Jumping The Gun


    While the first phase of Grand Rapids’ wireless broadband pilot doesn’t officially begin until next week, one vendor is getting a head start.

    The only local provider participating, FreedomNet Solutions, has had its Wi-Fi network up and running in downtown Grand Rapids since last year, and according to Assistant City Manager Greg Sundstrom, was tired of waiting for the out-of-towners to catch up.

    “We had told the first four vendors that we’d like to see them up and running by June 1, and the other six by July 1,” Sundstrom said. “But FreedomNet was ready to go (today). They’ve been anxious to get started and were eager to open their network up to the community.”

    So, a week ahead of schedule, Mayor GeorgeHeartwell will preside over a “wire-cutting ceremony” this afternoon at Rosa Parks Circle.

    • Speaking of computers and technology, Anthony Wojcik, director of the Michigan State University Cybersecurity Initiative, shared an interesting view on the subject of computer vulnerability and security in relation to this week’s Focus section.

    “I look at buying an automobile a lot differently than buying a computer,” he said. “Sure there are still recalls, but I have more trust that an automobile will do what it’s supposed to than software or hardware.”

    Wojcik noted the recent announcement of a Microsoft service designed to protect PCs against spyware and viruses. Microsoft’s Windows is the only operating system affected by spyware.

    “It’s funny. If the automobile industry finds a defect, they recall the product,” Wojcik said. “Sure, the more time you spend making a product as resilient as possible, the more costs will rise. It comes to the point that we’re coming up with solutions, but you have to pay for them.

    “It’s like charging extra for seatbelts.”

    As a point of reference, consider what happened in the seven days prior to this week’s Focus section being written: Google crashed, Time Warner lost 600,000 Social Security numbers and critical vulnerabilities were discovered in the “safer” alternative to Internet Explorer, called Firefox, and in the days-old Tiger Operating System.

    In addition, a 16-year-old Swedish kid hacked into the systems at Cisco, NASA and a cache of research universities, and a Friday the 13th computer glitch inflated roughly half of the 3,200 listings on the Nasdaq — some by multiples of a hundred.

    Anyone for cyber seatbelts?

    • That’s enough to drive anyone crazy. So the timing of a Grand Rapids visit from psychologist Dr. JoyceBrothers is most fortuitous.

    Long considered the dean of American psychologists, Brothers will be in town on Wednesday as part of a National Senior Health and Fitness Day at Forest Hills Fine Arts Center. Brothers will speak at 1 p.m. during the event, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The daylong event is free, but Brothers’ presentation is $10 and tickets are available at Ticketmaster (456-3333).

    • It wasn’t as difficult as pulling teeth, but CVB President SteveWilson was able to convince MDOT to delay the closing of downtown exits along I-196 from May 11th until the 18th because the Michigan Dental Association was bringing 4,000 delegates to DeVos Place for its annual convention the week the highway’s exits were to have closed.

    Wilson’s action probably means the Tooth Fairy made it here in time to run the Fifth Third River Bank Run that weekend.

    • President BobPrevette and CEO BillWalker have a nice view of the Calder from their downtown offices in Legacy Trust.

    Now they’ll have that view for a little longer.

    Legacy Trust will hold an open house to celebrate its first anniversary — and the signing of an extended lease — on Thursday.

    Legacy Trust, an independent, locally owned trust bank specializing in investments and trust management, will welcome clients, board members, professional partners, the media and members of the community to a cocktail reception at its newly renovated offices at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 600, from 4-7 p.m.

    Members of the management team will be on hand for tours and a discussion of the bank’s performance during its just-completed year — including surpassing the $100 million mark in assets under management. The bank also signed an extended lease with its landlord, securing its downtown headquarters for the next 12 years.

    “We are very pleased with Legacy Trust’s accomplishments during our first year as an independent, Michigan-chartered bank,” said Walker. “We are especially delighted to announce that we now have more than $100 million in assets under management, which is a significant milestone in our industry.”

    • If roaring jet engines and barbecued pork are up your alley, BarbaraKerfoot has a deal for you.

    Since 1984, the Muskegon Air Fair has brought the best in aviation to the lakeshore. Getting a seat inside one of the corporate chalets that dot the runway area, however, is difficult at best.

    “For years people have been asking, ‘How do we get into a chalet?” said Kerfoot, general manager of the annual air show. “With the help of Famous Dave’s Barbeque, we have come up with a great seating and food combination sure to be a big hit with air show fans.”

    For $49.95, which includes food and beverages, adults can purchase a seat at an umbrella table inside The Famous Dave’s Flying Pig Chalet.

    In addition to the porky pad, patrons can enjoy the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight team and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, among other attractions. That’s in addition to the pork, of course.    

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