bugcat: I didn't see the solution, but I think it's better style to ignore the ko entirely than to play b in the diagram. If Black wins the ko, b becomes a useless stone.
I'd make a base for the top side stones with . That makes Black taking the ko with gote. Now we can exchange two ordinary moves for Black's capture of the ko, as shown in moves to . Suppose Black manages this situation through the moves up to . Sure, White's position isn't good, but he can rally over the course of the midgame.