I use Cakewalk 2003 (ancient i know) and a Yamaha PSR 290 Keyboard. I cant workout how to a assign samples from my pc onto specific keys on my keyboard. Theres nothing in the manuals , plz can someone put me out of my misery?
Unfortunately I do not think that keyboard can be used as a sampler. It can however be used as a MIDI controller to control a sampler. The easiest thing would be to use a software sampler like Mellosoftron which is shareware and cheap to unlock but you can mess around with it before shelling out big bucks. There are more expensive commercial sampler programs out there but I have tried them and can't justify the price compared to Mellosoftron which allows you to assign indidual samples to each key or stretch the sounds over multiple keys or both.
As far as a hardware sampler, I bought an Alesis QS6 keyboard as a starter keyboard for around $600 online and a $70 PCMCIA card. It comes with Soundbridge which let's you burn samples from wav files to the card, along with MIDI sequences and program patches if you need to go mobile and don't want to bring other gear.
There are also software synth's out there to expand the capabilities of your keyboard like SynthEdit and VAZ, both freeware. These add almost unlimited sounds to your music arsenal and can run in real time with the control of your keyboard. Granulab also allows a limited control via MIDI in realtime for some interesting sounds and once again is free.
And as far as ancient software goes, you can do the same thing with freeware and shareware and old programs as you can with the latest stuff, you just have to know how to use the different programs. You can find tons of free programs and beta versions of commercial software on Hitsquad and Sonicspot that are great. There are also demos of brand name software too. There is nothing wrong with commercial software if you can afford it, but if you are learning you can try out stuff for free before taking the plunge on some seriously costly stuff. I've seen some programs that are over a $1000... for code!? You could hire someone to write you a program for less than that! Good luck!