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.
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
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 (www.preyproject.com). After installation, you create an online account and register your computer. If your computer is stolen or lost, log on to your www.preyproject.com 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 email@example.com
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.
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.
I'll be instructing an online course onForecasting, 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.
What is the simplest way to transfer files between computers? -- 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 (yousendit.com), 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 (flickr.com) allows you to upload 300MB worth of photos per month. Picasa (picasaweb.google.com) 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 (docs.google.com) 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 (skydrive.live.com) Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org