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