Have a Nice Stay At The Farm, Blocks!
There's a hideous freak locked in Drupal's attic that no one wants to talk about, but like any other family secret, it eventually has to be faced. It's the block system -- the bastard child of D4 that desperately needs to be sent to a place where it's nice and quiet, and he just wont hurt anymore.
Ring, ring: Oh, look! The Context Module is here, wearing a white suit and driving a shiny new car! He's here to take Blocks out for a nice vacation. See ya, Block System. Hope you enjoy your stay!
Seriously--the Context Module rules. Used correctly, it can replace the entire block system, allowing you to place blocks or views on a page based on any number of variables, including path, user role, etc.
It also comes with another module called Context Layouts -- a real gem that allows you to select page layouts based on the same huge variety of variables you can use to manage your blocks and views. Frankly, it's almost the same thing as Panels, but probably has a lower learning curve and so far seems to play better with host of other modules. Yes, Panels is probably a more powerful, but I wouldn't think twice about installing this for most Drupal Sites.
Really try this one. Highly recommended.