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How-To Geek

From the Tips Box: Controlling Xbox Controllers in Windows, Keeping Your Computer Cool in the Summer, and a DIY Book Scanning Rig

Tips-How-To-Geek-TemplateOnce a week we round up some great reader tips from the tips box and reader comments, and share the with the rest of you. This week we’re looking at an alternate way to control Xbox controller in Windows, how to keep your computer cool in the summer heat, and how to build a power DIY book scanner.

Control Xbox Controllers with Joy2Key

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Srivatsan shared the following tip in the comments on our How to Use an Xbox 360 Controller On Your Windows PC guide:

For a free alternative, I recommend Joy2Key. Its a bit less user-friendly, but you can generally do everything that Xpadder can do. And you can also make several “profiles” for each program you use, like for each emulator, for example. Just a protip.

That’s certainly a viable alternative to the $10 pricetag on Xpadder (although we’re such big fans of Xpadder and the general quality and user-friendliness of the app, we’re happy to support the one-man shop behind it). Thanks for sharing!

Keep Your Computer Clean to Drop the Operating Temperature

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Mark writes into the Tips Box with the following tip:

I’m not sure if this is as much a tip as it is a reminder given that I’m just going to tell everyone to go read the same HTG articles that I read… BUT I can’t say enough good things about your computer cleaning tips. I live in a third floor apartment with no AC and it’s so freaking hot out where I live. I’ve been doing everything I can think of to keep my computers cooler but by far the best (and way less fussy than messing your chip speed and voltage, for sure) is just making sure the case is really clean. I followed your overheating laptop/cleaning guide and and your clean a dirty desktop guide. After cleaning both my laptop and desktop the average operating temperature on my laptop dropped a full 8F and on my desktop a full 4F. That’s a serious shift for what amounted to very little work.

We can’t say we’re surprised! We’ve solved overheating problems on more than a few desktop machines over the years by blasting away the 1/2” layer of dust bunny insulation on the hardware. A clean computer is a happy and better cooled computer.

Build a DIY Book Scanner

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Uri writes in with this DIY book scanning project:

I’ve really gotten into ebooks lately but there are so many books out that there are never going to get turned into ebooks. Sure you can get popular fiction and best sellers, but what if you want to read a book from the 1950s on your reader? Unless it’s been a best seller ever since then, it’s not happening. To that end I started building a one of the DIY book scanners I found via Instructables (turns out I was using one the best known builds around and they have their own web site now). Other than a few special parts, it really is something you can build out of scraps. I’m almost done with mine and so far, during the initial tests, I’m surprisingly fast at manually scanning the books given how easy it is to switch from page to page and get a perfect shot. I figure a few more tweaks and I’ll be able to scan books while watching movies.

We’ve had one of these book scanners on our future DIY project list for ages, this might just push us over into starting work on it. Thanks Uri!


Have a tip or trick to share? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com and look for your tip on the front page!

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/5/12

Comments (3)

  1. minimoto

    My laptop (Lenovo IdeaPad Z) has a built-in dedusting feature! It turns the fan on at varying speeds to blow the dust out.

  2. mocproc

    I’ve got myself a handy compressor for about € 90, as paying about € 12 per 750ml of dust spray was something I could not accept; and my wife also tried to clean the flow heater with the can, which resulted in very interesting hot eruptions, so then I thought it was time for an investment.

    What I didn’t realize was the sound emission of 97 db(A), which reduces my cleaning habits to overday work … according to Wikipedia a military jet is just a bit above that level :-)

    On the other hand, my neighbors use to play music quite loud at 1:30 am, so, well, as I don’t exaggerate, well, I think I’d prefer to be nasty …

  3. malachipclover

    What about 360 controllers for Ubuntu? I have been trying for the past few days to get mine to work and I can’t. I know it has xpad built into the kernel, but that only works with apps that have native support for it. I use Xpadder all the time in Windows, and love it. I just wish there was a similar way to remap buttons in Linux. Also, the closest I got would only work with 100% official controllers, and I’d rather use my Mad Catz FPS Pro. Any help would be appreciated.

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