Mine is bigger than yours.
I installed whatsapp 2-3 years back because one of my friends was using it (and I guess that's why most people install it). I seem to remember vaguely that at the time they mentioned that I would be asked to pay after a year, but I most certainly never did pay anything and I think it is still working (still only use it for that one friend). Would I pay? Absolutely positively not. Whatsapp doesn't add anything at all to what I've had for free since forever using icq, msn, yahoo chat, jabber etc. There are other - also free - services that add much more functionality - Skype, Viber and even Hangouts (that was great until Google butchered it). So, I'll probably leave Whatsapp on my phone as long as they don't annoy me, but the moment they do or the moment they ask me to pay anything it will go and I will venture a guess that 90 % of their 450 million user base is like that.
It is entirely possible to run an Android phone without any use of Google whatsoever.
I was facing the same problem as you are, and I would have gotten myself an N9 if Nokia hadn't announced that they would ditch Meego completely. That day I decided I was done with Nokia for good and I was forced to find a viable alternative.
To me it was Android on a Galaxy S2, but - and this is important - one built entirely from source. Granted - there are still things I miss from my N900 (the keyboard mostly), but a rooted Android device comes close these days.
Personally I would look for any Android device that is well supported by Cyanogenmod (Nexus for example), ditch the stock firmware immediately and go straight for a Cyanogenmod 11. There are things you will be missing from the N900, but there are also a lot of stuff that was never possible on the N900 which will now work fine.
That with enough Vodka you won't mind the snow?
I am not sure it's wise to admit that in public these days. Someone might assume you've had a hidden agenda for obtaining launch codes.
I just loved this part of the original article:
"But Jen says she was not always so defiant. After receiving the threat she says she was terrified. She contacted Ripoffreport.com to ask that the post be removed but Ripoffreport.com won't let her without paying $2000 she says."
Someone hurry up and write a ripoff report at rippoffreport.com!
I'd be happy to plug my netbook / phone / multimedia device into this unknown thumb drive. Why not? I've got Linux.
Back in 2005 some car thieves in Malaysia tried to steal a Merc S Class with some kind of biometric immobilizer. When they realized they couldn't get the darn thing running without a finger print, they merely chopped the owner's finger off with a machete (I swear it's true: BBC Article).
I wonder who will be the first to lose an iPhone along with a finger.
Android (Jellybean) is at least partly running on the N9. Last time I checked, they hadn't managed to get calls going - but 3G data was working.
And this is a surprise or news worthy why? This application:
Has been in Google's Play store forever. That strongly indicates that the key's are not stored encrypted (or with a very simple encryption) and that Android "secure" them by not giving normal applications access (the app require root to function).
Well, perhaps the problem is that the Windows security model is too advanced? I have yet to meet a Windows administrator that really understood those models, while I am fairly certain that any UNIX/Linux admin understand the OS security models in-depth.
I don't live in China so I haven't had a chance to test this, but I would guess Tor/Onion is more or less the ideal way of keeping a stable connection out of China. Just run a private exit node outside China. Tor change the tunnel connections regularly to obscure it's existence.
My Nokia N73 from back in 2006 could do that and that was not the first Symbian S60 based device.
In the case of Thailand - sucking might very well be part of the reason.