TI recently launched a cheap and easy to use development tool based on the MSP430 low power microcontroller. The Launchpad includes a development board, 2 programmable MSP430 micrcontrollers and a mini USB cable.
This is a very slick deal for beginners and hobbyists who wish to learn the chip. The Launchpad wiki is a good place to start.
At times, too many I/O pins is never enough and sacrifies need to be made. [K]im came up with a setup to expand the number of I/O pins on his MSP430. He uses two serial to parallel converters(74HCT595) to give him an extra 16 pins of output and two parallel to serial converters(74HCT597) for 16 pins of input. His code implements a simple bit-bang procedure to clock in/out code and data. Bit-banging these chips frees up any hardware serial ports that could be useful elsewhere.
Screenkeys are becoming incresingly popular in Point of Sale setups. These are programmable keys which have an LCD back packed over it. This allows the programmer to dynamically change the function and label of the key which works like a soft button. These are available as 32 x 16 pixel and 36×24 pixel keys, The LC series require only a clock and data line for key control.
[R]udy created a simple “fast finger” game using a ScreenKey.