The results are in -- I do have readers

After tallying the results of my informal questionnaire two weeks ago, I stumbled onto some startling results.

People actually read my column!

OK, maybe that's not true, maybe people were just clicking buttons in hopes they would receive a sundae in their inbox. Unfortunately, we won't have that working for a few more months. But at least I have some data to play with to determine certain readership attributes. These statistics don't really prove anything, but they give me hints about the role computers could play in the future. Here's what I found:

-- Thirty-eight percent of you spend 3-5 hours of free time on the Internet each week, while 32 percent spend 6-10 hours. I'm assuming by those counts that means most readers are connecting to the Internet at least every other day, and many are visiting daily. Just 25 percent spend two hours or fewer of free time. I appreciate those of you taking part of that time to read my column ... but wait a minute, are you reading my column at work? That's OK, I won't tell.

I would suspect the number of hours spent online will increase for the future, as I'm sure you are spending more time on your computer now than you were two years ago. Consider how closely a computer and the Internet mimic actual life, and it's no wonder the hours spent online are increasing. So obviously, the more who use the technology, the more they want to know, which brings us to our next finding.

-- Forty-five percent of the people who answered the questionnaire said they spend time on the Internet trying to learn more about computers and the Web. Another 39 percent said there were multiple reasons for surfing the Web. So this means to me at least four out of five people are attempting to strengthen their computer skills. That is a huge relief to me because the more people are willing to learn, the more they will. I try to thumb through different computer magazines -- MacAddict, MacWorld, PC Magazine -- and it seems as if I always find something beneficial to use at work. I can also catch the latest market crazes in the computer world.

-- One-hundred percent of people who answered the survey read my column! Or at least they read the word 'Submit' on the button at the bottom of the page.

-- I figured most people are using Internet Explorer, but I didn't realize the number -- 72 percent -- would be so high. Only 9 percent use Netscape. Twelve percent use something else, and I'm wondering just what that something else is. I maybe should have qualified the question a little better to ask what version of browser you are using. I'm hoping just about everyone is on 4.0 or higher of their respective browsers. You can take full advantage of the Internet with higher browser versions. That doesn't necessarily mean EVERYTHING on EVERY page will work, because browsers still vary.

-- It was pretty dead even in the Internet connection/modem race. Thirty-nine percent say they need a faster connection, 37 percent say their connection is OK. I'm wondering if those 37 percent have either high-speed access or are they just content with a page taking a little time to load? My connection at work is great, but if I had a dialup on a 56k modem, that would be murder.

-- Fifty-seven percent of you purchase things on the Internet, while 40 percent don't. And out of those 40 percent, 10 percent say they feel unsafe about security. That is the major issue in making the Internet the most suitable way to pay your bills, and I think I will address that topic in a future column.

With this valuable information, I plan to write more targeted columns based somewhat on your answers. At the same time, I'd like to know if anyone in particular has an issue or question they would like to discuss. Just write your questions or comments below: