Bonum Certa Men Certa

iFixit Requests DMCA Exemption…To Figure Out How To Repair McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Sep 29, 2023

Reprinted with permission from Ryan Farmer.

iFixit Requests DMCA Exemption…To Figure Out How To Repair McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines.

McDonald’s brought this on themselves when they got rid of the cash registers and the drink machines employees would press the cup against and the old ice cream machines.

If a machine breaks down it can’t be used and it costs the franchise owner money.

This happened to their ordering kiosks the other day, and it’s still not fixed a week later, at the one on the other side of town.

They’re all Windows and they all have a blue screen of death that says the operating system has been corrupted and needs to be recovered.

Proprietary software sort of implies it will be a pain in the ass at some point and break down and cause you problems you can’t fix.

It would be better if there was no such software at all so that at least they would have enough employees scheduled to run cash registers and fill soda cups.

Chik-Fil-A doesn’t have Windows ordering kiosks and automated soft drink machines.

Burger King still sends out paper coupons and doesn’t have kiosks.

It would be nice if they would cut the crap at McDonald’s and quit acting like they’re a tech company. They sell burgers and fries.

I also like how the article says “demands” DMCA Exception.

When you use proprietary software, you’re not in much of a position to “demand” anything, and when you use proprietary software with DRM, that goes triple, because there’s now a law that makes it a crime to even try to fix your property.

Sadly, this mentality of DRM, subscriptions, apps, and “learned helplessness” has spread and become endemic to our society.

People don’t normally have to be helpless. They can choose to run Free Software, or do something that doesn’t involve software at all.

What was wrong with the ice cream machine McDonald’s had in 1998 that made a McFlurry for me anytime I requested one, hmmm?

You almost wonder how much money it takes to buy these machines, install them, pay vendors to service it, deal with missed sales due to downtime, and then the inefficiency of having to have an employee do it anyway while the machine is down after you cut staffing because of the machine.

The new ice cream machines are terrible. Basically, since the apps have to know the machine is broken so they don’t let you order ice cream, some guy a while back came up with a site to map out all of the broken ice cream machines at every McDonald’s store in America.

The result as it turns out, was quite telling.

A more controversial reason is that only technicians from the company that produces McFlurry machines, Taylor, are allowed to service them. As Wired explained in a 2021 report, the set-up is “nothing short of a milkshake shakedown: Sell franchisees a complicated and fragile machine. Prevent them from figuring out why it constantly breaks. Take a cut of the distributors’ profit from the repairs.”

At one point in 2017, the problem became such a headache that McDonald’s announced that they were going to replace its current ice cream machines with ones that are easier to maintain. That change never seemed to take place. When another company, called Kytch, tried to create a machine workaround for McDonald’s, they became embroiled in a lawsuit, according to Wired.

-Taste of Home

None of this addresses the real problem though. Proprietary software is designed to make these machines betray the person who owns the store. If they had a choice, if it wasn’t being imposed on them, they wouldn’t buy it. It’s a drain on their business.

This is the stuff that, you know, reeks of corrupt government or something.

The State of Illinois paying “vendors” to create Web sites so fragile that you can get your application for healthcare or a Firearm Owner ID Card rejected, for pressing the back button in your Web browser, or even using a browser on a cell phone, to submit the request.

Why do vendors “vend” crap? You’ll be coming back to them forever because you don’t know how it works.

I actually wrote about this as IBM Red Hat’s strategy to make sure the software, open source in most cases, is too complex for anyone but their “engineers” to understand.

And by the time anyone documents it, it’s changed for no reason anyway.

The situation in “corporate” open source is at least far less noxious because someone can always make a version without the offending components, or fork it.

Even in the case of systemD, designed to swallow everything, Devuan managed to pull it back out.

But with proprietary software, you can’t even try. Enjoy your broken ice cream machine, kiosk, soda fountain, car alignment machine, or whatever it is.

Companies “invest” in machinery on the theory that they can save some minimum wage labor hours here and there, but it almost never works.

Fortunately for “vendors”, a lot of people who got rich by running a company aren’t really all that smart.

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