[Scene opens with a joystick being thrown across the room in frustration. Camera angle is from the ceiling looking down. A rotating and twisting view creates tension as it centers on the joystick, laying abandoned on its side as the dust settles. Cut away to a different angle. In the background is an iMac with Google Chrome open in the background just barely in focus.]
[In walks developer Chris Serio wearing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses. He nudges the joystick with his boot before crouching down and removing his sunglasses to get a closer look.]

Chris: “Looks like someone really had it out for this Joystick”
Ben: “Yeap…tossed it like a salad at Denny’s. What do you think ticked them off?”
Chris: “I bet Google’s behind this somehow…”
Ben: “Google? Really? I thought their motto was to do no harm?”
Chris: “On the contratry…They’re involved in everything!”
[Chris stands up and walks over to the computer…the camera zooms in as Google Chrome comes into focus on the screen]
Chris: “You see this? Chrome…that’s not a coincidence. I want the computer’s ip address…run it through CODIS. Bag it and tag it”
[The camera moves back and zooms out as Chris pulls his sunglasses from his pocket, placing them on his face as he pauses to speak]
Chris: “This Joystick killer’s about to get…..yoked”
[Cut to opening credits as The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” plays loudly]

Ok so perhaps I’ve seen too many episodes of CSI in my time…but sometimes I must say I do feel like more of a detective than a developer.

The latest weirdness with joysticks is that on Mac only, sometimes they do not seem to work at all. In the log, you’ll see an error message stating that the device could not be opened. I’ve seen it myself before and it’s odd because typically device access is shared between processes. Imagine if your keyboard only worked in your word processor because it demanded exclusive access and none of the other applications on your computer could use it once the word processor was opened. That’d be silly right?

I started killing processes on my system one at a time until the joystick finally started working again. Killing Google Chrome is what did it. Why on earth would a web browser be touching my Joystick hardware?!

After a bit of research and a run through Chrome’s source code (isn’t open source great?), I discovered a new system in HTML5 compliant browsers like Chrome called Gamepad. Gamepad allows new HTML5 pages to access your joystick hardware! Because of the Olympics, the daily Google Doodles have been little mini games which are stealing Joystick access! So Olympics + HTML5 kills Joysticks in X-Plane….amazing.

The solution is a simple change for them. They just need to pass a different flag so that they share the device with other applications. I’ve already filed a bug and spoken with the developer and the fix will likely be in Version 22 of Chrome but for now, make sure your browsers are closed if you appear to be having intermittent Joystick issues on Mac.

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction…

***EDIT*** I do have to say, I got an immediate response from the engineer in charge of this Chrome feature and within an hour the bug was fixed and checked in for release in future versions. I can’t ask for better support than that.

About Chris Serio

Chris is an electrical engineer and commercial pilot who got roped into software development by Ben because misery loves company.

13 comments on “CSI: Joystick Edition

  1. Bloody hell!…Chrome knocking over joysticks, that is so out of the field and the sort of thing that drives you around in circles, odd business sometimes.

    On some production jobs you can spend more time fixing issues (or workarounds) than doing the actual work and the problem with that is that you can’t charge the customer for that….Google Chrome?…get outta here.

  2. yes, well done Chris! Nicely troubleshot (is that really a word?..lol). Would it have been as easy to find if it only happened in windows machines and would microsoft support have been as helpful???

    Ever thought of changing career as a tv script writer?? ;0)

    1. If it weren’t an open source project, I would have found it just as easily but it would have been just a hunch. Who knows how long that would have taken to fix based on some random customer’s hunch though. 🙂

      1. Very nice writing, you sleuth! I can take more of that — much more. Just don’t try it if you aren’t inspired.

        Oh, and that’s one of the reasons I use a payware browser. I’d rather he work for me than me work for Apple or Google.

  3. In the depths of space, a joystick moves gracefully past the backdrop of stars.

    In it’s flight, it flips slowly, end for end, the USB cable spiraling behind it.

    Closer view, the joystick.

    Closer view still. It’s a *very* nice joystick.

    Closer, and closer views follow.

    Finally, a close up shot captures a flyby of the joystick as it passes by the camera POV. Then it is smashed to tiny bits of plastic and circuitboard as it collides with the hull of the Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701-B.

    Viewed from the perspective inside the pressure hull of a space “dry” dock, a crowd erupts into enthusiastic applause……

    * * *
    Don’t forget the majestic score by Dennis McCarthy!


  4. Hey Guys got another CSI case for you to ponder, I am the guy behind UrbanMAXX…..I am in the process of adding normal maps to my add-on with some really nice results but for some reason the textures that reside in Resources/default scenery/1000 urban terrain/….will not display normals.

    Also composite textures do not work properly also…..any ideas?

    Here is a link to some of my work so far:


  5. Reminds me of the dropouts and noise (like a flushing toilet) using my audio tool a decade ago(windows) , where disabling “Search for network resources automatically” finally brought back silence

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