I tried your comments solution, native 1.5, and it is working fine. So you have solved several problems for my site without directly intending to do so, thank you.
I was a little nervous about going with a new component but reading the joomla development blog link you provided was very reassuring.
The only issue I have had so far is that the smiley's and bbc code plugins won't install, error says there isn't an xml file.
I have to update documentation of yvSmiley and yvBBCode plugins: to install that extensions, you have to extract nested zip file, e.g. 'yvBBCodePlugin1.01.004.zip' from packages with version-independent names (e.g. from 'yvBBCode.zip' file).