It’s hard to go wrong with a detailed tutorial like this. The article does assume that you already have a bit of understanding about everything ranging from HTML to hosting-related stuff, though.
They’re good for productivity, yeah. Regarding the first tip, you can also just install Ozh’s Admin Dropdown Menu plugin and be done with it.
Good article on Computerworld on setting up, using and customizing it your WordPress blog. Actually, I don’t know. Kind of lost my appetite reading it when there’s no “Read in Single Page” feature.