Startup 1: Securities Science

This is part of a series on Building 12 Startups in 12 Months.

This is number one: Securities.Science!

What Inspired This Project?

My first startup in the series is Securities.Science. It lets users run queries against historic stock trading data in order to test theories and strategies. All data is public and everyone can see the work that others are doing.

This started with my coworker Luke Leggio and I trying to collaborate on developing strategies for trading leveraged commodity ETFs on RobinHood. I was very frustrated with the few tools and communities that exist for this purpose.

I had tried Openfolio which has since pivoted to a totally different kind of product. At the time, they let you share your trading activity and results with others and compare to how their strategies worked out for them. The problem was that it was terribly buggy and often reported things incorrectly. I wrote to their support people several times, even offering to do the work of fixing their products for them because the problems were so obvious. (Numbers being negative instead of positive when pulled from certain APIs, etc.) Some features like search and viewing the top performers didn’t work at all. They had no interest in making their product work, so I decided to make my own as an alternative.

Securities.Science automatically pulls data from various public APIs and allow users to write SQL queries that implement securities trading strategies. Their queries will pair with simple visualization tools in order to show how each strategy works over time.

First Steps

The site is now live, and the source code is all available on Github. Anyone can sign up for free and start running queries against historic datasets.

I have included lots of different tickers including all of the leveraged commodity ETFs which I follow, along with all the top stocks millennials like according to Business Insider. Adding more is trivially easy, but I didn’t want to just add thousands of tickers because of the maintenance overhead. And because most of them are not particularly interesting.

I wrote this as a plugin for Astria, a simple web application framework I have been developing for almost a decade. The code is very simple and hopefully distilled to the minimum necessary to explain the content. Check it out!

Next Steps

There are a few next steps that jump out at me if this finds adoption.

Expanded Datasets

The page describing available data encourages the user to reach out to me if they want to see any additional data sources. Eventually, users should be able to add data sources for whatever they want with simple tools.

Content Development

Scraping and collating data is one thing, but presenting it in a format which brings in organic traffic is a separate art. Other news and data sources relating to each stock could be integrated so that users can focus on particular industries, commodities, or ETFs and get more information than just trading data.

Execution Integration

There are lots of great APIs which would allow integration with stock brokerages so that users can set up triggers for buying and selling based on their models in the app. It would be fun to add that later.

Machine Learning and Other Advanced Analytics

The first version of the product only features SQL queries for strategy development. This enables lots of interesting and basic strategies to be implemented and tested, but adding machine learning and other advanced analytics features would be another order of magnitude in capability for users.

 

❤️ [Podcast][Must Listen] Tim Ferriss – Exploring Smart Drugs, Fasting, and Fat Loss — Dr. Rhonda Patrick

This episode has an unbelievable amount of information. The Guest is Dr. Rhonda Patrick, who Tim describes as, “an American biochemist and scientist.” She has done extensive research and work in the fields of the cellular biology, genetics, nutrition, and nootropics. She views aging as a disease to be treated, and elaborates in depth on all of these topics.

There were a few big takeaways right off the bat;

  • Regular sauna use is really really good for you, for a huge number of well researched reasons.
  • There is a tremendous amount of research around the influence of genetics on nutrition, and the fact that nutrition works differently for everyone. Having recently synthesized my genome with 23AndMe, I was very interested in her comments about various services which will allow you to bring over your genome for dietary analysis. This is something I will need to look in to.
  • Nootropics or any drugs which work by prevent reuptake in the brain cause down-regulation, or the reduced capacity of the brain to deal with normal levels of those neurotransmitters. She goes in depth into the implications of this and her conclusions about how to use those.
  • NSAIDs are really really bad for you. I had no idea about the mountain of recent research linking them to everything from stroke to heart attacks. As someone who takes them almost every day, I will certainly stop doing that. She suggests several great, healthy, natural alternatives.
  • Sulforaphane is very important and I should eat a lot more of it, (ie. Broccoli). It is very important for many cellular processes which prevent and repair the damage that leads to aging. It also drives the growth of new neurons and body systems which ward off insects.
  • She goes in depth into her experience with nootropics and dietary supplements and the ones she takes every day. I will need to look further into these.
Fasting and time-restricted diets are very good for cells and for fighting the kind of damage that leads to aging.

Fasting makes your body consume sick cells for energy at a much higher rate than normal, decreasing the chances for cancer and improving the function of the tissues and organs composed of these cells.

This goes hand in hand with cellular genesis, or the creation of new cells which also speeds up during fasting. These new cells are more efficient and functional than the old, less-functional cells which are converted to energy.

Research also shows that animals which eat during a smaller window like 10 hours per day have pervasive improvements in function of systems all over the body from the mitochondria to the digestive system. In tests with mice, this also leads to up to 20% longer lifespan.

 

There was way too much information to absorb in a continuous stream. A few minutes in, I found myself enumerating the lenses I would need to re-listen through:

  • Nootropics and other good supplements
  • Fasting and time-restricted eating
  • Cellular health and rejuvenation and its impact on cognitive performance and long-term decline

 

I will be re-listening to this episode a number of times in the next few months and expanding on this post. For now, it has inspired me to start eating during a smaller window, for now just ten hours. This is the largest window she says will likely still confer the benefits of time-restricted diet.

Stay tuned for updates!

 

Mirror:

Diverse Monetization

Monetization is what frees content creators to have the time to develop and publish.

At the same time, it kind of feels like a dirty word. It can become the driving force behind the content which seems universally bad, and it is potentially a large single-point of failure in your business model.


By Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil – Contando Dinheiro, CC BY 2.0, Link

An aspiring social media entrepreneur who worked his way to 20k Instagram followers recently told me that he wants to find some way of monetizing. I replied that this should have come first. Who knows who these followers are, much less whether they would be in the demographic for some particular product or service?

Social media monetization strikes me as a nonstarter if the goal is that the content you create will generate at least enough revenue to allow you to create more.

What then? Blogging and services.

I have been writing this blog for years and there are hundreds of posts which get regular organic traffic, and I have a few other domains with some traffic which I could probably grow. I think my biggest opportunity will be this year with my 12 Startups in 12 Months project. I will focus on monetization as a major factor in each of these projects, and maybe even work on monetizing this blog at some point.

I will share my lessons so that anyone who is interested can reap the benefits of these experiments.

One thing that feels really important to me is diversifying your monetization channels. Monetizing with just one ad network or product gives you a huge single-point of failure. I will focus on developing diverse revenue streams for each project, and elaborate on how that works out for me.

Stay Tuned!

The Levels Challenge

Pieter Levels has been a very inspirational figure for me. I have been thinking a lot about his series of blog posts, “Building 12 Startups in 12 Months.”

I really enjoyed reading these, and I really liked his definition of what a startup is. In this context, a minimum-viable-product which is publically available for people to use online. That definition is a huge accomplishment. Creating something is the most important and valuable thing we can do. In fact, there are whole ideological identities based on this idea. Another Peter, Peter Thiel, calls this Zero To One, the title of his book; the act of creating something that has never existed before. He calls it the miracle that we will need to accomplish over and over in order if we want the future to be better than today.

Like many of us, I am often paralyzed by choice-paralysis over all the options I have, and end up doing nothing because I am overwhelmed by all the ideas I come up with.

Obviously there is a lot more to building a company then the MVP, but this wasn’t about building some global zaibatsu like Facebook or Google in his spare time, it was about starting something. Pieter’s 12 startups may turn into successful and self-sustaining businesses, but that wasn’t necessarily his goal. It was about shipping a product.

Like most engineers I know, I have a long list of “someday” projects and ideas. I decided to take a long look at that list and distill it down to a few of the best, easiest to start projects in order to challenge myself to stop adding things to the list and start checking things off the list.

Looking at the startup products Pieter built during his 12 month challenge, a lot of them do not seem very complicated or likely to become revenue-producing, but the point is that he built them. AND that at least some of them have some chance of making money, and one or two of them stand a good chance of making a lot of money. He often comments that he makes over $10k/month from some of these projects and that that is so simple and easy an accomplishment that literally anyone ought to be able to do it.

You Should Use Private Internet Access!

Private Internet Access took out a full page ad in the New York Times at enormous cost to let people know about this important issue. Just one more reason I am proud to give them $5/mo for security and privacy online.

They are a really really great vpn service which allows all your devices to have a very secure, private connection which protects you against unsafe public wifi or unscrupulous internet service providers. The Evil Orange Empire wants to let these people sell all your information, but you can stand up to them with Private Internet Access!

If you want your internet activity to be safe from your ISP selling your information and fucking with your content, I highly recommend signing up for Private Internet Access.

23andMe – My Genes

I recently signed up to do 23andMe. This is a service that sequences your DNA and provides in-depth analyses of various traits and risk factors as well as a detailed analysis of your family history and origins.

They offer two options: a cheaper $100 Ancestry Service which just shows you where you’re from, or the more expensive $200 Health + Ancestry Service which also gives you access to your entire genome and the details of all your genes and what they mean.

I chose the latter, and soon thereafter received my specimen container. A test tube came in the mail for me to spit in and send back. It took about 6 or 7 weeks to get my results.

My Origins

I was not surprised to learn that I am 99.8% European, as I have done lots of genealogy work to learn about my family’s history. I WAS surprised to learn that one of my fifth or sixth-grandparents on my mom’s side was 100% African. It was even able to determine that they were likely born between 1720 and 1840 based on the genes I got from them. This is definitely not reflected by the family tree! Somebody had a secret 😉

CCR5: HIV immunity

I was very interested to see my CCR5 gene expression. I was hoping to have homozygous CCR5-Δ32. This would mean I received the Δ32 gene mutation from both parents, and am completely immune to HIV. Based on my haplogroups, I have a high relative probability of having this gene. Unfortunately, I am only heterozygous for CCR5-Δ32. This means one parent, in this case my dad based on his haplogroups, gave me the gene, but my mom did not. Having heterozygous CCR5-Δ32 means that my cells have less than 50% of the normal functioning chemokines. These are a structure which some viruses like HIV or the common cold use to get into cells. So I am far less likely to get HIV than someone without any CCR5-Δ32 genes, but far more likely than someone with two. It’s not the news I was hoping for, but still a plus. I will have to keep taking PrEP, but I will rest easier knowing that the PrEP has backup.

GJB2: Deafness

I was also interested to see my GJB2 expression. This is the gene linked to genetic deafness. My family is very active in deaf culture and the deaf community. My genotype was G:G which is described as having “unclear significance with regard to deafness.” It is at least not the genotype we know will cause problems.

Other Insights

They accurately determined my weight and height based on my age as well as my hair and eye color. They also gave me lots of suggestions. For example, I am more likely to gain weight if I eat saturated fats, compared to the average person. And I am not genetically predisposed to lactose intolerance, meaning my current lactose intolerance is likely due to a lack of bacterial cultures as a result of rarely eating lactose. Luckily, there were no scary red flags like cancer risks or any other serious diseases I am predisposed to.

Conclusions

This was very interesting, and I think I will probably try some of the competing products to compare my results and see if they have any deeper insights.

I highly recommend 23andMe to anyone curious about their heritage or their genetic predispositions! And please tell me how it goes for you!

Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises

In July of last year, I listened to Brett McKay’s Art of Manliness podcast Episode #219: The Real Life Story of Hemingway and The Sun Also Rises.

McKay likes interviewing biographers who are writing about figures who are the actual subject of his interviews. In this episode, he talks with author Lesley Blume about her new book which goes into the back-story and inspiration of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

The podcast is a great listen, and a great preface to the book. In it, the author tells what may be a true story of how he went on a trip with some fellow expatriates from Paris to see bullfighting in Spain. It is a great story with an interesting style.

I found that Hemingway left me wanting to talk like him.

He likes to say the minimum possible, and leave you to fill in the blanks.

 

That said, the story breaks the traditional plot form, and does not end with a resolution. It is told in the first person from the perspective of the author. He is even a writer in the story.

He goes on an adventure with some friends which really doesn’t end well for anyone, and leads to far more questions than it answers.

Brett Mckay talked about how Hemingway was trying to reinvent masculinity. I can sort of see that in this story, but I think all of his gender roles are very unusual, and I think I will have to reread it several times before I can tell how I feel about any of the characters, and whether I relate to any of them.

There is so much between the lines, it’s easy to imagine a million different and entirely plausible interpretations of this story.

I recommend trying several different whiskeys with soda water while reading this, as it is a favorite of several of the characters and forms the centerpiece of many scenes. :]

Getting Started With Golang

I went to a Software Engineering Daily meetup a couple days ago and spoke with several CEOs whose companies are focused on data science and machine learning. I asked about what languages they are looking for in new hires. These conversations cemented my desire to learn Golang in conjunction with TensorFlow as my next major engineering paradigm.

“Hello, World!”

I started with a new Debian droplet at Digital Ocean (Referal Link) and followed this tutorial from Digital Ocean to set up the server with the latest version of Golang and print out my first “Hello, World.”

Next Steps

Golang’s site has a tutorial called Writing Web Applications which seems fairly comprehensive. I am going to work through this tutorial and then get started on the TensorFlow tutorials.

❤️ Must Listen: Tim Ferriss Interviews Dr. Phil Zimbardo of the Stanford Prison Experiment on What Makes a Person Either Heroic or Evil Under Pressure

Tim Ferriss interviews Dr. Phil Zimbardo of the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment on what makes a person either heroic or evil under pressure.

This was an amazing episode. They go very in depth on the research around this topic from antiquity to the cutting edge, and they identify several key things to watch out for in order to avoid being evil.

I hadn’t really considered it before, but Dr. Zimbardo hammers home the point that groups of people will often do things that many of them would never consider doing on their own. I would have scoffed at this, but they discuss in depth the enormous experimental evidence which suggests that situations and groups around you have an huge impact on your subjective morality and choices.

There are lots of great examples and lots of practical things to watch out for. This is a must-listen. I will certainly revisit this episode many times.

 

Listen;

Mirror;

Betting on JDST Overnight For Trump Speech

A perfect $JDST moment. Markets are down ahead of a big trump speech tonight. BUT, they are down because retailers are down. And Trump’s plan is seen as positive for the markets. I got half my portfolio in at $16.26. Tomorrow morning, money will flow out of gold and into defense and whatever kind of infrastructure he mentions. #jdsttothemoon

 

UPDATE: Opened up almost 9%. One of my all-time best single trades. This did almost 15.2% growth in 24 hours.