Back in the days when a letter was a piece of paper folded into an envelope, we used to talk about getting "sacks of mail" or "a ton of mail." Clearly, the e-mail era demands new terminology. So we'll say that we got a digital dump of daunting dimensions in the e-mail basket in response to a recent column about our problems with the two leading Internet browsers.

We are grateful to all the readers who wrote us about Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Communicator. We generally try to answer each message you send us, but some weeks it's just impossible to keep up. So we'll answer you here.

Your messages fell roughly into three categories:

1) A surprisingly large number of people told us they had run into exactly the same problems we had with these browsers. We were delighted to hear it. It's not that we were happy that our readers are having problems, it's just that it always makes you feel better to know that you're not the only klutz on earth who can't make things work.

2) An even larger number reported other problems with the two browsers and could not find any online help.

3) And there was a raft of complaints from people who love Netscape Communicator, and got on our case for criticizing the program. Many of these readers said our problems with the latest version of Communicator were due to our own technical incompetence. (Or, as one 13-year-old Netscape fan wrote us, "You guys must be stupid!")

In that column, we mentioned the strange glitch we've encountered with Microsoft's browser program. All of a sudden, Internet Explorer can no longer find any of the dozens of Web addresses we had carefully saved on the program's list of "Favorites." Readers who had run into the same problem said the only way to solve it was to delete Explorer from the computer and then re-install it. And that requires entering all our existing "Favorites" all over again.

We're hoping to find a less drastic solution. A technical expert from Microsoft is now on the case, and we'll report to you when (if?) we get this fixed.

As for Netscape, we had several complaints about our column on the latest version of its flagship browser, Communicator ver. 4.5b1. Many Netscape fans chastised us for failing to note that this is a "beta" version of the program. These readers are right, and we were wrong not to mention that fact. A "beta" version is, by definition, an unfinished work and can be expected to have some flaws.


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