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Meet the 24-year-old who’s tracking every broken McDonald’s ice-cream machine in the US

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We’ve all been there. You’re craving a McFlurry, or a Shamrock Shake. You drive to McDonald’s, excited to fill yourself up with cold and sugary goodness. But when you finally make it to the counter, you hear those dreaded, devastating words: “The ice cream machine is broken.”

A few hours ago, a 24-year-old software engineer launched McBroken, a website that aims to end such incidents once and for all. The site displays a map of every McDonald’s location in the US, denoted by clusters of dots. Locations with a working ice-cream machine get a green dot; locations without one, a red dot. A column on the right compiles statistics — currently, 7.54 percent of McDonald’s ice-cream machines in the US are broken, as are 15.22 percent of those in New York.

Rashiq Zahid came up with McBroken over the summer. In July, he visited a McDonald’s in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin and attempted to order a McSundae from a touchscreen kiosk — but no ice cream was available. He attempted to order from the mobile app, but was similarly thwarted. His trip had been for naught.

“I was like, there must be something that can be done about this,” Zahid said.

So he built a bot.

McBroken displays a map of every McDonald’s location in the US.

Zahid started with the McDonald’s mobile app, which already lets you place an order at any McDonald’s location. It works like shopping on Amazon or Grubhub — you add the items you want to a cart, and pay when you’re ready. But if your chosen location doesn’t have a working ice-cream machine, you can’t add any items containing ice cream to your cart — they’re marked as “Currently unavailable.”

“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.’”

It turned out to be harder than he’d thought. 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. (A Twitter user claiming to be a McDonald’s employee has confirmed that the method works.)

Zahid first tested McBroken in Germany, which has around 1,500 locations. He biked to every location in Berlin, placing manual sundae orders to determine if his bot was returning the correct information. It passed with flying colors. Today, he’s expanded to the states.

“I was like, this would be pretty interesting for Germany, but it would be amazing for the US, which is basically the capital of McDonald’s,” Zahid told The Verge.

Within 20 minutes of its launch, McBroken received 10,000 visitors. It ran sluggishly at first, and eventually crashed. “I’m running this on a server that costs $5 a month, so it was bound to crash,” Zahid said. After an hour of troubleshooting, which involved offloading some traffic, Zahid now assures me that the site “works perfect.”

But he’d intended the tool to be a joke — and is shocked to hear that people find it legitimately useful. “I just made it for fun,” said Zahid. “But people were like ‘Wow, this is the best thing I’ve seen this entire week.’”

Who knows if McDonalds will end up shutting this operation down — but David Tovar, McDonald’s VP of US Communications, seems to be in support. “Only a true @McDonalds fan would go to these lengths to help customers get our delicious ice cream!” he tweeted this evening. For now, keep an eye on McBroken to prevent McDonald’s from breaking your heart.

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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