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Frequently Asked Questions

    Security Data

    Using Pikker

    Registration, Purchasing, Trial Period

Security Data
  1. What data is required to use Pikker?

    Pikker currently works with MetaStock format data only. You must have MetaStock, or some utility or service that provides or converts existing data to MetaStock format. Equis (the makers of MetaStock) provides The Downloader. For more information about MetaStock or The Downloader, please visit http://www.equis.com/.

  2. Where can I get security data from?

    MetaStock provides direct compatibility with the following data vendors:

    Reuters DataLink

    We've also found these utilities that will download and convert data:

    Bodhi Freeway
    Quote Monster

  3. Can Pikker use other data formats besides MetaStock?

    Not yet. In the future, we will add the ability to read other formats. There are utilities, such as Equis' The Downloader, which can convert data formats from other systems to MetaStock format.

  4. Can I use Pikker for Mutual Funds?

    Yes!  Any type of security for which you can obtain end-of-day (EOD) data will work in Pikker.  When we refer to "securities", this includes any stocks, mutual funds, indices, ETFs, or any other financial instrument that is traded  on the open markets, and for which you can obtain pricing data.  You could even load futures, commodities, or options data, although using this type of data with conventional indicators would be rather tricky.

    One of the more successful strategies for working with mutual fund data is to load a family of funds representing a variety of market sectors.  You can easily create a system to follow the "Sector Rotation," by always being in the top sector fund (or funds) according to some indicator.

  5. Will Pikker work with futures/commodity data?

    Technically, yes. Logically however, there may be some problems. Because of the way Pikker synchronizes the data, all data files loaded must have overlapping dates, otherwise some data files will be rejected. It's best to use continuous contract data if you wish to do system testing with futures data. Continuous contract data introduces the separate problems of rolling over data, merging contracts, and adjusting for contract price differences.

  6. Is Pikker capable of changing time frames, for example from daily to weekly or monthly?

    Pikker does not make use of the periodicity component of MetaStock data files. It does, however, synchronize all data files loaded to the same dates. If you use data files that are stored with a periodicity other than daily, you must be sure that all files have the same periodicity. Mixing data files with different periodicity may cause some data to be interpolated, or other unexpected results.

  7. What is data synchronization, and why is it necessary?

    Data synchronization is the process of getting all the security data organized with the same set of dates. When trading a portfolio, and testing a system on a collection of securities simultaneously, it's important to have prices for all of the securities for all of the same dates. If this weren't the case, certain calculations wouldn't work. It also makes computations much faster to use the computer's built-in ability to perform calculations on the whole set of data at once.

  8. How does data synchronization work?

    Data synchronization is a somewhat complicated process, and is discussed thoroughly in the help manual. Briefly, it's a seven step process:

    1. Read all security data into memory
  9. Collect the sizes of all the security data
  10. Find the optimum data subset and date range
  11. Truncate all security data to the same date range
  12. Collect a comprehensive list of price dates
  13. Interpolate price data for any missing dates
  14. Load the resulting data into an efficient data structure in memory.
Using Pikker
  1. How can I optimize a system?

    To optimize a system, you can adjust some of the parameters for your trading rules, run a system test, and compare results with previous attempts. We suggest you adjust the "innermost" parameters first. For example, with the rule

    Rank (LinRegSlope (C, 27) / C, N, D) > 14

    You would adjust the 27

    (period to LinRegSlope) up or down until the system produced the most gains, and then adjust the 14 (comparison for Rank) up or down until the gains were again maximized. It's best to change a parameter by a fixed increment (such as 1) at a time in one direction until further adjustments start causing the gains to decrease. Then use the parameter value that produced the "peak" gains.

  2. Can I export the trades to a spreadsheet for further analysis?

    Pikker 1.1 now has a copy feature for the system test results, as well as for the current portfolio list. To copy the system test results from the results dialog, simply click the Copy button, and whatever data is displayed in the list will be copied to the clipboard in a tab-delimited format, which can be directly pasted into a spreadsheet.

    To copy either the portfolio or the current recommendations from the main window, select any data in the results list, and use either the Copy command from the Edit menu, the toolbar Copy button, or the "ctrl-C" keyboard shortcut.

  3. I want a list of a certain indicator for all securities, without the list being filtered for recommendations.

    No problem. Just enter "1" in the Enter Long

    rule, and enter "0" in the Exit Long rule (or delete it). Enter your indicator or formula in the Sort Criteria rule. This makes every security a recommendation, and lists them with their Sort Criteria value -- your indicator. Choose either Ascending Sort or Descending Sort.

    If you want to preserve your existing long rule, you can enter the 1 and 0 in the short rules, and specify listing shorts on the Criteria tab. You'll have to enable a margin account to do this.

  4. I have a profitable system with a negative win/loss ratio and a negative avg profit per trade. Is this possible?

    The annualized percent gain is based on the daily equity, which includes all open positions, whereas the win/loss ratio and the avg. profit per trade are both based on closed trades (not including open trades). What this means is that the current gains for your open positions exceeds the net losses of all closed trades. Either the system has had some recent success that is unrealized in the stats which only consider closed trades, or the system has too much lag and tends to close out trades after a profitable trade has turned into a loss. You could adjust the parameters for your exit rule(s) to see if the system can be made more responsive.

  5. What is the best way to try the same system on different sectors?

    You can easily set up a set of sector-specific datasets.  Create a system with blank rules, that contains the data set for the sector in question, e.g. industrial stocks, high-tech stocks, energy stocks, precious metal stocks, etc..  The same approach can be used to have collections of funds for a specific fund family for fund sector rotation testing.  Then save the system with an appropriately descriptive file name. 

    When you load a system for which you want to test the trading rules on different sectors, then you can load the dataset only from your various sector-system files.  To load a dataset only from a system file, click the black folder on the toolbar, or select the Load Data

    command from the File menu.  When you do this, the data will be loaded from the second system, but the trading rules for the first system will be retained.  This way, you can load different datasets into the same system.

  6. The program doesn't load all the data I specified. Why?

    The Data Synchronization process will sometimes remove certain securities while loading data.  During Data Synchronization, all securities must be truncated to the same date range.  If a given security being added to the matrix begins at a more recent date, then all other securities will be truncated to that date.  In the event that adding such a security to the matrix will cause more data to be lost by truncating all other securities than would be added by the new security, then the new security will be removed from the matrix, even though you specified that it be loaded in the system.  This is done on purpose, so as to provide the optimal amount of data.

    If you want to ensure that all securities are included anyway, you will have to copy all securities data to a separate folder, and manually truncate all data to the same date before loading the data into Pikker.

    In future versions, we will include features to have better control over what data is included, and how the Data Synchronization process works.

Registration, Purchasing, Trial Period
  1. How much does Pikker cost?

    Version 1.1 is priced at $25 USD.

  2. How does the trial period work?

    You may download and install Pikker for free, from Emporium Software, or from any of the many download sites that list it.  Once you install Pikker, you will have a temporary registration that is valid for a period of 30 days from the date it was installed on your system.  If you fail to register by that date, Pikker will refuse to run until you do register.

  3. How do I register?

    The most convenient way is to register from within the program.  Use the Buy Now

    command from the Help menu, and this will start a secure, integrated purchasing wizard.  You can also use the Buy Now button from the About box, which is also available from the Help menu.

    You can also visit one of two on-line stores:

    1. eSellerate
  4. RegSoft
  5. Whichever method you use, you will be provided with a registration key.  You can enter the key and your name when the program first starts.  Alternatively, you can open the Registration

    info box from the Help menu, and enter your name and registration key.

  6. What is my Customer ID?

    The Registration box also has a spot for your Customer ID Number.  This number is not required.  We ask that you enter your Order Number here, which we use as your Customer ID for internal tracking purposes only.  Your Customer ID and your registered user name are what we use to identify you, should you request technical support, have billing questions, or want to claim incentive upgrade benefits.

  7. How secure is the registration information that I provide?

    Our registration services have their own security policies:

    We do not have access to credit card details that you provide during registration.  Such information is not stored either by Emporium Software, or by any of the registration services.

    We do not collect personal identifying information from visitors to our website.

    We do maintain a database of contact information for registered users so that we can provide better customer service and important upgrade information.  We do not sell, distribute, or share this information with anyone, nor do any of the registration services that we use.  We do not use our list of registered users to solicit further business for other products or services.  If you do not wish to be contacted with upgrade information, you may un-check the "contact me" option during the registration process.  Or, you may send a brief note to

    sales@emporium-sw.com, asking to be left off of the contact list.

  8. How are upgrades provided?

    Version 1.1 has a built-in mechanism that will periodically check the website for the availability of an upgrade when the program is started.  When an upgrade is available, you will be notified, and be given an opportunity to download the upgrade using the same wizard that is used for integrated purchasing.  Once the upgrade is downloaded, the installation will be launched, and the running program will terminate.

    Alternatively, you can download and run the install file yourself from the website.

    You do not need to uninstall the previous version, or restart your system when installing a new version.

  9. Do I have to pay for an upgrade?

    Upgrades for the same major version level are provided at no cost.  When upgrading to the next major version level, e.g. from 1.X to 2.X, there may be (maybe not!) a small nominal upgrade fee.  The nominal upgrade fee reflects the added value and further development of the product.


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