What, exactly, is Google Earth if not a very easy way for very bad people to do research on the next place they want to ruin? OK, fine: I get that satellite imagery and 3D terrain shots can combine to create a pretty useful geographical tool. Still, Google Talk (the company's new IM and Internet phone service) is driving me crazy. Sure, now that eBay bought Skype -- the most famous free Internet phone service -- it's good to have at least one Internet phone technology owned by people with supposedly benevolent hands. But ever since I signed up for Google Talk, I get little "Gmail Notifier" boxes that appear in the lower right hand corner of my screen not only telling me I have new e-mail in my Gmail inbox but giving me a taste of what those e-mails say. This is very, very annoying for someone who feels compelled to check his e-mail all day. And sure, I'm certain I can get rid of them. But why, when ignoring the problem allows me to go on this sort of rant? I admit it: I get lots of strange, compulsive pleasure from going to the Gmail Web site: logging in, just hoping to see a new message. Or dreading one, for that matter. Either way, I shouldn't have to know I have new e-mail -- and know what the messages say -- before I want to. I have already killed what was once a somewhat decent attention span in service of checking my e-mail all day. Now, I can get interrupted by my e-mail like a cellphone ring and lose out on the strange joy I get from wondering what people are writing me. The next tech product to take the world by storm? A computer without Internet capabilities for writers who actually want to remember why they became scribes and get something done at a keyboard. I am working on the prototype right now. It will look something like this.