After much struggling to follow many tutorials based on older versions of Blender, I have downloaded multiple versions to discover why the tutorials based on versions such as 2.43 don't work when attempted on updated versions such as Blender 2.48a and above. Newer versions such as 2.48 have added a new option to /not/ have added objects rotated to the current viewpoint. With older versions, being in top, front or side view would cause any newly added objects to face different directions on creation.
Newer versions of Blender introduced the ability to force all objects into the same global orientation; even worse, they set it up that way BY DEFAULT! This means that unless the user deliberately changes the settings in the new versions, many older tutorials will act as if they are broken.
Newer versions of Blender (such as version 2.48, or 2.49b ) can be set to act in the same way as the older versions, by setting the Align to view on the (i): USER PREFERENCES menu in the right way.
Making this simple changes will "unbreak" tutorials written under Blender version 2.43, by allowing new objects to be automatically oriented to whatever viewscreen orientation is selected in the active viewscreen.
Any time object rotations, lattices or whatever else end up completely out of alignment with what older tutorials say should happen, these steps are your first best fix for almost every such situation.
In 2.58 and 2.61
The settings mentioned above are found in "File->User Preferences" (shortcut: Ctrl+Alt+U) under the "Editing" tab. There's a drop-down called "Align To" where you can set "View" or "World".
Noob Note: What actually happens by default on newer versions of Blender is that the axis of rotation is perpendicular to the screen. It means that, instead of revolving around the vertical axis, the object will revolve in the plane of the screen. Another way to deal with this is to change the view just before performing the rotation (I used NUM1 view) and come back to NUM7 once done.
Noob Note: In my version, 2.63 for Linux, after changing "Align To" to "View", when adding through "Add" menu, the mesh will still be aligned to "World". To get it aligned to "View" I have to add it with SHIFT-A.
Noob Note: In version 2.68a(unknown for older versions) there is a option to Align newly created mesh individually. When you create a mesh, (for ex. cylinder) there is a panel beneath the toolbox panel(left side of the 3D view) that shows up: Add "Mesh Name" (ex. Cylinder). Scroll down a bit and you'll see a check-box to enable "align to view". Checking it will align the mesh you added to the current view. Re-checking it after rotating the view around will align the mesh to new view.