MacTicker 1.5 Is a Good Investment
by Steve Becker

Since the information presented by MacTicker may also be obtained from many other sources for free, I was initially skeptical of the need to spend either time or money on MacTicker. The rest of this review will explain why I changed my mind about this program.

A Little History

MacTicker was originally published by Galleon software. Recently, Aladdin Systems (the folks who publish Stuffit Deluxe, among other programs) acquired MacTicker and released MacTicker 1.5.

Among the new features included in this latest version is the ability to gather and display information on both mutual funds and security indexes.

First Impressions

First off, the installation was delightfully fast and simple. While I'm one of those people who do read the manual, I often like to launch a new program to see if the interface design is intuitive enough to allow me to quickly find and use many of the program's best features without having to first refer to the documentation.

MacTicker gets an "A" for its interface design. In fact, I was able to quickly set up and use the program without even having to refer to the docs (one exception was that I did have trouble locating the screen for assigning the automatic alerts that notify you when securities fluctuate beyond the prescribed amount).

Flexible Display

I also appreciated the flexibility MacTicker provided by allowing me to customize its interface. A scrolling stock ticker is one option, and both the rate of scrolling and the location of the display can be set by the user. Either separately or in conjunction with the scrolling display, a "Stock Report" window for each security may be opened. These Stock Report windows may be moved anywhere on your Desktop; they also may be resized by using a box in the Title Bar area of the window that adjusts the amount of information being displayed.

Opening these windows is as easy as double clicking on a securities symbol as it passes by on the "ticker" or selecting the security in a list of your securities that is available from the program's Menu Bar.

Useful Information

MacTicker is more of a monitoring tool than a research tool. MacTicker's Stock Report window includes the current day's opening , closing , and current price (typically, with a 15-minute delay) for a security, as well as the security's 52-week high and low price, trading volume, P/E ratio, earnings per share, and some other useful information.

Other buttons on the Stock Report display include useful options which allow you to instantly update a quote for a security, launch your default browser and go directly to your online broker's web site, and print the contents of the Stock Report window.

Thoughtful Customization Tools

The securities in the ticker are displayed in different colors to provide you with a quick visual clue about their trading status. MacTicker allows you to set your own alert colors, should the default colors not be to your liking.

You may also set how frequently MacTicker will download updated stock quotes and trading information from the web.

Additionally, you can easily control the order that securities appear in as they scroll by on the ticker, the direction the ticker scrolls in, how the program behaves when it's in the background, and various measurements that determine a high and a low alert level for your securities (each security may have a different alert level).

One feature I would like to see added to the Alert options is the ability to set separate delta values for the rise and fall alerts (for example, + 4% and - 2% rather than either +/- 2% or +/- 4%).

Synergy At Work

The both well-designed and thoughtfully-implemented features I've mentioned (plus many others which are contained in the program) result in a synergistic effect that makes the program both a delight to use and a highly useful tool!

By so elegantly bringing together and presenting useful information for the securities trader, MacTicker has justified its existence. In today's fast-paced world time is money, and MacTicker saves users the considerable amount of time it would take to collect and organize the useful information which MacTicker displays so efficiently.

By the way, I tested MacTicker on a PowerCenter Pro 210 (604 Processor) that's running OS 7.6.1 and on an Apple G3/300 Desktop computer that's running OS 8.1. With both systems, MacTicker performed flawlessly with no crashes and no observed conflicts. However, the scrolling ticker apparently uses a considerable number of processor cycles, and I expect some users of pre-G3 systems will notice some impact on their system's performance. In this situation, slowing the scrolling rate for the ticker should help (the scrolling ticker may also be turned off).

Would I like to see other features added to MacTicker? Absolutely! Adding a portfolio monitoring feature, charting capabilities, and research tools would all be nice. However, MacTicker does what it claims to do in a very efficient and user-friendly manner, and I highly recommend you take a look at it.

MacTicker 1.5 requires a PowerPC-based computer, System 7.5 or later, Open Transport 1.1.2 or later, and Internet Config (or the Internet Control Panel under OS 8.5 and later). MacTicker costs $29.95 and is also available as a free demo.

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