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Undiscovered Country of HFT: FPGA JIT Ethernet Packet Assembly

Fnkmaster Re:Older idea than you might think (452 comments)

Putting aside, for the moment, all the Slashdot griping about whether this is or is not a productive use of human time and energy (I agree it's probably not in a macro sense, but hey, that's the world we live in), this is indeed an old idea.

I worked as a consultant on a hardware-based HFT system back in 2007 for a Silicon Valley company called Xambala. They were using reconfigurable logic-style chips of their own design specialized for text processing applications, rather than more general purpose FPGAs, though we discussing chaining their chips with FPGAs for more computationally intensive algorithms.

The edge you are going to get from doing processing in silico is quite limited. You can conceivably cut a few tens of microseconds, maybe even 100 microseconds, out of a computation - you still have to have all the other pieces of the puzzle just right. If you are doing straight news/information driven trades in situ at an exchange and can get the same timing of feed data to respond to, then you'll have a good edge (i.e. "Buy if X>0.2, Sell if X0.1, do nothing otherwise).

If you are trying to do intermarket arb (futures/ETF arb, for example) your edge is smaller, since differences in network route, networking hardware, other infrastructure are generally larger in magnitude than what you gain from cutting a few tens of microseconds out of the picture in hardware - but this edge would probably serve existing players well who already have top tier infrastructure.

For the more sophisticated, "game"-driven trading algorithms out there in equity markets, how much value doing stuff in hardware gives you is variable. There's a lot of decision logic involved in spiking orders around, changing behavior states based on other participants, and so on. A better set of algorithms running on top tier infrastructure in software will probably do better than inferior algorithms running in hardware without top tier infrastructure.

Other than Xambala, I am sure there are other players doing similar things. I've also used CUDA on NVIDIA GPUs for calculating option market prices really fast. These are just tools and other people definitely are using these tools in the right scenarios. What really matters in making money is combining the right tools with good implementation, excellent infrastructure, and testing and adaptiveness to market conditions.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Node.js vs. JEE/C/C++/.NET In the Enterprise?

Fnkmaster Re:node.js has a very serious issue (304 comments)

Python scales pretty well to a medium size codebase (Java scales better to a large codebase than anything I know of - old-school Java may have been painful to develop in, but this it did well).

Javascript doesn't really seem to, at least with most common tools (if you move to using Typescript and the like, it may do a better job). However, Javascript has nowhere near the level of library and tool support for non-web-browser-based tasks that a mature platform like Python has.

If you just need to do very simple processing of data in a fast, asynchronous manner, node.js does it (and it's fast as hell, no doubt, because v8 is the best tuned JITed engine for weak-ish typed languages out there, thank to years of browser competition). But if you want to do anything interesting with that data, I don't know how you are going to accomplish that with node - where are the NLP, vector math, linear algebra, search infrastructure, etc. etc. libraries that Java or Python have in huge volumes? Non-existant or extremely immature.

Also - for anything serious, node.js has changed way too much in way too short a period of time to use as a platform for. Maybe in a few years it will be more stable for some applications, but not quite yet.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Getting Hired As a Self-Taught Old Guy?

Fnkmaster Hiring here! (472 comments)

Dear smart, grumpy engineers of Slashdot who live elsewhere in the US: here in Silicon Valley it's hard to hire good people.

I am very much trying to hire excellent engineers with experience in search infrastructure/Lucene, recommendation systems, as well as great mobile app developers with experience developing top-tier iOS or Android apps. I will pay well for good talent, offer fair benefits and excellent option package in an early stage startup founded by a guy who has built several successful businesses, including a multi-hundred million dollar company backed by top tier venture firms.

If you can prove to me that you are smart and capable and have relevant experience, I don't care if you have a degree from a top college or not (a degree will affect my baseline expectations, but if you seem smart and competent, I'll give you the opportunity for a phone call to show me how good you are).

If you are a Slashdot regular, that is worth bonus points too (the fewer digits in your UID, the better).

Seriously. If you meet any of the parameters above and think you are a great programmer and would like to come out to the Palo Alto area and work with other top tier people building a product that pushes boundaries in the social space and helps people get more out of their mobile devices, send a resume and cover letter to resumes@delvv.com.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Handle a Colleague's Sloppy Work?

Fnkmaster Learn from him (332 comments)

I like working with people who get the job done, quickly and simply, and focus on functional completeness and minimizing defects. People who I can count on to tell them "here's what it needs to do" and I can know that I'll get something out that does what we need.

I don't like working with people who obsess about every line of code they produce and who worry more about documenting things internally than about getting working code out the door.

Sure, given the choice I prefer clean, maintainable code to shitty, sloppy code. But complaining about diagram quality in internal documentation? Unless you are making components for NASA or MRI machines, I think you're obsessing about things that don't matter that much.

The reason the guy in question is senior to you is because management likes people they can count on to get shit done.

about a year ago
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Python Trademark Filer Ignorant of Python?

Fnkmaster Re:Company lacks credibility (261 comments)

Cloud computing definitely doesn't have to be pay-as-you-go. The pay-as-you-go hosted computing services are certainly banner examples of "cloud computing" but they are by no means the only thing that can be accurately described as "cloud computing".

about a year and a half ago
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Experience the New Slashdot Mobile Site

Fnkmaster scrolling still broken (384 comments)

Hey dummies, you broke scrolling during the beta. It simply doesn't scroll properly on the default Android browser. Something is mucked up with touch event handling. Please fix this. That is why everybody keeps saying they prefer classic mode - at least you can scroll properly.

about a year and a half ago
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Rare Earth Elements Found In Jamaican Mud

Fnkmaster Re:"continue to search for and find other deposits (100 comments)

Funny, I thought what was rare was finding them in high concentrations in places where labor is cheap and environmental laws lax.

about a year and a half ago
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The New Ethanol Blend May Damage Your Vehicle

Fnkmaster Re:A clear example of how lobbying hurts everyone (375 comments)

Except that people generally pay more for ethanol in their drinking water - cocktails all around! Seriously though - ethanol may cause engine damage from water content in older engines, but it certainly doesn't create any environmental hazard beyond what gasoline combustion already creates. Comparison to MTBE doesn't make sense. The economics of ethanol production in the US are of course very screwed up by corn industry subsidies, but if you can make the stuff cheaply in real, undistorted terms, it's a fine renewable fuel for use in cars made to tolerate such blends.

about a year and a half ago
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Slashdot Mobile: Now For Tablets As Well As Phones

Fnkmaster Ugh. (123 comments)

Why would you post this today? Sometime last week you updated the mobile code and broke scrolling. Seriously. On the Android 4 browser you can now basically no longer properly scroll the mbeta.slashdot.org site. It's like it's eating touch and/or scroll events for lunch. You clearly tried to fix this, because you can now fling again, but if you are in contact with the touchscreen, the site stops scrolling within a second or so. This problem was not present a week or two ago. Very, horrifically annoying. Showstopper bug. Go fix it, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.

The other annoying thing - the horrifically slow and error prone paging between stories. And stop trying to intercept swipe events on comments - I'm not trying to switch stories, I'm generally trying to click something to expand/reply/etc. But it's even worse because the story switching is so horribly slow, and has no "loading..." or other user feedback.

Basically, go work on this for another month or so then let us know when it's fixed.

about 2 years ago
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Firefox 18 Beta Out With IonMonkey JavaScript Engine

Fnkmaster Re:Still slower than v8 (182 comments)

But only marginally so. In most benchmarks, it looks to be roughly on par with v8 now. In some, what, 20% slower? I think that's pretty respectable - compare with the situation a year or two ago when Firefox's Javascript engine was several times slower than v8.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Incentives For IT Workers?

Fnkmaster Re:"we have guns" . . . (468 comments)

Well higher salary at least is often not a good long term incentive. But some measure of piecework or pay for results can be a great incentive - the more directly coupled to the persons actual work product, the better in terms of incentive effectiveness.

about 2 years ago
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Beer Is Cheaper In the US Than Anywhere Else In the World

Fnkmaster Re:There's a reason for that. (633 comments)

Weird opinion - the US is near the tops in terms of food quality in the world, based on my experience. And has a far superior amount of diversity in its high quality fine dining options to most countries I've visited in Europe and the Americas. Try eating your way around New York, San Francisco (and throughout the bay area), Napa and Sonoma Counties in California, Charleston in South Carolina, or any of the foodie meccas around the US.

about 2 years ago
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Can the UK Create Something To Rival Silicon Valley?

Fnkmaster Re:But actually living in London is a challenge (395 comments)

As expensive as the Bay Area is relative to the rest of the country, it still pales in comparison to nice areas of London.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is There a Professional Geek Dress Code?

Fnkmaster Re:Does it really matter (432 comments)

I'll never forget when I was a 20 year old intern at a financial firm, and I was invited to a meeting with a CEO from a medical services company we were considering investing in. The analyst I reported to was in his late 20s, a business school graduate, who was admittedly a cocky bastard. First, he let me show up on time to the meeting and talk with the CEO for 15 minutes before he bothered coming. Probably just to put the CEO in his place, letting him know he was on par with an intern.

When the analyst finally showed up, he was wearing a button down shirt, slacks, and no shoes. He said to the CEO "it's casual Friday, hope you don't mind that I took my shoes off". The CEO, looking only slightly flustered, then said, "no not at all", and proceeded to take his shoes off for the meeting too.

Some things are just too weird to make up. But yeah, nothing says I've got a sack too big for words like walking around the office in business casual, or even a suit, and no shoes.

more than 2 years ago
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Microsoft Writes Off $6.2 Billion From aQuantive Acquisition

Fnkmaster Re:Accounting terminology (115 comments)

When a company acquires another company, that acquisition becomes a part of the balance sheet of the acquirer. Essentially, the value of the assets they purchased are recorded as if they are worth what they paid for them.

Much of this value, especially with software companies, is carried in the form of "goodwill" on the balance sheet. This is the excess payment over and above the book value of the acquired company (i.e. the value of its assets). If a company gets bought out for $6.3 billion dollars and had $100M in book value assets recorded on their own balance sheet (computers, chairs, buildings, machinery, etc.), then the acquirer records $6.2B in goodwill on their balance sheet,

If the assets that were acquired generate fewer profits than expected, the company may have to record what's called a "goodwill impairment" - the stuff they bought has been demonstrated to be worth less than $6.2B, so they have to record a paper loss in their annual profit and loss statement, which comes out of the goodwill asset on their balance sheet. In theory, the accountants are supposed to look at the business unit every year to see if there is any impairment of value that would require the reporting of a loss associated with the goodwill impairment of that unit. In practice, these things often seem to just sit around for a few years then get pulled out of a hat when the CFO decides fuck it, we're losing money this year anyway, time to write off all that dumb shit we've been carrying on our books that we bought before the economy went kerplop.

Even worse the a goodwill impairment, the entirety of that goodwill can be written off, creating a paper loss equal to almost the amount they originally spent on the company. Which is apparently what happened here.

It's like Microsoft took $6.2B and lit it on fire. They just didn't realize it had all burned up until now, even though the actual cash was gone several years ago.

more than 2 years ago
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Double-Helix Model of DNA Paper Published 59 Years Ago

Fnkmaster Re:Rosalind Franklin (112 comments)

While it was clearly her data that they used, I've never heard any source state that she had already solved the problem of the exact structure of DNA. She probably realized that the crystal indicated a helical structure, but I don't think she knew exactly what it looked like or how it worked. So yeah, she deserved more credit then she received at the time, but I think it's possible to swing too far in the other direction, taking credit away from the guys who worked out much of the annoying details of the problem.

about 2 years ago
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NSA Building US's Biggest Spy Center

Fnkmaster What am I missing? (279 comments)

My understanding is that the best known general cryptanalytic attacks on AES are only marginally better than brute-force. Even AES-128 is essentially unbreakable under any known attacks then, since brute forcing a single AES-128 password is so far beyond feasibility, it's absurd. My understanding is that the best known attacks on AES are side-channel attacks, which require only modest computational resources, but need access to the encrypting machine, and related-key attacks that are only effective for certain small classes of keys.

So we can then assume that NSA has a general attack on AES that makes it many, many orders of magnitude easier to break than the best known published attacks? Or is this more likely to be disinformation spread to make people *think* that AES is broken by NSA? My understanding was that NSA is generally somewhat but not extremely far beyond the academic state of the art these days.

And there have been several reports of FBI and other federal agencies being unable to recover AES-256 encrypted hard drives. So if NSA has the capability to do so even for small numbers of keys using existing computing power, they obviously keep it incredibly restricted and under wraps.

So... this is BS by somebody, right? Either congress is getting BSed into funding stuff that won't do what they're being told it will do, or the public is getting BSed into believing that using encryption is pointless because NSA can real-time decrypt anything, so just don't bother, mmm'kay?

more than 2 years ago
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James Whittaker: Focus on Ads and 'Social' Destroying Google

Fnkmaster Won't people eventually start noticing? (236 comments)

If increasingly the currency of the digital world is information aggregation, collection, and targeting, won't people eventually start to realize that *this* is their valuable asset and they should be compensated for giving it up, assume control in some meaningful way of their online persona?

I know there are several startups trying to move in this direction, and I don't know if any of them have it figured out yet, but it seems that Facebook's blunt approach and Google's ham-handed attempts should eventually be beaten out by a more crafty, nuanced approach, assuming the market mechanism still works in this realm and the network effects aren't as strong as many people assume they are (and the history of the online world, and of social networking, tells us they aren't).

more than 2 years ago

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