Re: Some valuable Tips with custom template
For #1, use Justin Tadlock’s Get The Image plugin in a loop. Or to make things easier, use Tadlock’s query_posts widget with Get The Image to easily define which posts to display. The Get The Image plugin does not cache the images though.
If you’re looking for image resizing / caching, try TimThumb from darrenhoyt.com… although I never have been able to get that working on WP.
For #2, there’s two plugins that I know of.
First one is The WordPress Bar. The second one is Pretty Link. It will not integrate with the BP bar… it will add another bar for external pages.
For #3, you’ll have to get creative with the xprofile fields. I have something setup with a BP install I’m working on, which manipulates the BP profile loop and uses CSS manipulation to display the social badges.