Configuring your desktop has changed a lot between KDE 3.5 and KDE 4. For those updating, a bit of explanation is needed.
Challenge: You want to place icons on your desktop (like: "watch TV" or "play pingus")
Let's assume you want an icon on your desktop that starts Konqueror:
which konquerorlet's assume the response is
Now you can start konqueror by clicking onto the konqueror icon on your desktop
Your desktop is now based on Plasma. This makes it possible to run widgets (sometimes referred to as plasmoids) on it, e.g. a clock that docks directly to your desktop and is not surrounded by a border. To add the "clock" widget, right-click onto your desktop and choose . E.g. choose the Analog Clock Widget there.
Most of us are creatures of habit, and like our panel to show icons in a familiar order. Plasma appears to drop icons in a random order, but you can re-arrange them as long as you have KDE 4.1 or later. If you have the Panel Controller (which looks like a Cashew in a semi-circle) on the right hand edge of your panel, you can re-order or change the size and justification of the panel. See Can I move the applets on the panel?
Many more such hints are on the Plasma FAQ pages.
Under KDE3, if you had an fstab mount to a remote directory you got an icon on your desktop. This doesn't happen in KDE4, but there's an even better way to reach your files.
Create a folderview (right-click on desktop,). It will be pointing to your home directory by default, but click on the spanner on the handle, to get properties, and you can direct it to open in your remote home. If you keep your folder fairly small you'll be able to scroll down to the exact directory you need, and open it in Konqueror (which in some versions seems to be the default for remote directories. It may well be that this can be changed, too.)
Everything mentioned as possible in Konqueror can also be done in Dolphin. At first glance you might think Dolphin lacks features, but read the pages linked from the Dolphin page to learn the new features that make it so powerful.