Definitely go with the auto-siphon!
Also, are you taking your gravity readings with a wine thief? Another must-have piece of equipment, and not expensive at all.
A wort chiller is so much easier than using ice. Now that I have one I can't imagine using ice ever again.
I think that by keeping good notes and publishing your procedure / recipe / good and bad points etc that you'll improve your process very fast.
I also think that you'll soon be hooked like me and many others are!