What is RunPee for, anyway?

The RunPee tagline says it all: Because movie theaters don’t have pause buttons. The RunPee app will give you several Peetimes of 3-5 minutes in each movie when you can run and pee.

We also let you know if there is anything during or after the end credits that you should stick around for. No more waiting 8-10 minutes for nothing! Better yet, now you can sit confidently while everyone else leaves, knowing there is something extra after the end credits.

In addition, the RunPee app gives you a synopsis of the first 3 minutes of most movies, just in case you’re running late.

When are PeeTimes for a newly released movie posted?

Fortunately, we have a movie critic working for us now, who has access to movie screenings before a movie is released to the public. She will help out with the big blockbuster movies that come out mostly in May, June, July, November and December.

The RunPee family handles the bulk of the movies. We always go and see the very first showing we possibly can and upload the Peetimes ASAP. In most cases, we can see the opening showing at 7:00 or 10:00 PM Eastern, on Thursday evenings.

What about other Smart Phone apps? I don’t have an iPhone or Android phone.

The best I can do for you right now is point you to m.RunPee.com. It isn’t anything fancy, but at least you can access the movies and Peetimes on pretty much any phone with a browser.

Who writes the Peetimes?

It’s the RunPee Family (Ginger, Christene, Jill, and Danielle) who sees most of the movies. We also get help from Shanee Edwards (our L.A. movie critic) for the big blockbuster movies, so that we’ll have Peetimes before the movie is released in the USA.

Our Thursdays/Fridays pretty much revolve around getting to the theaters to see the earliest showing we can, and then coming home to read through our notes, then creating the Peetimes.

How come some of your Peetimes suggest leaving at important plot points? I thought the Peetimes were for the boring parts!

Actually, it’s super hard to find Peetimes in good, well-edited movies. But we don’t want to leave you with nothing. So sometimes the Peetimes are simply spots in the movie that can be easily summed up, so you won’t be lost when you get back.

For example, in Harry Potter 6, we have a Peetime where you miss Harry getting his Advanced Potions book. It’s important to the plot, but honestly easy to miss: he gets the book and realizes someone smart – but unknown – owned it previously. Easy to sum up and now you know what is going on.

There has to be a scene of at least three to five minutes where you can skip out…and not worry you wasted your hard-earned movie ticket money. We want you to be able to slip back into the movie and be able to pick up the gist of things. So we look for scenes that can be described in a few words.

We know that no one wants to miss the funniest lines, or best action, or dramatic plot points, so we are careful to avoid those scenes. But sometimes we might make a Peetime during an action scene, as long as it’s not the best action of the movie. That’s the sort of thing we look for. We also try to find Peetimes over a variety of different types of scenes, and then let you know in the notes which ones have what. That way if you don’t care about long chase scenes, we’ll have a Peetime for you.

Where are the Limited Release Movies? And the Independent Films?

We just don’t have time to add all the limited release movies. However, if there is very popular limited release movie, like Black Swan or The Kings Speech, then we’ll make every effort to go see it ASAP.

Do I need to purchase the app for each individual device?

This is a surprisingly complex question to answer. Generally no; if you purchased the app after May 2011 then you should be fine. That is the current version of the app that I created, and it transfers from device to device, just as everything else does.

If you are on Android and downloaded the app when it was free, then when you get a new device you will have to purchase it. Free apps don’t transfer. This is just the way Google handles it. I have nothing to do with it.

And of course if you switch between platforms – Apple/Google/Windows – then you have to purchase the app again.

The confusion comes in people who purchased the app before May 2011. I paid RockLive to create that version of the mobile app. When I took over and developed the app myself, we were unable to transfer ownership of the app, so it basically vanished. My version of the RunPee app, for both iPhone and Android, was free for 18 months while I waited for people to switch over. I finally started charging for the app in October 2012.

UPDATE: Currently, we have an ad that allows people to download RunPee for free. This is a great time to get the app for yourself!


State of the RunPee – Will RunPee.com make it big?

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of RunPee. RunPee has gotten lots of press coverage. Google Analytics informs me that incoming traffic is coming from almost 3,000 different sources. That’s pretty good. This coming week I have a handful of radio interviews to do in locations around the world. And there should be one TV spot on the ReelzChannel. So the word continues to spread although not at the pace of a few weeks ago.

When the iPhone app is released – hopefully within a week or two – it will generate another round of buzz and hopefully lots of downloads.

Eventually the press coverage for RunPee will die down. I’m curious to see how traffic at the website will respond at that point. There is no doubt that RunPee is a viral idea but it isn’t viral in the same way as, for instance, a funny video on YouTube. Once you see the video you tell your friends – making it viral – but very few come back to see video again.

RunPee is different. It’s a curious and funny website to check out. But there is a good reason for some of the people to return. At its core RunPee is a tool: a tool to help you enjoy your movie going experience.

In truth almost everyone who goes to the movies can benefit from using it. You’ll not only find out when the best times are to RunPee but also if there is an extra scene at the end of the movie. Plus for some movies you’ll find the times that are definitely not good to RunPee – see Star Trek, Kirk on the ice planet at the 1:10 mark. And the PeeTimes can of course be used to make runs to the concession stand as well. Our RunPee FAQs say it all.

Over time I expect that people will tell their friends and family about RunPee, spreading the news via word of mouth, thus growing the user base. At the same time others that already use the site will simply forget about it for whatever reason. Hopefully the influx is greater than the outflow.

What do you think? Will RunPee simply continue to grow as more people make it a part of their movie going experience or will it suffer from user attrition and fade away? I’ll be seeing movies and adding PeeTimes either way.

What would a RunPee Facebook app do?

I’m not much of a Facebook user myself. I have an account but rarely visit it. However many people have suggested that RunPee have a Facebook app. So I’d like to ask you:

  • What would it do?
  • How would you use it?

Any feedback would be great and help me build something that everyone will find useful. Thanks.

State of the RunPee – iPhone App is coming!

Just one month ago, April 30th, we had a total of 9 visitors to RunPee.com. Since then the traffic has skyrocketed. Our low traffic since we were noticed is just over 6,000+ daily visitors. In that time we’ve had two server crashes, a move to a new more robust/costly server and a half dozen traffic spikes that left the site crawling…but not down for the count.

The number that is the most amazing to me is: traffic is incoming from 2,541 different sources. I want to say a big thanks to everyone who posted about my site here. Never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming.

Now, next week I’m being interviewed by Robert Kovacik from KNBC here in LA. I’m not sure when it will air but I’m sure it will lead to another server crash. I try to look at is as a good thing. 🙂

The iPhone app is coming!

The team building the iPhone app isn’t far enough along yet for me to give a precise release date but it will be measured in weeks I assure you. Most of it will be up to Apple and when they decide to let it pass onto the App Store. I’ll certainly get the message out as soon as it’s available.

But an iPhone app is useless if there aren’t enough high quality RunPeeTimes. To that end I am going to add features that will moderate the RunPeeTimes that you see so that we don’t get any of those of the “Just pee and then go home” variety. Plus you will be able to vote on the RunPeeTimes that you do see. So don’t forget to come back to the website after you see a movie and let others know which RunPeeTime you thought was the best to use. Remember, bladders are counting on you! 🙂

These new features will be in place when the iPhone app launches. Until then I’ll just have to clean up the RunPeeTimes the good old fashioned way, through the MySQL web interface. 🙁

How did this media attention for RunPee get started?

Like with most things this got started with my mother. We were sitting around, chatting about RunPee, after we had gone to see Star Trek. ( I watched it twice on opening day so that I could get real good and accurate PeeTimes. ) She had the The TechGuy: Leo Laporte playing in the background and he was talking about Star Trek and how great a movie it was. My mother is a big fan of Leo Laporte and she suggested that I call in and tell him about RunPee.com. ( This was May 9th)

I didn’t think I’d be able to get through but I did. I told the producer about the site and she chuckled and said it was the craziest thing she had ever been asked to talk about on the show. A few minutes later I hear Leo chuckeling and he says, “I have to tell you about this new site…”

The traffic to RunPee.com was in the 10-30 visitors/day range up until then. On that day it shot up to 600+ and on the following days it stayed around the 300-400 range.

I was then contacted by Amber MacArthur to do a callin with her and Leo on the net@night show that aired on May 20th. We talked for about 10 minutes or so about RunPee. This was my first interview.

Now I’m excited about RunPee.com because it was finally attracting a some attention. You should know that I started this site as a research project. I wanted to learn how to use the Flex framework and tie into a database on the backend. I was unsure if it would ever get enough traffic to be useful but the effort was certainly worth it because I learned so much from creating it.

Google Analytics

The next morning I check Google Analytics. My first thought was, “Crap, where did all my traffic data go?” Because what had been an up/down graph of traffic over the past week was now a flat line. Except for this one dot at the end representing the previous day. That shot up to 32,000+.

Jaw, meet floor. Floor, meet jaw.

My wife and I were very excited. I had an email from one of the producers for NPR’s All Things Considered show asking me to come into LA for an interview. He told me that he found out about the site from Dave Barry’s blog.

What? Dave Barry? He wrote about RunPee?

I don’t know if I can sufficiently express the disbelief over what was happening. Unfortunately the excitement was short lived because we had troubles.

I could tell that the site was getting a lot of traffic because it was very slow. My wife and I were working on some blog posts and then everything went down. It seems that someone listening to the net@night show posted it on Reddit.com which promptly overloaded the server. My host sent me a message that I had violated the terms of service and my account was suspended. I spent a very hectic day moving the site to a completely different host on a dedicated service.

At this time my wife and I were in our RV, which we live in, up in the mountains above Palm Springs. It’s beautiful and has great weather. And almost no Internet access and zero cell phone coverage. So I packed up my desk, PC and other essentials and came to Manhattan Beach, CA – in the LA area – where my mother and step-father live. They have a spare room and broadband Internet access.

Once the interview on All Things Considered was aired I started getting one request after another to come on radio shows and talk about the site. Next week the TV coverage starts. I’m scheduled to be interviewed by Robert Kavacik with KNBC here in LA next Tuesday, June 2nd. He said that he wanted to get me before it breaks in LA. Hopefully other TV stations will follow.

Later today I’m meeting with potential investers. Which is good because my 1995 Pathfinder needs new tires and I don’t have enough money for them right now.

I think the lesson to be learned here about effective Internet marketing is quite clear, “Listen to your mother and do what she says.”

Why RunPee is Built Using Flash and Not HTML

I’ve been asked many times, “Why is the site built 100% with Flash?”

There’s a very simple answer for that: I’m a Flash Platform developer. I don’t know any other way to build it.

I had the idea/concept for the site years ago – after watching King Kong. At the time I didn’t know how to build a Flash site that integrated with a database. Last Spring ( 2008 ) I began doing Flash development using the Adobe Flex framework, which greatly simplifies that workflow. I taught myself a bit of PHP and a lot of MySQL and began working on RunPee.

While I was hopeful that it would be a useful site, my primary goal was to work on a project that would give me practice with these new skills. In that regard it has been very successful. Now most of my projects involve some sort of database integration and it’s the core of my freelance work.

While many people may decry the use of Flash, my clients come to me requesting that I use it to build their sites. I don’t have to sell it to them and I don’t have to look for work. It’s in high demand.

It’s a valid point that the site has a high initial download. There are many reasons for that. One is that the Flex framework is pretty hefty by itself.

While I have optimized by using what’s called Flex framework, caching the site download is still about 224k. Some of what makes the size so large are things like using the Google Analytics API for visitor tracking, embeded font, a few graphical assets and such. The good news is that once you have downloaded the site, everything should run very quickly. The only thing left to do is make data requests to the server, which are tiny little chunks of data. There is no page refreshing at all.

So think about it this way, if the site were HTML, and you visited 3-4 pages at RunPee, then it would probably equal out.

There is no doubt that RunPee could have been done easily in HTML. But, I gave up working in HTML back when I was pulling my hair out trying to build sites for IE4/NS4. I love working with Flash. I love the Flash community. And most of all I love the fact that the primary limitation to using Flash is my imagination and not the Flash platform.

In addtion I can now create desktop applications using Adobe AIR. There is no way I was ever going to learn something like .Net. But now making a desktop app is pretty much the same workflow as making a Flash/Flex app – I just get an extended API for working with SQL-lite, local files, etc.

As an example, check out pixDIF. It’s an AIR app that I created to help measure pixel distances and check to see how an implementation of a design compares with the design mockup. That app would have been a real challenge for an advanced .Net developer. But it was fairly simple for me to create with AIR.

So Flash it is. Because it’s my passion.

RunPee Unplugged – Unclothed modeling during my college days

Yes, it’s true. I was a “model without clothes” for the Art Department at Northern Arizona University, back in the day. I needed the money and they needed a male model. Turns out that they had plenty of females willing to do nude modeling, but finding males willing to bare all were hard to come by. (Wow, was that last sentence full of puns or what? )

You may think that modeling for artists would be easy, but in fact it is quite difficult. If you want to get a feeling for what it’s like, then go lay down in a comfortable position on your couch. Now don’t move for 45 minutes. After just a few minutes you’ll want to shift positions a little. Maybe you put too much weight on your left butt-cheek or something. Before long you’ll find a leg or arm going numb. A pain in your neck starting to crop up. And if you’re nude then you’ll start to feel cold.

Here’s a PG-13 sample of what some of the students drew:

Dan Florio, polyGeek, nude

Dan Florio, polyGeek, nude

Dan Florio, polyGeek, nude

Dan Florio, polyGeek, nude

Your Suggestions

Can you think of something that could improve the RunPee.com experience? We have both the website PeeTimes and the mobile iPhone app and are always looking to improve how we get and share PeeTimes.

Please let me know your ideas in the comments section below. So far we have over 150 comments in this thread and I have read them all!

The list below contain items that I currently have on my RunPee ToDo list:

  • Make Facebook app for RunPee
  • Completed: Create an iPhones version
  • Create version for Blackberry phones
  • Create version for Android phones
  • Create version for Windows Mobile phones
  • Create version for ALL mobile phones
  • Internationalize the website and mobile apps
  • Create local versions of RunPee for other countries like India, China, Japan, France, Germany, etc.
  • Widget – create a widget that can embed RunPee content in the sidebar of a blog
  • Completed: Print – create a view where all of the PeeTimes for a movie are listed in a printable format
  • Vote for a PeeTime – thanks to many people for suggesting this one. I’ll add the ability to vote or rank PeeTimes for a movie. Probably just something like a thumbs-up/down.
  • Spell check for PeeTime submission
  • Ability for the user who submits a PeeTime to be able to edit it
  • Bug : Fixed order the PeeTimes listed on the print version chronologically
  • Once the unscramble button is clicked make it turn into an instant unscramble button so that readers don’t have to wait for it

Want to Know What People are Saying about RunPee?

We have a thread started of people (we’ll call them Pee-ons) who’ve used our PeeTimes and commented on it – RanPeed! And our FaceBook RunPee page is a great way to leave your experiences for other users, and stay on top of our latest movie break updates – RunPee Fan Page on FaceBook.

Plus we’re working on a screen capture of the huge Twitter response to RunPee that is an amazing testament to the usefulness of our website. Or to people’s small bladders. Or to large Cokes. We’re not entirely certain, but everyone REALLY seems to love RunPee!

Also on RunPee:


RunPee Homepage

RunPee logoI have created m.RunPee.com for those who would like to access RunPee.com from their Blackberry, or practically any other mobile phone. m.RunPee.com is a simple HTML version of the website that will let you navigate to the movie you are seeing and view the PeeTimes.

The good news is that most existing smart phones will soon have the ability to view Flash websites like RunPee.com. That will be made possible when Adobe releases Flash Player 10.1 which is optimized for mobile phones. At that time I’ll be able to make a mobile version of the site for everyone that should have all the features that the iPhone app currently has: timer, vibration before PeeTimes and local storage. It should be ready in the first half of 2010.