Thumbs up: To Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble Director Ron Carter, who conducted his last concert at NIU on Thursday. Carter is retiring this spring after 20 years of directing the nationally renowned ensemble. Since June 1998, the jazz studies program at NIU has been rated as one of the top 10 graduate jazz programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report and has won a slew of awards. Professor Carter will certainly be missed.
Thumbs down: To the “Heartbleed” online security flaw. A glitch in some Internet security systems has potentially exposed millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information to hijacking. But it’s probably not something everyday users need to worry too much about, says David Galica, owner of Armor Technologies, a web hosting and computer repair firm in DeKalb. Hackers can exploit the glitch, but they can only siphon off small bits of information at a time. Piecing the data into anything usable would take a lot of computing power and time, and many sites already have repaired the glitch. “The odds of somebody actually retrieving enough information to affect regular users is very small, and the reality is that most people are not going to change their passwords,” Galica said. “I’m not going to change mine.”
Thumbs up: To building bridges. Thirty-one local families are playing short-term host to 50 high school students and 10 adults from 10 Southeast Asian countries through NIU’s Southeast Asia Youth Leadership program. The program teaches students about a variety of topics, including civic engagement and cultural orientation. Students gain a broadened worldview they can use to make positive developments when they return home, and both visitors and hosts can benefit from the wider view and deeper understanding that comes from exposure to another culture.
Thumbs down: To Genoa losing out on a stop on the planned Amtrak passenger rail line that will connect Rockford with Chicago for the first time since 1981. This week, state officials said the new line would bypass Genoa in favor of stops in Huntley, Elgin, and Belvidere. City officials said they had no idea the plan had changed and Genoa Mayor Mark Vicary called the state’s handling of the process “disgraceful.” The Illinois Department of Transportation promptly laid the blame on Canadian National Railway, which it said was being too difficult in negotiations. We hope the fight is not over; as it stands the real losers are the people of Genoa.
Thumbs up: To Kim Mattei, of Sycamore, and other military grandparents. Mattei watched her now 18-month-old grandson for part of his parents’ almost six-month deployment with the U.S. Air Force. Senior Airman Adam Burton, 24, and Senior Airman Nikki Burton, 23, were deployed to southwest Asia together with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron late last year. They picked up their son from Mattei’s house Thursday. We thank them and other military personnel for their service, along with the grandparents and other family members who support them.