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Archive for March, 2009

Yahoo Stocks API Documentation

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Yahoo offers a free Stock Quotes API. I found informal documentation at which I’ll re-iterate here in the event that site disappears.

Here is an example link to the Yahoo Stocks feed in CSV format:

It currently shows two symbols: the AX-UN.TO and BEI-UN.TO. You can choose which symbols you want to display by replacing the blue text in the url with desired symbols, each separated by a plus sign. The red string in the url specifies the columns you want in the CSV file. The red string currently tells the csv to pull symbol (s), last trade date (d1), last trade time (t1), open (0), day’s high (h) and day’s low (g). The list of available field options are shown in table below.

a Ask a2 Average Daily Volume
Ask Size

Ask (Real-time) b3 Bid (Real-time)

Book Value
Bid Size
Change & Percent Change
c1 Change
Change (Real-time)

After Hours Change (Real-time) d Dividend/Share
Last Trade Date

Trade Date
Earnings/Share e1 Error Indication (returned for symbol changed / invalid)

EPS Estimate Current Year
EPS Estimate Next Year
EPS Estimate Next Quarter
f6 Float Shares
Day’s Low
Day’s High

52-week Low k 52-week High
Holdings Gain Percent

Annualized Gain
Holdings Gain g5 Holdings Gain Percent (Real-time)

Holdings Gain (Real-time)
More Info
Order Book (Real-time)
j1 Market Capitalization
Market Cap (Real-time)

Change From 52-week Low j6 Percent Change From 52-week Low
Last Trade (Real-time) With Time

Change Percent (Real-time)
Last Trade Size k4 Change From 52-week High

Percebt Change From 52-week High
Last Trade (With Time)
Last Trade (Price Only)
l2 High Limit
Low Limit
Day’s Range

Day’s Range (Real-time) m3 50-day Moving Average
200-day Moving Average

Change From 200-day Moving Average
Percent Change From 200-day Moving Average m7 Change From 50-day Moving Average

Percent Change From 50-day Moving Average
o Open
Previous Close
Price Paid

Change in Percent p5 Price/Sales

Ex-Dividend Date
P/E Ratio r1 Dividend Pay Date

P/E Ratio (Real-time)
PEG Ratio
Price/EPS Estimate Current Year
r7 Price/EPS Estimate Next Year
Shares Owned

Short Ratio t1 Last Trade Time
Trade Links

Ticker Trend
1 yr Target Price v Volume

Holdings Value
Holdings Value (Real-time)
52-week Range
w1 Day’s Value Change
Day’s Value Change (Real-time)
Stock Exchange

Dividend Yield

Written by John Lai

March 31st, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Office Exercise – Chinese Shadow Boxing

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Working in an office usually means you lead a sedentary life. It’s difficult to go the gym when you have a busy schedule. But there are still plenty of ways to stay fit in your 10 ft. by 10 ft. cubicle. You can stretch, do push ups, do sit ups, jumping jacks etc…

I prefer Chinese shadow boxing over all other exercise because it gets your heart rate up. Here’s me shadow boxing at my last job.

A busy work schedule is no excuse to not exercise. As I’ve demonstrated here, it’s easy to work on your cardio at your desk.

If you don’t exercise, you leave yourself vulnerable to high blood pressure, heart disease and many other illnesses. This will in turn take its toll on your work.

A healthy worker is a productive worker.

Written by John Lai

March 16th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

School vs. Work

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If you’re a graduating high school student, and you are deciding which university/college program will land your dream job, then I have something to tell you. Most young adults, such as yourself, have no idea what the real workforce is like. You may think that school is the end-all and be-all to getting a job. Well, you are incredibly mistaken.

School and Work are two ABSOLUTELY different environments. You will find that much of what you learn in school is not relevant in the working world. To put things into perspective, consider this: education takes up 2 lines of a 2 page resume and 1 minute of a 30 minute interview. Sure school is good for learning the basics, but what lands you your job depends almost entirely on work experience and who you impress (important…it’s who you impress as opposed to who you know)

Therefore, I suggest you do the following:

1) Get a volunteer job or a part time paid job in the field you’re interested in.  This will expose you to the true nature of the discipline.  Then you’ll know for sure if you like it. It will also give you the much needed work experience for your future full time job.

2) Go to conferences and seminars to speak with Professionals in your field. Ask them about their job. Tell them about your aspirations and your personality. They will give you insight on how to get ahead in the field. You will also be networking with some important people. If you impress these individuals (this is important, knowing someone means nothing if you can’t impress them), they may consider you for future job positions.

When I first entered university, I made a big mistake in not following advices 1 and 2. It set me back 3-4 years.

Written by John Lai

March 13th, 2009 at 11:32 am

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How to Grow a Web Business

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I’m sure every developer who’s ever wanted to start a business had trouble coming up with that one really awesome idea to make him millions. Personally, I feel that approach is too overrated. Here are two other approaches to consider:

Approach 1: Build for Niche Market

David from 37signals explains this one:

Watch live video from HackerTV on

Basically, don’t obsess over coming up with that one big application to change the world.  You have a better chance at winning the lottery. Instead, take an already existing idea and just make it [slightly] better. Then rely on marketing power to take it the rest of the way. Have several of these apps, and you will do quite well.

Approach 2: Focus on Creating Assets

Instead of focusing on which business idea has the most potential for profit, I focus on which business idea allows me to build multi-purpose/re-useable technology. The advantage here is that regardless of whether the immediate business succeeds or fails, I will have created an asset of value that I can re-sale or re-use in the future. There will always be at least one other person who will find my technology useful, and will pay me to use it. This is what I call the “no-loss” scenario.

Written by John Lai

March 7th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Get a Career in Web Development

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The following question was asked on yahoo answers:

How to get into Web Design and Development?

I’m am taking a certificate in Web Design and Development from an accredited online university. Will I be able to get into the industry with this? Can someone comment on their experience on wages with the certificate and your experiences afterwards?

My Answer:

Education makes up 2 lines of a 2 page resume. It takes up 1 minute of a 30 minute interview. That should give you an idea of how relevant school material is in the real working world.

School is ok for learning the fundamentals, but it is by no means the deciding factor on whether you’re employed or not.

I’m a web application architect who’s hired people before. If you want to impress an employers, do the following:

1) have a good portfolio of projects – if you have no work experience, then put together volunteer projects for your friends. Employers will be impressed by your commitment and sacrifice. Tell employers straight up, “I haven’t worked in a company before because I’m at the beginning of my career. But I work hard and I have potential as evidenced by my portfolio of charitable web projects for non-profit organizations, family and friends. I am always willing to sacrifice for my career and for the company I work for.”

2) network with people in the industry – go to conferences and events and meet professionals in the field. Tell them you’re a student, and you want advice on how to improve your skills.

If you do items 1 and 2, you will have no problem getting a job. By the time you graduate, you may even have enough experience to start your own web firm.

Written by John Lai

March 6th, 2009 at 12:39 am