Since this thread started in January, we are probably talking to ourselves. Anyways here goes.
The problem with 283s or any camera type flash is there is no modeling light. True it is possible to use them, but if someone wants a small in home studio setup and is new to portrait photography, he needs to learn lighting. This entails being able to see the light patterns and the quality of the light striking the subject.
Having used most lighting systems at one time I still prefer monolights. As for not being able to reach the controls, they are at the back of the head and the softbox doesn't cover them. Every softbox system I've ever seen has a speed ring of some sort that keeps the softbox at the front of the light. As for weight, all the booms I've owned have a counter weight and it's never been a problem.
I truly believe if someone tries to take portraits with some cheap, duck taped together jerry rigged set up they will soon become discouraged and move on. Certain elements need to be in place for a person to feel comfortable and to progress.
When I was at a seminar at Winona School of Professional Photography back in the seventies they were discussing the use of two mainlights on the same side to get a heightened kind of specularity and one of the students said that he didn't have two mainlights. The instructor replied " Well boy, you had better sell your Cadillac and buy yourself some lights."
We all laughed but his point was if you wanted to do certain kinds of photography, you need to buy the equipment to do it.