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.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Updating Windows 7 (K2 #28)

I am trying to use Windows Update but I keep getting the following error code: 80072EFE. I tried to solve the problem in different ways, such as running PC Cleaner and SystemCare 4, and even reinstalling Windows 7 (without formatting drive C). However, I keep getting the error. Can you kindly advise?

-- Tashi Dubjur, College of Science and Technology (CST)

Dear Tashi,

Operating systems such as Windows 7 are complex creatures, and the issue of the type that you encountered is quite common. I’ve also run into similarly annoying error messages. In my experience, the key to solving such problems is by searching online for solutions. Why? Well, there are millions of other Windows users around the world, and typically a few of them have already run into the same problem. Luckily, you are not alone! Other users will often share their solutions, usually in an online forum. You can find online discussions by typing the exact error message text into the Google search bar.

With all of this in mind, I've searched for your specific problem. I typed "error code 80072EFE" in the Google search bar, and got many relevant results. Try it! The top result was for a discussion that had more than one hundred posts. According to the discussion, many users found that a Kaspersky utility that removes a nasty virus was able to solve the problem. So read the discussions, see what solutions people have found, and try them out.

Website of the Week

Khan Academy (

Students have started their winter vacations, but that does not mean that learning must stop. About five years ago, Salman Khan, a young Bangladeshi-American with a gift for making the complicated appear simple, created and uploaded a few short video clips containing math tutorials to YouTube. His original motivation was to help his remotely-located cousins with maths. The videos became popular. Very popular. So popular, in fact, that eventually Khan left his job, founded “Khan Academy”, and the rest, as they say, is history. now contains over 2700 short video clips covering math, physics, chemistry, history and more. Everything is free. Check it out and you’ll discover that there's more to the Internet than Facebook.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Who Updates Wikipedia? Part II (K2 #27)

Question of the Week (Cont'd)
I recently noticed that there's a new article in Wikipedia on the Royal Wedding, but it contains many errors. Who is responsible for these errors?
-- Sonam P., MoE

Dear Sonam,

In the last column I talked about Wikipedia and explained how errors find their way into articles. As promised, this week I describe how to update Wikipedia articles. But first, a refresher: Wikipedia ( is one of the Internet's most popular websites. It is a fantastic, free, online encyclopedia with millions of articles. Wikipedia articles can be created, edited and updated by anyone with an Internet connection.

How to earn Wikipedia karma points
Articles related to Bhutan in Wikipedia are still scarce. Here's how you can help. Go to, and look for the search bar near the top-right. Search for a topic on which you are knowledgeable. It can be your gewog's name, favourite Bhutanese film, local flora and fauna, your high school, your favorite member of parliament, etc. If an article about the topic does not exist, you can start one. If an article already exists, read it. There is a good chance that you can improve the article. Log into your account (or create an account if one does not exist), edit the article, preview and save. That's it! You have selflessly contributed to world knowledge.
Many visitors to Wikipedia are just "readers", that is, people who read articles. However, you can also write, edit and update articles. Suppose that you read a Wikipedia article and spot an error. You can easily fix it! Here's how: look for the "Edit" tab near the top-right area of the screen. Click on it, and you'll be taken to an online editor which contains the text of the article. Find the error, correct it, then click "Show preview", and if you like what you see - click "Save page". That's it. The entire world will now see the improved article! Once you edited an article, you officially become a "Wikipedian" - someone who writes and edits Wikipedia articles. There are almost 16 million Wikipedians around the world, including some in Bhutan.

Tip 1: I recommend opening a (free) account in Wikipedia before editing articles. To create an account, go to and click on "Log in / create account" at the top-right of the page. Using a Wikipedia account improves your online privacy. If you edit an article without logging in, your IP address will be publicly displayed in the page's revision history. This means that you can be traced back. If you edit an article while logged in, only the username that you chose for your account will be displayed.

Tip 2: To learn more about editing articles, go to For creating new articles, see

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The law of one-way adjustments

When petrol prices go up, RSTA hikes the taxi fares. When petrol prices go down, taxi fares remain unchanged. Is there a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, or is it just one of nature's mysteries?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Today: information session on PhD-level studies @ ISB

A quick reminder about tomorrow's open information session on the Fellow Programme in Management at the top-ranked Indian School of Business.

When & where: Wed, Nov 16 @ BCCI Hall, Thimphu (free event).
To reserve your seat: send your name and organization by SMS to 17583975 or email

Feel free to join and post on our Facebook event page.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who Updates Wikipedia? Part I (K2 #26)

Question of the Week

I recently noticed that there's a new article in Wikipedia on the Royal Wedding, but it contains many errors. Who is responsible for these errors?
-- Sonam P., MoE

Dear Sonam,

Many Internet users in Bhutan are not familiar with Wikipedia, so this is a great opportunity to let readers know about a terrific online resource. Wikipedia - accessible at - is an online encyclopedia. It contains millions of articles about every conceivable domain of human knowledge. The Wikipedia website is one of the most popular websites in the world, currently up there in the top 5, together with the more familiar Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and YouTube. Like Facebook, surfing Wikipedia can become addictive, but it is unlikely to be blocked at your office!

Wikipedia tips
  • Wikipedia is available in many languages. To access the English version, go directly to Use the search bar on the top right to find articles.
  • "Simple English" Wikipedia, written in basic English, is accessible at It can be useful to school students or anyone struggling with English
Traditional printed encyclopedias, the most famous one being Encyclopedia Britannica, used to be housed in libraries, because they were too expensive for most people to have at home. At libraries, they populated long shelves, and required heavy-lifting. Wikipedia, on the other hand, is completely free and accessible from any Internet-connected computer. For the first time in history, people now have cheap and easy access to an incredible amount of knowledge and information.

While Encyclopedia Britannica was written by reputable experts, Wikipedia entries are written, edited and updated by anyone who wants to help. It is a collaborative effort by Internet volunteers. This means that information is usually very up-to-date. For example, a few minutes after Muammar Gaddafi was killed, the Wikipedia entry about him already contained his date of death: a volunteer edited this piece of information. But since anyone can update Wikipedia, it also means that information can be incorrect. This does not mean that there isn't plenty of useful and correct information on Wikipedia, but it does require critical reading.

As to Wikipedia's royal wedding article (, it was mostly created and updated by non-Bhutanese volunteer editors, many of whom lack the knowledge that Bhutanese have. For example, the royal wedding article currently designates Dasho Kinley Dorji as "Bhutan's Minister of Information", which is obviously wrong; he is the Secretary of MoIC. Of course, by the time your read this, someone might have already corrected this error. From my experience, there are many errors in other entries about Bhutan as well. In the next column I'll share some tips on editing Wikipedia articles. Until then, check out articles about Bhutan and see how many other mistakes you can find!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Spotted in Thimphu

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's with the MoE Website?

The official website of the Ministry of Education,, is dead. And it's been dead for the last few weeks. We first tweeted about this a few days ago.  My guess is that it went down about 3 or 4 weeks ago. That's a pretty long time for a website of that importance to be unavailable. In the online world, it's almost infinity. It's down for so long, in fact, that the website does not even come up in Google search results. Try looking for "ministry of education, bhutan" or any other query related to education in Bhutan. The ministry's official web site is just not there. It's gone.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Unemployment among Google Chrome users?

Like many young people in Bhutan, one of my students who uses Google Chrome as her web browser is looking for a job. Google Chrome is my preferred web browser, as it is faster and more secure than other browsers. Hence, we have Chrome installed on our lab computers. Back to our story. The student went to MoLHR's website, and clicked on the "Job Vacancy" link. Here is what she saw:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New in Thimphu: bookshop, café

While the landscape of bookstores in the West is drastically changing in the direction of going out of business, in Bhutan things are different, and bookshops seems to flourish. The tasteful Junction Bookstore (just below the main traffic) has become a favourite destination for books in the capital, and now, with the help of the Loden Foundation, a first-of-its-kind children's bookstore is opening:

Faster browsing coming soon

According to an article in today's Kuensel (page 2), DrukNet will soon be using Google Global Cache (GGC), a service by Google that will speed up the download of Google content, including YouTube videos, in Bhutan (YouTube is owned by Google). This is altogether excellent news. The Kuensel article explains very clearly the idea behind the cache and the benefits it provides. The article, "DrukNet to host Google global cache", it still not avalable online, but I'll add a link to it if (and when) it appears in

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where Should you Post Your Status?

Need to decide where to post your updates? Use this flow chart.

Open Information Session on PhD-level Studies at the Indian School of Business

The Rigsum Institute of IT & Management will be hosting an open information session regarding the Fellow Programme in Management studies (PhD-level) at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. ISB is a world-class institution, ranked #13 in the 2011 Financial Times Global MBA Rankings.

Information will be provided about the study programme, admissions, scholarships and an academic research career. Holders of Masters degrees with an interest in management-related academic careers are invited to attend.

Venue & time: The open session will be held on November 16, from 4-6pm at BCCI Hall, Thimphu. 
Cost: The event is FREE of charge.

Tea and snacks will be served.

Please RSVP at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This is NOT Thimphu TechPark's Website. However...

Our blog's name is ThimphuTech. The newly inaugurated IT park on the capital's outskirts is Thimphu TechPark. I'm sure you see the resemblance. Thimphu TechPark is also variously spelled as Thimphu Tech Park, TTP, Thimphu Tek Park, Bhutan IT Park, and so on. Due to the similar names, when people search Google for the IT park, some of them end up here. If that happened to you, we're here to help. Here are a few external links about Bhutan's first IT park:

A Week Later, Kuensel Online Still not Accessible

We first reported about this issue a week ago: Internet users within Bhutan cannot access the website of Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. Users outside of Bhutan have no problem at all. Surprisingly, a week has passed, and the issue is still not resolved, although we are told technicians are working on solving the problem.

In the meantime, Kuensel on their Facebook page recommend that you use a proxy server, such as to access the website. It will be slow, but at least you can read the articles. Here's a direct link to the proxified version of Kuensel Online.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Upcoming Workshops

We are glad to announce two upcoming workshops:

Build a Website (Using Google Sites)

Can you surf the Internet? Then you can also build websites. No computer degree necessary. In this 2-day, hands-on workshop you will create your own free website using Google Sites. Instructed by Mr. Boaz Shmueli, the workshop will take place on Nov 14-15, 2011, and is intended for small business owners, schools, tour operators, various organizations and anyone tired of chasing a webmaster...

Risk Analysis for Project Planning (Using Excel)

How can data be used for planning, decision making, and assessment? Learn basic and advanced Excel skills for risk analysis. A two-day workshop by Professor Galit Shmueli (USA) will take place on Nov 21-22, 2011. The workshop is intended for decision makers in the government, corporate and private sectors. Fee includes the book "Practical Risk Analysis for Project Planning".

For details and registration visit

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Web-Based Medical Diagnosis (K2 #25)

Question of the Week
My friend is having a bad cough and is afraid to go to the doctor. She checked on the Internet and saw that it might be lung cancer. I told her that you can’t trust medical information on the Internet. Am I right?
-- Chandra M., S/J

Dear Chandra,

More and more people are looking for health information online, in order to get quick answers, to avoid going to doctors, and for other reasons. While having access to health information can be helpful, you must be careful about self-diagnosis based on online information. It is easy to get carried away and suspect a dangerous or rare disease, especially when searching online. For example, searching for "headache" might bring up online articles about brain tumors. Some people become very anxious when looking up their symptoms online and are preoccupied about having a serious disease - this sounds like what your friend is experiencing. There is even a name for this online phenomena: cyber-chondria.

Previously, we didn't have access to all this excessive medical information. We didn't worry as much! Your friend's cough is more likely caused by the seasonal flu, especially in this time of the year. However, I am not a medical doctor and therefore this is again just one more opinion. To be sure, and to rid herself of the scary thoughts, she should check with a health professional. She can even print out the information that she found on the Internet and discuss it with the doctor.

A plethora of websites provide health and medical information. Some information is useful and reliable, but much of it is misleading, wrong, or even harmful. Remember that anyone can publish anything on the Internet; the fact that it's out there does not mean that it's credible or true. So when looking at a health-related website - or any other website - it is useful to check who runs the website, who pays for it, and for what purpose. Check out the "About us" or "About this site" section of the website.

Even if a health website is very popular, it might not have genuine intentions. Some websites - such as the popular WebMD - are sponsored by giant pharmaceutical companies and have a commercial agenda, so they will often steer users towards drugs or surgery, when in fact basic lifestyle solutions (diet, exercise, rest, etc.) are healthiest.

Here are three of my favourite websites for health-related information, which are considered trust-worthy:

MedlinePlus ( is run by the US National Library of Medicine and provides useful reliable, and ad-free information about hundreds of health topics, including medical drugs, for consumers.

Mayo Clinic (, one of the best hospital systems in the world, runs a useful, balanced, and reliable website. The website also features a Symptom Checker.

CDC (, the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has excellent information on disease outbreaks, child vaccinations and travelers' health.

To summarize: While some websites are useful and educational, they are meant to complement - not replace - a doctor.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Friday, October 28, 2011

BBC's What's Your Number: A Brilliant Way to Collect Private Information

BBC's webmaster
Nobody knows the world's exact population figures, but the United Nations decided - partly to raise awareness, partly as a publicity stunt - to arbitrarily pick October 31st, 2011 as the date when the number of people on earth will cross 7 billion. There's a lot of discussion about the 7B mark all over the place, so I'll leave that to the experts. What I wanted to talk about is BBC's What's Your Number application, launched just in time to coincide with the UN's announcement.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nu 100 Royal Wedding notes pop up on Ebay

The special Nu 100 notes sold by the Royal Monetary Authority, which were printed especially for the Royal Wedding, have unsurprisingly popped up on E-bay.

Prices start at US$24.99 - about Nu 1250 - plus shipping.

According to Kuensel, two million commemorative Nu 100 notes were printed. The local price for the notes was Nu 500, or about US$10.

B-Mobile to Increase Capacity

B-Mobile subscribers are lately facing disconnects and other congestion-related issues, including complete loss of network signal. Although this is very apparent when the Bhutan-wide load is high, such as during the recent earthquake, we have noticed that these issues occur also during non-emergency times, although much less often.

But don't despair, as relief is coming: B-Mobile has announced that by the end of 2012, capacity will be doubled, which will allow more simultaneous calls. This is very good news.

I'm not sure, however, that this will solve a related issue that occurs when many users concentrate in a small area. For example, when tens of thousands of people congregate in Changlimithang stadium, the load on the local "base station" is increased dramatically. For this type of issue, increasing the total capacity is not enough.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Bhutanese version)

In the classic fairy tale "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", it is a little girl, Goldilocks, who enters the empty house of a family of bears ("the old papa Bear, the mamma Bear, and the little boy Bear") enjoys some porridge, breaks a chair, and finally falls asleep. But recently in a village in Laya, in an incredible reversal of roles, it was a 122-kg she-bear  (Blacklocks?) who entered into a empty house, and for a few days ate, drank, slept and generally had the time of her life:
"[The Himalayan black] bear had eaten from 20
bags of rice weighing 25kg each, three bags of 25kg wheat flour, locally known as ‘kapchi’, 50 kg of yak butter and a kilogram of salt. Rice and apchi had been scattered all over. The bear had also drunk water stored in a huge traditional brass bowl."

Bhutanese cannot access Kuensel, others can

While we have verified that users outside Bhutan are able to access the website of the national newspaper, the Kuensel, access within the country is currently not possible, and visitors are getting a "Cannot find the server at" error. This can be a server issue (the Kuensel server is currently located outside the country), or an Internet Service Provider (ISP) glitch.

My solution: Go and buy a copy. It's only Nu 5...

We will update you when (and if) we get more information about this bizarre technical issue.

Update: Just saw the following notification on Kuensel's FB page (via their Twitter account):
"To all our online readers who haven't been able to access our website: We are sincerely apologetic. Our tech people have been and are currently still working to fix this issue. Will update you as soon as it's fixed."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BBS Thimphu Transmitter Down

While most people in Thimphu watch BBS via fee-based cable service, some of us are still using the old (and free) antenna ("off-the-air") method. A few days ago I turned on the TV to watch the news, but there was no signal. I tried again yesterday, but again to no avail. I called BBS today, which is a challenge by itself - their phone number is neither listed in the phone directory, nor available on their website (the number, for future reference, is 02-323071).

I finally managed to get hold of a technician who explained that their transmitter is undergoing maintenance, and is expected to be back in operation within a few days.

BBS has a few venues for disseminating information about outages: BBS TV, BBS Radio, the BBS website,  the BBS Facebook page, and BBS twitter page. Let's hope these will be used in the future.

PS: BBS live streaming, which was set up just before the royal wedding, is also dead.

Update (26/10/2011): Transmitter is now back to service. Just in time for Diwali!

TEDxThimphu on "What Matters" scheduled for November 14th

TED is an bi-annual conference devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading". Over the years, the world's most innovative doers and thinkers have been invited to give 18-minute presentations in an attempt to change the world. All of these talks are available on They have become extremely popular and for a good reason. Topics range from science and technology to design, business, and education. Click on the "Most viewed" button to see the most popular lectures.

TEDx are local, independently-organized events which are similar to TED. They are approved - but not organized - by TED, and must adhere to a given format and other criteria. There are hundreds of TEDx events around the world every year. TEDxThimphu, under the theme of "What Matters", is scheduled to happen on November 14th in the Terma Linca Resort. More information about TEDxThimphu, as well as attendance information, is available here.

The TEDx event is organized as part of a movie that will be made about a 4-strong American team that is planning to cross Bhutan on foot and mountain bikes. Their 42-day, 484-mile trek is planned to start on November 4. Read more about the expedition here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Online course "Interactive Data Visualization" (Opens next Friday)

I'll be instructing an online course on Interactive Data Visualization, starting Oct 28.

This course is about the interactive exploration of data, and how it is achieved using state-of-the-art data visualization software. Participants will learn to explore a range of different data types and structures. They will learn about various interactive techniques for manipulating and examining the data and producing effective visualizations.

This is very practical and hands-on course. We use real data and discuss practical issues.

This is also a great opportunity to interact with professionals worldwide (through an online discussion board) and to take advantage of online learning for expanding your knowledge. The course is completely asynchronous -- not need to be online at a certain time.

Who can benefit from this course? managers, journalists, researchers and others who handle and present data. Feel free to email me for more information and for the special terms for Drukpas.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

RGoB website reportedly hacked by Nepalese group

A new group of Nepalese hackers claims that it broke into the official website of the Royal Government of Bhutan ( The group, calling itself Team Swastika, published a database table that allegedly includes live credentials (user names and passwords) of accounts. The table is currently posted online in one of the most popular pastebins. user credentials (passwords erased)

The hacking group also claims to have penetrated the website of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. In addition, the group made available a list of 10,000 Facebook user names and passwords, but this list was most likely copied from other online sources.

Check here for more information.

Monday, October 17, 2011

One Queen, two Facebook pages

There are currently two popular Facebook pages for Ashi Jetsun Pema Wangchuck: The official page (which is  "Liked" by the official Facebook page of His Majesty), and another page, titled Jetsun Pema [Queen of Bhutan] which apparently is not official.
According to the Facebook Terms regarding pages, "only an authorized representative of the subject matter may administer" official pages. Given past experience, it is likely that the unofficial page will eventually disappear. Thus, if you would like to "follow" Her Majesty, make sure to "Like" the official page.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

True or False? (K2 #24)

Question of the Week
I recently got an email that claims that eating cut onions causes many cases of food poisoning. Is this true?
-- Z. S., Samtse

Dear Z. S.,
The Internet is packed with these types of scary stories, rumors, misinformation and "urban legends". Such emails, which appear to be written by some “expert” and usually forwarded to you by someone you know, often look believable: they are backed up by a convincing story and detailed "facts". However, most of them are completely bogus. My dear mother is an especially enthusiastic forwarder of such emails, which are forwarded from her friends (who received them from their friends, and so on).

Here's how to find out if the information is true or an “urban legend”: There is a highly-recommended and trustworthy website called which collects many of these stories of unknown origin, and either verifies their validity or - as is often the case - exposes the falseness of their claims. Whenever I get a forwarded email of a dubious source, I log on to to check it out. There's a search bar on the top of the homepage. To check out the horror onion story, I just searched for "cut onions" and clicked on the first search result, which proved this scary claim to be - surprise! - totally FALSE.

Avoiding sliced onions never harmed anyone, but following the advice in some of these “urban legend” emails can sometimes be downright life-threatening: A few days ago I received an email that started to circulate in Bhutan after the recent earthquake. That email contained earthquake survival "tips" and other claims by a self-proclaimed "renowned rescue expert" who allegedly manages the "world's most experienced rescue team", and who promotes an earthquake survival method called "triangle of life". The email looked suspicious to me, so I quickly searched and found out that not only is the information in this email disputed by disaster experts, but also that the expert mentioned in the email is under investigation for fraud in the United States. Apparently, this guy has a history of exaggeration and self-promotion with very little evidence of real rescue work. Blindly following the advice in this email can be downright fatal.

If you've got a few online minutes to kill and are looking for amusement, get off Facebook and check out some of the items collected by A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Analyzing tweeters' personalities

The cool website uses text mining to analyze personality traits based on tweets. You enter a Twitter handle and within seconds get a nice graphic analysis of the tweeter in terms of Emotional Style (upbeat, worried, angry, etc.), Social Style (arrogance, personable, etc.), and Thinking Style (analytical, sensory, in-the-moment)

The website is the brainchild of Professor James W. Pennebaker, a cognitive psychologist, who is an expert in psychological trauma research. The underlying engine uses text mining -- it counts words of various types (such as "angry" words), and uses the counts to get a picture of the writer. To learn more, see Pennebaker's new book.

My guess is that the results are culturally-dependent in the sense that they reflect North American language use. However, it might just give an interesting glimpse into Bhutanese tweeters' personalities as well!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coffee Strengthens Family Ties

"A 56-year-old farmer, Phutsho Wangdi, is all smiles after he planted his first siblings".
-- Bhutan Today, "Its [sic] coffee time now", 17/9/2011 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tracking Stolen Laptop (K2 #23)

Question of the Week

My brand new HP Pavilion laptop was recently stolen from my room in the college. How can I track it down?
-- Kamal Gazmer, Sherubtse College

Dear Kamal,

Sorry to hear about your stolen laptop. If it's any consolation, you're not alone. Hundreds of thousands of laptops are stolen each year, mainly from airports and educations institutes, as in your case. Now, how to recover that laptop? The hard truth is that most stolen laptops are never returned to their rightful owner, so prevention is often better than cure. That being said, tracking down your laptop is sometimes possible if it runs a device tracking software, which is software that can help track down your laptop by reporting its location and other relevant information. Most new laptops do not come pre-installed with this type of software, so one needs to install the software, and the sooner the better.

There are many tracking software options, but most of them are not free. Among the free options, I recommend installing Prey ( After installation, you create an online account and register your computer. If your computer is stolen or lost, log on to your account as soon as possible (you'll obviously need to log in from another computer), and mark your laptop as missing.

Here's what happens next. The Prey software waits until your laptop connects to the Internet, and then starts sending reports directly to your email address. These reports will include information that can be useful in tracking down your computer, such as the geographical location of your laptop, the names of the nearest Wi-Fi networks, screenshots which might give a clue as to the person currently using the laptop (especially if he or she are chatting on Facebook!), and even a photo of the thief if your laptop has a webcam - as many laptops do these days. Examining these reports can sometimes help locate the culprit - and the laptop.

Many people discover that the main heartache caused by a stolen laptop is actually not the hardware, but the information that was stored on it: family photos, important documents, confidential information, etc. So while it might be a good idea to install Prey, there is no guarantee that it will help retrieve your precious toy. Thus, make it harder for the thief to access the laptop files by protecting your Windows login account with a password. And, at the risk of repeating myself in this column - make sure your important information is backed up, preferably online.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BBS TV offers live streaming

On your desktop: BBS TV Live 
About three and a half years ago, BBS Radio went online and started streaming its programmes on the Internet. And now, BBS TV has introduced live streaming on its website. This is a great service for NRBs (Non-Resident Bhutanese) who would like to watch Bhutan's only television channel. It will also allow anyone to follow the upcoming Royal Wedding celebrations. To access, go to the BBS home page and click on the "Watch BBS TV" logo on the left sidebar. You will need a broadband connection.
I've tried watching BBS TV using the Internet and it worked great. The video was relatively smooth - a few glitches here and there, but nothing annoying - and the audio quality was adequate. As more and more users connect to the BBS TV live stream, the load on the BBS server - as well as on the Internet link - will increase. Is there enough capacity to handle the demand, especially during the Royal Wedding celebrations? We'll soon find out.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Can Bhutan become a "Better Place"?

Currently in Thimphu: The REVA
With the availability of cheap electricity and an emphasis on environmental conservation, electric vehicles (EVs) are a natural fit for Bhutan. EVs reduce the dependency on foreign oil and enable zero-emission driving. However, there are many challenges with EVs, such as speed, battery recharge time, driving ranges, and more. Traditional EVs cannot compete with conventional combustion-engine vehicles when it comes to speed, driving ranges, and passenger capacity. For example, the REVA electric car that you see around Thimphu can run only 80 km before a recharge, a normal charge takes 8 hours, and its maximum speed is 80 km/h.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Online course: "Forecasting" (opens this Friday)

I'll be instructing an online course on Forecasting, starting Sept 9. Course participants will learn how to build statistical models for forecasting time series, how to evaluate predictive performance, and more.

The course is very practical and hands-on. We use real data and discuss practical issues. It is intended for those with basic statistics knowledge (such as regression models).

This is also a great opportunity to interact with professionals worldwide (through a discussion board) and to take advantage of online learning for expanding your knowledge. The course is completely asynchronous -- not need to be online at a certain time.

Feel free to email me for more information and for the special terms for Drukpas.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Transferring Files (K2 #22)

What is the simplest way to transfer files between computers?
-- Karma

Dear Karma,
The simplest and quickest way to transfer files is using pen drives. However, this is also the most dangerous method! Many people in Bhutan carry files - such as songs, photos, documents, etc - on pen drives (also known as USB sticks or thumb drives). Pen drives loaded with songs now appear to be a mandatory taxi accessory (alongside solar-powered prayer wheels).

While it is tempting to transfer files between computers using pen drives, you will likely transfer unwanted passengers in the process: Most pen drives in Bhutan, after their first usage, are infected with harmful computer viruses. These viruses are designed to attack your computer once the pen drive is plugged in. If you have a good and up-to-date anti-virus software, it might help, but there's always a chance that the virus will not be detected by the anti-virus program. Using pen drives is like kissing a person with a cold, in that viruses transfer from one infected computer to another.

Here are safer ways to share files, without using pen drives. All of these methods require a broadband connection - which might be a challenge in some cases - but the extra effort is worth it. As an added benefit, your files will be backed up online. Note that songs, photos and PDF files are always safe to share, while other file types might carry a virus.

Email: Probably the most straightforward way is to send the file(s) as attachments to your friend using web-based email (Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, or Hotmail). If you are transferring files between your two computers, send the email to yourself. Note that there's usually a limit to the attachment size (Gmail, for example, caps the files at 25MB). The email - with the attached file(s) - will be kept on the sender’s "Sent" folder.

YouSendIt: If your files are larger than 25MB, YouSendIt (, which allows uploading and sharing larger files (up to 50MB), is very easy to use.

Photos sharing websites: There are many sites which allow you to upload and share photos and videos for free. Two of the most popular are Flickr and Picasa. Flickr ( allows you to upload 300MB worth of photos per month. Picasa ( has a 1GB storage space for photos, and makes it easy to control what you share and with whom. Of course, you can always upload your photos to Facebook.

Google Docs: A fantastic web-based application ( which allows you to upload and share files and documents. 1GB of free storage.

Skydrive: Microsoft answer's to Google Docs offers a generous 25GB - that's around 10,000 songs - for document storage and file sharing. Upload your files and share them with friends (

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do you run a hotel or restaurant in Bhutan? Take TripAdvisor seriously

"World's most trusted travel advice" is the most popular travel website in the world. Customers post reviews and opinions of hotels and restaurants for everyone to see. Crores of users (more than 65,000,000 a month) visit TripAdvisor and its sister websites, such as India's, to check hotel and restaurant reviews. Many tourists will ask their tour operator to book a hotel that was recommended on TripAdvisor, or to have dinner at a restaurant that was mentioned on the site. And many locals check TripAdvisor as well, especially before choosing a dining venue.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

eGov by SMS

Thus far, it seems that official announcements to the public have been mainly through the newspapers, BBS and radio. Not any more! Yesterday, I received an SMS from "T.Thromde" on my B-Mobile. The message reads (I quote exactly as it shows on my phone):
ThimphuThromde invites land owners of respective LAP to for public consultation meeting, Babesa 28Aug@RIMhall 10AM, Semthokha 4Sept@ Lungtenphu 11Sept@YHShall 10AM
Using SMS for reaching Thimphu residents is a great example of "eGov by mobile". Especially here, where not everyone has access to the Internet, and definitely not on the weekend, an SMS is likely to reach a large portion of the population.

SMS is of course just the tip of the "eGov by mobile" iceberg, but at this point it is the most effective given the majority of simple, "not-so-smartphone" in the country. In the future, when smartphones become more popular, there's scope for various eGov-services-by-mobile, similar to those in other countries.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sabzi bazaar surprise

Serendipity often strikes at the sabzi bazaar. This weekend we were thrilled to discover a vendor on the upper floor selling smooth, fresh, home-made tofu, directly out of a Nerolac bucket. Tofu has been available for purchase for quite some time in Thimphu (Sharyang's at Changlam Plaza is a reliable source), but this is the first time we spotted it at the vegetable market. The same vendor also sells the most delicious heirloom tomatoes and other hard-to-find items such as saag and fresh dill

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Always there for you" - is it?

Until recently, Bhutan Telecom's downtown One Stop Shop provided service in a location convenient to many businesses during convenient hours (noon to early evening daily except Tues). From our experience, it seemed to always be full of customers, taking advantage of the convenience rather than going to the main BT office in Chubachu.

Unfortunately, the convenience is over: the new One Stop Shop has not only relocated to a more remote location (in the parking lot of the 
Centennial Farmers Market), but has also limited opening hours to Thurs-Sun 9-5. To comfort us, a large sign reads: "Always There for You".

Why the change? We've heard different speculations. High rent? Inconvenient hours for BT employees? Insufficient parking? Please cast your vote in ThimphTech's new poll -- if there is strong support for the "old" shop, maybe BT will reconsider...

New survey coming up

A couple of months ago, we asked whether you're happy with DrukNet's broadband service. Here are the final results: Only 25% of the respondents are happy. 75% of the respondents said they are not happy with the broadband service. A total of 62 people responded. And now, kindly answer our new survey...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Goodbye, Exo

I recently noticed that Exo, a popular dish-washing soap from India, is being marketed as "Anti-bacterial". In the old days - say, 10 years ago - the purpose of soap was to remove greasy dirt, not to disinfect. That was left for hospital operating rooms. However, riding on a global wave of germophobia, more and more manufacturers are adding anti-bacterial chemicals to household products, from toothpastes to dish-washing liquids. Researchers found out that it doesn't increase the effectiveness of the soap. However, it helps to sell more! The most popular chemical used for that purpose in the U.S. is Triclosan, which is raising many health and environmental safety concerns, some of them quite serious.

Back to the Indian subcontinent: The Exo soap claims to use an additive called Cyclozan. Thanks to our good friend Google, I found out that Triclosan and Cyclozan are one and the same. Given the long list of health and other concerns associated with this chemical, I think it would be wise to look for a different dishwashing soap.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bhutan is the Most Peaceful Country in South Asia

Rank Country Score
34 Bhutan 1.693
126Sri Lanka2.407
133 Myanmar 2.538
135 India 2.570
146 Pakistan 2.905
150 Afghanistan 3.212
2011 GPI rankings, South Asia
Much like "happiness", the concept of "national peace" is difficult to measure. The Institute for Economics and Peace created an index for measuring just that: The Global Peace Index (GPI) uses a weighted average of 23 quantitative and qualitative indicators, measuring both "Internal peace" (for example, the level of violent crime) and "External Peace"  (for example, relations with neighbouring countries).

According to the recently published survey of 2011, the three island countries of Iceland, New Zealand and Japan top the list of the most peaceful countries in the world. The survey places Bhutan at the respectable 34th place, advancing 2 places compared to 2010. Bhutan's rank is way above that of other South Asian countries (see table). Note that the Maldives are not surveyed. The full report can be downloaded here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Will Amazon India ship to Bhutan?

Amazon Hyderabad
Amazon is the leader of online retail: About 1 in 5 Internet users has visited an Amazon website in June 2011. It currently runs its retail operations in seven countries: The U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Japan, the U.K. and China. Amazon also has presence in India, but it is currently limited to research and development (see photo).

But now Amazon is eyeing India as a retail market. A huge warehouse is being set up in Mumbai, and people are being hired in Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Challenges are plenty, from unreliable post (Amazon will probably have to rely on courier services) to payment issues (cash-on-delivery will be available, as credit cards are not an option for many Indians).

Will Bhutanese be able to order directly from Prepaid Indian debit cards are already available with banks in Bhutan. However, we're such a tiny market, that I will be (pleasantly!) surprised if shipping to Bhutan is on Amazon's radar. For the time being, we'll just have to sit on our hands and wait.

(Note: ships media items, such as books, CDs and DVDs, to Bhutan. See here.)

Google Plus, and more (K2 #21)

Questions of the Week
What is Google Plus?
-- R. Chhetri

Dear R.,
We are all familiar with Facebook, the social network service, and arguably the most popular website in Bhutan. Facebook currently has more than 750 million users, with around 60,000 of them in Bhutan. Chatting on Facebook has become a popular pastime here. It's so popular, in fact, that many organizations block it during office hours! Google, which many of us use for searching the internet as well as for email (Gmail), has been trying to compete with Facebook.

Launched about two months ago, Google Plus (, also known as Google+, is a new social network run by Google. In many ways it is similar to Facebook: You can update your status, share photos with friends, see updates from your friends, recommend items, etc. But there are also differences. One of the most important features in Google+ is "Circles", which allows you to organize the people you know into different groups. For example, you can put your relatives in one circle, your colleagues in another, etc. When you share something, you can decide which circle to share it with. After all, there might be some photos which you'd like to share with your charos, but prefer your uncles not see (and vice versa!). Google+ also has a terrific mobile app for the iPhone and Android phones.

How to register to Google+? You can currently join Google+ only by invitation from a member. If you're interested, ask someone who's already on Google+, or drop me an email.

How can I convert a .MOV video file to a .WMV file?
-- Rinzin Phelgay

Dear Rinzin,
MOV and WMV are two different video file formats. MOV is the standard Apple format known as QuickTime, and WMV ("Windows Media Video") is a popular Microsoft Windows format. To play a MOV file, you need a QuickTime player, which is standard on Apple computers, but is also available for Windows. ( If you need to convert between the two, try Super C, a free program which you can download from Check out for more information on using Super C for video file conversion.

It takes more than 6 minutes for my Acer Aspire laptop to boot. How can I fix this problem?
-- Sonam Dorji

Dear Sonam,
Many things can cause a slow boot, including a hardware malfunction, a device driver issue, or even a virus. Sometimes the computer is just not fast enough to handle the many programs that are part of the start-up process. Diagnosing slow reboots is not a simple task, but you might give Soluto ( a try. Soluto is a free utility that is designed to diagnose and speed up sluggish Windows systems.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Broadband for education

The impact of the Internet on education is profound. One of the biggest promises is distance learning. Here's a recent example: Stanford University, consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the world, will be offering an online course, "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence", for free, worldwide . The course will be conducted by two global experts on Artificial Intelligence. More than 70,000 people have already enrolled. Click here to read more about this unique online course and see how it will work. Most of the course content will be video based, and thus a high speed internet connection is recommended. Click here for more courses available for free from Stanford Engineering Everywhere.

This is just one incredible example of the learning opportunities created by the Web. For small, isolated countries with limited educational resources like Bhutan, distance learning holds an incredible promise. If not for any other reason, the government of Bhutan should make fast, cheap and reliable broadband, including 3G for remote areas, a top priority.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tweeting twitter (K2 #20)

Question of the Week
What is Twitter? How do I connect to it?
-- C.P., RCSC

Dear C.P.,

Twitter Terminology
Twitter users have created a language of their own. Here is a quick guide to the jargon:
  • Follower: A user who follows another user 
  • Follow Count: The number of users you follow and the number of users following you. Both are available on your profile page 
  • Mention: Mentioning a user in a tweet by preceding their username with the @ sign. For example, @ThimphuTech 
  • Hashtag: A keyword preceded by # which is used to tag the topic of the tweet. For example, #bhutan 
  • Retweet (RT): A forwarded tweet 
  • Retweeting: Forwarding a tweet 
Who to follow
More and more individuals and organizations in Bhutan are using Twitter. Most newspapers have an account. Here is a selection of other tweeters. Just enter the user name in the Twitter search bar.
  • @RoyalBhutan: Official updates from the Royal Office for Media 
  • @BBSBhutan: Breaking news, as well as updates on upcoming BBS programmes 
  • @Drukair: Follow the national carrier for schedule changes, delays and more 
  • @tsheringtobgay and @sangaykhandu are MPs with an active twitter presence 
  • @dorjiwangchuk and @SonamOngmo, arguably the two most prolific Bhutanese tweeters, updating (respectively) from the UK and US 
There are millions of other users to follow. Here are just two:
  • @DalaiLama: Nuggets of wisdom from the office of His Holiness, who has more than 2 million "followers" 
  • @ManUtdUK: Follow Drukpas' favourite football club is a very popular website where users can create a free profile page, and then post messages to that page for the world to see. While this sounds a lot like blogging or Facebook, there are some sutle differences. First, the messages - called "tweets" - must be short: each message can be no longer than 140 symbols (such as letters, digits, spaces). Thus, if you are of the chatty type, this is a good exercise in condensation!

Second, users can subscribe to, or "follow", the tweets of other users. The most recent tweets of people or organizations you follow appear on your main Twitter page. Depending on the users you follow, this allows you to get breaking news, find interesting links, hear opinions, or learn what your friend had for breakfast.

Lastly, if you are a B-Mobile subscriber, you can register your phone with Twitter ( Once verified, you can tweet by sending an SMS to 40404 (Nu 0.45 per SMS). In addition, you can receive an SMS whenever a user you follow tweets, completely free of charge (to turn on this option, follow a user and then look for a small mobile-phone-like icon on the user's profile page). Be careful - this can quickly become overwhelming! Note: TashiCell customers are currently out of luck, but if enough people nag them, perhaps they will provide a similar service.

The best way to learn about Twitter is to try it out. Many people open accounts just to follow news and other updates from various sources, even if they don't have anything to share with the world. To register, visit

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Chronicles of Love and Death": From to Bhutan

I recently got the following question for my K2 column. Since it is not really technical in nature, but still can be quite relevant to many people, I'm publishing it here.
Hi Boaz,  
I have been reading your blog for sometime and I find it very interesting every time I get to go through. I have a question to ask you here:
I want a copy of this book very much "Chronicles of Love & Death: My Years with the Lost Spiritual King of Bhutan". I searched whole of New Delhi and Kathmandu, but couldn't find one. Lastly when I checked Amazon I found it is available there. So I was telling a friend of mine who lives in Canada to send a copy for me. He wonders if his VISA card be used to purchase the book? More so I am still not clear about gift Card. He is telling me that he will give me a gift card of $30. Can I buy the book (cost $25) from Amazon using his gift card? And here is my query again, even if I could buy using the card from Amazon, how can the delivery happen to me in Bhutan? Is it to my mailing address?
Please let me know...
Thanks for following our blog T.G.! And now, to answer your question: will ship media (books, CDs, DVDs etc) internationally to Bhutan. Just put your mailing address, and the book will - with high probability - be delivered. Here are the shipping rates for Asia. As can be seen, the standard shipping costs for books are currently US$4.99 per shipment, plus US$4.99 per item. If you're shipping a single book, the shipping cost will thus be US$9.98. Together with the book (currently $21.50), the total would be $31.48. Now we come to the payment issue. Indeed, you friend can pay by a credit card and have the book shipped over here. Or s/he can send you a gift certificate (an electronic one would do) for the total amount.

But here's another option: get the e-book! I've noticed that a Kindle version of the book is available, and the cost is only US$9.99. Now here are three important pieces of information:
  • First, you don't need a Kindle device to read the book. You can download a Kindle application for your PC, Mac, iPhone, etc., and use it to read the Kindle book.
  • Second, you can download a sample of the book for free to your Kindle application. This is a good way to see if you find the book interesting before buying it. On the book page, look for this button .
  • Third, your friend in Canada can buy you the e-book as a gift. This is probably the simplest and quickest method to get hold of the book. Look for this button .
For more information, take a look at the Reading Lolita in Thimphu post. It has relevant information as well as some good comments.

One kg of ema and 2 recharge vouchers, please

According to a Kuensel ad, Bhutan Telecom's one-stop-shop, which was centrally located in Thimphu's Hong Kong market, is now closed.

The plan is to shift the one-stop-shop it to the sabzi bazaar area. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, it's back to the main Bhutan Telecom offices at Chubachu.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Opportunity to experiment

Kuensel's website has been down for a couple of days now... There are various interesting questions to ask about newspapers' online presence. One that is of special importance in Bhutan is the relation to print sales. After all, circulation seems to be the magic word for newspapers, in terms of ad revenues.

To look at the full half of the phop, this website blackout is an opportunity for Kuensel as well as for its competing newspapers to explore the effect of the online newspaper's availability on sales of print copies. This is what we statisticians call a "natural experiment".

Here are questions that I'd explore if I were Kuensel:

  • How are sales of Kuensel's print version affected on the days when the website is down? (look at the numbers, but also take into account factors like day-of-week and past sales)
  • How are sales affected after the website comes back up?
  • How sensitive are my online readers to such blackouts? (a survey and forum would give some ideas)
As a competing newspaper, I'd ask the following:
  • How are the sales of my print newspaper affected on days when is down? (maybe people who go rushing for a Kuensel copy already buy other papers at the same time)
  • How is traffic to my own website affected on days when is down?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blogging Business (K2 #19)

Question of the Week
I heard from a friend that when you maintain a blog, and lots of people visit your blog, you get paid. If this is the case, who pays you? He also told me that the larger the number of people visiting my blog the more money I get. How does this work?
- Pem Tshering, DHI

Dear Pem,

Your friend is right. You can earn some tiru by placing online advertisements on your blog. When readers visit your website to read your posts, a few of them might click on an online ad. For every ad click, an advertiser will pay you a few ngultrums. This is called pay-per-click. The more visitors you have, the more ad clicks. The more clicks, the more money...

I will shortly explain how to place these ads. But first, one piece of advice: Don't turn in your resignation letter just yet! Indeed, the idea of making a living as a blogger may seem attractive: you wake up in the morning, update your blog while sipping some suja, and then enjoy the rest of the leisurely day as thousands of ngultrums keep pouring into your bank account. The harsh reality, however, is that very few people can actually make a living by blogging. Why? First, most blogs see very few visitors. Second, only a small percentage of the visitors will actually click on ads. And lastly, each click will usually earn only a few ngultrums.

That being said, if you run a popular blog, you might want to give it a shot. Who knows - it might pay pay for a plate of momos every now and then. I recommend hosting your blog for free on, the most popular blogging platform in Bhutan. After signing into your blog, click "Monetize" in the blog's settings, and just follow the instructions. As part of of the setup, you will be asked to sign up for AdSense, a Google service that automatically displays various ads on your blog. When a visitor clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays Google, from which Google will give you a cut (that's basically how Google makes its fortune!). Once your total earnings reach $100, Google will send you a cheque (make sure your bank accepts US cheques).

Some people try to cheat by repeatedly clicking on ads on their own website, or asking their friends to do that for them. This is called click fraud. In addition to being in violation of Google's policy and causing bad karma, this practice will most likely be detected by Google, and your account will be blocked forever.

Last but not least: It's easy to get distracted by all this ad business, but it's usually not worth it. Save your energy and focus on writing great blog posts that your readers will enjoy. That's the real reward!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Your money or your card!

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a representative of Druk PNB. Apparently, I forgot my ATM card at the machine (again!), and a dear soul found it and returned it to the branch. So first, thanks to the anonymous and honest finder, and thanks to PNB for giving me a call.

Now here is where it gets even better. When I went to pick up my card from the ATM section, I spoke with the person in charge, and suggested a small improvement to prevent such customer forgetfulness in the future: Usually, the ATM machine spits out the cash first and the card later. After taking the money, some absent-minded people (like myself) just leave, with the card still deep inside the machine. But if you reverse the order - spit out the card first, and only dispense the money once the card is taken - the problem is solved.

Lo and behold: PNB took my suggestion seriously. I recently withdrew some cash from the machine. After confirming the amount, the card was ejected, and the machine started beeping and flashing until I grabbed my card. Only then did it dispense the cash.

Hopefully I will now remember to wait for the cash...

Do you know Tashi Kelson Tobgay?

Madrid: A different kind of Prado
If so, please give him a call to let him know that his account has been hacked. I just got the following phishing mail from Tobgay's account.

Subject: Emergency Please!!!From: Tashi Kelson
Hope you get this on time, sorry I didn't inform you about my trip in Spain for a Program, I'm presently in Madrid and am having some difficulties here because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept. presently i have limited access to internet, I will like you to assist me with a loan of (1500 EURO) to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home.
I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively, I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with, I'll Refund the money back to you as soon as I return, let me know if you can be of any help. I don't have a phone where I can be reached. Please let me know immediately.
Best Regards

This is (yet again) a reminder to all: Choose a strong password, or your account will be eventually hacked.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A cream-free country?

In case you haven't noticed, a serious crisis is looming in Bhutan: The country has run out of milk cream. It is virtually impossible to find Amul Fresh Cream - Bhutan's main source of milk cream - in the last few weeks. All Thimphu shops are out of stock on this item, and there are reports of similar shortages in other dzongkhags. The situation is so dire, in fact, that bakeries and hotels are removing items from their menus. The fabulous Big Bakery at Kawajangsa, for example, is no longer selling their heavenly summertime panna cota (we were lucky to have tasted it just before the crisis started).

A few questions that have been troubling me recently:
  1. What is the cause of this shortage? I've asked a few people around town, but nobody seems to know. 
  2. Does it make sense for Amul's "Fresh Cream", a product that sits on the shelf for months, to be called "Fresh Cream"?
  3. Is there any business opportunity for a local creamery in Bhutan?
  4. Most importantly: Is it possible to prepare panna cota without cream?
Please let me know if you happen to have any answers.

Until the shops start re-stocking the item, we can always sing along with the commercial:
Ek do teen, Amul Fresh Cream!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Business Opportunities Corner: Expanding the definition of "momo"

Tired of the usual cheese and beef momos? If you're lucky, you might get hold of the excellent Haapi hoentoe (Haa momos). But what about other fillings? In my last trip to Hyderabad, India, I discovered that Indians have taken the momo concept one step further. After a day of hesitation, I approached the momo stand, took a deep breath and ordered paneer momos and... chocolate momos! Although the thought is shocking, the momos were very tasty. The menu description was quite poetic and contained plenty of repeated letters:
Sinfully rich dark chocolate and cashew crumble swirled into one luscious warrmmm mooooolten mouthfullll - It's to die for!!
 Is this the next business idea for Bhutanese entrepreneurs?

"It's to die for!!"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Searching for Information (K2 #18)

Question of the Week
I was searching for the 2010 cordyceps auction results on the MoAF website but to no avail. I know it's there. Why can't I find it?
-- P. Y., Bhumthang

Dear P.Y.,
Finding information is sometimes harder than finding cordyceps... I went in search of your lost page and eventually found it ( How did I find it? I first tried navigating the website (, but that was too complicated. I then searched for cordyceps auction 2010 using the site's own search function, but I got back a "No posts found" message. The websites of the various government agencies host plenty of useful and interesting content, but the information often resides in PDF, Excel and Word files. Unfortunately, the website's own search function does not search these files. My solution is to resort to a good old friend: Google. When you search using Google (, it searches for your keywords also within files. If you’d like to restrict your search to a particular website, say, MoAF, you can use the special keyword "site". You do this by adding to your search query. I entered cordyceps auction 2010 in the Google search bar and found the PDF file that contained the auction results. You can of course replace with any other website. You can also try replacing with to search in all of Bhutan's government websites, or even site:bt to search all websites ending in .bt.

Tip of the Week
Have you ever received emails from friends who lost their wallet while travelling in Bangkok or London (or some other exotic destination), and are pleading to send them money by wire transfer? Before you run to the bank, give your friend a call, and you'll most likely discover that s/he's still here in Bhutan. Here's what happened: A hacker broke into your friend's account and sent the fraud email to the entire contact list, hoping to get rich by all these wire transfers.
To prevent someone from hacking into your own account, the single most important defence is selecting a password which will be hard for the hacker to guess. There are a few ways to choose passwords that are both strong and easy to remember. Here is one:
  • Choose a name or phrase that is least 8 characters long. You can choose a village name, your favourite football team, or any other phrase that will be easy for you to remember.
  • Now take the phrase and substitute some of the letters with symbols. It makes sense to substitute "i" with "!", "s" with "quot;, the letter "o" with the digit "0" etc. 
That's it! Here an example: If I start with the phrase, after substitution it will become th!mphutech.c0m, which will be my password. This password is virtually impossible to break (unless I foolishly publish it in a national newspaper...)