But I still prefer the top and bottom panels. They are filled with information. The top has my menu, and startup icons for terminal, firefox, chrome, ding, evolution, and xchat. As well as weather applet, kill-window, screen shot applet, sound, notifications and date.
The bottom has the "clear screen", logout, the task list, system monitors and finally the workspace switcher (note, I just use hot keys to switch, seldom do I click on the workspace switcher).
But I've always disliked side panels. I don't know why, maybe because I don't read up and down?