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, June 30, 2012

Watching Videos Online (K2 #40)

Question of the Week
I am trying to watch a video on YouTube but it keeps starting and stopping. What am I doing wrong?
-- Ms. S. T., Samste

Dear Ms. S. T.,

You’re not doing anything wrong! For videos to play smoothly, an effective download speed of at least 500 Kbps (kilo-bits-per-second) is usually required. Most Internet users in Bhutan do not have access to an Internet connection that can sustain that speed, whether at the office, at home, or when using their Internet-enabled mobile phone. Even with the most expensive “Enterprise” broadband package, which claims a theoretical maximum download speed of 1.5 Mbps (mega-bits-per-second) -- three times the recommended minimum for YouTube -- the playback of videos is often choppy.

There are a few things you can do to improve the playback experience. Once the video starts playing, pause it by clicking on the play/pause button. You will see that the gray bar keeps progressing, which means that your computer keeps loading - or buffering - the video. Once the gray bar reaches the end, the video is completely loaded. Depending on your Internet speed and the video size, that can take anywhere from a few seconds to several grueling hours. After the video is loaded, just click the play button again for a smooth playback.

To speed up the buffering, you can often choose a lower video quality. Here’s how you do that: Click on the gear icon at the bottom right area of the video (it will display “Change quality” when you move the little cursor over the gear), and select the lowest quality available (usually “240p”). You can do that before (or immediately after) pausing the video.

Another option is to save the video to your computer, which you can later play offline at your own leisure. YouTube does not allow downloading videos, but smart people created a program that does just that! It’s called YouTube Downloader (also known as “YTD”). You can download the free version of YTD from Be careful! When you install the program, first click Next to accept the license agreement, but then click Decline to avoid the installation of an annoying “YTD toolbar” that comes with the program. (If you happened to install the toolbar, you can always remove it later using Windows’ Control Panel).

Once YTD is running, copy the web address (URL) of the desired YouTube video from your browser’s address bar, paste it into YTD, select your preferred download quality, click DOWNLOAD, and the program will start downloading the video to your hard disk, which you can then play later. Problem solved!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bhutan Post's way of fighting spam

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"I see you" (K2 #39)

Question of the Week
When chatting with my Facebook friends, I’ve recently noticed the word “Seen” and a small checkmark next to the message I sent. What does it mean?
-- “Tee Dee Wee”

Dear “Tee Dee Wee”,

This is indeed a new Facebook feature, which I also only recently discovered. After you send a message to your friend, Facebook tries to guess if your friend saw the message and let you know by displaying “Seen”. But how can Facebook know whether your friend saw the message? I ran a small experiment, and here’s what I found: If your friend has been active on the computer (moving the mouse, using the keyboard) and the Facebook chat window is visible on his/her screen, then Facebook infers that the message was likely seen by your friend. In that case, Facebook will display the “Seen” label in your chat box, along with a timestamp. This, of course, works both ways (you are “Seen” by your friend), which means that it is harder for you to ignore your Facebook friend by pretending you never saw his/her message!

Some might find that this new feature invades their privacy, since they don’t want others to know when they are in front of the computer. The bad news is that there is currently no way to disable this “Seen” feature. Facebook users should not be surprised! It is not the first time (and probably not the last) that Facebook adds or changes features that affect users’ privacy without letting them know.

Social Websites to Explore
While Facebook and Twitter currently dominate social networking in Bhutan, here are a few other services worth checking out.
  • LinkedIn ( The largest professional social networking site, where people connect with colleagues, upload their resume, search for jobs, interact in professional discussion, etc. There are now quite a few Bhutanese users on LinkedIn.
  • Google+ ( With more than 170,000,000 users, Google’s social network is still lagging behind Facebook, but some find it easier to use and with better privacy management.
  • Pinterest ( is a fast-growing photo-sharing social networking site, where users manage collections of images based on their interests.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Friday, June 8, 2012

LinkedIn users: hacker havoc

LinkedIn just announced:

"Yesterday we learned that approximately 6.5 million hashed LinkedIn passwords were posted on a hacker site. Most of the passwords on the list appear to remain hashed and hard to decode, but unfortunately a small subset of the hashed passwords was decoded and published."

What to do? here are their four suggestions:

  1. Make sure you update your password on LinkedIn (and any site that you visit on the Web) at least once every few months.
  2. Do not use the same password for multiple sites or accounts.
  3. Create a strong password for your account, one that includes letters, numbers, and other characters.
  4. Watch out for phishing emails and spam emails requesting personal or sensitive information.
The immediate action is to change your LinkedIn password (and use a strong password). 
Because many users do use the same password for multiple sites/accounts, tip #2 is not really a solution but rather a "future suggestion". So, if your LinkedIn password is used in other important accounts, it is a good idea to immediately change those passwords too!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

MoLHR website down

This morning I discovered that is down. Although frustrating for users of eGov services, these things happen, and a quick fix would be expected.

The catch is that a fix won't happen unless the website admin is aware that there is a problem. There are various services that provide alerts and notifications when your website is down. Some will even notify you by a tweet or SMS (for example, the free DingItsUp service, although SMS is unavailable in Bhutan).

We alerted the IT dept at MOLHR, so hopefully the website will be up and running soon.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Secure Surfing (K2 #38)

Question of the Week 
My father has a DrukNet email account. Whenever he signs to read his email (, Firefox displays a warning message stating that the site cannot be trusted. Please help.
-- Barun Kumar


First, a short introduction to secure Internet surfing!

When you surf the Internet, your browser uses a communications protocol to connect to the web server. The most common protocol is HTTP. To connect to a web page using HTTP, you type http:// at the start of the web address. For example, to connect to the RMA’s website, you type With most browsers today, you don’t need to type the http:// part - it is prepended automatically.

The problem with HTTP is that it is not secure. Information sent between your computer and the server is not encrypted. Hackers can eavesdrop on the connection and see exactly what you are doing. This is a concern especially when you surf wirelessly at Internet cafes. Of course, if you just surf RMA’s website to get the latest rupee crunch circulars then this is not too troubling. But imagine that you log into your email, or your bank account... And it can get worse: HTTP cannot guarantee that you are indeed connected to the server you wanted.

That is where another protocol - HTTP Secure, or HTTPS - comes into play. HTTPS solves the above two issues. First, it encrypts the information, so that bad guys who eavesdrop on your connection cannot understand what is sent and received. Second, HTTPS can verify the identity of the server you are connected to using a certificate that is bought from a third-party certificate authority.
Back to our question. Indeed, when going to , the Firefox browser shouts “This Connection is Untrusted”. Other browsers display similar warnings. Firefox cannot verify that you are indeed connected to DrukNet’s server. Why? Most likely DrukNet did not buy a certificate from a certificate authority, but rather created its own (something that anyone can do). Unfortunately your father doesn’t have a choice - if he wants to read his DrukNet email, he’ll have to take the chance and proceed by clicking the “I Understand the Risks” button.


To use HTTPS, you need to type https:// before the web address. For example, to connect to Facebook using a secure connection, use In fact, you can ask Facebook to always use HTTPS by turning on the “Secure browsing” option; After logging into Facebook, go to Account Settings, then Security, then under Secure browsing click Edit and make sure that the “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) when possible” is checked.

When you are using HTTPS, the browser will usually let you know. For example, Google Chrome will display a small green padlock just next to the web address. Click on the padlock for more information.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to