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, August 31, 2013

Feeding your smartphone (K2 #70)

Question of the Week 
My Samsung Galaxy phone runs out of battery pretty quickly. What can I do?
— Letho at Ambient Cafe, Thimphu

Dear Letho,

The most popular grievance about smartphones is their abysmal battery life, and justly so. Most need to be plugged into a power socket at least daily. So what to do? First, note that it’s the bright and shiny display that sips up most of the juice, so turning down the brightness will get you major energy savings. Also, make sure the display turns off as quickly as possible after using the phone (there’s a setting for that). You can also turn off hardware that you don’t use, such as Bluetooth, GPS or mobile data, as well as many of the apps that run in the background. If all this sounds like too much of maintenance, you’re right. Luckily, there are apps that can help maximize the battery life automatically. For android, try “Easy Battery Saver” (search in the Google Play Store, or visit

One common misconception is that it’s better to wait until the battery is depleted before recharging the phone. This is not true for the type of batteries used in today’s phones. So connect your phone to the charger whenever you have the opportunity.

So is this what technology is all about? This hassle and others remind us that instead of smartphones serving us and making our lives simpler, we now have to serve them! We should therefore think carefully how, when, and whether smartphones are improving our lives and when they become a major burden or an unwanted distraction.

A new disease
Can’t bear the thought of your smartphone running out of battery? You probably suffer from nomophobia - the fear of not having access to a working mobile phone. Other symptoms of this modern phobia (which got its name from NO MObile) are the fear of losing your phone, running out of balance, or being in an area with no network coverage. If any of the above rings a bell (or your connected phone) - you’re in good company. While there are no statistics about Bhutan, a survey done in the UK shows that more than half of the British mobile users are nomophobics.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Online Marketing (K2 #69)

Question of the Week 
How can I use online marketing to promote my services?
– A new entrepreneur in Thimphu

Dear entrepreneur,

Online marketing is indeed a powerful tool. Let’s start with the obvious: Facebook. The world’s largest social network is very popular in Bhutan – there are around 118,000 accounts in the Kingdom – and so a free Facebook page for your new venture is a natural place to start your experiments with online marketing. Go to and follow the instructions. Add your business information, then invite your friends to “Like” the page. Make sure that you regularly update the page with relevant photos and new posts – a stale page is as attractive as a dusty display window.

You can also experiment with Twitter ( Although the number of tweeple (Twitter people) in Bhutan is still relatively small, many of them are social influencers and can help spread the word. Linking your two accounts (Facebook and Twitter) will make sure that Facebook posts also appear on Twitter, saving you work (

If you have earmarked some real money for marketing – and have access to an international credit or debit card – you can increase your visibility using online ads. Facebook advertising ( is one popular option. People see these ads when they use Facebook. You can target a specific audience, for example Bhutanese users (in case your business is for the local market) or any other country or countries (for example, if you are a tour operator). Another popular option is Google Ads, which appear when people search for information on Google, but they are more complicated to set up ( Barring international payment cards, your best bet is advertising on popular local websites, such as or

Lastly, here are a few more tools to consider. Mass email and online forums can be helpful, but use with care, as spamming will create a negative effect. Online surveys ( are a low-cost way of conducting market research before launching your business. And while not exactly “online” marketing, taking advantage of B-Mobile’s Cell Broadcast Service can help your message reach the 80% who are not online.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why Top-Level-Domains are Important

A small ad by the Bhutan Education City Board in the Kuensel caught my eye. Or rather, the website that was mentioned in the ad is what caught my eye.

Since Education City is a Bhutanese project, one would expect the top-level-domain for the website to be .bt. However, the website,, has a top-level domain of .nr, which belongs to a tiny island in the South Pacific: The Republic of Nauru, one of the world's smallest independent republics.

In case you are wondering: no, there are no plans to establish an Education City in Nauru (area: 20 sq km; population: 10,000). The reason BEC chose to use the domain is probably cost: domains are free. The website itself is hosted by another free service,

While cost-cutting is a commendable goal, organizations should pay attention to the top-level domain (TLD). Using a domain listed in a different country sends a confusing message, both to humans and search engines such as Google. In the case of BEC, one would expect their site to be using a domain such as, or even

Nauru islanders catching fish

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Plain Paste (K2 #68)

Question of the Week 
When I copied some text from Microsoft Word and pasted it into a Gmail message, the message got all messed up. Is there a better way to copy-paste text?

— G., Consultant in Thimphu

Thanks, this is a great question that has probably crossed the minds of many of us.

So why does the text get “messed up”? When you copy content from one application to another, it’s not only the pure text that is being copied. The formatting of the text is also copied. What’s formatting? Glad you asked! Formatting includes the different fonts, font sizes, colors, and other cosmetic information that influence the makeup of the text. If the content includes tables or images, these are often included as well.

Now that we understand what was copied when you clicked Copy, let’s move to the pasting stage... When you paste the content into the Gmail compose box (or any other application, for that matter), all that formatting can often wreak havoc in your message. You often want to copy just the plain text to the destination application. Luckily, there is an easy trick. Instead of a normal Paste, you can use the Paste as plain text option. This will paste just the text without all the excess baggage. This nifty option usually appears just below the normal Paste option (see figure). You can also use the Ctrl+Shift+V shortcut to achieve the exact same effect (hold the CTRL and SHIFT keys while clicking on the letter V).

Broadband Pricing Corrected
In early June I wrote about the obscure pricing scheme of DrukNet’s new broadband plans. Good news: Druknet listened and corrected their pricing. Now, the more expensive the package, the cheaper the cost per GB. Huray!

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to