September 1999 Newsletter

I. Back to School Sale About to End

Time is running out on our back to school sale. If you buy any of our major products (NeuroShell Trader, Trader Professional, Predictor, Classifier, Run-Time Server, GeneHunter, or NeuroShell 2) before September 7 you will receive a 15% discount.

II. Warning to NeuroShell 2 Users – Be Careful if You Buy Excel 2000!

Microsoft has removed the CALL function from Excel 2000 and certain late (secure versions) of Excel 97! This may be a major problem for some of you if you call your nets from Excel, because you have to use the CALL function to get to our Predict function which fires the nets. Evidently, Microsoft felt the CALL function was a security risk, and so they just removed it! Just like that! They could have just given the user the option to use the CALL function if the user knows the function being called has no viruses. If you are not happy about this, we suggest that you call Microsoft and tell them how you feel; maybe they’ll put it back if enough people complain.

In the mean time, we’ve written a Predict function replacement that is a VBA add-in. It cannot be identical, but it should work well for most of you. Since we can no longer use CALL, we have to call FireNet from VBA. You can download it from our tech support web site You’ll need a valid NeuroShell 2 serial number to log in.

Users of the NeuroShell Run-Time Server are not affected by this since it does not use the CALL function and already uses an add-in.

III. Our New Email Addresses

We have new email addresses. Please contact us with the following email addresses (be sure to change your address book):

1. – this is for technical support questions and problems; be sure to include your product serial number.

2. – this one is for questions about products you do not own already.

3. – this goes to our shipping/billing staff and is for questions about orders you’ve placed.

IV. NeuroShell Trader/Trader Professional Seminar

Feel like you could use some training on the NeuroShell Trader Professional? You can get that training and a mini-vacation at the same time in the middle of November on the ocean in Florida. We’ve arranged for two room suites (bring the kids – both rooms have TVs) overlooking the ocean for only $79/night. Our seminar runs from 8 am to 1 pm so you can relax the rest of the day, or spend it with the other traders in attendance.

We’ve also set aside the last day of our November 17-19 Seminar as a kind of “user’s group” meeting, where ideas and strategies will be freely exchanged and discussed. Many of you have asked for this type of interactive discussion.

If you think you can benefit, try hard to arrange your schedule to participate, because no further seminars are planned at this time.

By the way, we proudly note that 5 of the 7 traders featured in the Real Traders section of our web site have previously attended one of our seminars.

For more details on the seminar look at the bottom of the front page of We have the agenda there, as well as pictures and information about the hotel and the surrounding attractions (see if you can find the picture of Granny when she was young!). Or call and talk to us about it (301-662-7950): ask for Steve or Marge.

V. GeneHunter 2.0 Problems Experienced by Overseas Users

GeneHunter has had two major problems that have affected overseas users. We think we have finally solved those problems, and we will email a corrected version of the GeneHunter add-in to any registered user of release 2.0 who wants one. Just email us your name and serial number.

If you are not overseas and/or affected by these problems (see description below), don’t waste your time requesting, receiving, and installing this corrected version, because there are absolutely no other fixes or improvements included in the code.

Here are the problems we have fixed:

1. The GeneHunter Excel add-in did not function properly unless certain list and decimal separator characters are used in the GeneHunter dialog boxes. Specifically, your list separator character had to be a comma, and your decimal separator character had to be a period. If you are in a country where other characters are common (e.g., France and Germany) you needed to change your international settings in the Windows control panel before you run GeneHunter. You could change back afterwards, and Excel will automatically take care of numeric changes in your spreadsheet both ways.

If you didn’t make these changes, GeneHunter would likely misread numbers with decimals in them, and range lists.

2. Asian users with local versions of Excel (e.g., Japanese, Korean, Chinese) could not use GeneHunter at all unless they used English versions of Excel. It would fail on startup. So now we have a special version for these users which does not fail on startup.

If you want a corrected version send us an email with the following information:

1. Your name
2. Your address
3. Your GeneHunter 2.0 serial number
4. Your email address
5. Whether you want the version with the Asian corrections or the non-Asian version.

Send your email to and we will email you the new add-in as soon as we can verify your ownership in our database.

VI. The Ten Commandments – by Steve Ward

I have recently compiled what I consider to be the 10 most important rules of using non-linear models, especially neural nets. I will be going over these in detail at the NeuroShell Trader Seminar, but most of them apply to science and business modeling, too.

Ten Commandments of Non-linear Modeling and Neural Nets
Copyright 1999 by Ward Systems Group, Inc. These commandments may not be reproduced or distributed without permission of Ward Systems Group, Inc.

1. Thou shalt seek inputs that affect the output.
2. Thou shalt not use too many inputs.
3. Thou shalt not use too few training patterns.
4. Thou shalt choose thy training patterns so that they are not clustered and are a balanced representation of the problem.
5. Thou shalt not judge thy model by its ability to reproduce training patterns.
6. Thou shalt not apply statistical measures and precision to financial modeling.
7. Thou shalt not use too many categories when classifying.
8. Thou shalt not code inputs with monotonic values unless they represent monotonic concepts.
9. Thou shalt not waste time coveting thy neighbor’s financial models.
10. Beware of extrapolation of non-linear models.

Here is a quiz question for our most savvy users:

What, in our products, are the only exceptions to the Fifth Commandment?

If you know the answer, email it to me at Read article VII below to see what your prize will be.

VII. The Stock Trend.Com

The Stock Trend.Com is an excellent online newsletter published by one of our NeuroShell Trader Professional Users. Check it out on So far it is free, but you can become a member only by referral or personal request. If you are a NeuroShell Trader Professional owner OR you have registered for the Trader Seminar in November OR you correctly answer Steve Ward’s Quiz question in article VI above, Steve will recommend you for membership on request.

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