-sites, before sharing interesting articles. I don’t spend THAT much time. Google Reader is a great tool that allows me to scan through hundreds of sites in a matter of minutes, saving me a lot of time while searching for interesting articles. I dare you to do the same thing manually, by checking each site one by one – It would take you hours, if not days.
Most modern sites provide RSS subscription methods, which means you can subscribe to those sites in your Google Reader account. Better still, it allows you share articles with others, mark them for later reading, to create Folders to group sites into categories, like this:
Subscribing to new sites is easy, just look for the RSS Subscription buttons on the sites you are visiting. They look like this:
Google Chrome browser has an extension which can be used to subscribe to a site directly from the address bar: Chrome Reader
Using Firefox, you can do it using the Bookmarks menu:
There are many other RSS Readers except Google Reader, but from my own experience, Google Reader is the best, by far. However, if you don’t want to use Google Reader, here are some alternatives: Good Noows, Netvibes, FeedDemon, Feedly
Don’t miss a good article, even if you are in a hurry
Instapaper is a simple web tool allowing you to save web pages for reading later. Let’s say you come across some long article and you are in a hurry. What do you do? Using Instapaper you can save the article for reading later with a single mouse click. What’s really great about Instapaper is that it integrates flawlessly with Google Reader, iPads, iPhones and Amazon Kindle! Therefore, you can save articles for reading later using your browser, while you are at home, and read them later on your Kindle or iPad, in the park. Isn’t that wonderful?
An alternative to Instapaper is Read It Later
A real browser
According to my site usage stats, from 2005 to 2009 Internet Explorer was used by 76% visitors and from 2009 to 2011 by 39%. That’s a 50% decline in IE’s popularity, so it’s quite clear you are doing the right thing: migrating to a better browser.
Why you shouldn’t use Internet Explorer:
1. It is insecure. Your anti-virus does not protect you against most Internet Explorer attacks!
2. Internet Explorer is not standards compliant while other browsers are. Most web developers hate IE because it is not standards compliant, which means that some web sites may not behave as expected in Internet Explorer
3. It is slow and buggy
4. It is not cross-platform
5. Does not accept extensions and add-ons
6. The lady in the picture above will knock at your door when you finish installing Firefox, Chrome or Opera
If security is one of your priorities, then you should be aware that Firefox is not a better option. In reality, Firefox is the most insecure browser to date.
There are several alternatives to Internet Explorer. They are more stable, more secure, and have loads of extensions, themes, and add-ons. I recommend using Google Chrome and Opera. Both are secure, fast, standards compliant, cross-platform and are supporting add-ons and extensions. Personally I prefer Google Chrome over Opera because of the UI, extensions and speed.
Storing your files in the Cloud, keeping Big Brother happy
Cloud computing is the next big thing in IT. Or the next dot-com bubble.
Anyway, since we all love to share all our information nowadays and since Internet Privacy became a myth, cloud storage gains in popularity. One of the advantages of cloud storage is that you don’t need a physical disk to save your data. You can save your documents, charts, indicators, templates, e-books etc. to your cloud-storage account, being able to sync the account on other computers, such as your laptop or office PC.
Wuala is a cloud-based storage solutions allowing you to backup, store, sync your data and access it from anywhere.
Wuala is free for 1GB storage and you can get up to 3GB by referring it to other friends. More storage is available for a reasonable price.
I’m using Wuala to store my indicators, charting platform’s templates, charts (screenshots), some e-books and documents. A popular alternative to Wuala is Dropbox, but personally I prefer Wuala because it is more secure, encrypting files on PC before uploading them into the cloud.
Dealing with Out-Dated and Insecure Software
Secunia PSI is one of its kind, one of the best security software available for PC. It is a free tool designed to protect your PC by detecting out-dated, vulnerable software. Most attacks exploiting vulnerabilities in software can’t be blocked by your common anti-virus software, therefore Secunia PSI is a must-have solution, complementary to your anti-virus and firewall.
Secunia PSI is the 2nd software to install on my PCs after reinstalling Windows. I’ve been using it for years and it was always there to notify me which software is likely to allow attackers to gain access to the holy grails of my trading platforms. :)
This is all for now. I have many more resources to share in a future article. Meanwhile, let me know if the stuff in this article is useful to you: feedback please!