Great article. As someone who will be applying for graduate schools this fall, I find it immensely useful. For example, the section about funding and ‘being ready for surprise’ is something that often gets overlooked.
On a side note, the process of contacting a faculty is useful but requires significant time. In such a case, just making contact for the sake of it probably does not make much sense. In other words, contact a faculty when you have something useful to comment about their research. Though, I am not sure if not contacting a faculty negatively influences chances of selections by the admissions committee.