thanks!, you change the 'gap x', 'gap y', and the 'alignment' variables in the conkyrc..if you cant get it to big, its probably because the conky "window" is too big so just make it barely big enough to see the icons and then you can move it anywhere on the screen.
In the folder '~/.config/plank/dock1/launchers' there will be some '.dockitem' documents. These are the configuration files to the launchers on your dock. If you open up one of these '.dockitem' files, you will find a line similar to ( Launcher=/usr/share/applications/gedit.desktop )[using gedit as an example]. Basically, this line of text is pointing to a '.desktop' file (which is the actual application). You can make copies of the '.desktop' files that you want and put them into a random folder (documents, etc., idc..). In these '.desktop' files, there is a line that points to an icon. So basically all you have to do is put the custom icon's path into the duplicated '.desktop' file, and then put that file's path into the '.dockitem' file, and bam you are done.
I have used the four main docks in linux-- cairo, awn, docky, and plank...as for the comparison...first i would say forget cairo dock, i dont like it at all, it was laggy and it just wasnt right for me i guess.
Docky vs AWN -- i would say docky is cleaner and much more simpler, but awn is easier to use and definetly the easiest to configure and customize. I switched between these two depending on which theme i was into at that time..also, AWN has tons more extensions.
Plank -- i use this one currently because it is by far the most simple, but it is also the hardest to configure i guess, it also crashes sometimes like once a week, but it takes like 5 seconds to restart it. I just mess with the config files to experiment.
Plank vs AWN -- either of these is good, AWN has more extensions, and it more stable, but as for the way it looks i prefer plank because the dock theme is based on css color code (which is a bunch of numbers), and i am no graphic artist to creating background gradients is tough for me.
really good insight, thanks! and the last bit you said really got me interested in plank - i too prefer to theme via text files.. btw i don't know why i said you had "lots of extensions". now that i look at it i see only one