Antihistamines

Monday, 7 December 2009

I've been a long-time hay fever sufferer. I also had a fair bit of allergic conjuctivitis in my younger years which I seem to be growing out of (finally!), though for the last 6 or so years dermographism has been a challenge too. You can just call me "Mr Healthy" :-)

Because of this, I have developed a more than average interest in antihistamines, and done a bit of research on the various "non-drowsy" over-the-counter products available in Australia.

The products are grouped by active ingredient, and then ordered by the most familiar brand name with that ingredient. As a rule, the best known brand is usually the most expensive – presumably you're paying extra for all the marketing and colourful packaging.

Brand Active Ingredient Size Dose Price Cost per tablet
Zyrtec Cetirizine 30 10mg 21.95 $ 0.73
Zodac Cetirizine 30 10mg 9.95 $ 0.33
Alzene Cetirizine 30 10mg 17.95 $ 0.60
Telfast Fexofenadine 30 180mg 22.95 $ 0.77
Xergic Fexofenadine 30 180mg 21.95 $ 0.73
Fexotabs Fexofenadine 50 180mg 26.45 $ 0.53
Fexal Fexofenadine 30 180mg 15.95 $ 0.53
Xyzal Levocetirizine 30 5mg 22.95 $ 0.77
Clarityne Loratadine 50 10mg 36.95 $ 0.74
Lorastyne Loratadine 50 10mg 21.95 $ 0.44
AllerEze Loratadine 50 10mg 27.95 $ 0.56
Chemists' Own Loratadine Loratadine 50 10mg 32.95 $ 0.66
Aerius Desloratadine 28 5mg 24.35 $ 0.87

Note also, the prices I've quoted here are from online pharmacies based in Australia, such as Pharmacy Direct and Pharmacy Online (don't forget to allow for postage). Buying the same identical product from a non-discount pharmacy may cost up to a 1/3 more.

I've tried all the main kinds, with varying degrees of success. I do think it is a good idea to swap products every few months as in my experience extended use of one specific antihistamine reduced its effectiveness (as though the body became desensitised to it).

A Sydney Wedding

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Katie and Gabriel OsorioNarelle's cousin Katie was getting married in Sydney, so we bundled the family into a plane and headed over for the festivities.

I'd booked seats on Tiger Airways earlier in the year (taking advantage of particularly cheap tickets). One thing with Tiger is that everything besides a seat on the plane costs you extra. I paid for extra baggage allowance but decided not to shell out for the privilege of choosing allocated seats. There was a risk that Tiger's seat booking system might be so stupid that it could put the kids and the adults in completely separate seats, but I'm pleased to report that we ended up with decent seats all in the same row on both flights.

A few quibbles with Tiger – the PDF attachments they emailed me were blank. Fortunately I figured out that the attachment file name happened to be the confirmation number so you could still review the details by going to their Review Itinerary page. Their website also fails to mention the fact that they will carry prams for free (thanks to Margaret for finding that out).

I'm not sure if it's a measure of how trustworthy visitors to Sydney airport are, but you have to pay $4 to use a luggage cart – contrasted with Adelaide airport where the carts are free (and I'd suggest a better design too – 3 bags fit side-by-side which we couldn't do with the interstate model).

Not a Toyota Camry! I organised a hire car through http://www.airportrentacar.com.au/sydney/, who seemed to have the best price compared to some of the more familiar hire car companies. One thing I didn't find out until after submitting a hire request through their website was that they require a "CREDIT" credit card (ie. not a debit card) for security. So began a mad panic to try and obtain such a card in less that 2 weeks. Despite trying to ensure my credit union had all the paperwork required up front, it took a few days for them to ask me for a pay slip and then a group certificate. The Thursday of our departure arrived, but sadly the card did not (it was delivered the day before we got back home!) Thankfully Narelle's parents were also travelling on the same flight and were kind enough to use their card for the security (the actual payment could still be done on a debit card). Also in Sydney this company's office is actually within reasonable walking distance from the terminal. In peak hour if you don't have much luggage, walking may actually be faster than the free pickup they offer.

The car (a Toyota Camry Altise) was perfect for our needs, and we were able to just cram the kids into the back seat (with various booster/baby seats). Our own car is also a Camry (though a slightly older 1995 model) and by comparison I found the modern Altise quite responsive, a bit gruntier and with more headroom (something I tend to notice). Imagine my surprise to learn learn that the current model still has only a 4 cylinder engine. (And no, that picture is not a Camry!)

P1020144 P1020164We took the opportunity to do a bit of sight seeing, and visited Ocean World at Manly. We all enjoyed looking at all the various exhibits – especially walking through the tunnel through the aquarium. Boy those teeth look sharp!

Having grown up in Adelaide, driving in a big city like Sydney is not my idea of fun. The traffic just seems crazy, and it all feels like there are just way too many cars trying to squeeze along lots of too-narrow roads (even though the roads are usually multi-lane). At least this visit we did pretty well finding our way around – Narelle's old NSW navigation skills came through with flying colours.

It was a nice holiday but it is good to be home again.

Office Communicator and the tel: protocol

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

I was wondering today whether Office Communicator offered any integration with web pages to enable calling a phone number on a web page. It turns out it does (as the Communicator team explains on their blog) via the tel: protocol.

I confirmed this by inspecting the registry on a computer with the Office Communicator 2007 client installed. Sure enough, it is registered for tel: (and also callto:).

If your page is just for your intranet, you can probably get away with the local number, but the RFC strongly recommends you use full "international form" – that way the number should be callable from anywhere. eg.

Telephone: <a href="tel:+3585551234567">+358-555-1234567</a>

I don't have Communicator installed on my home PC, but I do have Skype. A quick check of the registry confirmed that Skype has registered as a handler for callto: but there is no tel:.

Stack Overflow Careers

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Jeff has announced careers.stackoverflow.com, and I've jumped in quick to grab http://careers.stackoverflow.com/davidgardiner

Some other places you can find me in the social network "cloud" are:

Getting podcasts onto my new phone

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

add01_3301[1]I recently replaced my dead iPod Shuffle with a Samsung C3050 phone that amongst other things has music playing as a feature. I bought an 8Gb micro-SD card to go in the phone to store podcasts on.

When I unpacked the phone from its packaging, I discovered that this phone uses a slightly annoying custom socket to connect to a PC, headphones or power jack. It also didn't come with a USB cable in the box (so when the box said "supported USB" it didn't mean "easily"). I ended up making my very first e-bay purchase and bought a $10 cable which did the trick.

Now to get podcasts syncing…

I had been using WinAmp with the Shuffle, but I found that its support for a basic USB drive (which is how the phone's SD card appears when connected to the PC) was not perfect. After scrounging the net to find a decent podcatching application. Some of the problems I encountered along the way included MP3 files getting filenames that the C3050 didn't like, MP3 files ending up in the wrong location on the SD card, and some software that just plain didn't like the feed – the "." in ".NET Rocks" seems to be a common cause of that.

I finally found Mediafly. This site offers feed aggregation as well as software for syncing podcasts to various devices.

I'd already started using SpokenWord.org to aggregate my feeds, so I just added my aggregated RSS feed URL - http://rss.spokenword.org/playlist/2940 – to Mediafly. It then started downloading the latest files, and I was able to sync them over to the SD card.

So far it looks like this is working pretty well.

The C3050 is a pretty basic phone (what do you expect for less that $100 from the local Vodafone shop), and the music player has a few annoying quirks – in particular it too easily forgets if it is part-way through playing a track, and there's no way to determine (from the PC) what tracks have already been listened to. But in spite of that it does the job, which is the main thing.