I have not seen any software updates to internal SD readers (for this model) so the cheap fix is as you found out.
As to the External HDD since most drives today are too large or in an incompatible format, there is no fix for that as well for this OS.
My HP Omnibook 500 with Windows ME will not recognise my external HDD. Also, it will only read SD cards from my USB card reader and not SDHC cards. Is there a fix for this? Thanks,