Depends partly on your climate. In a hot dry climate, shade is best, because as you noted, the compost pile will dry out fast. If your compost pile dries out, it stops working. That's not a disaster; as soon as it is moistened, it starts up again, but it does slow everything down. Whenever it is dry enough to water your garden, water your compost pile as well.
Wood ash is very alkaline. If your soil is very acidic and needs "liming," that's a good thing. Otherwise I would use ash in very small quantities. Most veggies and many ornamentals prefer their soil slightly acidic.
Seems like Gary is recommending mostly anaerobic composting, which most of us try to avoid, partly for the stench it creates. He is trying to do very fast composting. Most of us just wait a little longer to get compost, just let the compost pile heat itself up naturally. You will never get compost in a month that way, but especially in a warm climate, you will be getting some finished compost in three months.