Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Save Money on Motorcycle Insurance

I recently needed to purchase motorcycle insurance for the first time.  After researching, and finally purchasing a motorcycle insurance policy, I have some lessons learned.  Particularly on how to save money on the policy.  There are actual some easy things you can do to save money on motorcycle insurance.  Saving money on motorcycle insurance entails three basic principles:  buy only what you need, compare, and take advantage of discounts.  

1.  Shop Around:  Ok this seems obvious, but seriously, there can be HUGE differences amongst insurance providers for the same coverage.  Even if all you do is compare some of the large national names (GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, All State, etc.), go ahead and do the comparison.  I guarantee you that you will be surprised.  In my experience, a 6 month premium could be TWICE AS MUCH at one provider.

2.  Motorcycle Safety Classes:  Most insurance providers will give a discount if you have completed a motorcycle safety class.  In some cases, this may be the same class you took to get your license!  Make sure you get credit for the class.  Forewarning though, if you're thinking of just taking a class to save on insurance...classes can be $300 or more.  The discount is also only valid for 3 years from safety class completion date. 

3.  Drop Comprehensive Coverage:  Comprehensive coverage, which is normally a "must" for cars and trucks, can be totally dropped for motorcycles.  Particularly if your bike is older, or inexpensive.  Comprehensive covers the bike in case of theft, flood, etc.  Obviously check the terms, but for the most part comprehensive focuses on the bike itself.  This will also have a deductible attached to it.  Something like $250/$500/$1000.  That's the share you pay in the case of a claim.  So when bikes are older and less expensive, and you have a deductible, it doesn't make much sense to pay a bunch of dough monthly for comprehensive.  The numbers aren't in your favor.

4.  Drop Collision Coverage:  Collision coverage, also normally a "must" for cars and trucks, can be dropped for motorcycles.  Again, this is especially true if your motorcycle isn't worth that much money.  Collision coverage takes care of the motorcycle in the case of an accident.  But, it also has a deductible attached to it.  So again, when your bike is cheap, it doesn't make sense to purchase collision either.  Just buy a new bike.

Now, before I continue, some of you may thinking "dude screw you, you're telling me the best way to save money on motorcycle insurance is basically cut out all the good coverage".  No, that's not what I'm saying.  Consider the following scenario:

The average starter motorcycle (say 250cc or 500cc...something like a used Kawasaki Ninja, or Honda Rebel) costs around $2000-$3000 today.  Obviously, not a super expensive bike, and of course, it's used when you buy it.  Still, that's about what most people spend starting out, and the Ninja 250 is, by far, one of the most popular starter bikes.  Ok, so we've got a bike for 2 grand, we need insurance.  It's safe to say the average new rider (age 20-40, single, etc.) is probably going to pay anywhere from $50 to $100/mo, depending on coverage.  Let's pick the middle, $75/mo.  Let's say the rider goes full coverage, and opts for both Comprehensive and Collision.  And let's say their deductible is $500.  That might be low, because a lot of people choose $1000 deductibles.  Remember, the deductible is what you have to pay, regardless, when you file a claim.  So, to recap,

$2000 starter bike.  
Full coverage, paying $75/mo, with a $500 deductible.

That means your 6 month bill for insurance coverage is $450.  After one year of coverage, you've paid $900 for insurance.  At this point, when you consider the deductible, an accident/fire/theft/damage will still cost $500...regardless.

$900 insurance for one year + $500 deductible = $1400

Compare that to the value of the bike, when you bought it, $2000.

You're one year insurance bill alone is 45% of the bike value.  If you figure an actual claim triggers the $500, and add that in, your one year insurance bill is now 70% of the bike value!

Why the hell would you pay $75/mo for full coverage on a bike that only costs $2000?

Now that's just one scenario, but you can run the numbers for yourself.  Just compare the cost of the full coverage plan in 6 mo and 12 mo increments to your bike value. 

Drop collision and comprehensive for your bike if the numbers aren't in your favor.  Use a 6mo and 12mo insurance premium value, and compare it to the value of your bike.

Remember, Collision and Comprehensive can be as much as TWO THIRDS of your policy cost!

Dropping collision and comprehensive can cut cost substantially.  If you are financing the bike, unfortunately, this won't be optional and you likely can't drop either Comprehensive or Collision.   

5.  Join a big bike club:  Most national insurance providers give modest discounts for joining motorcycle associations and clubs.  No, not like the a discount for the Hells Angels.  More like a discount for the American Motorcycle Association, Harley Owners Group, Gold Wing Road Riders Association, Gold Wing Touring Association,  Motorcycle Safety Foundation [and] Venture Touring Society, BMW Motorcycle Owners of America.

6.  Have good credit:  All of the national insurance carriers are going to be checking your financial history.  All of them also state pretty clearly that the better your financial history (i.e. pay your bills on time), the lower the rates.  Sometimes it can be as much as half!

7.  Drop Med Pay:  Motorcycle insurance typically has something called "Med Pay", or Medical Coverage.  This is basically coverage for your health and medical.  So why drop it?  Simple, you're probably already covered under your primary health insurance policy, and Medical Coverage like this is SECONDARY.  That means it only pays when another health insurance policy doesn't.  In the case of an average joe with health insurance at work, Med Pay will only pay AFTER his primary health insurance pays!

If you can take advantage of the above seven tips, you can easily get your motorcycle insurance down into the $50/month range with a national provider.  The best part is, if you can take advantage of these tips, that $50/month can be buying you some kick ass insurance.  You should be able to pick up $100k/$300k on medical liability, and good coverage for uninsured/underinsured.  Defeinitely pay attention to these two areas in particular (Medical Liability and Underinsured/Uninsured).  You want to go big here, if possible.  A lot of people on the road don't have insurance, and that could leave you high and dry.  At the same time, motorcycle accidents are often nasty, so having a high medical liability is wise!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to Beat the Center for Copyright Information (and BitTorrent snooping, etc.)

If you haven't heard already, there's a new sheriff in town.  The CCI are set to police EVERYONE on the internet for "copyright infringement".  CCI have partnered with all the major ISP's are being put in position to essentially enable logging of P2P and BT traffic.  The plan?  Watch it, document it, and start identifying offenders.  Throttle that traffic, eventually cut it off, and fine them. 

Yup, and you thought "the blackout" had made a difference.  LOL.

So you, like a million other people, seeing this news...are wondering, "Well WTF do I do now?"

You're now aware that the BitTorrent downloads and uploads are totally visible.  And now, there's someone there watching, logging, and putting a bureaucracy around it.  This probably isn't going to end well for you, if you continue.

CCI and it's methods (straight out of the MPAA/RIAA handbook), are, put simply, RETARDED.  

So, how then should we beat the Center for Copyright Information?

How about a cyberlocker, or basically cloud storage.  Yup, that's an easy way to beat CCI.  All of that HTTPS will do the trick.  Of course, this isn't really BT friendly.

How about a "BT anonymizer".  Yup, that's an easy way to beat CCI.  But that's limited to BT only.

Those are both good options.  One is obviously a change in the pattern, totally different.  The other is tailored specifically to the BT task at-hand.  Both will prevent BitTorrent snooping.  Both will easily defeat CCI.

A better option, is to find a hybrid.  Find something that will cover the most, and take care of the task at hand.

Beat CCI with VPN.

Connecting to a VPN while using BT, or using the internet in general, will beat CCI and anyone else that attempts to employ the same lame type of policing on internet traffic.

We mentioned earlier the great speeds available on HideMyAss.  That's definitely an option right there.

What you're really looking for, out of a VPN service (especially if you intend to pay) is quality and security.  Go for L2TP and OpenVPN where possible.  Steer clear of PPTP only.  Providers with servers in the NL and in Sweden are good.  Logging will be less of a worry.  If you just use US or UK VPN, you're asking for trouble with BT/P2P useage.

For good VPN software and high speeds check out HideMyAss.

For the best deal on Usenet + VPN, go with Giganews + VyprVPN.

For a VPN focused on no logging and providing a lot of SE servers, go with VPNTunnel.SE.

For a provider using multihop VPN for added security, try

For a new up and coming provider with a lot of servers and cheap prices see IPVanish.

For a little south-of-the-border flavor with your VPN, CactusVPN is cheap and easy.

For anyone who knows what "shell" means, you should check out

Ok so if that's not enough options for beating CCI, check back later.  I'm sure we will have thought of something else.  Probably while we were on the can.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

HideMyAss VPN Review - 95% of Network Fast Enough for Streaming High Def!

httpI came across a really well done VPN review on HideMyAss.  The folks over at did an amazing job on an indepth review of the HMA VPN software and service, including a full test. 
They did such a good job they documented just about everything in the software, and then went off and did a full speed test.  But they didn't stop there, they actually did some math on the results and produced some real conclusions!  Amazing...

The basic conclusion is that HMA has a really fast network.  Over 95% of it can support speeds suitable for streaming high def.  Even if you accept some of the highest measures of speeds required, over 70% of the HMA VPN network still meets the requirements.  Pretty cool when you consider it's only $11.52/mo.

The indepth review includes screenshots of almost all the HMA features in their VPN client software.  It also includes all the speed test results from the 20 something countries that HMA offers.  

Have a look at all the screenshots of the software and the full test here.

Personally I like both VyprVPN and HMA for VPN service and VPN clients.  I think either one is an excellent choice.  They both end up highly ranked over at that site too for obvious reasons (price, features, performance, etc.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Usenet is going crazy with the retention upgrades

For my first post since returning from my "walkabout" I am going to talk about the retention insanity going on with usenet right now.

And when I say insanity, I mean crazy-cat-lady insanity.  Usenet service providers, like Giganews, are BLOWING UP their binary retention.  Massive improvements.

Now, for those not in the know about usenet, I'll offer you 3 quick primers:
  1. Check out my previous posts on the subject
  2. Get your learn on here (don't worry, it's an easy read)
  3. There is no number three. 

Some of you are all, "whatever man, what's retention? why the hell do I care?"  Well, put simply.  Retention is how long a usenet service provider stores posts.  Period.  Retention is measured in days.  It's broken into 2 primary categories:  text and binaries.  Unless you hang out in like, um, nobody I know (ha)...all you care about is binary retention.  The larger the retention (in days) the more posts (i.e. stuff) available for you to sift through.  More stuff (i.e. information) equals more fun.  You care because this insanity of improvement has moved binary retention to within striking distance of 3 calendar years.   

Unless you're really dense, or in a total fog (totally understandable, I just popped out of mine), you should be thinking to yourself...."Hmmm, 3 years of content - HORRY SHIET!!"

In celebration of this insanity, Giganews is running a promotion.  Plus they have a great new signup discount as well.  Now is the time to check out usenet if you haven't done so already.  In addition to what's going on over at Giganews, you have Easynews, Newshosting, and UsenetServer all pulling the same shenanigans.  Massively improving their retention for customers.  Right now Giganews is in the lead, which is per the usual - they tend to keep the best retention in the business.  If you're interested in seeing some comparison between the providers, head here:   

At this point it's a day for day uptick on the retention numbers.  Every one calendar day that passes, adds one day retention.  In other words, they've expanded their storage space so much they are comfortable letting retention grow every day.  I assume once they get uncomfortable this day for day uptick will stop.  Let's hope that's not before we hit 1,095 days (365x3=1095).

BTW, this shit has been in the news and all over the web lately on the usenet sites, review sites, and the like.  (just a friendly note on - decent content, but don't trust the recommendations.  Anyone that recommends Binverse does not have your best interests in your research)

He's baaaaaccckkk! Stoneycase is alive and well

Contrary to what you read in the tabloids, I am not dead.  Keeping true to my motto: "Stoneycase, it's more than just a name, it's a frame of mind"  I disappeared into the ether from the end of January,  Yes, this exact moment.  I just emerged.  Yeah, it happened just like that.  You see, a stoneycase frame of mind is well, kinda hazy...and somewhat difficult to navigate.  Sometimes you just end up wandering.

However, I am reminded of a passage from one of my favorites:

Frodo felt Bilbo stir impatiently at his side. Evidently he was annoyed on his friend’s behalf. Standing suddenly up he burst out:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

by J. R. R. Tolkien (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973)
from The Fellowship of the Ring
chapter: The Council of Elrond

So please excuse the wandering, and the absence.  Though I can't promise I won't do it again...once a wanderer, always a wanderer...


Friday, January 21, 2011

NEW Ultra High Capacity Magazines from Surefire

Surefire just released new ultra high capacity magazines for the AR15/M16 weapon - 60 and 100 rounds!

Little different topic than my usual tech/software/space/science - but this definitely qualifies as current events, educational, and/or unique.  I actually think it's tech as well, since it represents a technological development for rifle magazines.  Then there is the fact that they look like a whole lotta fun!

Unfortunately high capacity magazines have gotten a lot of press lately.  I don't really want to get into a lot of that discussion.  Let's just say nobody wins when you argue you those points.  Suffice to say, crime is crime.  Whether you fire one bullet or one thousand...consequences will never be the same.

Surefire, the ever popular company mostly known for it's flashlights, also makes weapon accessories.  Their latest release of ultra high capacity magazines for the AR-15/M-16 rifle have catapulted them into the firearms market in a major way.

Until now, the options for magazines on the AR15/M16 weapon platform basically broke down like this:

1.  10 round magazines - Low capacity.  During a few years this was all you could buy due to regulations.  I believe some states and localties still forbid magazines that hold any more than this for even semi-automatic rifles.  (such as the AR15)
2.  30 round magazines - Normal capacity.  You can buy these today, with some exceptions.  Check your local laws.  IANAL.  These are typical/normal, especially in the military or law enforcement.  There are cheap ones, clear ones, with counters, etc.  Consider this standard issue. 
3.  40 round magazines - Higher capacity, but totally unreliable.  In general, everybody steered clear of these pieces of shit.  They were basically just longer than 30 round mags, but somehow managed to totally fuck up.  Suffered from feed problems, spring problems, etc.  You rarely see them for sale, or in use...but they do exist.

4.  100 round magazine drums - Ultra high capacity.  In use in the military, and I believe, available to civilians.  It's basically a big circle drum.  It's huge, weighs a crap ton, and throws off the balance of the rifle.  Plus you have to use crazy lubricant on it to make it reliable.
There is some variation, of course.  For example, instead of a 100 round drum, there are 90 round drums.  But they are all drums at that size.  Or you would see 2x30 round magazines, joined together - sometimes even duct taped.  But for the most part, this list was the playing field.

Surefire has stepped up to the plate and swung for the fences by releasing a 60 round and a 100 round magazine that basically seem to solve all of the major issues with high capacity magazines.

They maintain the relative size and shape of the traditional 30 round magazine.  Amazing.  They also are more reliable and require no special lubricant applications.  Awesome.  The 60 rounder also weighs less than joining two 30 round magazines together.  Even better. 

The uber-cool website Cheaper than Dirt! should be selling these babies very soon.  God bless CTD.  Surefire has the retail currently at $129 and $179 for the 60 and 100 round respectively.    

Make sure you check out the pictures and video!  Congratulations to Surefire for a significant advancement in magazine technology and weapons accessories.  Way to go guys.  More rounds down range, and on target, is always good thing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sharepod - Say Goodbye to iTunes and Copy your Music

Sharepod is free software to change, backup, and share the music on your iPod.
Drop iTunes.  It's a piece of crap.  It's so bloated I don't even think "Beat the Bloat" could solve the problem.
 Get with the times and check out Sharepod.  For one thing, the footprint is tiny.  Oh, and by the way, you can backup, copy, and share ANY music on ANY iPod. 

If ever there was a reason to dislike Apple, and/or Apple software, that reason is iTunes.  Unfortunately there are so many people that use this PoS, trying to get people to switch is damn near impossible.  iTunes is on version 10.x these days, and it still sucks mightily.  +100mb install file?  Yeah iTunes has that.  Persistent processes in the background, regardless of whether an iDevice is plugged in?  Yeah iTunes has that.  A totally retarded sync process? Yeah iTunes has that too.  Hangups during "verification"?  Oh yeah baby, iTunes is all over that.  Application lag on ultra-fast core i7 machines?  Aww yeah, iTunes for the win!
 So just kick the habit.  I know it's hard.  I know a bunch of you have iPods and are used to dealing with the hassle that is iTunes.  I won't even get into the iPhone, because without iTunes you can't even activate the damn thing (unless you do it in store, or elsewhere).  Still, there's no reason why you shouldn't check out Sharepod.

Hell, at least use it to copy/backup/share the music on your iPod.  That's something iTunes will NEVER do.  Throw your iPod down, connect the cable, and start the share love.  Friend comes over to your pad with sweet tunes on their iPhone/iPod?  Backup that shiat!  Get your SHARE ON, and spread the love amongst the people.  Get Sharepod!