It looks better, but it's also double the amount of time chopping down trees to make the crapload of sticks you'll need.
Actually, the ladder recipe now yields 2 ladders, not just one, so you aren't any worse off. You can get by with the exact same number of sticks, you just have to place the ladders on every block.
A note on complaining about the updates breaking the server mods and stuff. Notch CANNOT work with the people that make it. What they're doing at the moment is technically illegal as they're hacking, modifying and redistributing code that he created and is selling. Should he work with them he'd be effectively saying (in the eyes of the law) that it's ok for people to pirate his game. Notch cannot support mods in anyway right now.
This is actually not true. Notch doesn't have a problem with people modding the game, and it is in fact perfectly legal as long as you aren't redistributing the Minecraft.jar or its contents. There were some mods that only worked using that method. Most mods, however use patching tools to insert code and data into a legitimate Minecraft.jar, which is perfectly legal. You just wouldn't be allowed to distribute the modified jar file (or the unmodified one, in any case.)
It's true there is no official mod support at the moment, but that doesn't mean existing mods are illegal.
I won't argue that CraftBukkit itself is legal, though. It is known to be based on decompiled/reverse-engineered server code. But it doesn't seem like too many people actually run the vanilla server, either, so if you want to run a featureful server you are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place, as the vanilla server just doesn't provide enough functionality.
Notch seems to have little regard for modders, which is a shame, as modding is what will give this game a lot of longevity.
Anyway, anyone who is on my server should downgrade to 1.4 if you still want to play on it. I haven't updated at home yet so that's what I'm going to do. There's no word yet on when CraftBukkit will be updated--the developers have not committed to a date. So, now we play the waiting game...
I'm tempted to just set up a vanilla server on my VPS and see how well that works.