The the VGA route is really the only option. I personally tend to use expose to "cheat" a bit and see what I'm doing. If you hit the "all windows" key, you can see it will shrink the window to a visible size. It may be enough for you to see where your cursor is currently, and use tab to navigate and set options. It's not nearly as nice as being able to click, but at least you can tinker a little bit... :roll:
BTW, system prefs pages have no resize, they are all fixed size... Any other application, you can just hit the green zoom button to resize them if they happen to be too big for the display, and then you can resize using the right corner like you described.