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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bhutan trending on India's Twittersphere

When the power grid collapsed yesterday across Northern India, Bhutan's hydroelectricity was used to run the Delhi Metro.  The fact that the small neighbor from the North was saving the giant Elephant did not escape the eyes of many witty Indian tweeters, and so "Bhutan" is currently trending in top 10 keywords - perhaps the first time in Twitter's history.

Here are some of the pearls of wisdom currently found on Twitter regarding the two countries:
  • Bhutan: The inverter of India. (@sidin)
  • India's Current friend is Bhutan. (@ImSandeshJain)
  • PMO got power from Bhutan. The rest of India blows a fuse (@etteth)
  • BREAKING NEWS: India to borrow power from Bhutan, manpower from China and create a whole new country. (@lindsaypereira)
  • India to buy Electricity from Bhutan, offers to give Arnab Goswami in return... (@iNeelSoni)
  • "You give us power, we'll buy all your Druk jams & sauces." - India to Bhutan. (@suhel)
  • So finally its proved that Bhutan is more powerfull than India !!! ‏(@DhoopAshwini)
  • India is too reliant on external sources for Power, Bhutan provides Power to our Trains, Italy provides Power to our PM. (@BwoyBlunder)
  • Bangladeshi immigrants have threatened to immigrate to Bhutan if power cuts continue in India.#PowerGrid (@santa_banta)
  • #Bhutan trending on @Twitter after power failure in India. India's loss Bhutan's gain :) (@dkawasthi)
  • India's power centre in no longer Delhi, its BHUTAN. New Parliment is going to be shifted to Bhutan.. (@depakand)
To find other funny (and not so funny) stuff, search here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Business Opportunities Corner: "Air of Bhutan"

US$9 for air
Can you make money out of air? You certainly CAN. In a recent visit to Turkey, I've noticed these attractively-designed tin cans. The contents? "Air of Istanbul". Nothing more, nothing less. Tourists buy these cans as souvenirs, and they pay the incredible amount of 16 Turkish Liras, which currently convert to about US$9. If you ask me, "Air of Bhutan" sounds (and smells) much better than "Air of Istanbul". Naturally, you won't face any competition from India, China, etc. "Air of Bhutan" can only be manufactured in Bhutan!

So here's the general idea:
  • Design a beautiful label with "Air of Bhutan", "Air of the Himalayas", etc. Unfortunately, "Druk Air" is already taken. There might be niche markets for specific locations, such as "Air of Bumthang".  
  • Buy the necessary tin canning equipment and materials. Choose and test the material/process: You don't want the cans to crumble/explode when shifting to low/high altitudes.
  • Start manufacturing. Make sure that the manufacturing location matches the label and is not done, say, in Jaigaon. Truth in advertising is important. Rinchending is still a possibility, but as a tourist I'd rather see "Packed in the pristine Himalayas", not "Packed in an industrial zone at the foothills of the Himalayas". The good part: Tin contents (air) is still 100% free!
  • Set a reasonable price, and distribute to tourist outlets in Bhutan
Once "Air of Bhutan" is a huge hit, you can move on to "Water of Bhutan"...

Disclaimer: Our ideas are just ideas, not necessarily sound business advice. If this business already exists in Bhutan and we missed it, please let us know! Before rushing to implement the idea, do some research about costs. Create a spreadsheet with the costs and see how much you will need to earn to break even and to make a profit. See if you can survive for a year with no profit and perhaps loss, until the business is more established. The best approach is to consult with organizations that help local entrepreneurs such as the Loden Foundation.

The Four Friends, Turkish Style

You cannot walk in Istanbul these days without running into these window ads at all branches of a large bank.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Choosing a Mobile Internet Package (K2 #42)

Question of the Week 
I saw a notification from B-Mobile about their new mobile Internet packages.
Which package do you recommend?
-- “Surfer”, P/ling

Dear Phuentsholing “Surfer”,

Thanks for your question! With more and more subscribers in Bhutan using data cards to access the Internet, this is an issue that affects many. Starting August 2012, B-Mobile will avail three mobile data packages: “Pay-as-you-go”, “99”, and “999”. Take a look at the comparison table. In addition to the package name and monthly fee, the table shows the monthly data quota, and the charge per extra MB once you exceed the quota.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Upcoming Workshop: "Create Effective and Secure Websites"

Why pay someone Nu 25,000 for a website, when you can build a super website for free? If you can surf the Internet and use Facebook, you can also build websites.

Following the success of the first "Build a Website" workshop, we are pleased to offer another opportunity to learn how to easily build free, media-rich websites. No computer degree necessary.

In this 3-day, hands-on workshop you will create your own free website using Google Sites. Instructed by Mr. Boaz Shmueli of the Rigsum Institute, the workshop will take place in Thimphu on August 1-3, 2012.

The workshop is intended for:
  • Tiny, small and medium-sized businesses and organizations
  • Educational institutions
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Tour operators
  • Webmasters
  • Anyone wishing to expand his or her knowledge
For full details, including online registration, click here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Effective Data Presentation" workshop offered again: July 26-27, 2012

More and more data and statistics are being collected in Bhutan. They are communicated to the public through reports, presentations, newspaper articles and other media. Yet, current presentation practices are lacking in effectiveness.

Effective Data Presentation is a 2-day workshop (Jul 26-27, 2012) by Professor Galit Shmueli. Participants will gain knowledge and experience with best practices for communicating data. We will use data from Bhutan and software that is accessible to many (Microsoft Excel and the Tableau Public).

The workshop is a must for those who collect, analyze or present data or statistics.

For full details and registration click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Finally, Bhutan Telecom updates mobile broadband plans

Bhutan Telecom announced four changes to the post-paid mobile broadband plans. Here is a summary of the changes:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Bcc Mail (K2 #41)

Question of the Week When I send an email, when do I use the Bcc field?
-- Dhendup, Paro

Dear Dhendup,

When you compose an email, you can send it to three groups of recipients: “To”, “Cc” and “Bcc”. I’m sure you are familiar with “To” field, which is used to enter the email addresses of the main, or primary, recipients of the message. Often this is the only field used.

Now let’s move on to “Cc”, which stands for “Carbon copy” - a sentimental reminder of the old times when copies of letters were made using carbon paper! In the “Cc” area, the sender enters email addresses of recipients who do not need to act upon the email. The Cc’d people are not the primary recipients of the email; they receive a copy for informational purpose only. Employees often add their managers to the “Cc” list, to let them know about an email that they sent and keep them “in the loop”. By the way, as a courtesy to the recipients, it is good practice to mention in the email itself that people were Cc’d (“I am also Cc’ing my manager and the department head”). Note that in Gmail, you must click on the “Add Cc” link (just below the To field) to avail this field.

The list of “To” and “Cc” recipients becomes part of the email message, so everyone who receives the message can see the list of all “To” and “Cc” recipients.

Now to your original question, the “Bcc”, which stands for “Blind carbon copy”. This is a little tricky! People in the Bcc list also receive a copy of the email. However, the list of Bcc recipients is NOT part of the email message and is concealed from the recipients of the email. People who receive the email cannot see the list of recipients in the Bcc list.

There are two main uses for Bcc. The most popular use is sending mass emails (for example, newsletters) without revealing the list of recipients. By putting the list of email addresses in the Bcc field, recipients will not know who else got the mass email. Very handy! For example, Kuensel places all recipients of the PDF newspaper edition in the Bcc field, so that recipients cannot see each others’ email addresses.

Secondly, say you want to copy a friend on an email you’re sending, but you don’t want the “To” and “Cc” recipients to know that you copied your friend. You add your friend to the Bcc list. He will get a copy, but none of the recipients will know. This is a bit sneaky, but also risky: If your friend decides to “Reply All” to this message, his reply will be sent to you as well as to all “To” and “Cc” recipients. Suddenly, the original recipients of the message might realize that you sent the message to extra people “behind their back”. Embarrassing!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to