> But for power users like me that are in the
> middle of that spectrum, they have to choose
> between the two extremes. I administrate
> systems and compile software all day long
> at work. I don't want to have to do it when
> I come home as that's time I won't get to spend
> with my family. At the same time, I don't want
> to have the versions of applications dictated
> to me by my distro.
So let me try to understand what do you want.
a) you don't want to be "forced" to do what your distro does
b) you don't want to to the things yourself becase you did them all day long at work
So what? I don't see the third option! I think what you really want from your distro is the ability reading your mind, and doing what you'd like. But... wait a minute, this is what this post was about! So Canonical is right: if they study your behavior they might be able to do what you'd like!
About me, I'm really happy with 95% of Ubuntu LTS choices. For the rest 5%, I do download, compile and install outside Synaptic. I think it's a really great compromise: I don't want the hassle to manage security updates on everything, but the very few stuff that I need in "bleeding edge" release. I don't care if OpenOffice or Inkscape (which I do like and use) are not the lastest version!