Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Settling in

Well I managed to get the new iMac in without too much bother

and the Mini is on the other side of the room to run my bot and so I can write some more data import code

Not my usual mug you understand

Porting my routines over to the Mini has broken them, partly because SQL server names are now different but also because (I think) I wasn't running the right Visual Studio 2005 service pack. I downloaded about a gigabyte of updates and patches this evening and they seemed to have installed ok, so it should just be a case of picking it up in the morning where I left off.

The beauty of running a virtual machine is that you can copy over the image and run it in another vm on another machine right away. I copied over my Mini's vm image to my iMac last night and was glad to see Windows 7 boot up without any bother.

The iMac screen is physically closer to me than my previous screen (there's no room behind to push it back any further) and it took a little while for my senses to adjust to the new distance whilst trading this afternoon. Whereas before I had 10 in-running ladders, I now only have 8 because the reduced distance between my eyes and screen means I can't scan all 10 ladders without moving my head (it's a bit like watching a movie from the front row).

I got on okay with things in the end and was impressed by the speed and stability of the new machine. The Toy ran effortlessly within the VMware session. The iMac gets quite warm at the back when it's working hard - the metal case must be acting as a heat-sink I suppose. There's a big slot in the top for the warm air to escape from....I just hope the thunderflies don't get in there as I've already had some get in and then die in 3 other screens and they're unsightly. I was typing the other week and (no joke) I was wondering why I couldn't delete this stray apostrophe from the text......only it wasn't an apostrophe grrrrrrrr :(

The markets were quite kind to me today and I was pleased with my achievements. I messed up the big race of the day by trying to trade Canford Cliffs with larger stakes than I'm used to and never really got on the right side of anything, ending up 25 notes down. I haven't really noticed a huge shift in the markets since the new PC was introduced, but then I'm still a relatively small fish in the large pond and I suppose the changes are more noticeable at the "top end". Bottom Feeders (see glossary) like me are grateful for the scraps, and damn tasty scraps they are too!

On the crab!

Sunday, 24 July 2011


I actually feel like I'm getting somewhere with my data imports. The Betfair data extractor I've written is working fine except for one niggle around the totalmatched field which, depending on what time of day you query the API, may or may not break the delimiter I've set on the columns. I'll have to write some more clean-up code to eliminate the manual effort I'm forced to do.

The Betfair data and MFPro action logs (ie the logs which actually detail what bets have been placed) are then imported into a SQL database via this SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) job that I've set up. I love the graphical nature of SSIS and really got to grips with the technology while I was in paid employment. The fact that I'm now using my skills in this fashion is really quite ironic!

SSIS chain of events

Finally, some meaningful data in a SQL view - the pain was worth it

My bot is now using real money and by the end of yesterday was 4 points up - whoopee! Sitting here writing this, I've just heard the software make that comical "wah wah wah" noise so not exactly the start I was hoping for in the first at Carlisle. Now I'm using real money, I'm compelled to gather as much data as I can so I can fine-tune the bot and make it as profitable as possible. Test modes are all very well but unless you're losing real money, it's hard to get motivated to find winning ways.

If I can get the bot winning, I'll be keen to interface it with BetDaq as quickly as possible because, like many others, I'm appalled by Betfair's new Premium Charge structure (despite not having to pay it yet). Betfair's website is shockingly slow now with all these panels popping up everywhere, their API was down yet again last Saturday and the whole ethos of the company now smacks of corporate greed.

There have been many requests on the Geek's Toy forum for a "purple" version of the software but The Geek is keeping quiet on the topic. There was talk a few weeks ago on the forum of a sell-out and The Geek was being very cryptic (perhaps because of a non-disclosure agreement?) so what the future holds for the software in general is anybody's guess. I still love using the software but in this fast-changing industry, fickle users will migrate to something else if the "grass is greener"...or purple-r! The Toy is classier than anything else out there and I've tried them all now; if I had to use BetAngel or something else just to get BetDaq access I will be gutted, especially as I would rather not line the pockets of certain well-publicised characters in the API software industry.

I've changed my set-up now in case The Toy / my internet / my PC goes belly up. I used to run another copy of The Toy on my netbook with a 3G O2 dongle. It helped me out a few times but I wasn't happy with the time it took to load a market ladder using the netbook - it could take anything upto 30 seconds which is too long in this game. With the O2 dongle having come to the end of the contract period, I decided to ring up Vodafone to see if I could use my iPhone's data tethering feature with my current contract. Surprise surprise, that feature was an extra £10 per month but what it means it that I can use my iPhone as a 3G wireless hotspot and then run BetTornado on my iPad so I quickly exit a trade. It works really well and is nice and quick, the login takes about half a second and markets load in a second of two.

The BetTornado app on the iPad

Hotspot set up on the iPhone...what is a hotspot not?

BetTornado: another MASSIVE green!

I've not yet manually traded with the 'Tornado but I can see it being really handy to use in front of the telly when the footy is on.

More Apple free-advertising
After a sticky start, the Apple Mac Mini has been earning her keep in the last couple of months. I've been running Windows 7 on VMware Fusion, and The Toy has been running like a dream. Now that I'm botting more actively, I managed to convince myself that I need a more powerful Mac to trade on so I can run the bot on the low-power doesn't take a lot to persuade me to empty my purse at the Apple store! The new Minis (released last week) didn't float my boat so I decided to order an iMac instead

Well if you don't spend your money on anything else, you might aswell have some nice gear - right?