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I'm sure someone has already responded with these solutions, but JSYK:
< - Keyboard handling. I'm a code monkey. In Windows EVERYTHING is keyboard navigatable. Ok not everything, there are exceptions. The Mac isn't consistent here. Newbees may like mousing around, I don't. There is not way to get to the menu via the keyboard.... SNIP>
I'm not sure which OS you are using but as of (I think) 10.2 there is a "Full Keyboard Access" tab in the Keyboard control panel that should solve (most of) the problem(s) for you. I am not positive when it was first introduced, but I know it is in 10.2.4 which is what I use.
< - The dock gets in the way. The iBook has limited screen real estate and anything that takes away from it is a pain. I could make it really small but then it becomes hard to use.>
I use the "Automatically hide and show the Dock" option in the Dock control panel. Since I have my Dock at the bottom of my screen it is a pretty easy matter to move the mouse (cursor) to the bottom and the Dock automatically pops up, after making my choice the Dock automatically disappears as soon as the cursor is moved away.
I really like this option but YMMV and I am also more used to it because I used a similar 3rd party app in OS9. You can also enable the Magnification feature so that even small icons grow enough to be easily recognizable as the cursor rolls over them..some find this annoying though.
There are a number of 3rd party apps/hacks available, of course some work better than others, but a few I really like are Fruit Menu from Unsanity (I think it was $19), Clear Dock also from Unsanity (Free), Dragstrip from Aladdin( I think it was $25), and Coctail (Free)