a) Yep, that'll help. In addition, make sure your firebox lid fits snugly - lots of heat can escape via that space.
b) Depends. I've found that doing this tends to create a backdraft problem! The smokestack is the first thing encountered by the wind, and the cold outside air blows in through it - particularly if you follow the conventional wisdom that says to always leave the stack fully open.
I always turn the firebox into the wind. You are correct that the inrushing air will promote faster burn; to control the speed of that burn, simply close down the intake vent. Also close the smokestack a bit, with its lid helping to block the backdraft.
One more thing to help control the burn is to put a double-walled divider in your charcoal basket. It should extend 2/3 of the way across. The walls should be 18ga or thicker, and ought have an inch of gap between them. This makes the fire travel in a C -shape rather than spreading in all directions.