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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yet another Facebook hoax

If any of your Facebook friends copy-pasted the following text to their wall, kindly let them know it's yet another hoax. The truth is, once you agreed to the Facebook's terms, posting a piece of text on your wall is not going to change that. Sorry!

A viral hoax, albeit a convincing one

Bhutan Government Portal, hacked again

We wrote about the hacking of RGoB's web portal a couple of weeks ago. Now hackers have modified the portal's home page to redirect visitors to a domain ( which expired a few days ago. The domain, by the way, is registered in Iran.

The Bhutan Government Portal


The Injected Code

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Upcoming 3G frequency change (action required)

There are five standard frequencies used around the world for mobile broadband services (3G/UMTS): 850, 900, 1700, 1900, and 2100 MHz. Different phones and data cards support different subsets of these frequencies, and you always need to make sure that the device you use supports the frequency used by the mobile operator.

Here's a list of the frequencies used in different countries.

On November 30, Bhutan Telecom is changing the frequency of the 3G data services from 2100 MHz (used by most countries) to 850 MHz, in order to "improve 3G services coverage".

To guarantee a smooth transition, make sure your data card or smartphone supports 850 MHz.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Recovering deleted files from a pen drive (Part 2 of 2, K2 #50)

Question of the Week
Is there any way to get back our files which we deleted from a pen drive?
— Rinzin

Answer (Part 2 of 2)
Dear Rinzin,

In the last column, I explained how to recover files that were accidentally deleted from a pen drive. Undeleting is possible because when you delete a file, it is only marked as deleted, but the content is still there. This is true for operational as well as failed devices. For this reason, a hacker can often recover data from a discarded pen drive or hard disk! To make sure no one can ever access your confidential files, the data must be securely overwritten (or the media physically destroyed). Organizations, such as governments, businesses, and ISPs, typically have special procedures for discarding hard disks and pen drives in order to safeguard their data and make sure the data do not fall into unwanted hands. Of course, individuals often also need to protect their digital information by securely deleting files.

How can you securely delete a file? Last week we recommended using a utility for recovering deleted files (Recuva, downloadable at This same utility can also overwrite deleted files. Once you overwrite a deleted file, it will be extremely difficult for a hacker to recover it. Overwriting is easy: After launching Recuva, search for the deleted files as you did in the case of undeleting. However, instead of undeleting, check the files you want to overwrite, then right-click and choose “Secure Overwrite Checked”. This will overwrite the checked files. These files are now gone forever, and it will no longer be possible to recover them.

If you need a more advanced tool, Eraser is the utility for you. Downloadable at, Eraser has many options to securely delete files, directories, the Recycle Bin and any unused space on a hard drive. It even has a scheduler, so the overwriting can occur when you’re out for a lunch break.

Bored with your generic pen drive? The Magic Mushroom is the gadget for you: Studded with diamonds, rubies and sapphires (as well as 32GB of storage, in case you’re concerned about that), this is the most expensive pen drive in the world: a bank loan of Nu 20 lakhs is all you need. Just remember to securely erase confidential files on the Magic Mushroom - it will help you sleep calmly if you ever lose it...

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unpleasing screenshots

DrukNet's own servers (, are hacked, and Google Chrome reports that these sites (and other sites hosted by DrukNet) now distribute malware.

Suggestion: Refrain from browsing and other DrukNet-hosted websites for now.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trends over time: effective and misleading line charts

Chart from, Nov 7, 2012
Today's Kuensel's cover story "Good fences don't always make good neighbours" featured a series of three charts showing trends in cordyceps harvest, export and average price from 2004 to 2012. While line graphs are excellent for displaying trends over time, there are several guidelines that must be followed to avoid creating a misleading picture. The Kuensel charts suffer from the following issues:

  1. While the x-axis conveys years (2004 to 2012), the points are not equally spaced. For example, in the middle chart the distance between 2011 to 2012 is larger than between other pairs of neighboring years. A trend can appear much more (or less) dramatic if the time axis is not properly spaced.
  2. The three charts all use year on the x-axis. Most readers would expect the same placement of years on all charts, yet that is not the case here due to the over-stretched distance to 2012 in the Export chart.
  3. Values that appear on a line graph typically convey the y-axis value (harvest, export or average price). Including the year label just below these values is confusing and difficult to read.
  4. Using dashed lines for interpolating missing values works well. However, the extrapolation for Export in 2012 is suspect. Why is it assume to be equal to the 2011 value?
  5. It is good practice to keep the same number of decimal for all years. We automatically use the length of the number to infer its size (longer=larger). If some values include a decimal and others do not, we mistakenly infer the longer number to be larger.

I recreated the charts in Microsoft Excel using the numbers from the Kuensel charts. These charts avoid the above pitfalls -- see for yourself whether a different story emerges. 

Note that I also chose to overlay the harvest and export lines in the same chart, since they share the same units and have the same order of magnitude. Line graphs are powerful for comparing trends by overlaying multiple lines on the same chart (if the scales are different, we can use double y-axis scales or normalize all the series). 

The two sets of charts (left and right) differ only by the inclusion of values near the lines. Note that it is easier to compare trends when there are no numbers near the lines. However, if you must include values, make sure that those are only the y-axis values, and that they have the same number of decimals. 

More effective use of line charts for conveying the cordyceps trends. The trends in the charts on the left are easier to grasp, compared to the right charts, which are identical but also include values.

Lost in translation

2002 soft cover
A Dzongkha-English dictionary is an invaluable resource for students and anyone studying Dzongkha. The DDC produced three versions that are supposed to be identical: a 2002 soft-cover edition, an online version, and a CD version (also downloadble from the DDC website). It appears that the two digital (online and CD) versions were created by simply copying the entries from the 2002 soft-cover. However, the replication was less than perfect, resulting in a major error: complete entries are missing from the digital versions. There are two types of missing information: One is due to files that do not exist on the server, leading to error pages in the online version but not the CD (see screenshot).

Error #1: Broken links due to missing pages

The other error is trickier and occurs in both online and CD versions: the file exists, but it is mistakenly empty! This leads to the impression that there are no words starting with that letter. An example is shown in the screenshot below, where it seems as if there are no words starting with ལོ ("Lo").

Error #2:  Empty pages. No words starting with ལོ ("Lo")?
No words starting with "lo" is clearly incorrect (the 2002 soft-cover lists over 50 such words). Several other pages also erroneously list empty pages.

The needed fix: DDC should upload the missing files, should update the erroneously empty files and carefully test each and every webpage. Unfortunately, new CDs will have to be burned.

A note about usability: While the erroneous missing webpages reflect an oversight, there are indeed cases where there are no words (at least in the 2002 soft-cover) starting with that letter. An example is ཙེ ("Tse"). In such cases, rather than displaying an empty page, a comment is in place such as "there are no words starting with this letter".

Usability: When no entries exist for some letter, a clarifying comment is in place.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recovering delete files from a pen drive (Part 1 of 2, K2 #49)

Question of the Week
Is there any way to get back our files which we deleted from a pen drive?
— Rinzin

Answer (Part 1 of 2)
Dear Rinzin,

It could have been nice if files that are deleted from a pen drive would magically shift to the Recycle Bin, wouldn’t it? Still, never lose hope: It is often possible to recover deleted files from pen drives (as well as external hard drives and memory cards). When you delete a file, it is marked as deleted, but its contents are not immediately erased. As long as the data is not overwritten, there is a good chance that the file can be undeleted. So first, make sure not to create any new files or edit existing ones in this pen drive. By not tampering with files on the pen drive, you increase the chances of recovery.

Next, we will need a utility that scans the drive, looks for deleted files, and then salvages your treasures. One such utility is Recuva, a small but powerful program: In addition to undeleting files from your pen drive, Recuva can also try to recover files that were deleted from the Recycle Bin! First, download Recuva at After installing, run the program and follow the prompts. You will be asked which types of files you wish to recover (pictures, music, documents, all files), and from where. Choose “Media card” for your pen drive. Recuva will scan the pen drive and find your files, which you can then magically retrieve by clicking the Recover button. Recuva is a snap to use.

The ease of undeleting files, by the way, also means that if you hand over a pen drive (or hard drive) to your friend, then if she is curious (and computer savvy), she can easily find information on that drive that you thought she’ll never see. How to deal with that situation? That will be the topic of our next column.

Reduce screen time

Does your child spend hours in front of the TV, computer, iPhone, or PlayStation? There is mounting evidence that excessive screen time is linked to various health and development problems, from obesity to attention deficit disorders. American teenagers spend around 8 hours daily in front various screens, and their urban Bhutanese peers are probably not too far behind. Experts recommend limiting exposure to ½ to 2 hours daily according to age, but not for babies: While it's tempting to use the TV or an iPhone as a babysitter, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises zero screen time before the age of 3.
AgeDaily Screen Hours
12-151 ½

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to