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McDonald’s: The ice cream machines are McBroken

    If it is not broken, do not fix it. This is not the case for McDonald’s ice cream machines. They seem to be broken continuously. Roughly ten percent of McFlurry or McSundae ice cream machines are not working each day at McDonald’s. Software developer Rashiq Zahid uses the interface of McDonald’s ordering API to check if their ice cream machine is working. It is assumed if no orders are made, it is safe to conclude the machines are not working. Rashiq’s app is called McBroken.

    Initially, he created an API that attempted to add a McSundae from every McDonald’s location to its cart once every minute. The app figured out what he was up to and blocked him — “It was like, you can’t do this, you look like a bot,” he recalled.

    After a night of trial and error, Zahid figured out the magic time frame. Now, his bot attempts to add a McSundae every 30 minutes. If the bot successfully adds the item, it lets McBroken know that the location’s machine is working. If it can’t, the location gets a red dot.

    “I love poking around in different apps and just looking at the security features and the internal APIs,” Zahid said. “I am pretty familiar with how to reverse-engineer apps. I was like ‘Okay, this should be pretty easy.” (source)

    Fun Fact: McDonald’s has an exclusive Gold Card that entitles VIPs – including Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and actor Rob Lowe – to unlimited free food.