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ExtraBITS for 16 October 2017

In ExtraBITS this week, Apple has already patched the WPA2 KRACK vulnerability in its operating system betas and is offering free MacBook Pro battery repairs for select models if you’re willing to wait a month, iFixit’s CEO explains why repairs are good for the economy, and we have two articles about how some smartphone and social media pioneers are having second thoughts about their creations.

Apple Has Already Patched the WPA2 KRACK Weakness in OS Betas — Security professionals are fretting over the just-disclosed KRACK flaw, which renders all WPA2-protected Wi-Fi networks vulnerable to attack. Fortunately, MacRumors is reporting that Apple told iMore’s Rene Ritchie that it has already plugged the vulnerability in the next betas of macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Once Apple releases the current betas, likely in the next few days, those fixes will protect the data sent and received on devices running those operating systems, even if the Wi-Fi router itself
remains vulnerable. The real concern with KRACK will come with older devices for which patches don’t become available.

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Apple Offering Free MacBook Pro Battery Repairs, If You’re Willing to Wait — If you own a mid-2012 or early-2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that qualifies for battery service (check via  > About This Mac > System Report > Hardware > Power > Health Information), you can get it for free from Apple if you don’t need it right away. Apple has told Genius Bar employees and Apple Authorized Service Providers to offer a free battery repair if the customer is willing to wait until at least 15 November 2017. If you need a new battery sooner, you’ll have to pay standard
out-of-warranty battery repair rates: $199 in the United States, £199 in the United Kingdom, $289 in Australia, and $259 in Canada.

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iFixit CEO Explains Why Repairs Are Good for Business — iFixit has spent years compiling repair guides for all of Apple’s products, including the new iPhone 8, which iFixit flew to Australia to obtain in order to publish a guide before most of the rest of the world had woken up. iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens sat down with Adam Minter of Bloomberg for an interview in which he extolled the virtues of repair, including the creation of blue-collar jobs, sales of replacement parts, and reducing overload on the vendor. Wiens points out that Apple has 500 repair shops to
service 1 billion iPhones. His best line in the article comes in response to Apple claiming it designs for durability, not repairability: “It seems a little bit detached from reality to say that we design products not to break that have glass on both sides and come out of your pocket 10 times per day.”

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Early Facebook Employees Feeling Regret — Facebook is bigger than ever, but some former employees are despairing about its impact on the world. “Most of the early employees I know are totally overwhelmed by what this thing has become,” an early ex-Facebook employee told Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton. Speaking of Facebook’s potential impact on the 2016 election, one employee told Bilton, “I lay awake at night thinking about all the things we built in the early days and what we could have done to avoid the product being used this way.” Those close to
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are afraid he’s losing touch with reality, becoming a “modern-day Howard Hughes.”

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Tech Pioneers Fear a Smartphone Dystopia — The Guardian has published a compelling article about how some technologists who helped usher in the age of smartphones and social media are concerned that technology addiction is making us distracted, dumber, and easier to manipulate. Justin Rosenstein created Facebook’s Like button and helped build Google’s Gchat, but he now takes extreme measures to limit his online activity, even having an assistant manage his phone. “If we only care about profit maximisation, we will go rapidly into dystopia,” Rosenstein
said. The article profiles other tech pioneers who share similar sentiments, including Loren Brichter, the Apple alum who came up with “pull to refresh” for Tweetie in 2009. But if wealthy tech workers struggle to pull away from the lure of technology, even with their awareness of the corporate motivations behind addictive technologies, what hope does the average user have?

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