Friday, September 24, 2010

How To Make Your USB Joystick Mimic A Keyboard

how to use your joystick as the keyboardDo you still have a joystick connected to your PC? You might be one of a dying breed. Cheap consoles, and a preference on the part of many gamers for the mouse and keyboard, means the heyday of game controllers plugged into computers is long gone.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few uses for joysticks today however. Many modern games still support them, and they’re a staple for retro-gamers. Once in a while however, you’ll stumble upon a game you wish you could use your joystick as the keyboard for but cannot.
Super Mario Crossover, for example, is flash-based and as such cannot support a joystick. So what do you do in those circumstances?

Set up your joystick as the keyboard, of course. JoyToKey is the program you’re looking for to accomplish this. This Windows program allows you to “map” the buttons on your joystick to act as a keyboard, allowing you to program your joystick to do pretty much anything.

Getting Started

how to use your joystick as the keyboard
As you can see, the program’s not very complicated. Just download it here and install it to get started.
When you do you’ll see a simple window outlining the joypads you have plugged in and the buttons that can be modified. To map a button to act as a particular key simply double-click the button in question, then set the keys as you will.
joystick to keyboard
You’re not limited to the keyboard, either. You can also program the joystick to mimic mouse movements, and even to launch specific commands if you like. Want to launch a program with a given button? Check out the “Command” tab to get started.
Not sure which buttons on your joystick are which? You’re not alone; I had the same problem. Happily Windows has a decent Joystick Configuration Tool built in. Fire it up and you can press buttons on your keyboard to see their true number. Like this:
how to use your joystick as the keyboard
You’ll find this tool in the control panel, or by simply clicking “Start” and typing “joystick” on Vista and Windows 7 before clicking the “set up USB joystick” button.
Now that you know which buttons are which you’re ready to map your joystick. Have fun! Just note that some fullscreen programs may not work perfectly with this application, but many do. It’s also worth noting that minimizing this program sends it to the system tray, which is perfect if you want the program to work but stay out of your way.

Potential Uses

  • Play Flash games with your joystick, like Super Mario Crossover.
  • Control media center software, such as Boxee, with your joystick. This is particularly slick if you turn Boxee into the ultimate ROM and game launcher.
  • Some older DOS games don’t support USB joysticks, even in DOSbox. JoyToKey is what you want when that happens.
  • Do pretty much anything you can do with a keyboard on your joystick. Use your imagination!


I’ve been having a lot of fun with this setup, and I hope you might find it useful/awesome as well. Do you know of any better software for the task? If so, please share it below. Also please share any cool uses you may have for JoyToKey so everyone reading can benefit.

QuickShift for Google Chrome is a must-have extension for dual monitor setups

QuickShift for Google Chrome is a must-have extension for dual monitor setups: "

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I haven't been using a dual-monitor setup for long, so I'm still figuring out how to work with all the extra pixels I now have at my disposal. Since I spend a good portion of my time working in a Web browser, and that browser happens to be Google Chrome, I think QuickShift is going to become one of my most-used extensions.

What does QuickShift do? It allows you to move your current tab to a different Chrome using a hotkey combination: Ctrl+Alt+Right/Left arrow . Often, when I'm writing, I need to pop a source article over to my secondary monitor, and this is an incredibly elegant way to do it.

QuickShift also adds Windows 7-style tab switching. In the same way that you can tap Win+[a number] to launch or switch to an application on your taskbar, QuickShift allows you to change tabs in Chrome by pressing Ctrl+Alt+[1-9]. Like most Google Chrome extensions that interact with your tab, you'll need to reload any active tabs before you can utilize QuickShift.

Now, if only someone would pay me a nickel for every millisecond I save by not tearing tabs off and dragging them to my 'reference' monitor...

QuickShift for Google Chrome is a must-have extension for dual monitor setups originally appeared on Download Squad on Wed, 15 Sep 2010 10:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Google Chrome - Web browser - Microsoft Windows - Clients - WWW"


3 Hilarious Sites Every Freelancer Should Check Out

3 Hilarious Sites Every Freelancer Should Check Out: "

freelancing onlineThe freelance lifestyle has its perks. You can eat ice cream whenever you want, and you get to set your own hours.

There are downsides, however. You only get paid when you do work, and finding work is completely up to you. You also need to be a keen businessman in addition to being talented in your field, because there’s no department to take care of the finances for you.

But perhaps the hardest part of freelancing is the lack of people to talk to: you get no real “water cooler” conversation.

Such conversation not only keeps you human, it also allows you to vent about clients and co-workers who are particularly annoying – not to mention commiserating with others who are experiencing crazy situations with clients.

If you find yourself missing such conversation, particularly the so-bad-it’s-funny situations, keep reading for a couple of great freelancing online spots to read during your ever-so-rare downtime.

Clients From Hell

A lot of people don’t understand the concept of freelancers. For example, some people think paying a freelancer is optional. Others make so many demands that it would almost be better if they did the job themselves.

Clients From Hell documents situations like these; conversations so frustrating it’s funny. If you’re having a particularly stressful day dealing with your clients this is the stress relief you’re looking for. It features golden tidbits like this:

freelancing online

Not Always Right

We’ve all heard the adage: the customer is always right. It’s supposed to promote an agreeable customer service mindset that allows you to always make the client happy. Sometimes that’s hard, however.

Not Always Right documents such difficult situations, and they’re almost all hilarious. For example:

freelance writer websites

The site is less specifically focused on freelancers than Clients From Hell, obviously, but it fills the “insane stories heard at work” niche quite nicely. Expect a wide variety of crazy stories from a variety of different industries.

Passive Aggressive Notes

This freelancing online destination is not directly work related, but very much in the same spirit as Clients From Hell and Not Always Right. Focusing on the crazy little notes people leave each other, Passive Aggressive Notes includes gems from work and home alike. Check out this masterpiece, for example:

freelancing online

Bonus Sites

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Check out this list of great lunchbreak websites for onlines freelancers for more sites worth checking out. And, of course, our own Geeky Fun page is always good for a laugh or two.


Months ago I had a phone conversation with a tech-support client, and it went like this:

Client: You fixed my computer, but my Internet still isn’t working all that well.

Me: Okay, how do you connect?

Client: I connect to the Linksys.

Me: And that’s not working anymore?

Client: No. I can connect to it, but the Internet doesn’t work.

Me: Check the router and make sure it’s plugged into your modem.

Client: I don’t have either of those. I just use the Linksys.

Me: Okay, so you’ve been stealing wireless from your neighbor…

Client: No. I’m using the Linksys.

Me: Linksys is just the default name for a router. It’s your neighbor’s Internet, and you’ve been stealing it.


Reading sites like those linked to above makes me feel sane: I’m not the only person who deals with situations like this.

How about you? Do you find such sites entertaining, or just in bad taste? Discuss below, or just share some more funny sites for freelancers!

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10 Amazing YouTube Channels You Should Subscribe To

10 Amazing YouTube Channels You Should Subscribe To: "

youtube channelsWhen it comes to wasting time on the internet, it often doesn’t get much better than YouTube. As the web’s most popular video sharing website, YouTube often has a vast array of weird and wonderful YouTube channels to subscribe to.

So sit back, make sure your Flash player is up-to-date and enjoy some of the funniest and most entertaining collections of videos on the web.


Calling all Photoshop users, if you’ve not seen the “You Suck At Photoshop” series from MyDamnChannel then you’ll probably wet yourself when you do. The series of 20 videos follows the troubled Donnie as he teaches you how to not suck at Photoshop whilst his life gradually falls apart.

With lashings of dark humour and the occasional star (Flight of the Conchords actress Kristen Schaal features in the channel’s comedy soap opera “Horrible People”) it’s always worth checking out the latest uploads.


Stuart Ashen’s regular video reviews have earned him a loyal following, with nearly 100,000 subscribers to his channel. The plucky Brit takes it upon himself to review the worst pieces of technology around including fake PSP-like “consoles”, terrible iPhone clones and cheap toys no child would want.

Stuart’s die-hard fanbase has grown to the point where his subscribers willingly spend their own money and send him crap bits of tech to review. The channel is updated fairly regularly, providing you with new bits of tat to gawp and laugh at.


For anyone with a remote interest in Japan, Japanese culture and the far-eastern way of living. The channel follows American comedian Kevin Cooney as he works, plays and attempts to survive in Tokyo.

Topics include how to get a haircut in Japan, the many flavours of Japanese ice cream and the day-to-day goings on of an American in the land of the rising sun. Each video is boosted by Kevin’s naturally funny narrative, and more updates are due soon (thanks to overwhelming demand on his YouTube profile).


Virtual home to British comedian Adam Buxton (as the name suggests), the channel provides somewhat geeky comedy twists on a lot of popular themes. Examples include a mash-up of Steve Jobs’ iPad keynote speech with Star Wars (I know) and clever voice-overs of TV shows and adverts.

There’s a distinctly British twist on this one, but if you’re a fan of good humour you’ll probably lap it up anyway!


A master of cutting up video and audio only to arrange it for comedic effect, Cassetteboy sets about attacking the films, radio and TV shows we know and love. A lot of his material is based on British television, but the time and effort put in to each can be appreciated by anyone.

Some of his best work took months to complete (check out Cassetteboy vs. The Apprentice above) so updates can take a while, but they’re always worth the wait.


Inspired by Dali? Mentally unstable? Incredibly talented? Well at least the latter is true about this freelance animator’s YouTube channel. With his own brand of internet-insanity, Cyriak’s animations often leave you with a sense of “how did he do that then?” as he takes the mundane, adds a repetitive electro soundtrack and turns up the wackiness to 11.

Dancing cows that turn into spiders? Is it art? Who cares, these things take months to make and minutes to appreciate. Some of the very best animations and CGI on YouTube, bar none.


Many gamers out there will be familiar with Giant Bomb, video-games reviewers and general all-round funny guys. With weekly updates that include games reviews, features and blasts from the past this YouTube channel will suit anyone with even a relaxed interest in the world of gaming.

The team answer questions (in video format) and regularly upload play-through videos of upcoming releases, demos and other games. If you like games mixed up with humour, then Giant Bomb gets you.

BBC Comedy

The BBC Comedy YouTube channel is a regularly updated portal for the whole world to enjoy (unlike many of the BBC’s other services, which are UK-specific) that features web-exclusive content that’s bound to make you laugh.

With coverage of many comedy festivals, snippets from BBC programming and the latest and greatest stand-up acts from around the world there’s something for everyone.


The only band to appear on the list, these guys made internet history with the Here It Goes Again video which featured some very tightly choreographed treadmill work. Since then they seem to have spent as much time coming up with viral videos as they have writing music.

Even if you’re not a fan of the music the videos will make you smile, and it’s quite easy to appreciate the immense amount of time and effort goes into each new release.


If you’re interested in science, how things work and even attempting your own home-based science experiments then this one’s for you. The channel focuses on experimentation, on subjects such as how to make your own glow sticks (and how they work, of course) to plunging your hand into liquid nitrogen (wouldn’t recommend it).

As well as genuinely fascinating science, there’s information on where to get many of the chemicals used in the experiments so you can join in too if you’re brave enough. Just don’t do anything stupid.

Any awesome YouTube channels we’ve missed? How about other video sharing sites? Post your favourites in the comments below.

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