I guess this is an end to this blog.
In the end I gave up on Slackware 12.2 and downloaded and installed Slackware 13. It works and has got the network.
I really don't know what was happening with 12.2 and I'm disappointed to have had to give up, but I have a lot of studying to do and can't spare the time to work at making the laptop work.
What I miss is learning how that interface stuff works at a fundamental level because I would like to understand...