I can certainly understand becoming discouraged with trying to make things work normally like they have in other distros. I believe that every distro has it's "shortcomings", however you can rest assured that once you get those devices working you will not have to monkey with them again. On top of that, almost everything you learn on a slack-based distro will translate to other distros very well... so, you're learning for the future at the same time!
I use a similar wireless device on my laptop (Linksys wpc54gs pcmcia - broadcom chipset) and it works fine without ndiswrapper (bcm43xx module). I use static ip addressing, wpa security, with a non-broadcasting router. In other words, I've found that this card works wonderfully for a relatively closed wireless system in VL. However, I am aware that depending on the version card you have may change the chipset that you're using. So with that, can you provide the output from this command:lspci | grep wireless
---if you get nothing, then how about:lspci
Sound... I'm probably not very good help here. Not something I've played with much. Maybe the wrong device was chosen during installtion. Maybe running alsa-config (sp?) again and choosing a different sound driver would resolve the problems. But again, I'm not at all versed in audio stuffs.
If I understand you correctly, you're saying that the mouse device in your xorg.conf does not use the synaptics mouse driver? Or, you're just not seeing the tapping disable option you normally see? If the latter then you can try adding:Option "Tapbutton1" "0"
to the relevant mouse section in xorg.conf to disable tapping on the synaptics device.
If the former, then I think you can manually change the module to use to the correct synaptics module and then add the appropriate options to get it working.
Option "Protocol" "auto-dev"
Option "SHMConfig" "on"
Option "TapButton1" "0"