There is a new application called JoyKick which allows you to type (slowly) using just the joystick. You can do pretty much anything with the phone closed. Its great for bringing up an entry in your contacts directory who's name doesn't begin an A or B.
It's still very buggy, but the developer is working on fixing the problems at the moment. I think I've also managed to talk him into using the interface to open up 4/8 shortcut icons when the joystick is pressed on the standby screen. I'd only ever use it for going through my contacts with the slide closed.
I can't use it because it disables the joystick in task manager. :(