I've been using dd a lot more than I have in the past. Typically, I would fire up dd (sending up a quick prayer that it didn't destroy anything) and just wait for the bash prompt to come back. When writing a large amount of data (4-5GiB) it could take up to an hour or so. One thing I always wanted with dd was a progress bar - like wget.
Just recently I found out about pv. pv deals with Unix pipes - and allows you to monitor what goes through the pipe you pass it. So, for instance when using dd:
pv my-new-Fedora.iso | dd of=/dev/mmcblk0
This will give you a nice status bar to watch while you run dd. Also, take note to be careful with dd if you haven't used it before. A good explanation can be found here.