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Think before you mix

If you’re one of the more than 10 million Canadians regularly taking some form of medication to treat one form of illness or another, from asthma inhalers to insulin, then it might be a good idea to know exactly what you’re taking, how it a

If you’re one of the more than 10 million Canadians regularly taking some form of medication to treat one form of illness or another, from asthma inhalers to insulin, then it might be a good idea to know exactly what you’re taking, how it affects you and how it reacts with other medications.

Although doctors and pharmacists generally do a great job, they don’t always have the time to launch into a thorough explanation of every prescription – the complete write-ups on drugs are often dozens of pages long, and can get pretty technical.

New computerized systems are in place to ensure that you aren’t prescribed two medications that react badly with one another, but mistakes still happen. We’re also learning more about approved prescription drugs all the time, and not all of that new information is good. For example, we’re only now discovering that some long-used antidepressants can actually increase the risk of suicide among youths.

There are places you can go to get more information on the drugs you’re being prescribed that can help you to better understand the risks and side-effects, as well as to take them in such a way to improve their effectiveness. There just isn’t enough room on a bottle or a receipt to get all the facts across.

As always a good place to start is with the government, specifically the Health Canada Web site. There’s no easy way to navigate to the Therapeutic Products Directorate page that you’ll need to get to, so bookmark this address – From there you can navigate through a database of all approved drugs, read the latest reports on drugs, and double-check your medications on the Adverse Reaction Information page.

The Canadian Association of Pharmacists also has some information on their site, in the Consumers/Patients section. The Patient’s Guide can be very helpful, as are the links in the Resource Centre.

RXList at is also an amazing source with complete descriptions, ingredients, pharmacology reports, side effects and drug interactions, patient information and other relevant information for every drug on the market.

One of the best ways to get information on your medications may be to type the name directly into Google or another search engine and browse through the results. Not only does the company that manufactures the drug post information online, more articles will also turn up in online doctor and pharmacist forums, medical journals, university research reports and a variety of other sources.

With doctors using drugs to treat a growing number of ailments, chances are that the majority of Canadians are going to be regularly taking one or more type of medication.

Most people read the labels on the foods they eat – why not pay the same attention to the medications you’re taking?

Good times for B.C. tech

A survey by the B.C. Technology Industries Association discovered that more than 62 per cent of the province’s tech CEOs are positive and see the state of B.C.’s economy as good or very good, and 38 per cent said the same about the high-tech sector. That’s up dramatically from this time last year when just 12 per cent of tech CEOs had a positive outlook on the high-tech sector.

The industry says confidence is at an all-time high for the last four years, with growing profits, more staff, and more spending on research and development.

Similar surveys for the rest of Canada found that the B.C. outlook was the brightest of all the provinces, with an average of 53 per cent of CEOs describing the economy as good and just 28 per cent feeling the same way about the high-tech sector.

Halo 2 leaked

Two years ago a large chunk of the source code for the sequel to Half-Life turned up on the Internet, leading to speculation that a disgruntled programmer or ingenious hacker was on the loose. Because of the gaff, large parts of the game had to be re-coded to prevent techno-geeks from exploiting the data to give themselves an edge in online tournament play – it happens, believe it or not.

Now the entire source code for Microsoft’s Halo 2, a French language version, has turned up, allowing fans to play the game a full month before the official release.

The game was originally supposed to debut on Xbox, before being released to PCs in the late fall, in time for Christmas. Now that the code is out there, Microsoft has to worry about online cheaters who know their way around a program that might use it to give themselves an advantage in online play, which is a big selling point for the new system.

Get lost in the Myst

The next edition of the Myst series, the mother of all first-person, virtual reality computer games, is hitting the stores this week to rave reviews.

Unlike most games that require a good deal of death and destruction to get to the end, Myst IV Revelations requires logic and problem solving. Although it may sound boring, the graphics, music and compelling mystery have made Myst one of the most popular video game series ever.

According to most reviews, the latest version goes even further with incredible graphics and video segments, and a level of interactivity that tops anything that has been offered so far. Almost every element in the game reacts when you touch it – water ripples, leaves rustle, items clatter around the tops of desks.

Weighing in at more than eight gigabytes, two DVDs worth of information, Myst IV is a huge undertaking, one of the biggest titles ever released. Part of that is the intense 3D graphical content and video segments, and part is the size of the game itself – you could play this game for months, if not years.

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