December 2009 Summary

Yet another shockingly bad month for me, not helped by on-going broadband issues. The only saving grace being that I managed to avoid December turning into my first ever losing month, just.

Listed below are the totals for each market/sport I got involved in throughout the month:

Greyhounds... £82.90
Horses... -£26.01
Soccer... -£3.11

I just do not seem to find any consistency these days. Indeed, it's been like that for months. Having said that, I didn't expect anything wonderful this month having taken the decision to start using Bettrader Evolution full time and put Binarysoft BDI out to seed.

The Original Grumpy Old Man

That's me! I hate this time of year, for a whole host of reasons I won't bore you with. It doesn't help that my trading this month is desperately trying to go in the red for the first time.

As mentioned in a previous post, I've taken the opportunity to start using BetTrader Evolution on full time basis. I'm finding it really hard to adjust from BinarySoft. I'm having very few profitable days, and when I do manage a decent result (like yesterday) I throw it away again the next day (like today). Very frustrating.

It's really like starting all over again, which I think is frustrating me even more. Still, I'll plug on regardless, after I take a break for a few days.

Tomorrow I'll be mucking about with the telephone wiring while I wait for the central heating boiler to be serviced.

Cooking Christmas lunch for my mum on Friday, then hopefully I'll manage to fall down a hill on some planks over the weekend. The snow in Scotland has been fabulous this week, but I've been unable to get to it.

So, it only remains for me to wish you and your loved ones a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

A Nice Little Earner

I was taking a break this afternoon from yet another dismal trading session, enjoying a cuppa and watching a re-run of an episode of Star Trek for the umpteenth time, when I nearly fell off my chair.

The commercial break was on and up popped an ad for a loan company, QuickQuid. Nothing unusual in that I hear you say. However, what nearly caused me to spray a mouthful of tea all over the living room was their advertised APR. A whopping 2356%

Yes, you read that correctly. A typical APR of two thousand, three hundred and fifty six percent! Absolutely outrageous. I had to visit their website to confirm. I won't give them credence by posting the link, but you'll find it easy enough.

Why doesn't the powers that be stop these ads as they are clearly preying on those people who simply do not understand these things?

Carry On Dogging

I wonder how many misplaced Google hits that post title will attract. If you've found your way here looking for something else, shame on you! :-)

As you know, I listen to William Hill Radio when trading the greyhounds. Some of the commentators are quite entertaining with many moments filled with double entendre. I don't know if it is deliberate but it matches anything you would find in the Carry On films of old.

For example, one of Paul Castle's frequent mumblings go along the lines of "the two dog takes the one dog up the back section". You can't help but smile.

Yesterday, Darren Driver came out with this little gem: "This dog can do it from the front or the back".

Oooh! Matron!

I know, the words 'little', 'simple', 'minds' and 'things' spring to mind, though not necessarily in that order. Still, if it is enough to bring a smile to the face on a frustrating day of trading, all to the good I say.

Legal Or Not

I had the misfortune of doing Christmas shopping last night and took the opportunity to chat to the bloke manning the BT stand at the local shopping center.

Having more or less decide to change my ISP and/or telephone supplier, I was telling him my broadband woes. I was under the impression that touching anything behind the master socket was illegal (keep in mind I have an old 'star wired' arrangement). Not according to him.

Adjusting the telephone cabling is not rocket science but the legality issue was what was making me somewhat reticent in doing any work in that area. He did of course point out that if I break something, then it will cost me if an engineer has to be called out.

Looks like I've got a nice little project to keep me occupied over the holiday period while my daughter is away.

Given that BT is huge and split into different groups, who knows if this guy knows what he is talking about. I suspect not, but I've got his name and number if anyone complains.

Time To Retire BDI

With my trading being so poor the past few months, coupled with the hassles I've had with my broadband connection, I've decided to put my time to better use and look to retire BinarySoft BDI.

I've been part of the Bettrader Evolution beta testing team for a few months, but, to be perfectly honest, other than carrying out my duties in the aforementioned role, I've not used it for serious trading. This has been for a number of reasons, not least of which has been my trading performance over recent times. I stuck to what I was familiar with in order to concentrate on getting my trading back on track.

I cannot say that that was particularly successful, but perhaps that's another story.

Losing Interest Rapidly

While my broadband issues have had an effect on the amount of trading I have been doing, it has settled down (touch wood), albeit some 30%-40% slower than it used to be. I'm still investigating that, but I can't really use the slowdown as an excuse.

The bottom line is, my trading has been crap for months and I just don't seem to be able to take it forward. Indeed, if anything it is going backwards and it is taking with it any enthusiasm I've had for it. My mental and emotional state is being sorely test just now. I readily admit that I'm struggling to see how to arrest the decline, far less take things to a new level.

I shall continue to plug away though, to be honest, it feels more in hope that things will come good rather than me actually make them do so.

Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

As I am sure you can appreciate, my go-slow broadband has severely curtailed my trading activities recently, hence the lack of updates.

I have tried trading each day but I have had to make do without WH Radio, live streaming of football matches and visits to chat rooms to have any hope of making trades. It has been haphazard to say the least. Needless to say, I've been losing more times than winning.

I'm currently at the stage were I've managed to borrow a couple of old routers from a client, in order to confirm whether my router is up the spout. The one I'm currently testing is a ZyXEL Prestige 650R-31. It is syncing at a reasonable rate, typically 2.5Mbps.

Unfortunately, this router doesn't seem to handle low noise margins very well. When it syncs, the noise margin is in the high teens, but as the day wears on, this decays until the router loses sync, disconnects and resyncs. The noise margin drops as evening turns to night, so I get about 16 hours out of the router and it resyncs a couple of times during the night. Each time though it resyncs to around 2.5Mbps.

A synchronisation rate of 2.5Mbps, SHOULD see me achieve a download rate of around 2Mbps. I'm getting 0.8Mbps! Why? It's all down to this ludicrous system that BT have in place whereby they adjust your 'profile' if their systems decide that your line is unstable. The theory behind this is to allow them to guarantee some level of service.

In effect, they are throttling my connection and I am NOT happy.

If they detect that the line is being disconnected on a regular basis, they drop your profile. So the question arises regarding the current router I am testing; if it loses sync 2-3 times during the night, even though I'm not using it during that time, will BT keep my profile low, despite the router always syncing around 2.5Mbps?

What if I don't want to keep my router on overnight? Would switching it off when I go to bed mean that I am inadvertently limiting my bandwidth? How frequent would the switch offs need to be in order to trigger the BT profile reduction?

My ISP tells me I should keep the router switched on all the time. I do, but I have to ask the question, why the hell should I? It's a question that you should be asking too.

Not only that, my ISP advises that when I make a change to test something, that BT says I should allow 72 hours for their system to adjust. What complete pillock ever thought that was a good idea? If your reading this please comment. I'd love to hear the reasoning behind it.

For anyone that has ever had a broadband connection issue, you'll be familiar with the usual spiel ISPs normally give you: swap your filters, change your router, connect your router to the master socket, blah, blah, bloody blah! Based on the 72 hour rule, it could take you weeks, if not months to resolve the issue!

Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

Broadband Issues Continue

Well, I've heard from my ISP that both BT and their broadband suppliers (my ISP, Freeola, are a reseller for Entanet) have done repeated tests and found nothing untoward with my line or their equipment. Surprise, surprise!

In the meantime, they have me doing numerous tests involving router settings, swapping routers etc. What annoys me about these tests is the length of time I have to wait to see any sort of effect. Because of the way BT equipment automatically handles disconnections any change I make can either appear to have no effect, or indeed, make things worse.

Essentially, disconnections have the effect of reducing your BT profile where BT force a slower sync rate in order to improve stability. Only when the connection has been stable for at least 72 hours will it be increased, even then, only incrementally. What a pain in the arse!

In the meantime, I've got to accept a much reduced service, yet pay the same amount of money for it!

I've always been annoyed by the way the 'up to 8Mb' broadband is priced in this country. I think it is outrageous that two people, on the same plan with the same ISP pay the same monthly fee, yet one gets a better service simply because they live a few hundred yards nearer the exchange. I cannot think of any other example where that would be allowed.

Imagine driving three miles to your local electrical store where you meet up with a friend who lives right next door to said store. You both have exactly the same amount of cash and enter the store with the intention of buying the same model of television, yet you are fobbed off with a lower spec TV because you live three miles away. It just wouldn't happen.

I currently spend £25/month for the privilege of getting 0.4Mbps when I used to get 1.4Mps for the same price. Now, it looks like I am going to be spending much of December having to put up with it as I twiddle my thumbs for 72 hour spells.

The one good thing that has come of this is that it has really focussed my mind on all the things I can do to squeeze as much bandwidth out of my line as I possibly can. It is just so annoying that I have to wait for such long periods to see if each changed worked.

One of the things I have done is upgrade the firmware for my Netgear DG834PN router. This is obtained not from Netgear but DGTeam. This has added numerous adjustable settings to the administrative controls for the router, so I've got lots of extra bits to adjust. Unfortunately, many of them will require a reboot and the associated BT enforced slowdown that that entails.

Talk about two steps forward, one step back!

Of course, I'm not ruling out having to change my router altogether. I've already seen a ZyXEL modem sync to 3.3Mbps - the highest I've ever seen since buying this house 5 years ago although I didn't see a corresponding increase in speed as my BT profile was still restricted. Unfortunately, before my profile could be increased, the SNR margin slowly fell until the thing lost sync, disconnected and re-sync'd at 1.1Mbps.

Neither am I ruling out having my internal star-wired layout replaced with a modern one. Indeed, if I ever get the spare room turned into an office/trading room (seems I've been talking about that for forever) then I definitely will.

In the meantime, I need to carry on trying to eliminate all possible causes of the drop in speed, which, thanks to the stupid way BT's system works, is likely to take as long as me sorting the spare room out.

As You Were

My miserable run continues it seems as I start December pretty much where I left off in November.

I had a reasonable opening day yesterday, but today, I couldn't trade for peanuts and subsequently lost all but £6 of yesterday's profit. It's seems I can barely manage to string two winning days together these days.

I seemed to be operating in slow motion today, with sloth-like reactions costing me dear. I only did four horse races and I lost everyone of them.

The late afternoon greyhounds weren't much better, despite the large amounts of money floating around. I just kept getting caught, or more accurately, saw that I was about to be caught and my slow reactions ensured that I did. I just couldn't get to grips with how quickly the markets were moving.

The only good thing was, after yet another screw up and an all red position of £8.54 in the 4:57 at Belle Vue, there was a late withdrawal and Betfair voided the race. As that felt like a win, I stopped.

Changing the subject, on the broadband front, I thought I was getting somewhere. I swapped routers and, after a bit of on-line research, I disconnected the bell wires from all sockets. This second router resync'd to over 3.3Mbps! I've never seen that even when I've got a good connection.

Moreover, it remained steady. Each subsequent test I did revealed the same figure. Unfortunately, I saw no improvement in speed, mainly because my iprofile set by BT remained at 500Kbps. Worse, the SNR margin, while starting off at a healthy 10.5db was less with each test until it had fallen so low that the router lost synchronisation. As a result, when it resync'd, the connection rate had dropped to 1.1Mbps.

I also took the opportunity on Tuesday to trace my cabling from the point of entry to my house. I didn't expect to find quite the mess I did though.

As I've been trying to tell my ISP, my telephone installation uses the old style 'star' wiring. The BT cable enters the house via the attic where it is meant to terminate in a small junction box. This one however has its two wires spliced onto the end of the scabbiest, strangest two-core cable I've ever seen. This does a few loops around the attic floor and then enters the junction box.

Not only that, the two sockets emanate from this junction box, as you'd expect. However, on inspection of the connections inside the sockets, all six terminals were connected - only connections 2 and 5 are required for modern telephones. Not only that, they were wired without adhering to the conventional colour coding.

In addition, the socket in my bedroom, which I assumed was an extension, turns out to be the master socket, with the one in the hall being a slave.

Why the wiring is arranged in this way is anyone's guess, though I suspect it to be a previous owner's DIY mess. The dangers of buying secondhand.

Unfortunately, while sorting this, , is a piece of cake, it is also illegal for me to touch it. So I might as well get it rewired by BT so as to provide an up to date, modern style socket. Though I believe BT will charge me in the order of £150 for the privilege. Bloody rip off. At least then I'll be able to tell any ISP when they inevitably try to blame internal wiring that they can think again.

This saga will run and run I feel.