Where do you stand when it comes to instruction manuals?

At one extreme you’ve got the obsessive ‘won’t take the wrapping off a gadget until the manual has been read cover-to-cover (at least twice)’ type.

And at the other you’ve got the ‘instruction books are for wimps’ figure-it-all-out-for-yourself, type.

Personally, I fall more towards figuring things out for myself. I’ll take time to learn how to make the gadget do the bare minimum of whatever I need it to do and that’s usually enough for me. Because let’s face it, they make things so complicated these days don’t they?

Buy a new TV and you could spend all afternoon learning about features you’d probably never even use!

But that’s nothing compared to the digital camera I bought…

I have an old 35mm Nikon FA from the ’80s. It has travelled the world with me and is almost bombproof. I still have all the different lenses and everything, so when I decided to upgrade to a digital camera, it seemed sensible to get a Nikon body, one that was compatible with the bits and pieces I already had.

And to be fair, the one I got has been absolutely brilliant. It came out of its box with auto-focus lens attached last Christmas and has been cataloguing our family life ever since. (Including the obligatory stand-in-a-line-with-cheesy-grins staged shots!)

But I honestly wouldn’t know where to start with all the knobs, dials, and digital displays.

I first set it to work in ‘automatic’ mode and it’s been like that ever since. Luckily it gives very good results even when used as a point-and-click, but like a friend of mine said when he was having a look: ‘They certainly build a whole load of skill-compensators into these things, don’t they?!

Yes, I had been led into a false sense of confidence in my artistic abilities. And it all came unravelling very fast last Sunday…

You see, my two boys are both mad about planes, so we all went down to the RAF air show at Cosford where the Vulcan bomber was due to make its very final flight.

Aha!’ I thought, ‘A perfect opportunity to take some show-stopping photos.’

I got a bit of practice in early in the day. There was this huge boat-plane flying around, but when I snapped it with the normal lens, it actually came out on the photo as a little speck in the sky.

Time to pull out the big guns…

I attached my old telephoto lens and heaved it skyward… ah, much better.

But because this was an old lens, it meant I had to focus manually. Now this wasn’t so bad from memory, but I’d only ever used it to take landscape shots before. So when the Red Arrows came on to do their display my fingers were a blur. I was frantically trying to keep focus as they went whizzing overhead at 400 miles an hour!

The children were jumping up and down with excitement: ‘Whoa, did you see that, Dad? Did you? Did you get a picture?

But needless to say, when we looked at the results on the little digital screen on the back of the camera they weren’t too impressed… ‘You can see the pilot’s hand waving on Uncle Chris’s pictures. Why do your planes look like furry red blobs, Dad?’ (You know the kind of thing – honest and innocent comments that are sure to have other adults within earshot chuckling away!)

So unfortunately, my photographic prowess (or lack of it) became the joke of the day. I did manage to get some good pictures of the Vulcan bomber though, but only because it was flying really slowly!

Now what do you think was the first thing I did when we got home?

That’s right: I dusted down the camera’s instruction book and learned how to actually use the manual focus settings. And you know, there are some really clever features built right-in. It’s not as complicated as it looks if you just take a few minutes to learn!

I learned some new MT4 tricks this week too…

So not only did I learn a lesson from my camera last week – to be a bit more willing to explore the different features and functions – it happened with the Metatrader Forex trading platform too!

Now you might recall I’m currently guiding the first group of traders through the Trader’s Nest Forex Breakthrough Academy. So when one of the members posted in the forum about a difficulty he was having in editing the properties of a line he had drawn on his metatrader chart, I dived straight in to help. I suggested my own default way of editing objects… double click, then right click, and then click ‘properties’.

This was the way I’d learnt to edit objects so I’d never really felt the need to explore any other options.

But it was actually a tip from another FXBA member that offered the most direct way to achieve the result (as I’m sure is the case with much software, there are actually two or three different ways to navigate to the settings in question). It was a keyboard shortcut I’d never personally used before that turned out to be most effective.

I did a bit more exploring and found a whole set of hot-key shortcuts I’d never previously used. They could seriously speed up and enhance any trader’s use of MT4, so I pulled them together into a list and made them available for all the FXBA members.

12 handy and new (to me!) MT4 hot-key shortcuts

  1. CTRL+B = opens the objects list so you can easily edit all lines etc
  2. Esc = quickly closes open dialogue windows
  3. Left arrow = smooth scroll left
  4. Right arrow = smooth scroll right
  5. Minus sign = quick zoom out
  6. Plus sign = quick zoom in
  7. Backspace = deletes last object drawn on the chart
  8. F8 = opens chart properties
  9. F9 = quickly opens an order ticket for the current chart
  10. F11 = toggles full screen mode for charts
  11. F12 = moves chart one bar to the left (great for practicing your chart reading skills)
  12. Shift+F12 = moves chart one bar to the right

Since the Trader’s Nest article I wrote a few weeks ago about Metatrader tips and tricks seemed to help so many, I thought I’d share that list of hot-keys with you today.

I’m pleased to extend the sense of camaraderie and mutual help that has been building in the FXBA forums to you here in the eletter, and if you weren’t already aware of them, I do hope you find those keyboard shortcuts useful!

Be Prepared: Market Moving Data Coming This Week (London Time)

Wednesday 17th June:
09:30    GBP    Average Earnings Index
09:30    GBP    Claimant Count Change
09:30    GBP    BoE MPC Meeting Minutes
10:00    EUR    Consumer Price Index
19:00    USD    Fed statement & Interest Rate Decision
19:30    USD    Fed Chair Yellen speaks

Thursday 18th June:
09:30    GBP    Retail Sales
13:30    USD    Consumer Price Index
15:00    USD    Philly Fed

Friday 19th June:
– no big reports

Monday 22nd June:
15:00    USD    Existing Home Sales

Tuesday 23rd June:
08:30    EUR    German Manufacturing PMI
13:30    USD    Core Durable Goods
15:00    USD    New Home Sales

Keep an eye on things Wednesday evening. There’s a whole glut of data due out from the US Federal Reserve, including comments by Janet Yellen. It’ll be interesting to see if anything is made of the recent decision by the state of Texas to repatriate their physical gold from storage in the Fed’s vault.

Things could get a bit frisky if the market interprets any sign of Fed anxiety from her rhetoric!

Until next time, happy trading!

P.S. I’ve just spotted an extra MT4 tip in the FXBA forum. I’ll post it on the TN Facebook page for you here. Feel free to add your own hot key tips and tricks in the Facebook comments box too.