THE end of the world has been predicted so many times at the hands of rogue computer virus programs that headline writers have become somewhat wary of hype surrounding the likes of ''Michelangelo'', ''Stoned'' and ''Friday the 13th''.
But just when you thought it was safe to go back to your hard-drive, an even more wickedly clever and cruel virus has been found, striking fear into the hearts of users everywhere.
The latest rogue uncovered is a virus called ''Junkie'', which, supposedly, is able to encrypt and modify itself to avoid detection.
The scary part is that the anti-virus software makers that identified the virus are not even sure what the program does, only that it is potentially a very big worry. TIME magazine got itself in all sorts of trouble recently when it published a front-page police mug-shot of the former football megastar O. J. Simpson that the magazine conceded was doctored to make Simpson's skin appear darker and to accentuate the facial stubble.
The affair forced the magazine into a position where it had to apologise - amid ''a hail of criticism'' and charges of intentional racism.
While hardly a hi-tech affair in itself, the apology that followed demonstrated clearly that the beginnings of the information superhighway are already well and truly functional.
At the weekend, the magazine's editor issued a statement via tens of thousands of computer bulletin boards delivering the message that Time regretted that the picture had caused offence and that ''no racial implication had been intended''.
Interesting that the brave new world of BBS should be chosen as the medium for a message from so high-profile a member of the print establishment.
Presumably the new medium is effective. JOHN Sculley has apparently ended his self-imposed exile from the ranks of senior information technology management, having been hired as a part-time marketing adviser with the photographic products group, Eastman Kodak.
Mr Sculley, who spent 10 years at the helm of Apple Computer before resigning last year, runs his own consulting firm in New York, and says the Eastman Kodak work will take up about 25 per cent of his time.
Mr Sculley had an embarrassing encounter with Spectrum Information Technologies, where he had resigned after barely four months as chairman, claiming he had been deceived about accounting problems. SPREADSHEET freaks can rejoice and rest easy. Lotus yesterday launched 1-2-3 Release 5 For Windows. Among other things, the new version of the product has many enhancements for people working with Lotus Notes and cc:Mail systems and other electronic mail packages.
The new release also includes various database features from the Lotus Approach relational database (RDB).
Then again, don't hold your breath. As is the monstrous way of this industry, the product was only announced yesterday - it will actually ship in the third quarter.
The package carries a suggested retail price of $3,860. Or an upgrade price (from all 1-2-3 releases and certain competitive products) for $998.