When There's a Pulitzer for TA, GBS Will Be First in Line

Meanwhile, Gary reviews charts for Venator, 3Com, Charles Schwab and more.
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I haven't run many "personals" lately, but I received a nice note from reader

Stephanie Vreeland

, who happens to reside right here in Maryland. Stephanie is interested in establishing contact with other traders here in the Terrapin state, so if you're interested, please shoot her an email at

sequin@aol.com.

And speaking of email, just a reminder that I get a ton. And if you've sent me something, you know I'm usually pretty good about getting back a reply. However, I'm sure you've noticed I'm not quite as prompt as I used to be in returning your note. Chalk that up to sheer volume.

I also get a ton of chart requests, and I try to put most of those in either the weekend columns or the Friday column. If I can't fit your request into any of those columns, I'll still attempt a reply, even if it's my standard evasive, fence-straddling mishmash. However, I just can't get to all of them, and I hope you understand.

Ah, but today, I certainly tackled my fair share, darn it! Yes, six award-winning charts that I'm hoping gain me serious consideration for a Pulitzer. What, you think

Maureen Dowd

would be able to come up with this stuff?

So, let's get that Pulitzer drumroll going! Or, heck, a Nobel drum, if you think that'd be more appropriate. All comments, questions and votes go to

technicalforum@thestreet.com , along with your full and complete name.

More Tech Talk

Before the charts, though, some brief follow-up to

Jim Seymour's

most excellent tip of

last week. Some readers chimed in, and here are their thoughts:

Thanks for the supermagnify tip. Another way to accomplish the same thing is by using the Opera browser (available at www.opera.com). Opera lets you run as many browser windows as you like without incurring additional browser overhead. Plus each window has its own magnifier where you can magnify up to 1,000%! It is available for a free trial and then a one-time fee of $30. -- Gil Roeder

To read all the pages on the Internet using Netscape, I override page-specified fonts. You can do this by going into "Preferences" under "Fonts" and clicking "Use my fonts, overriding page-specified fonts." I find Geneva 10-point is the best. I use a Mac, so this might help everyone. -- Laurette Mayo

Even

TSC's

Rashid Anderson

chipped in with a good suggestion:

Readers who use Windows98 will be happy to know their software offers the option of installing a tool called "Magnifier" -- which is in the "Accessibility" section (of optional components) for those who do a custom install. (Obviously, this particular feat is not for the technically faint of heart.) Magnifier does the same thing Jim Seymour's suggested freeware does (only the window is a bit smaller), and since it's part of the Microsoft operating system, may be even less prone to crashing (always a positive) than freeware scripted by a third party. Some folks who try this may become frustrated because there's no clear option to turn the blasted thing off once it's on. Not to fear, you can right-click on the tool at any time to get the "Exit" option, or go right-click "Close" from the Task Bar. Your friendly neighborhood tech support manager, -- Rashid Anderson

OK, got all that? Good, because I don't want anyone complaining they have eyestrain when they read my charts!

Z Gets Some Zip

It seems as if the athletic footwear industry is in an upward trend, so I was wondering what your take on Venator (Z) - Get Report (formerly Woolworth) was. There are a lot of positive comments about its Foot Locker chain. What do the charts tell us? -- Rick K.

Reader's Muse on MUSE Is Right

I have been following Micromuse (MUSE) , and it appears to have completed a cup-with-handle pattern and is ready to break out. What are your thoughts? -- Darren Carlat

Next Level Not Necessary

I used to read your columns for the chart readings and your TA advice. Now, of course, I check in to see how your daughters are doing with their competitive swimming, how your move to Maryland is panning out, the state of your golf game, how the struggle with your intuition is going, your new status as a TV stock star, etc. I am the one who read your April Fool's column first thing in the morning, bought into it and felt bad the whole day. In any case, I also need to get your opinion. I want to get Level II quotes, and a friend is recommending Windows on Wall Street software at a monthly charge of $50. Can you tell me what you use, whether you like it and how much you pay monthly? Obviously, I respect your opinion. -- Ted Kitos

Ted,

Just think, you get my entire life story, and the TA stuff is thrown in as a bonus!

As for Level II quotes (which include detailed bid and ask prices), I honestly don't use it. If you're a daytrader, it's essential, of course. But, if you're a position trader, I struggle to see the benefit vs. the extra cost. I guess my gut feel is that many traders -- not necessarily you -- are seeking to improve their trading with elaborate tools like Level II. But these kinds of tools don't fix the real problem, which is usually a lack of discipline, poor money management or an inconsistent methodology.

Again, this is not to take you to task. I just had a soapbox handy and decided to use it. Getting back to your question, my quote service,

www.MyTrack.com, does offer Level II, as do others like

PC Quote

, and

Quote.com

. And, of course, "direct-entry" brokerages like

MB Trading

and

A.B. Watley

also offer Level II quotes as part of their trading platform.

Prices vary on all, but the most you should be paying for Level II quotes is $50 a month. I think by looking around, you might be able to find even cheaper sources.

No Hibernation for Schwab

I would be interested in having your opinion of the stock of Charles Schwab (SCH) . At times, it acts like an Internet stock, but lately I can't tell if it is in a congestive phase or if it is about to hunker down for an early long winter's nap. -- Karen M. Finerman

Burned on COMS

I got burned on 3Com (COMS) . The action on June 21 looked like a GBS classic breakout -- long congestion, taking out resistance, large volume, greater than a 1-point gain. I bought in on June 22 and quickly was stopped out for a loss. I know you just did a COMS chart, but maybe it would be informative to roll back the clock to what the chart looked like immediately after the 21st and do some of your impressive TA. It might make me feel better to learn that it was bad luck, not a bad choice. -- David Theil

All Systems Go for CAIS

What's your take on Cais Internet (CAIS) ? I think it's ready to blast off, just like High Speed Access (HSAC) - Get Report. -- Paul A. Maddock

Bet On a Breakout

These being times of the cyclicals, Maxxam (MXM) looks to be at its breakout resistance point of about 64. I suppose if it can clear that point, it could go another 20 or so. To me, it looks ready to make the move. I know you would wait for confirmation, but what do you think? -- Bruce Lulla

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.