SAN FRANCISCO (01/27/2000) - Everyone plays the stock market these days -- and why not? There are plenty of Web sites and Internet utilities available to help you track your investments. From password-protected portfolios to online historical trading data, it's all at your fingertips. Now it's also at your earlobe.
Talking Stocks 2.0 from 4Developers LLC (http://www.4dev.com/) uses a chatty, animated character to keep you abreast of your investments and worldwide markets. StockMan, as he is affectionately known, stands about two inches tall and lives on your desktop (you can drag and drop him anywhere).
More ferocious than a bear market, able to follow erratic price movements with a single chart, StockMan utters the status of the indices and stocks you pick at the time intervals you specify. While his geeky black-framed glasses, green and yellow body suit, and bald spot don't make him look like a superhero, StockMan can certainly tell you all about the market.
Once you install Talking Stocks, it lives in your Windows system tray. To view your options, right click on the icon and choose Talking Stocks Window. To add a stock or index to the list, click on the Stocks tab and then the Add button.
Hear the News
StockMan will also offer Alerts to notify you of changes in your stocks, based on rules that you set. Specify what happens if a stock's value is greater than, equal to, or less than a certain price point, and StockMan should announce whether it's good or bad news. Alerts are also listed in the Talking Stocks window.
You can use time intervals to indicate when you want StockMan to appear (every 30 minutes, for example). You can also listen to your stocks' current prices at any time by clicking the Broadcast button. StockMan will recite the prices in his clear, but somewhat stilted computer-generated voice. He also will use gestures (hand waves and thumbs-up) when reciting the information, and you can choose his voice greetings and introductions.
Talking Stocks will let you adjust the pitch and speed of StockMan's voice, but if it isn't exactly music to your ears, you can opt for a text bubble in which you can read the information instead. Or if you no longer want to look at StockMan, Talking Stocks 2.0 includes the Stock Strip, which works like a stock ticker. You can turn StockMan off and simply read the stock prices and market status at the bottom of your display -- in silence.
Talking Stocks 2.0 retrieves quotes from Yahoo Inc's Finance, then broadcasts the information using StockMan, or one of the other characters available for download.
While you must be connected to the Internet to receive updated prices, you don't have to surf the Web or refresh a page to find out what's happening in the market; the information is delivered to you. The quotes are delayed by a minimum of 15 minutes when you receive them.
Also new in version 2.0 is the option to hear both the current price and the price change, as well as coverage of several world markets in addition to the U.S. markets.
Talking Stocks 2.0 is available now as a free 14-day trial, or as a US$19.95 purchase.