OMEGA Chapter Discount

I just wanted to announce huge end-of-year discounts for groups signing up for a new OMEGA Chapter site. Sign up now and save $100!

And don't forget, save even more by referring other groups at your school or within your organization.

OMEGA Chapter allows fraternities and sororities to manage their entire chapter online. From chapter communication, event calendar, pictures, bylaws, positive point programs, forum, OMEGA Chapter is the all-inclusive, easy-to-use chapter management system!

Securely manage any organization! All sites are password protected and can only be accessed by members. With all of its extras, like personal messaging, professor reviews, online documents, integrated calendar, and more, OMEGA Chapter will quickly become your sorority or fraternity's off-campus chapter room!

OMEGA Chapter Redesign

In honor of new lowered prices for large groups and the new features being added to the third release, the OMEGA Chapter website has been completely redesigned.

Check it out!

I hope it makes it easier to get the information your group needs when deciding to setup your OMEGA Chapter.

Schedule Bucket

I'd just like to announce that Aculade is currently developing a really cool project management application. It's designed for small corporate teams, community event planners, student groups, and those planning events such as weddings, etc. It's goal is to be easy to use and utilize its simplicity to be the most versatile and easy-to-use project management program available.

Visit the Schedule Bucket site to keep up with the project's progress. Feel free to submit your email to be notified of the progress, participate in beta testing, or just to get a discount when it's ready.


Schedule Bucket is simply modern project management for normal people. It doesn't aim to solve the needs of monster corporations with hundreds of employees across the globe (although, in many cases it would work exceptionally well), but instead aims to help users plan a family trip, tackle a school project, or plan a wedding. Schedule Bucket allows you to keep track of what ever it is that you need to do, when you need to do it, and organizes anything you throw at it.

The whole concept revolves around a single dashboard. The dashboard shows you a color-coded and organized list of upcoming tasks. You can create tasks in seconds, associate pictures and files to that task, and assign the task to any user. When you complete a task, simply check it off and move on to the next.

OCv2 Released

It's official. The OMEGA Chapter system, version 2 is now complete; new organizations will be setup with v2 and current users will be upgraded when convenient for your organization. The only effort required on the part of site administrators is to let me know what you would like for your brand new, complimentary chapter website! Consider it just a little token of appreciation.

Website Designs

There are currently a couple of site templates to choose from and many more are on their way. You may either choose a template to customize to your chapter or have a professional, custom design created just for your chapter at a huge discount from Aculade's regular prices.


A number of improvements and new features have been implemented for v2. Among these are the addition of the points tracking module, improvements to the accounting features, new and customizable site designs, a complete revamping of the member profile features (now with unlimited member photos and greatly improved member-to-member messages and in-profile notes), enhanced forum (now focused on making it easy to see what's new--threads posted since your last login are labeled as new, the number of posts in the thread are shown, and the time of the last post in each thread is shown), and the overall usability of the site has been improved greatly. Each members balance, positive points, unread messages, and upcoming events are shown on every page.


In order to celebrate the release of the new version and the start of the spring semester, chapters will get a 10 % credit for organizations they refer that signup for a yearly account.

All they have to do is say that your chapter referred them and successfully signup for a yearly account. As soon as they do, you will be given a credit equal to 10 % of your current license fee towards your chapter's account which will automatically be used against future charges. There's no limit to how many referrals your chapter can get...hey, why not earn a totally free chapter management website? Offer may change or expire on or after March 1, 2009.

The Future

A complete online tutorial is in the works and a number of new designs will be released soon.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to send an email anytime.

KompSwitch: Ubuntu DVD Fix

I recently installed Ubuntu on another computer and this weekend ran into a little issue. As you may know, DVD playback is not automatically enabled in Ubuntu for legal purposes--you can enable it by following the 3 quick steps in the Ubuntu tutorial.

But once that was taken care of, whenever I started playing a DVD it skipped miserably, flashed and flickered, and overlapped other windows. So after a while of messing with it, I found out that the problem was with compositing features.

So, I wrote KompSwitch to allow one-click DVD playback in Ubuntu.

Possible Solutions

In order to end the flickering and flashing, you just have to turn off visual effects. Well, if you're like me and really like your display and don't want to settle for a flat (boring) environment--you're kind of stuck.

You can either

  • live without effects and use metacity,
  • edit your xorg.conf file to disable compositing and restart your computer every time you watch a DVD,
  • go into the terminal and manually turn compiz off and back on every time,
  • or install a program that puts an icon in your tray so you can select which manager to use at any time without restarting, awesome tool, but still too much work to go through a menu every time.

Necessity: The Mother of All Invention

So KompSwitch was born last night. It's just a small script to use to temporarily disable some of the main problems that cause the skipping, flashing, and flickering with Ubuntu DVD playback. Then, as soon as your movie is over, it will turn things right back to the way they were, without any interaction or effort on your part.

The Fix

  1. Open up Terminal (or any command line interface) Applications > Accessories > Terminal
  2. Download the installer

    wget -O kompswitch.install

  3. Make the installer executable

    chmod u+x kompswitch.install

  4. Run the installation script

    ~/kompswitch.install --auto

    (if you want to choose the DVD player yourself, do not include the --auto part).
  5. Done! There is now an icon on your Desktop called KompSwitch Play DVD.

If you don't want an icon or prefer the command line, you can also run KompSwitch with

~/kompswitch [--player PLAYER]

Include the --player option if you want to explicitly set which DVD player to use, such as totem, vlc, etc.

Could it be any easier? Hope it helps you Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu users.

Finishing Touches

You can give the installer a cool icon by right clicking the desktop icon, clicking the spring board icon, and selecting a suitable image.

If you like a clean desktop, you can always add the desktop launcher to your panel by dragging the desktop launcher onto it and deleting the desktop one.

If you don't like using the DVD player currently selected, you can rerun the installation to reconfigure

~/kompswitch --uninstall
cd ~
wget -O kompswitch.install
chmod u+x kompswitch.install

You will then have the option to tell the script which DVD player to use.

If for any reason you should choose to remove kompswitch, a complete removal can be invoked by

~/kompswitch --uninstall

Possible Considerations

If you are having the same problem in Kubuntu or Xubuntu, you will have to change the MAIN_DE and TEMP_DE values to whichever applies to your flavor of Ubuntu.

If your DVD drive can not be found from /dev/dvd, you will have to change the DVD_DRIVE value to the location of your drive.

Both of these can easily be changed by editing the top few lines in the script.

pico ~/kompswitch

If you're having any problems, you can drop me an email.

Source Code

The source code is released as "free software" under the GNU General Public License. You are given the code source and are free to adapt it to your needs as allowed in the GNU General Public License.

KompSwitch Code (text)
KompSwitch Installer Code (text)
License (text)
Generic desktop launcher (text)

Updates to OC Version 1

Today, a number of really big improvements were made to the version 1 OMEGA Chapter system.

New Additions

All sites now have an Important Chapter Documents area, where exec members and the site's administrators can upload chapter documents like bylaws, contracts, schedules, spreadsheets, etc. and all members can view them. Previously, members would have had to upload the documents to the test file where they could get lost among tons of test files. This also made it impossible to simply edit a file and the changes show up on the website. Now, exec and admin members can upload documents and, should the need arise, edit them and update the website.

Now, upon logging in, members are greeted with a custom message and important announcements. The site administrators can update these announcements at anytime using the built in Webpage Editor. Instead of just greeting users with "Welcome, Your Name" and a blank screen, a list of upcoming events with pictures and links to other sites or important documents shows up.

Admins can now view user statistics for the site including logins, file uploads, professor reviews, points, etc. It offers a great way to see how the site is being used and whether members are checking in or not.

Additionally, admins can view their website's technical statistics including popular search engine terms, where their visitors are from, most popular pages, and bandwidth usage. This data will allow more technically oriented users to tweak their site to improve search engine rankings and the reach of their site.

The Future

OCV2 is on the way and promises even more stylish site designs, an improved finance tracking toolset, and hopefully a few extras I've been dreaming up. Prepare to be amazed!

As always, if you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to send me an email anytime. Hope everyone's enjoying their OMEGA Chapter chapter management website.

OMEGA Chapter V2

It's only been a few weeks, and already there are plans for a major update. I want OMEGA Chapter users to know that they can always expect their voices to be heard. Thanks to those of you who have offered your opinions for improvements to the system; they won't go unnoticed!

The Unveiling

It seems that the most wanted feature is to be able to have each organization's site customized not only in colors, content, pictures, and header but also in layout and design overall. Accordingly, in the next few weeks, I will be releasing v2 of OCS, which will feature a few minor code improvements that will improve performance and security but most of all, each chapter will be able to have a completely customized website. You will get to experience our full web design process, and may expect your custom website in about a month.

This was something I considered when designing the app but assumed users would prefer getting their site up quicker with less effort on their part. But for those chapters that take great pride in the message they portray to their school and community, a custom website that reflects their personality is a must.

What if You Need a Website Now?

No problem! We will of course still offer our default theme and will be developing additional templated themes which you can select from to get up and running in 2-3 days. And we'll still customize the site specifically to your chapter.

What's the Catch?

TNSTAAFL, right? Not so much. I really want this program to grow into the best chapter management utility, hands-down. This feature will really differentiate OCS from its competitors. We will offer a completely custom design for only $500. But keep on the lookout for promotions on the blog; I plan to offer regular deals for huge discounts to groups that take advantage of the new version.

New Home for OMEGA Chapter

It's official, the OMEGA Chapter system has a new home. I needed a little more control to manage the performance and security of the application, so I moved it to it's own VPS before the version 1 launch.

The features have really come a long way since it was just a simple app to manage academics for the UNF Alpha Chi Omega chapter.

Core Features

I kept all the academics features - professor reviews, member forum, study hour schedule and calculator, grade recognition submittals, online test files, contact information, etc. - but I've also designed full member profiles, private messaging, financial tracking and accounting, improved forum functionality, dynamic calendar, member searching by names and majors, contact information engine, user information spreadsheet generator, and a lot more.

Admin Control Panel

The administrator feature set has turned out to be quite powerful. The overarching goal was to make sure that all groups would never have to wait to get important information added or removed from their site. Working with the ladies of Alpha Chi, I saw the inconvenience they face when having to remove a bad post or get an event added. It'd often take a few days just to get a forum post deleted.

With the OMEGA Chapter system, administrators can add and remove any post, calendar event, test file, and chapter document in seconds. No phone calls, no waiting, no aggravation. Each group even has complete control over who can join the site; all registrations require a simple approval by an administrator before the user is able to access the site. Administrators can even suspend user accounts in emergency situations through the Admin Control Panel.

Even the public website is editable. Administrators can add new pages at any time, edit the content without any programming experience, rearrange the order the links appear on the site, delete pages, and add and remove photos.

The Future of OMEGA Chapter

I'm considering a few new features and was wondering what you guys think. If you'd like to shape the future of the project or mold OMEGA Chapter to your group's needs, just send me an email with your vote and any other suggestions.

  • Member photo albums (right now all pictures are displayed on your profile page)
  • Search for members in your classes
  • Enhanced public photo gallery with multiple albums, titles, and full descriptions
  • Member polling
  • Text messaging through the site
  • Updating the style of the site, maybe a new design or two?
  • Does anyone need more than 4 access levels?

I plan on adding all of these features at some point in the near future, but I was just wondering what users would like the quickest.

But first thing's first...I thought I'd announce the fruition of the official version 1 of the OMEGA Chapter system. I should be posting another article in a few days announcing the details of its release and offering some really cool discounts for any new organizations that would like to begin managing their group online or are just tired of having to wait days on someone else to make the small changes they need or paying hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars a year for the very limited control. I hardly consider making it impossible for a chapter to manage their own site a "security measure."

Try a Demo

If you'd like to try out a demo of the system, just email me and I can send you the login details so your group can test it out.

For more details, check out the project's site,

Why Thunderbird Rocks!

Ever done something so many times, you do it just out of habit? Don't know where my mind was, but somehow I accidentally deleted a handful of emails. No sweat right? Just go into the trash bin and restore them. Well usually, except that I immediately clicked into the trash folder and compulsively clicked, deleting a handful of important emails before I realized something wasn't right.

Aside from it's clean, usable interface, and good security, the biggest reason to love Mozilla's Thunderbird email application is the programmer's ability to understand and react to their users' needs. I just started deleting away as always, since it's always just a bunch of confirmation emails for the day's cron jobs.

Lost, But Never Gone

Turns out, Thunderbird never really deletes emails...ever! As excited as I was that they had foreseen my clumsiness, I'm considering how to scrub the old emails. But anyways, here's how you can restore lost emails.

Restoring Lost Emails

First, from Thunderbird, right-click the folder in the left panel where you just deleted the message you want to restore. Click "Properties...". Now click "Server Settings". Go to the bottom, select and copy the folder listed in the "Local directory" field. Close Thunderbird.

Now open your start menu either by the taskbar or by hitting the Windows key on your keyboard. Open the "Run..." utility, and paste the directory into the field. This will open up the local folder where Thunderbird stores your directory system and emails for that account. Double-click the file named "Inbox"; we want the file without an extension. Use Notepad to open the file, and scroll through all the messages until you find the one(s) you accidentally deleted. And for the magic, simply change the "X-Mozilla-Status" to "0000", without quotes. Once you've updated the status for all of the accidentally deleted messages, save the file and reopen Thunderbird.

You're files will be restored, once it starts back up. All that's left is to breath a sigh of relief, and get back to work, or play.

Vertically Centering Webpage

Have you ever needed to center your website vertically in the browser window? Sadly enough, vertical-align won't help.

Here's a demo I wrote in response to a forum question on FreelanceSwitch.

This script will make sure the window is big enough to center your content horizontally, make sure it doesn't cut anything off, and degrade gracefully for users with browsers other than Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Opera. It may work on more browsers than IE, FF, and Opera, but I've only tested it in those three.

Open Demo Window

Using the Script

First, enclose your entire site in the v_middle div.

<div id="v_middle">
// Your html

Next, include the javascript by putting this at the bottom of your page just inside the body tag of your page.

<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
/ DeadCenter
/ Copyright 2008 Aculade, LLC (
/ You are granted a non-exclusive, non-transferrable license
/ to use, distribute, perform, publically display, and
/ modify this code. You may use it however you please,
/ for any legal purpose personal and commercial.
/ You may NOT take credit for it as your own.
/ You cannot remove this header which guarantees these
/ rights to everyone else.

var v_middle = document.getElementById('v_middle')
var v_middle_height = 0;
var avail_height = 0;
var my_content_height = 500; // This is how big your content is, set it to whatever you need.
var my_content_width = 800; // This is the width you want your box to be.


function go_deadCenter() {
if (parseInt(navigator.appVersion)>3) {
if (navigator.appName.indexOf("Microsoft") >= 0) {
avail_height = document.body.offsetHeight;
avail_width = document.body.offsetWidth;
if (avail_height > my_content_height && avail_width > my_content_width)
else if (navigator.appName=="Netscape") {
avail_height = window.innerHeight;
avail_width = window.innerWidth;
if (avail_height > my_content_height && avail_width > my_content_width)
function center_vmiddle() { = "absolute"; = "50%"; = "50%"; = my_content_width; = my_content_height;

half_height = (my_content_height / 2) + 10; = "-"+half_height+"px";
half_width = (my_content_width / 2) + 10; = "-"+half_width+"px";

Code Explanation

The first lines just initialize the variables. These two lines control how large the centered container will be in pixels. Set them to whatever works for you.

var my_content_height = 500;
var my_content_width = 800;

The next line runs the script as soon as the page is loaded, automatically centering the page both horizontally and vertically by calling go_deadCenter().


The function go_deadCenter() makes sure that the browser knows how large the window is set to, gets the size of the available window, and runs the function center_vmiddle() if the window is big enough to contain the centered page.

The first if() makes sure the user has a generation of browser capable of knowing its size.

if (parseInt(navigator.appVersion)>3)

The inner if()...else if() statements determine which document model to use to find the available height and width.

if (navigator.appName.indexOf("Microsoft") >= 0)

else if (navigator.appName=="Netscape")


avail_height = document.body.offsetHeight;
avail_width = document.body.offsetWidth;


avail_height = window.innerHeight;
avail_width = window.innerWidth;

determine the size of the user's window. Lastly, the innermost if()'s call the center_vmiddle() function if the window is large enough that the page won't get pushed off the screen by centering.

The last of the javascript is the function center_vmiddle(), which actually centers the page. It sets the container's positioning to absolute, removing it from the documents normal flow. This can be either a good thing or a bad thing. The good news is it will be centered no matter what as long as you don't enclose it in another container that is explicitly positioned relatively. The bad news is that shrinking the window can chop off parts of the page. But that's why we made sure we had enough room to work with before even calling the function! = "absolute";

The next few lines just tell the page to start half way into and down the window and sets the size to whatever height and width you chose. All done right? Not quite. = "50%"; = "50%"; = my_content_width; = my_content_height;

The problem with that is that it will start the container half way in and down the window. So the left edge of the container will be in the center of the window, and the top edge of the container will start in the middle of the window.

The last four lines correct this by calculating and setting the offset to account for the width of the container by subtracting half of the width and height by setting negative margins. And that does it!

half_height = (my_content_height / 2) + 10; = "-"+half_height+"px";
half_width = (my_content_width / 2) + 10; = "-"+half_width+"px";

Well, I hope it helps! Feel free to use and play with the javascript, all I ask is that you leave the copyright intact and link back to this page or my homepage if you use it.

About Me

Hi, I'm Stephen Parker, and I am a web developer and application programmer in Jacksonville, Florida.

If you'd like to discuss your project or get a quote, contact me.

Featured Projects

floht Groups Schedule Bucket Every Heart Photography

Recent Posts

OMEGA Chapter Discount
OMEGA Chapter Redesign
Schedule Bucket
OCv2 Released
KompSwitch: Ubuntu DVD Fix


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KompSwitch: Ubuntu DVD Fix (article)

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