mouser, since you asked...
Maintaining my reputation for being as thick as two short planks, I failed to read the text in that bottom panel (largely because I was in object mode already, so I didn't notice anything change). Once I did see it, it took me about 3 minutes to locate the white cursor (because it's a white arrow).
Do you think that separating further the object tools from the other items on the vertical toolbar might help, i.e. introducing a larger gap between 'Configure' and 'Selection modes'?
Do you think that "You are currently in object-editing mode." could be made to stand out within the panel in some way?