Primer/Wiki on current state of particle capabilities in 2.57?

Is there a primer or tutorial or something that I can read up on what particles can and can’t do right now in 2.57? For example, I think the following are still broken, but I may just not know how to make them work-- 1) Animating/keyframing emission rate 2) Changing particle color, etc. as a function of the life of the particle (e.g. the old 100 frame thing that scaled the 100 frames of keying to whatever the life of each individual particle was) Also, I remember seeing bits about particles being able to “paint” on other objects, but I’m pretty sure that’s still only in select graphicall builds, right? (on a bright spot, particle collisions are looking much better!) Many thanks! (why can’t I use carriage returns in the new Blender Artists format???)