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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Turn off annoying Facebook feature, save money and bandwidth

In case you are using Facebook  - and in Bhutan, who isn't?- you may have noticed an interesting change in your news feed in the last few months: as you scroll through the feed, videos posted by friends start to play automatically. The videos play silently (thank goodness for that!). Clicking on the video will turn on the audio. In the ever constant battle among the media companies to get our attention, this feature - called autoplay - is a rather clever way to distract us even further. And because the videos are muted by default, users can live with this annoyance (in fact, some experts speculate that the recent viral success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge can be partially attributed to Facebook's autoplay feature). But what about the data implications?

While many ISPs around the world offer plans which include unlimited (or capped) data quotas, in Bhutan the situation is different: broadband and 3G users pay for each byte they consume. Thus, whenever you visit Facebook (either on a desktop or your smartphone) and there are autoplayed videos in your feed, it means that you have paid for downloading those videos, whether or not you clicked thems. And since videos are data intensive, this hits your account balance rather heavily. Thus, if you noticed that your data balance is draining a bit too fast and you are a Facebook user, it might be a good idea to turn off the video auto-play feature. This will also save precious bandwidth for other applications. If you are interested in disabling Facebook auto-play, use this simple guide. Good luck!

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