Well, haven't given any progress reports lately, so here's what I've been up to (in case anyone cares).
KHotNewStuff's download dialog has a major overhaul on my desktop at home using ereslibre's goya library to draw buttons etc. It's much faster, just need to work out some details in the actions coming off the toolbuttons. I think I have an idea for how to handle caching and loading stuff from the internet concurrently (the current model doesn't work, because it falsely assumes reading the disk cache will always finish before loading a provider from the internet.)
In other news, I spent a bit of time playing with kttsd the other night (inserting debug statements, etc.) to try to track down a bug where the output is clipped. Turns out the phonon mediaobject was saying it was done a bit early, so kttsd deletes the job, etc. which causes it to clip. I've installed newer xine libs and will see if that fixes the problem. Until then you can set kttsd to use the alsa audio device and it works fine. I also found out how to get kttsd into the system settings when it's installed, and now speech notifications are persistent because kttsd is run on re-login again :) (time to remove those test notifications on window minimize, etc. before they drive my wife crazy ;-)