How to Rob a House with Google Buzz focused on Foursquare. It highlighted random people checking into public locations, implying that they weren’t home and thus, their belongings could be robbed.

However, it’s not a realistic scenario. All you know is that Random_Joe is at some restaurant or cafe. You don’t know where Random_Joe lives. So how can you rob him?

Enter Google Buzz (GOOG). And this is scary.

Every once in a while, I’ll check out nearby buzzes on Google Buzz Mobile. Usually it’s some harmless comment or random conversation. Sometimes it’s a helpful tip or review on a restaurant. On a few occasions however, I’ve seen people buzz from a residential location, presumably their home.

It’s not difficult to guess what you can do from there, especially if they haven’t limited their privacy options on their Google Profile. Yup, you can monitor their buzzes, learn about their habits, and even know where they are (and when they’re not home).

Methinks should switch their Foursquare feed with Google Buzz.

Fortunately, it looks like only a few people are doing this right now. I imagine using your mobile phone to buzz from home isn’t a common use case, though it clearly happens. Perhaps this should be a new best practice: Don’t do anything online that can share your personal address and your current whereabouts to strangers.

P.S. I also once saw a guy buzz about how much he hated dealing with customers. And he did this from his work location, a car repair shop. Guess which shop I’ll never go to.

Biz Idea: What I’m Feeling Right Here, Right Now

Here’s a tongue-in-cheek idea. With all the talk about the dangers of location-based services, I started to wonder: People share their thoughts (foursquare, Google Buzz (GOOG), brightkite), reviews (Yelp), and photos (Flickr) to the world with a stalker-friendly geotag. What else could they share?

How about their mood?

Remember a time when social networks were full of “How are you feeling today” icons and notes? Some people loved those mood icons. Some still do. I think MySpace (NWS) and LiveJournal still have them, in fact.

So how about sharing how you are feeling, exactly when you are feeling it, wherever you are feeling it? Maybe you could even take a picture of your face to reflect that emotion. Think of it as a real-time geotagged emotion.

Friends could follow your mood throughout the day as you travel through Machu Picchu, Tokyo, or a local softball game. Researchers could look into whether or not riding the bus dampens people’s moods. Stalkers could follow you around until you’re feeling low and vulnerable, then approach you and offer some candy.

I’m feeling pretty cheerful right now. Oh how I wish I could geotag this emotion in real-time to the world.

Upscale Hotels with No Free Wifi

Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers You know what’s lame? Upscale hotels with no free wifi.

I’m staying at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel right now. It’s a fancy place with all kinds of nice amenities. Sans wifi.

I had the same experience with Hilton and Ritz Carlton.

Do you know who does offer free wifi? Discount hotels like Radisson. Even Best Western offers free wifi.

So why don’t hotels where I’m paying a premium offer a service that their lower-priced competitors have made a commodity? Is it the cost of operating such a system? Security issues? Infrastructure issues? Or do they just not want to?

As a business traveler, I always look for a hotel with free wifi in the rooms. (Today’s trip isn’t for business, by the way.) Having it in the public area is not acceptable, nor is paying for the wifi. Fortunately, since discount hotels offer free wifi, I’m getting a great deal – an inexpensive hotel plus free wifi!

P.S. How funny, I’ve ranted about this before. See how much it bugs me? C’mon hoteliers, get with it!

Redesign and Reblogging

BizThoughts by Mike Lee You may have noticed a change over here. I figured it was about time to do a redesign. Every site needs a redesign once in a while, right? It’s like Spring cleaning.

Along with this redesign is a renewed commitment to write & blog more regularly. I’m pecking out this entry on my iPhone right now. Though it’s not the easiest thing to do on this virtual keyboard (I must have fat fingers judging by how many times I’ve mistyped), or on the iPhone in general (the WordPress app and Safari both crashed on me, so this is my fourth, count it: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th attempt, ack), blogging on a mobile device is terribly convenient. When it works…

I already use Twitter through my iPhone, why not my blog too, right? Convenience = more usage. That’s a formula for a successful product if I ever heard one. Hopefully WordPress on the iPhone is just as easy to use.

Yelp’s Monocle: An Augmented Reality iPhone App

Talk about a purple cow.

Yelp just released a new version of their Apple (AAPL) iPhone app with an easter egg: Monocle, an Augmented Reality (AR) feature. This feature is only available on the iPhone 3GS.

According to Robert Scoble, to get this app, follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest version of the Yelp iPhone app.
  2. Enter the app.
  3. Shake it several times. Although Scoble says to shake it 3 times, I had to shake mine like 10 times.
  4. A message will appear saying Monocle was activated. Touch the OK button.
  5. Touch the Monocle button at the top right corner of the screen.

And that’s it. If you hold the phone vertical and point the iPhone around the room, you’ll see the camera working. An overlap of Yelp reviews will appear in the direction of that particular business. If you need more help, Mashable also has step-by-step instructions, along with screenshots and this video:

It’s a pretty neat feature. Major props to the Yelp team for pulling this off. They earn loads of geek cred for this.

If I lived in New York City, I could see this being somewhat useful. The compass-based directional map on the Google (GOOG) Maps iPhone app is more useful though. The prime benefit of Monocle is letting me know which direction a restaurant is located. Google Maps does that too, plus it includes zooming in and out. Sadly, the Google Map on Yelp doesn’t have the directional feature. Maybe Yelp should add that as their next feature.

Another nice benefit of Monocle is letting me know which restaurants are near me. That’s pretty nice, if I want any ole’ restaurant. But generally, I use Yelp to find me a good, high-quality restaurant. Being a little bit further away is fine because I’m looking for good food. I’m not sure what Monocle’s distance limit is, but what if a great place is just ten steps to my left? Would I miss out on it because I wasn’t standing close enough for Monocle to display it?

To be fair, the same could be said about Google Maps if, say, a great restaurant was just off the left edge of the screen. But it’s easier to scroll the screen to the left than it is to know to walk ten steps in some direction.

But enough criticism. Geek-cred-wise, this is pretty cool. Lots of people are talking about it too, which is even more cool. Awesome demonstration of AR technology, guys. I’m looking forward to other AR applications soon.

Palm Mojo Software Development Kit Available

Palm Pre Cool! The Palm Mojo Software Development Kit is now available. It looks like they have quite a few resources online too, including:

Kind of makes me wish I had gotten a Palm Pre, though I’ve heard that their App Catalog still leaves much to be desired.

Two Weeks with the iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS It was one of those “Oh crap” moments. After a long day of work, I decided to take a dip in the hot tub under the cool evening sky. So anxious was I for that bubbly, refreshing goodness that I forgot about the BlackBerry 8800 (RIMM) in my board shorts.

Oh crap.

The next day, I went out and purchased an iPhone 3GS (AAPL). It wasn’t a quick & easy decision. I ruminated over the BlackBerry Tour, the Palm Pre, and the iPhone 3GS for quite a while. I read countless reviews and articles and opinions and comparisons about each. The reviews are generally mixed, depending on what you need and what you want in a smartphone.

As an entrepreneur, I have a pretty strict list of requirements that are mostly for business purposes. A regular phone wouldn’t suffice, so my only options are smartphones. A fair portion of my business is done while I’m away from my laptop, so my smartphone needs to double as a mini, portable laptop, basically.

Just for the record, what I need are:

  • Ability to receive and make phone calls, of course
  • Ability to type lots of potentially long emails often (a good typing experience)
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Gmail (GOOG) and Yahoo! Mail (YHOO) accounts
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Gmail Contacts
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Google Calendar
  • Ability to know where I am, look up addresses, and give me directions (GPS)
  • Ability to read RSS feeds
  • Ability to browse the web
  • Ability to set an alarm (small, but handy feature)

And my nice-to-haves are:

  • Ability to take photos
  • Ability to take video
  • Ability to play games (nice time-wasters)

I state these because your needs are almost certainly different than mine. Not all entrerpreneurs need to read RSS feeds, for instance. It all depends on what you need and what you want.

Since the iPhone 3GS has video capabilities, that tipped its scale for me. The lack of physical keyboard concerned me, but friends tell me it’s not so bad. Its plethora of apps also make it appealing. So with the iPhone I went.

That was about two weeks ago. Am I still happy with my iPhone purchase? Mostly so.

The apps are cool. No doubt about that. Useful, plentiful, colorful. They are a smorgasbord of snazz, a potpourri of power. Need something to deter you from drunk dialing your exes? There’s an app for that.

GPS and Google Maps work great on the iPhone, especially with the traffic data. Finding nearby restaurants, cheap gas stations, and wifi hotspots; publishing blog entries, tweets, and photos; reading stock quotes, RSS feeds, and news – it’s all a swish and a click away. And don’t even get me started on the awesome video capabilities. Smokin’!

I desperately miss a physical keyboard, however. My gosh do I miss one. Guess I didn’t realize how utterly useful one is. I can blaze out a long email pretty quickly with my old BlackBerry, may she rest in peace. It takes me twice as long on the iPhone.

And to compare apples to apples, after two weeks of using my BlackBerry, I was savvy with the keyboard. After two weeks of the iPhone, I’m still hunting & pecking like a n00b. With email being one of the most important capabilities that I needed, the iPhone makes me feel like I’m going backwards instead of forwards.

Does that mean I regret my decision? Naaah. I’m sure I’ll get used to this virtual keyboard in time. I’ll be keeping my eye on the BlackBerry Tour and Palm Pre though. The Pre’s app development capabilities are especially intriguing, though their App Catalog is a dial-up modem compared to Apple iTunes’ fiber optics right now.

Ultimately, I think the right phone for you is the phone that fits your criteria. The iPhone 3GS is great in some ways, bad in others — at least, for me. Same with the Palm Pre and the BlackBerry Tour, I’m sure. If you were to ask me which phone is the best for entrepreneurs, I would answer the same way most questions in life are answered: it depends. It depends on what you need and what you want.