I got it working!
BTW I removed the slackbuilds.org madwifi-tools pkg. Then removed and then reinstalled Alien Bob's Slack 12 madwifi pkg (tools and driver are all in one pkg of or at Alien Bob's whilst slackbuilds.org has it split up into two ie a madwifi driver pkg and a madwifi tools pkg.
Had a combo of 4 or 5 things or so (had me scratching head for a while) -- cabled lan for years and years but this was my very first time ever wireless.
Attempting to hook to a Netgear router. But I have a 2wire dsl gateway that I had put in bridge mode and had also turned off its wireless.
All next commands as root.
1. nonetheless, the 2wire essid was still broadcasting very strong (stronger than the Netgear). Specifically told it to hook Netgear, thus: iwconfig ath0 essid NETGEAR
2. it still doesn't work in the room nearly adjacent, which is not more than 24 feet away from the Netgear router. Moving laptop to within 5 feet of the router got it to work.
3. doesn't work with the firewall on (firewall is for eth0) had to turn off the firewall (for troubleshooting) firewall on killed wireless internet -- firewall off and wireless internet is back again. So, I'll need to make a firewall for ath0 (I'd like firewall for both eth0 and ath0 but I don't know how to do this -- anyone?). Ack, it's a lappy, I can use ath0
4. After firewall off and steps 1 and 2 above, then: dhclient ath0
Voilla! abra cadabra and whatnot -- it got an IP!
ping the router *finally* works!
startx and browse the internet, wirelessly, with firefox.
wget downloaded a 200 meg. iso (fast, no prob and at full speed capacity which is 302 k for me on either the wired or wireless (medium speed DSL)
I'm hoping that greater range is allowed once I put wireless security on the Netgear router (otherwise this is either a terrible router or the 2wire runs too severe of an interference) -- I might have to turn off the 2wire (and loose the internet) and/while focus only on wireless to the Netgear router (ping the router should say if it's working).