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I would think it is having more trouble with the adapter than the actual card. It could also be the storage size of the card that is the problem as well. Try a regular 2GB SD Card and see if it works. If it does, then it is probably just the adapter.
The blank plastic is NOT to be used while other cards. I am assuming you are talking about the SD card slot on the side (black plastic filler) There should be no movement of the SD card when in place.
If you are talking about the CF card slot on the top of the Axim, again the blank plastic is a dust cover when no card is in place and is not used with cards inserted. There is a bit of open area on one side of the card. Carefull with the pins at the bottom and be sure to insert correctly. Again there should be no movement of the card once inserted fully.
Don't know what you are quoting from the manual. I still have mine and the only thing I see similar to your quote is to "align the tab on the back of the CF card with the notch in the CF slot.." This is to make sure you have the front and back correct and for removal of the card (by grasping the ridge/tab)
I once used Mazingo on another pocket pc. I had it set to use the CF card in it. It did the same thing it's doing on yours now. It caused word to take a long time to open and it loaded the pages in it really slow. I stopped using it for that reason. I think it may just me the Mazingo program.
Since a SD memory card is about the same size [width and thickness] as a Memory Stick, I doubt there will ever be an adapter available between these two formats. There just isn't any room unless they came up with a very large adapter which would stick out and be unwieldly.
You can get Compact Flash adapters (which are much larger) from a company called Pretec for about US$59.00, plus I'm sure there are others. I use a full sized PC Card adapter on my laptop to convert between the SD Memory card for my Axim X5 and the SmartMedia card for my digital camera and MP3 player.
I'm not sure that this will be a once a for all answer, but the link below says that any device with an sd slot can handle mmc but devices with slots designed exclusively for MMC cannot handle SD.
Since the axim has an SD slot, I would say that it is compatible with MMC although I haven't tried an MMC card and the manual doesn't specific mention MMC memory.