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, December 29, 2012

Upgrading Windows (K2 #53)

Question of the Week
When I tried to install Windows 8 on my Dell Inspiron N5110 laptop, it didn’t work and the screen became black. The same problem happened to my friend who owns the same model. Please help.
— Kencho Nima, Sherubtse College

Dear Kencho,

Welcome to the risky world of Windows upgrades! Luckily for you, other owners of the same laptop model (Dell Inspiron N5110) have had similar issues, and there are a few workarounds. In fact, when you search Google for “windows 8 dell inspiron n5110” , some of the top results are forum discussions around the infamous black screen issue. Many of these discussions also include solutions. I suggest you follow the threads, and try the workarounds. Here are two such threads: and

One needs to think carefully about such upgrades. If your current operating system is serving you well, a major upgrade is something that you should avoid or postpone. One of the main advantages of Windows 8 is support for touch screens, but most existing laptops do not have a touch screen. Windows 7 is a good, solid operating system, and will serve people’s existing computers for years to come.

For people still set on making the leap, Microsoft offers the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant utility at Download and run the utility to check if your hardware and software are compatible with the new operating system. Even if you get the green light, upgrades often go wrong, so you should always backup your computer first and have a Windows 7 CD in case the Windows 8 installation fails.

New Year Celebrations Around the World

The first place in the world where the New Year is annually celebrated is Kiritimati, an island in the Pacific Ocean. Also known as Christmas Island, Kiritimati is in the furthest timezone (UTC+14), which is 8 hours ahead of Bhutan (UTC+6). To see when 2013 starts around the world, check

Time zones can be confusing, so to find out the current date and time anywhere in the world, Google is your best friend. Search for “Time in Kiritimati” (or any other location) for a quick and authoritative answer.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unplugging devices (K2 #52)

Questions of the Week

Should we click on the green arrow button before removing an external drive? If we don't, can this cause any harm to the external drive?

— Rinzin


Dear Rinzin,

Indeed, it is good practice to use the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon before unplugging external drives or pulling out a pen drive from the computer. You can find the icon in the system tray - this is the bottom right corner area of the desktop that shows the time and has a bunch of different icons. On Windows XP, the icon is a green arrow, whereas on Windows 7 it looks like a USB plug with a green checkmark.

Before unplugging the device, click the icon and wait. A list of all removable media will soon be displayed. Select the device you want to disconnect, select the Eject option, then wait until a confirmation message is displayed.

If you unplug a device without following this procedure you run the risk of corrupted files, or even worse, an inaccessible device, which is guaranteed to ruin your day.

How can I order stuff from eBay to Bhutan? Can I receive the item to any place in Bhutan? Does any courier service collaborate with eBay?

— Jambay Dorji, Teacher, Mongar HSS


Dear Jambay,

eBay ( is a huge online marketplace, connecting crores of buyers with lakhs of sellers who offer everything from shoelaces to cars. You always buy the goods from individual sellers, never from eBay. Shipping is usually not the problem: many sellers agree to ship their items to Bhutan using the postal service, sometimes for free (especially if the item is lightweight, such as a pen drive), so just make sure Bhutan Post can deliver packages to the required address. Some sellers also offer the option of a courier service such as UPS, although this can be quite expensive.

The main hurdle in Bhutan, however, is not the shipping - it’s the payment method. For payment on, you need access to an international credit or debit card that is accepted online. Once you have access to one, let the shopping spree begin!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Data recovery from external drive (K2 #51)

Question of the Week
My 1TB external disk got spoiled. I have thousands of photographs stored in it and now I am unable to retrieve those pictures. I don't have any idea how I can get those pictures. I did take consult with IT vendors in town but they said it would not be possible. Can you please suggest if it is possible to retrieve the photographs, and if yes, how?
— Kinley Tshering, Thimphu

I have an external drive of 500GB capacity, almost fully occupied with files. The last time I unplugged it from a computer, I pulled it out directly, and now it won’t read on any computer, though there is the power bulb dstill on and machinery sound when I bring it near my ears. I tried on a lot of computers, still not working. Please help me. I have a whole lot of files and contents there.
— Namgay Rinchen, Thimphu

Losing important data can be very stressful. So first, the good news: Recovering data from failed disks is often possible. Now, for the not-so-good news: no computer vendor in Bhutan currently offers professional data recovery services

Time for DiskVival?

With more and more of our personal and business information stored on disks, memory cards, and smartphones, a data recovery lab represents an interesting business opportunity in Bhutan.
If you are lucky, your external drive has a simple hardware issue that is relatively easy to fix by a technician - for example, a crooked USB connector or a failed disk enclosure (the box that holds the actual disk), or perhaps a software issue that can be corrected by a disk recovery utility such as TestDisk (

If the issue is more complicated than that, well, your disk will need to be handled by a professional. My recommendation: Keep the drive, and seek the services of a data recovery professional when you (or a friend) are outside of Bhutan. Note that depending on the specific issue, recovery can range from expensive to very expensive.

The inconvenient truth is that all hard disks eventually fail, often within a few years. Experts recommend replacing hard disks every 3-5 years, but even that is not a guarantee against failure. Prevention is better than cure, so back up your files. And please don’t wait - do it today!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to