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, February 26, 2011

Accelerating photo uploads (K2 #9)

Question of the Week
When I'm trying to upload a photo to Facebook, it takes a very long time. Sometimes it fails completely. What am I doing wrong?
-- Pema T., Thimphu

A good way to check the limits of one's patience is to try and upload a large file over the web! Let's see what we can do about uploading photos, other than sitting in the lotus position in front of the computer screen and chanting "shanti shanti" while waiting for the upload to complete.

The photos produced by today's digital cameras are huge. Each photo is made out of thousands and thousands of little dots, called pixels, arranged in a rectangular grid. A digital photo taken by a typical point-and-shoot digital camera can easily contain 3072 pixels by 2304 pixels, for a total of more than 7 million pixels. Such a photo can typically use 2MB or even 3MB of storage, which can easily take more than 5 minutes to upload if you're using a basic broadband package, or even longer if you are using a slow Internet connection.

Here are two things you can do to make uploading faster - other than the obvious solution of using a faster connection. First, most digital cameras will allow you to decrease the total number of pixels used by each photo. The total number of pixels is called the resolution, and by reducing it, you will decrease the photo file size, which will dramatically shorten the upload time. For example, a resolution of 1600 pixels by 1200 will produce photos which are perfectly adequate for postcard-sized prints, and photos will upload in a minute or two. To change the camera's resolution, check the user's manual, or play around with the on-screen menu (look for options called "resolution", "quality", "pixels", etc).

Secondly, and that's what I usually do, you can reduce the size of the photo using a photo editor. You can use the photo editor often included with Microsoft Office (called Microsoft Photo Editor or Office Picture Manager, depending on the Office version). If this piece of Office is missing from your desktop, you can download Picasa, a free and excellent photo editor, which is also great for arranging photos, at

After opening the photo using the Microsoft Office tool (right-click on the photo, then select "Open with", and select the Microsoft tool), select Image (or Picture) and then Resize. Choose one of the options from the Predefined drop-down menu on the right bar (800 x 600 is a good choice for Facebook) and click OK. The image will be resized, and you can now use "Save as" to save a copy of the resized image, which you can then upload in seconds to Facebook. To resize using the free Picasa software, follow the directions at

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