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Software engineer crafts tool to see which McDonald’s have functioning ice cream machines

Illustration for article titled Software engineer crafts tool to see which McDonalds have functioning ice cream machines

Photo: NurPhoto (Getty Images)

So much technological ingenuity is used for nefarious purposes. Whether it’s whatever new dystopian reality social media corporations are building or just a phone covered in fake human skin, our top scientific minds seem to work constantly toward making the world worse in exciting new ways. In light of this, we’re happy to report that a German software engineer named Rashiq Zahid has created a website called McBroken that apparently serves no purpose other than to tell people whether they’re currently able to eat some ice cream at McDonald’s.

This wonderfully straightforward tool works by simulating orders across the United States. A bot tries to get a sundae every 30 minutes and, if it can’t (because McDonald’s ice cream machines are apparently made of tissue paper and popsicle sticks), it reports that information back. Zahid has explained that no ice cream is harmed through his work. “McDonald’s keeps track [of] which locations have a broken machine,” he tweeted. “I’m merely querying for those—no order gets executed, no ice cream is actually wasted.”

According to The Verge, Zahid decided to make McBroken after trying to buy a sundae at a Berlin McDonald’s last summer and, as is the case almost every time you want McDonald’s ice cream, finding that the machine was broken. The work was apparently pretty tough. It involved not only a lot of creative software work, but also, at one point, Zahid biking “to every [McDonald’s] in Berlin, placing manual sundae orders to determine if his bot was returning the correct information.” Once he confirmed it was working, he brought his technology to America, which he calls “basically the capital of McDonald’s.”

Here’s the link to McBroken if you’d like to bookmark it. For now, at least, it seems like a rare instance of technology that just wants to make life a tiny bit better. Because we’re realistic, we fully expect it will soon be turned into a data-mining operation that eventually leads to the downfall of humanity.

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