How to customize your Windows 10 tiles.

Windows is better (and worse) in many ways than it ever has before. One such apparent lack of basic functionality is the ability to customize your start menu tiles. No, I’m not talking about that rinky-dinky disgustingly simple right click menu, I mean something like this:

Of course I have a Windows update pending…

Which looks a lot better than something like this:

 

How, you may ask? Through something called the VisualElementsManifest.xml. It’s a feature of Windows that you can actually use an .XML file to instruct it how to display the tiles. There are only a few options, but the one we’re most interested in is the option to replace the icon with our own picture.

You can thus add one next to each application’s .exe that you’d like to replace the icon for, and then update the shortcut’s modified date (quick way to do so is cutting + pasting it out and in of the windows start menu icons folder), and bam!

Name the .xml file the exact same as the .exe.

Example Firefox visualelementsmanifest:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Application xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
  <VisualElements BackgroundColor="#000000" ShowNameOnSquare150x150Logo="off" ForegroundText="dark" Wide150x300Logo="firefox-customtile.png" Wide150x310Logo="firefox-customtile.png" Square300x300Logo="firefox-customtile.png" Square310x310Logo="firefox-customtile.png" Wide300x150Logo="firefox-customtile.png" Wide310x150Logo="firefox-customtile.png" Square150x150Logo="firefox-customtile.png" Square70x70Logo="firefox-customtile.png"/>
</Application>

 

But how do you get stuff like Groove Music UWP apps working?

Make another .exe that launches Groove, then put the VisualElementsManifest.xml next to that.

Sound complicated?

Good thing I’ve already done all of these steps for you.

All you have to do is download these two things (three if you want to launch steam games from the start menu):

  1. My tiny AppLauncher (open source; it doesn’t need to be – it’s like 3 lines)
  2. CustomNativeTile (will generate the .xml files for you, allow you to pick shortcuts from a UI, and auto-updates the start menu tiles after picking the picture)

And if you want to launch steam games from the start menu:

3. SteamLauncher (same idea as the AppLauncher, just for steam)

 

I’m gonna assume you have a rudimentary knowledge of computers to get this stuff working.

Cheers!


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Which Broker to use: TD Ameritrade vs Robinhood vs WeBull

With the recent trend of most brokers going commission free, more and more opportunities are starting to open up the those just starting out in the financials world. However, the vast array of choices can be overwhelming. Which out of the available brokerages/applications should you get?

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is the go-to for most new investors, as they recently went commission free on all equities, with small charges on options. They include a large learning/education library, and a ton of really good resources for getting started.

Robinhood

The classic. This is the original no commission, completely fee-free investing app that shook the world when they first launched in 2013. I still use them for options investing, as they don’t charge any fees for any options contracts you wish to purchase. However, the UI is not very advanced, and I highly recommend using something like TradingView.com with it.

WeBull

WeBull is one of my favorites. It has a clean UI, pretty advanced charting tools for what it is, and I haven’t experienced any problems with it. It has someresources for beginners, and encourages exploration and learning in its own way.

 

I use a combination of all of the above for my trading, personally, and I highly recommend you have fun exploring the different brokerages. Charles Schawb is one I’ve also heard a lot about, although I haven’t personally used it. I visited their website a few times and looked at their tools and it just failed to entice me into downloading it or signing up, so I haven’t. I personally use a combination WeBull and TradingView.com as my favorites so far, paired with RobinHood for the options contracts. In that way, I avoid paying any fees.

TradingView.com is also something you should add to your repertoire simply because of the ability to code your own indicators and use them for free, which is wildly useful. I myself use them all the time, and strongly recommend that you check them out if you’re the slightest bit interested in chart patterns or stock ideas.

I was about to hit the publish button and then I remembered ChartMill, so check that out too. They provide in depth analysis about equities on demand. They have some confusing pricing structures, so be careful, but I seem to be able to use it for free as much as I want, so test it out.


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Welcome to the Age of Quantum Computers

From Bloomberg:

A team of scientists at Google’s research lab announced last week in the journal Nature that they had built a quantum computer that could perform calculations in about 200 seconds that would take a classical supercomputer some 10,000 years to do.

An age ofQuantum supremacywas duly declared.

Google’s claim to have achieved quantum supremacy that is, to have accomplished a task that traditional computers can’t was premature.

Although the specific problem that Google’s computer solved won’t have much practical significance, simply getting the technology to work was a triumph; comparisons to the Wright brothersearly flights aren’t far off the mark.

Congress should fund basic research at labs and universities, ensure the U.S. welcomes immigrants with relevant skills, invest in cutting-edge infrastructure, and use the government’s vast leverage as a consumer to support promising quantum technologies.

A more distant worry is that advanced quantum computers could one day threaten the public-key cryptography that protects information across the digital world.

This is big for a number of reasons but do not get too excited/scared yet! Quantum computing is still a number of years away. IBM was also quick to point out that Google’s estimate for how long “Summit” (the fastest computer in the world currently Google estimated against), was incorrect. According to papers published after Google’s report, “IBM’s engineers reckon, [adjustments would] allow Summit to breeze through the job in a mere 2½ days. Therefore, according to IBM, Google had not shown quantum supremacy after all.”

Well, that was quick.

What does that mean for their supposed success? Well, it’s still impressive. Google demonstrated a monstrous leap in technological prowess and got one step closer to proving a plethora of theories that many computer scientists are still eagerly waiting to take a crack at. P = NP anyone?

But wait, not so fast. Technically yeah, Google was wrong, but you still have to compare and contrast the differing performance results. Two and a half days is, after all, still about 1,200 times longer than 3 minutes.

Second, each extra qubit doubles the memory required by a classical machine put up against it. Adding just three qubits to Google’s challenger machine would have exhausted Summit’s hard disks. Quantum computers do not face such explosively growing demands. Google’s machine may not quite have crossed the finishing line. But it has got pretty close to doing so.

Additionally, Bloomberg has an excellent point when it says the U.S. should invest in this technology, if they aren’t already. They likely are behind the scenes, as a foreign entity such as China being the first to own a Quantum Computer is very scary. As Bloomberg pointed out, Quantum Computers make breaking passwords look like a walk in the park. Our current method of storing passwords would be under direct attack from Quantum Computing, and it’s one of the reasons the research is so dangerous.

Let me end your day off with this badass robot (fair warning, some of the video is fake) that some very talented individuals are developing.


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Why do most people lose money in the stock market?

Something I wondered while entering into the financial securities industry is “why do MOST people lose money in the stock market?”

It’s interesting, after all, that the stock market is seen as one of the best ways to make money and yet there are so many horror stories of people losing everything. Statistically, 90%-96% of people who trade lose money in the stock market. How then, can you be different?

It’s not difficult to comprehend what actions you are supposed to take, the difficult part is sticking to the rules you’ve outlined for yourself and not getting upset. Here are some of the rules of wall street to help you make smarter investing decisions:

  1. Don’t buy options over the weekend
  2. Don’t buy equities on Tuesdays or Fridays (those are the market’s biggest UP days)
  3. Cut your losses after 7%
  4. Don’t chase Drawdown

Let’s start with these four. I’ll explain 2 of these today and try to get to the other ones/add more in the next posts.

Don’t buy options over the weekend

Put very simply (ELI5 material), options allow you to express the sentiment that you believe the stock will go either up/down or stay the same for a specified period of time and if you’re right you get paid. Sounds simple enough. A CALL option means you think the stock will go up. A PUT option means you think the stock will go down. Both types of options give you the ability to purchase the underlying asset/equity at the “strike price”, but either in a positive or negative guess at the direction. The “strike price” of the option is the threshold for measuring the option’s performance against your guess, essentially. If you want more explanations on what an option is, read this.

The “delta” of an option is closer to 0.5 the closer the option’s strike price is to its underlying asset’s price. This value denotes the change in price vs a $1 change in the price of its underlying asset (an equity in this case).

The “theta” of an option is the theoretical value that an option’s monetary value decreases every day from sheer loss of speculation alone. Let me explain that.

Today’s date (when I’m writing this thing) is 10/29/2019 for reference.

Here’s AAPL’s stock graph over the past month-ish.

Now, this picture does not have to make sense to you:

Let’s say you buy a PUT for Apple Inc that expires in two weeks (there are predefined expiration dates, but you can pick from the available selections they give you. Usually they are in increments of weeks or months) at the strike price of $240 for a premium of $5.72. That’s what the price is of the 240 strike option on the PUT side, so that’s what you would pay, x100. You must buy 100 copies of options contracts at all times.

The $5.72 = $572 you must pay for the OPTION. This is the premium price.

If you have the available funds, you can then either exercise the option when you’d like (if it’s American Style funds) or you will have to wait until the expiration date (if it’s European Style funds).

Regardless, most of the time this isn’t the play. That means you would have to buy x100 shares of AAPL, which works out to about $25,000. This is a large risk and probably wouldn’t be a good idea unless you were 99.9% certain Apple was going to fail hard.

The better play is usually to sell the option back to the market for a profit when SPECULATION rises. The hope that the stock will go down will drive the PUT’S price up or down, depending on the current outlook of the stock.

This means you can trade options like normal stocks! You could buy an options premium for $5.72 (spend $572), then wait a day, confirm your theory that Apple is going down, then sell and collect the increase of the premium since yesterday for the new people that now think Apple will go down in the future. Options can quickly gain and lose value, as while I was writing this the 240 strike option we were talking about dropped in value to about $5.47.

That’s about 10 minutes, to gain/lose about 7%.

Is it a good buy now?

Maybe.

 

You can’t know, obviously. But you can try to predict.

Back to what I was saying about theta. Theta is option’s ENEMY, as time is to our own life. Remember, theta is how quickly time itself eats away at the hope and speculation of the stock’s price movement. Okay, that sounds a little more dramatic than it is, but not really.

If you think Apple is going to go down in price to $240, and there are TWO WEEKS until expiration, (remember, we picked that one earlier), there is still a lot of time for things to change if Apple starts going up suddenly, right? This is the theta at work. People naturally assume (and are correct) that just because Apple’s stock is suddenly going up today, it doesn’t mean it has to go up tomorrow.

But what if the stock expires in ONE WEEK? Now, there’s a little less time to go. Will Apple’s stock go down still if it’s going up today? Maybe, maybe not.

What if your option expires TOMORROW, and Apple is still going up? Well, chances are virtually 0 that Apple will somehow drop 10% in a day and make you money off of your option, so the price will plummet just based off the speculation of the price changing alone. That’s the theta.

Theta can range from a variety of values but the theta value is simply the amount in dollars/cents that get taken off the premium each day, theoretically (assuming liquidity and volume remain constant, which is virtually impossible).

If you bought that option for $5.72, and the theta is 0.1, that means tomorrow your option will be worth about $5.62, even if nothing else changes, because of the lack of time for speculation about the future price changes of the stock.

However, keep in mind that this doesn’t actually reflect the real value of the stock’s price. Looking at the amount of CALLs vs PUTs, and the LVL 2 data can give you big insights about whether people’s general sentiment about a stock is positive or negative.

The point then, don’t buy options over the weekend. This should be obvious by now why, but it’s because you do not have any control over whether to sell your options over the weekend. If the theta starts burning, Apple comes out with a new product, the market is happy, and you’re definitely not, it’s going to be a very long weekend, and when Monday hits your option’s value will dump 40% and you’ll be sad. Don’t do it. I’ve done it a few times, it sucks.

Don’t buy equities on Tuesdays or Fridays

This one is for a pretty simple, statistical reason. The market usually goes up on Tuesdays and Fridays for the week, even in a general market downturn. The “Monday Effect” has been a thing and holds true for many years, stating that the markets typically dump harder on Monday. Thursdays and Wednesdays are usually bad for it as well, although I have observed Wednesday as being more of a wildcard day.

 

Good luck! Since this is the first official blog post in this vein I’ll put this once and once only.

Securities Recommendation Disclaimer


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What’s with the dark themes?

Some people may have noticed the rising trend of dark themed applications and websites. This is not just your imagination. Dark themes are the latest design fad that regularly changes up every so often. Right now, flat, simple designs are in, as well as dark themes. macOS added dark theme to their entire OS, built in system apps included. Microsoft and many other vendors, including Android, and third-party applications implement dark modes into all their apps. There are extensions like “Night Reader” (search Google ya lazy bum) that specifically render websites in dark mode. My website is entirely dark themed. So you may ask yourself, what’s with the dark mode craze? I’ll be attempting to answer that today.

Continue reading What’s with the dark themes?


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