Back to Java

September 29, 2010

So I’m coding in Java again for the first time since 2003. I do prefer C++ or Python, and I’ve always – tongue in cheek – slated Java as the Cobol of the 21st century. But Eclipse is nice, so’s Maven, and generics are good too. BigDecimal sucks. But it does make me feel like I’m cycling with training wheels on…

Preparing for re-entry

September 6, 2010

After a delightful month off travelling round Europe with the family, I’m now limbering up for a return to work. I’m very busy with the other half setting up a new venture that she’ll be operating while I’m at work in the City. And I’m enjoying reading Lars Kroijer’s Money Mavericks – an account of starting and running his own hedge fund. The first few chapters offer a great combo of amusing career anecdotage and nuts and bolts info on starting your own business.

On garden leave

July 25, 2010

After 6 happy and very educational years I’ve quit my job working on etrading systems on Canary Wharf. I’m on garden leave this summer ;)  I’ll be starting my new pricing and risk job in the City in late September. Likely there won’t be many updates here before Q4…

OpenGamma

October 7, 2009

I’m almost tempted to send my CV to Kirk – his OpenGamma startup sounds very exciting. I’ve got ticks in most of the boxes Kirk lists, except the pricing stuff, where I’m a bit short. If Kirk’s after a credit pricing coder, maybe he should talk to Noel.

Kirk’s coyness on his funding is intriguing too. Could it be Sean, Ken or FTV ?

The Netflix values

August 21, 2009

Picked this one up from ParkParadigm. Anyone who’s experienced the more stifling aspect of bank culture will relate to a lot of it. In particular…

  • Slide 6: the difference between real and declared values
  • Slide 11: listen instead of reacting
  • Slide 48: process focus drives talent out !
  • Slide 60: preventing error is not cheaper than fixing it !

They’re falling like ninepins now. Last week it was Dresdner. Today it’s Lehmans. Now there are rumours that Merrill is negotiating an end to it’s independence with Bank of America [update:it's no longer just a rumour] . Could Morgan Stanley, or even (whisper it) Goldman’s be next ?

I’m proud to say that this is an area where Britain has led the financial world. We used to have independent investment banks like Morgan Grenfell, Barings, Warburgs & Fleming. They all collapsed or sold out ten or more years back. Now our American colleagues are following the trail we blazed !

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the so called “universal banking model” – institutions that combine retail, commercial, wholesale & private banking with broker dealer trading operations and asset management. I guess this is more validation of that model…

It’s a very sad day for the Lehman staff. I know there are a lot of talented IT people there. They’ll all lose their jobs, and are unlikely to get any kind of pay off. No doubt BoA will lay off a lot of Merrill staff, but should give them a few months money.

Caplin Chrome

September 9, 2008

I’ve installed Google‘s new browser Chrome on my Vye S37 at home. While my Vye runs Vista, it doesn’t have Office installed. Instead I use EditGrid and Google docs from IE7. My CPU is often maxed out, despite IE being the only app running. I guessed that all JavaScript running in the browser was hammering the CPU, so I gave Chrome a spin. It’s fast, and CPU loading is way down. Thank you Google Chrome – you breathed life into Vista for me !

So the obvious question is, what will Chrome do for Caplin Trader‘s JavaScript ?  Alas, my employer won’t let me find out, as the InfoSec guys have barred access to the Chrome download. Running Chrome is verboten, and delinquent developers have already been warned… It would be good to see some commentary over at CometDaily. Perhaps Martin could run his grid benchmark in Chrome.

The fall of Dresdner

September 4, 2008

So Dresdner has finally been sold to Commerzbank by Allianz. The sale of DKW has been often rumoured over the last few years. It’s sad to see it finally go, since Dresdner had long been a bastion of tech innovation in the City and Wall St. A while back I commented on how Swiss Bank, long since merged with UBS, was the coolest bank from a tech perspective back in the early and mid 90s. In recent years Dresdner has grabbed attention with…

  • OpenAdaptor: this open source middleware toolkit made DKW the first bank to open source its own code
  • Enterprise Wiki: DKW was an early high profile adopter of social software
  • Digital Markets: the DKW etrading, emarkets, eeverythin initiative

I know quite a few folk who went to DKW and confirmed that they were early adopters. But of course, attention grabbing early adoption isn’t a reliable indicator of success…

BlackBerry BrickBreaker

August 8, 2008

So I caved in recently and got a CrackBerry. It was the evening calls to team members in New York that did it – I didn’t want to make transatlantic calls from my personal mobile so signed up for the corporate electronic handcuffs. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t spend personal time checking and sending emails – it’s important to me that I use my commute time for reading. And guess what, I managed to refrain from compulsive email checking.

But I fell victim to a far more pernicious compulsion: BrickBreaker. BrickBreaker is part of the BlackBerry’s base set of applications, so everyone has it. It’s a variant on Atari’s 1976 classic Breakout. I’ve avoided video games for years, and haven’t really played them since I was a student, since I know I can get fixated. So I haven’t installed them on PCs, and I’ve stayed away from my kids’ Xboxes and PSPs. But BrickBreaker is pernicious because it’s always there – you can play on the train, or in a boring meeting. Since many who carry a CrackBerry are IT management types, they’ll have grown up playing classic Atari games like Space Invaders, Asteroids, Breakout, Pacman. So they’ll be especially vulnerable to a bout of BrickBreaker dependency.

Evidence of chronic BrickBreaker addiction is widespread. Plazmic, the creators of the game, have forums that carry detailed discussion, including the BrickBreaker basics primer – obviously written by a hopeless addict. The Plazmic forums also have Philip Bennett’s Diary of a BrickBreaker, which could be a case study in compulsive behaviour. Over on BlackBerry’s own BrickBreaker forum you can download a PDF detailing the layouts of all the levels, and the locations of the power pills: brickbreaker_v4.2_screenlayouts.pdf.

All addicts eventually have a moment of clarity, when they realise the wastefullness and folly of their habit, and resolve to break it. Mine came at the sandwich bar in our canteen. The lady behind the sandwich bar is used to seeing me with a book as I queue, and asked me why I wasn’t reading. I admitted I was playing BrickBreaker, and that I was hooked. That was the turning point…

PS Apparently there is a cheat. And here’s a guide to levels 16,17 & 18.

Life as a quant

June 17, 2008

Since I’m reading Derman‘s My Life as a Quant, and since desk moves are banned at my bank for cost reasons, I got a laugh out of this cartoon