Drywall is hung and all the seams upstairs have been taped, and I have started the second coat on a bunch of it.
Just want to throw in my 2 cents out on taping. There is a lot of information out there and everyone has their own way of doing things. Maybe this will help someone in the future when they are doing their research.
It took me awhile to filter through everything and finally figure out these basic important concepts.
There are 3 types of joint compound most people use.
1) Setting compound. It comes as a powder in bags. I've only seen it available in setting times of 20, 45, and 90 minutes. It is the strongest type of compound, even the 'easy sand' stuff you do not want to have to sand at all. I am pretty sure setting compound is actually just plaster.
The next two are 'drying compounds.' If they start to get thick you can add water to thin them out again. They will last for like 6 months in the bucket. Everything is marketed as 'all purpose' but most stores actually carry two types.
2) Taping compound. Should come in a green lid. Taping compound has a lot of glue in it, and is hard to sand. Way easier to sand than setting compound though. This should only be used to bed paper tape. It needs to be thinned down to cake batter consistency to ensure it 'runs' under the tape so you do not get any bubbling.
3) Topping compound. Should come in a blue lid. It has much less glue in it, is easier to sand and shrinks less. You should use this for everything except bedding the tape. This should not be thinned down with water if possible, so that it shrinks as little as possible.
Prior to taping seams, any crack, hole, or damaged area over 1/8th inch or so should be prefilled with either topping compound (if allowed to dry 24hrs) or setting compound.
Next would be the tape itself. Paper tape vs mesh tape. Paper tape can be bedded in taping compound. Mesh tape has to be bedded in setting compound. Some people claim that mesh tape is easier, and maybe that is true for small jobs, but I really couldn't imagine taping an entire house with setting compound at this point. Paper tape creates a stronger joint. Mesh tape is mold resistant.
I picked up a $40 drywall banjo on amazon which was a great investment. It made taping go really fast, and more importantly guaranteed there was an adequate amount of compound under the tape. I have had no bubbling anywhere.
Finally, once the taping is done... time for the second coat, which is the fill coat. I thought I was going to be a hawk and trowel guy. I am not a hawk and trowel guy. I have a 14" beveled/curved trowel that was just too cumbersome for me. I could make it work, but it was way more effort than using a wide blade knife. I also was dropping as much compound on the floor as putting on the seams. After half a day with the trowel, I switched to a 10" knife, and I think I am about 3x as fast with the knife and mud tray. Also getting more consistent good results with the knife. Some of my trowel seams will probably need to get filled in a bit more once dry.
Beyond this it is really just getting the feel for tapering/feathering the edges so the mud runs clean to the drywall, and then trying to get things as flat as possible so you aren't sanding too much. 3rd coat should mostly be a skim coat to smooth out tool lines and other imperfections.
Also want to mention I used vinyl corner bead. I used spray adhesive on the corners and bead, then stapled them in place. I am happy with that decision.