ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Four ways to share files - without getting infected

In a interesting recent PaSsu Diary post, Passang Tshering wrote about his USB flash-drive being infected by a rather nasty virus after inserting the drive into a student’s laptop. Since so many laptops and desktops in Bhutan are infected with viruses, exchanging flash-drives is extremely risky. In fact, this is the most common way by which viruses are spread.

Here are four ways which enable file exchange with a very low risk of infection. They might need a bit more work that just swapping the flash-drive, but they will save your laptop.

  • Email: You can attach files to email messages. Create a new message, enter your friend’s email in the To: field, attach the file or files, and hit the send button. Your friend will open his laptop, open the email message, and download the attachments. Gmail allows attachments of up to 20MB. (As an additional bonus, Gmail will also scan attachments for any viruses).
  • Google Docs ( This is a fantastic way to share documents. After uploading the file to Google Docs, you can share the file with your friends or co-workers by hitting the “Share” button. You enter your friend’s email, and he or she will get a message with a link to the file. Your friend will then be able to either download, view or edit the file online, depending on the access level that you granted your friend.
The previous two methods require on-line connectivity. Here are two methods I use when Internet is not available:
SD card + USB Adapter
  • SD memory card: This is the ubiquitous flash-drive used in many digital cameras. They are very similar to USB flash-drives, but have one additional and very useful feature that their cousins do not have – a small slide switch which allows you lock the card. When you lock the card, a computer cannot add, delete or change any file; it basically becomes a “read-only” device, and thus cannot be infected with viruses or any other malware. So, first insert the SD card into your laptop, and copy the file over. Now eject it, and before inserting it into your friend’s laptop, slide the switch to the “lock” position. Once there, your friend can copy the file over. Many laptops these days have an SD slot. If your computer does not have an SD slot, SD readers with a USB connectors are available (see photo).
  • CD: You can use this method if both you and your friend have CD drives and you also have Nu 15 to spare. Burn the CD with the files on your computer, then shift it to your friend's drive and copy the files. Don't forget to "finalize the CD", as described here