Tool Time: The Latest in TA Technology

A look at some software that makes charting easier.
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I haven't talked about tools in a while, which is just plain stupid, considering I only get about 100 emails a day on the topic.

Therefore, today I'll do a special tools edition of my column, particularly noting new things that have come to my attention.

Now, as a disclaimer -- and so the

TSC

editors don't yell at me -- the first area you should visit is the

tools section of this very site. It offers delayed quotes, real-time quotes, IPO performance, a portfolio-tracking section and a pretty darn good charting section, compliments of

BigCharts

. Really, it's all there, with my only regret that it doesn't get the press it deserves. Heck, until I looked, I had no idea we even had some of this stuff! So make sure you check that section out.

And in that vein, how

does

a site get noticed? Well, I really think it's quite obvious: The darn president of the company needs to make a sales call at my house!

Yeah, I'll admit I was flabbergasted when Tim Knight, president of

Prophet Financial Systems

, along with the marketing director, Chi Huang, decided to schlep to little ol' Bethesda to pay me a visit. In addition, they brought along their PR person, Liz O'Connell, to round out our foursome.

Now, as a sidebar, if you come visit me at my house, know in advance that I'll run around like a maniac -- probably in my jammies -- gussying up the place. Also, I no doubt will have the decency to brew a fresh pot of coffee. So with that knowledge, make sure you

bend over backwards to tell me how much you like our home

! Yes, even if you think it's some poor disheveled shack sitting just off the railroad tracks. (Which it's not, by the way. We sit just

above

the railroad tracks.) And also, drink plenty of coffee, even if you despise the beverage.

Basically, these items fall into the area of kissing my a--. But, you know, that's really my only vice, so bear with me. (OK, there is that women's clothing thing, but I won't go there.)

So, with all that in mind, I was really prepared to say that Prophet ain't no... Hah! Get it? It's one of those subtle tricky writer things.

But, damn, these guys have a pretty good site. Oh, all right, make that a very good site. Here's what to look for:

First, visit

www.prophetfinance.com. This is the jumping-off point for a number of areas I think you should check out.

The first is the Java-based

charting section. And, I have to say I was impressed. I've been a BigCharts fan from the get-go, but Prophet offers a few unique things.

The most notable is the ability to draw trend lines right on the chart with your cursor. You can then add technical studies, detach the chart, shrink it, expand it, etc. So, pretty cool.

Two examples below show you what I'm talking about.

One other thing I thought was kind of neat was the ability to expand that "hard right edge," as writer Alan Farley would say. If only the future prices were then put in for you! Well, maybe Prophet is working on that.

There are a bunch of other features, such as the ability to have the Web site memorize your favorite charts, and a slick way to zoom in and out of specific areas on the chart. Within a few minutes, though, you should be able to hit all the key features.

In addition, you can also chart futures and options under the ProphetCharts Pro application (quite honestly, a rarity on Web sites), with the only caveat being a monthly charge of $24.95. Still, that's pretty cheap compared to having to acquire your own PC-bound software to do the same.

Two other areas deserve mention:

Charts2Go allows users to do charting on their Palm Pilots. I didn't test this application, as that's not really my bent, but if you're a technician-a-go-go, I guess this is for you.

What I'm waiting for, though, is the introduction of ProphetStation, a real-time charting package that's now in beta but should be available shortly. I saw a slick demo, and it had me drooling.

The Prophet folks left me with a bunch of other marketing materials about their background and such, but I'm fairly certain you don't want me dragging you through the company's life story. Heck, it's bad enough that you have to listen to my life story. No, let's leave it at this: Visit the Prophet Web site. Enjoy the Prophet Web site. And make sure you compliment them on their lovely home!

Two other tools deserve a quick mention, the first being the one devised by my friends at

MyTrack.com. As many of you know, this is the software I use for my real-time quotes and charts. I just downloaded the latest version, and it just keeps getting better and better. MyTrack.com has spiffed up its AIG charts and has added bunch of other bells and whistles. In fact, you can even trade through the software, although I've not tackled that area.

The feature I like best, though, is the online help. You can jump right to the chat area and get any question solved instantly. Of course, being the celebrity that I am, the support people drop everything they're doing to serve me instantly. But even the commoners who use the stuff seem to get pretty good service. (It's a joke, folks. I mean about the commoner stuff. Really, I don't think of you as commoners. Riffraff, hoi polloi, sure. But

not

commoners.)

And finally, since they're now flashing my name in their ad banner, I am a loyal user of

Worden Bros.'

TC2000. Love the software, as it's cheap and easy to use. And so far, it's still a step ahead on scanning capabilities. I'll be the first to admit, though, that some of the releases have been a bit buggy. Add that to some cranky data downloads at times, and I often want to call up and scream in their ear. That said, the latest release installed flawlessly. Also, I download data every single day of the year, and it's 99.9% reliable. And that sure beats just about any other offering out there.

So, there you have it. Some tools, some tips and some hints on etiquette. Next week I tackle the difference between all the forks at those fancy-schmancy restaurants!

Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. At time of publication, he held no positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Smith writes five technical analysis columns for TheStreet.com each week, including Technician's Take, Charted Territory and TSC Technical Forum. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback at

gbsmith@ibm.net.