For most people, they usually have some sort of target to achieve when they grow up. Go to school, college, graduate and get a decent job. If they found the one along the way, they'll get married, buy a nice little (or big) house and have beautiful kids in tow. That is usually the case for most people at least. I wish I could say the same thing for my life. Yes my target and ambition was pretty much the same with everyone but with me, life has never been straightforward or typically easy. I had to jump through hoops of fire, swim in shark-infested water and walk on a tight-rope before getting what I wish for in life.

When many people went to college to study and graduate, I went there to study at first and then got lost somewhere along the way and dropped out towards the end. That's when reality started to bite. Ever since I dropped out of college, I went to hell and back. I get to feel how it was to be unemployed (it sucks), do a minimum-paying jobs for a living (7-Eleven, IKEA, Starbucks) and realising how hard it is getting a decent job with my near zero qualification (a good SPM result just wouldn't cut it these days). Fortunately for me, not all employees require you to have a college degree or diploma to get hired (hey Microcorp!). With some help from my former neighbour, I managed to clinch a job at an IT company in Seri Kembangan. From there on, I walked my way up, learn the ropes of the business and earn a decent salary to pay the bills and feed my family. I really enjoyed myself working at that particular company that even when times were hard there, I tried to hang on for as long as possible. That said, when a golden opportunity to develop my career even further presents itself to me, I couldn't resist the tempting offer and joined the new company leaving behind the one that I worked for nearly five years.

At first I was convinced that joining this new company was a huge step up for me. I was actually one of the director of their subsidiary company and I get to sign checks and stuff. Things look good and rosy at first but after a year or so at the company, I began to realize that it's not always about the money. In the end you've got to love what you do at work and be able to work without worrying about other stuff that shouldn't concern you like doing shady deals or doing whatever it takes to secure a project. Life is certainly more than making money at whatever cost. I just want to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

Long story short, I left the company to explore other opportunities. I started doing odd jobs for a friend of mine servicing computers and delivering stuff. After nearly 4 months of doing that, I came to the realization that I wouldn't be able to afford to pay off my bills and loans, let alone feed my family doing just those odd jobs. So I started to seriously find a real job. Even that was not easy. Sure there are literally thousands of job opening in the market but there's even more jobless and fresh grads out there, not to mention people with existing jobs looking for new pasture. Lucky for me only after 2 months of looking and going to 2 interviews I was offered a job a this private international school in KL. The pay was good, about the same as what I got at my last job but the more important thing is I get to do what I do best - fixing computer stuff. My former boss once said "do you really want to do this technical support job forever?". Of course nobody wants to do the same old shit forever and ever. I do intend of going up the career ladder eventually but this things take time and you don't get to upgrade from a technician to Managing Director in a year, unless of course your family owns the company. There's no shame fixing IT stuff for a living. At least I get paid really-really well for whatever dirty or boring things I do, not to mention the guaranteed annual bonus, increment and other benefits. Plus I get to sleep really well at night without worrying when my paycheck will be deposited, if ever.

So you see, at 33 I'm actually starting a new chapter in my life, career-wise at least. It's like being a graduate fresh out of college getting his first job. The only difference is, this fresh grad has a sizable bills to pay and enough loans to pay until he's retired. To whom it may concern, forgive me if I can't buy you all the nice things in the world, at least not yet. I'm just starting over and this usually takes time.

At 33, what (little) has I achieved in life? Well I just graduated from a respectable university with my first and only diploma. It took me 4 years to finish that but hey, I did it. Hopefully I will continue my study and get that degree (eventually). I also have 3 beautiful, adorable and smart little kids. The eldest just got second place in his class. I have a house to call my own and a car to take my family here and there. Of course sometimes I wish could turn back time and do things differently now that I'm older and wiser.

Things that I wished I have done earlier/sooner in my life:

1. Graduate from university

I can stress enough how important this is. Had I finished my studies like everybody else, I wouldn't have gone through all the hardship after dropping out and having zero qualifications. Children if you're reading this in the future, don't be like me. Get that diploma or degree at all cost. In fact, I'll make sure you do if that's the last thing I'll have to do.

2. Get a good, satisfying job

To get a good job, first you must graduate from college/university. Sure you can eventually get a good job even without finishing college like me. But when your peers or friends from college regularly when vacationing in Europe, drive an imported car and live in a semi-D home, you could only watch with envy from afar. Why? Because there's no way you could achieve what they achieve without a university qualification. Trust me on this. Finish college, get a job with any company, collect experience, move to a better company, climb the career ladder. Wish I'd done this sooner. Getting a good job is one thing, Doing a job that you love is another. My motto in life is if you love what you're doing at work, you'll never go to work ever again (meaning you go to work and do things you enjoy).

3. Visit and see more places, travel the world

Of course to be able to do this you must first have a good, well-paying job so point number 1 and 2 are essential. That said, I still wished I had visited more places in my lifetime. There's simply so much to see and do in this beautiful planet. Before, I was only interested of buying the latest gadget or other material things that I could do without. Gadgets can become obsolete or break down, experience lasts forever.

4. Be fit and healthy

As you get older, it easy to just enjoy life to the fullest while you can and throw caution to the wind about your health. After all what's the use of all the money in the world if you don't get to enjoy the finer things in life right? Many of my friends from school or college and also my workplace are either seriously overweight or living an unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, never exercise). I don't want to be another of those pot-bellied mid thirties guy who are most likely to suffer from heart-attack or lung cancer before they retire. I don't want to be part of the statistic. That's why a few months back I started to take better care of my health and at the same time my fitness. I begin to watch what I eat and started to exercise regularly. I've took up running since I was in college back in the year 2000 and also after I got married but it was more of and on and off thing. There were days in the year that I'll get the motivation to run only to lose them a few months later. Hopefully from now on I will continue to run and exercise regularly, lose weight and look awesome compared to my school mates. I love to run/jog compared to other activities because it's easy to do and will cost nothing more than your running shoes. I'm happy to report that I've run my second 10K for two weeks in a row now. While looking good in front of your friends is motivation enough, I'm doing it more for myself and my health. What good is all the money in the world when you're suffering all kind of diseases that you could have avoided in the first place.

At 33, I'm definitely far from successful in life. I don't make even half as much as some of my peers. Like I said, I'm starting over career-wise and this things don't happen overnight. Still. I'm eternally grateful for all my blessings, my family and my loved ones, life experiences (good or bad) that I had and the chance to live until this very day. Alhamdulillah.

Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos review

Last month I got the mobile phone itch again which meant I've got that irresistible desire to change my phone with a new one. My previous mobile phone, the Xperia Ion was a decent Android smartphone with some cool features - 16GB memory, excellent camera, fast processors but let's face it, it's a second hand phone. And you know how it is with second hand phones, the battery doesn't last half as long as new ones. So I thought I just had to get myself a new phone.

There's a few smartphone models that came to mind. Lenovo, Huawei, Samsung but I ultimately went for Samsung in the end just because it's a popular brand with lots of support in term of rooting and hopefully faster updates. My budget is under 1,000 ringgit so for a decent Samsung smartphone with that price in mind I was torn between the Galaxy Grand Duos and the Grand Quattro. The Grand Duos has 5" screen but only dual core processor and the Grand Quattro has 4.7" screen but 4 core processors and a slightly cheaper price. Since I was looking for a smartphone with a really big screen, I finally chose the 5" Grand Duos which sell for RM950 as of last month (now around RM840 at ipmart.com).

The Grand Duos is about 0.38 inch thin, not as thin as the S4 but for that price, I can't really complain. The body is 100% plastic front and back and also the bezel. Design-wise, it's typically Samsung so it's not really different with most middle to high end Samsung phone in the market. You can find the audio jack at the top and micro USB port at the bottom. The speaker grill sits at the back so if you put the phone flat while playing music or video the volume will drop significantly.

There's 2MP front facing camera and 8MP rear shooter at the back. Inside, the Galaxy Grand is powered by a 1.2GHz dual core Cortex A9 processor. Opening the back cover, you'll find 2 standard size SIM card slots and a micro USB slot apart from the battery. Having dual SIM card capabilities is a neat feature with the Grand Duos because you can always switch between either number when sending text, making phone calls and also data connection.

The Grand Duos comes with Android 4.12 Jelly Bean which is quite old by today's standard. The latest Android version is 4.4 KitKat which I doubt will come to this model anytime soon. Somehow I half expected that since the Grand Duos is not Samsung's flag-ship model like the S4 or Note 3 so it will be among the last to get the latest update. Still, Jelly Bean + Touch Wiz is not half that bad. It doesn't lag much and I get only a few application crashes a month while using it.

The main beef I have with this phone is the tiny internal memory. It comes with only 8GB of internal storage, 4GB is already taken up by system software and Samsung Touch Wiz UI which leaves you less than 4GB to play with. 4GB is quite big, 5 years ago but not much in this day and age. A decent game like Real Racing or FIFA 14 takes up around 1.4GB of space and leaves you about 2GB of space left. Install 10 more apps and you'll get the low-space notification in no time.

What's more, even if you have 16GB or even 32GB of external memory card, the Grand Duos won't let you install or run apps directly from there. The most you can do is install your apps on the main storage unit and move some of the app files to the external memory card. And that is only possible after rooting the Grand Duos. So basically I after installing some essential apps like Wharsapp, Dropbox, Google Drive, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, you hardly get anymore space for games. Which is why I'm using the Grand Duos mainly for email and work stuff.

After rooting the phone, I get to move much of the application files (not the whole app itself) to the external memory card which did free up a considerable amount of space on the phone. But the downside of this, all of my apps run a bit slower than usual since half the app resides on the memory card. There'll be a little lag whenever I open apps and the camera also opens and snaps a little bit slower since it saves directly to the memory card. Sure you can always save directly to the internal storage but you won't be taking much pictures let alone videos with that setting. Fortunately, rooting the Grand Duos is quite an easy and straightforward process since it's from Samsung and there's a large user base. I followed the rooting instruction from this website and got it done in less than 10 minutes. Why root this phone? Mainly so that you can remove much of the bloatware and unnecessary apps and also move apps and files to the external memory card.

Speaking of cameras, the Grand Duos shoots some really decent photos and videos. As you can see in the sample pictures above and sample video uploaded to YouTube below. You can actually take pictures while recording video but be sure to turn off the camera shutter sound or else it will be included in the video.

Just like the S4, the Grand Duos doesn't come with a stylus or stylus slot. You can always purchase the C-Pen stylus to scribble stuff on the S-Memo app or other 3rd party up but it'll cost you something around 50 ringgit which I find totally overpriced.

Battery life, the 2100 mAh would last my 8 hour work shift nicely from morning to late afternoon with 20% left to spare. Bear in mind I read and send a lot of email, some Instagram, some web browsing and occasional book reading with Fabrik. The battery is user-replaceable which is a plus since I can simply buy the replacement battery from my favorite mobile phone store unlike the iPhone or Nexus 4.

Wrap up. The Galaxy Grand Duos is a decent mid-level smartphone with a nice 5" screen but ridiculously small internal space. At RM950, the Grand Duos is basically the poor man's S4 and they took out a lot of the best features of the flagship phone to get that low price point. The 8GB or really 4GB space is definitely to little to get any meaningful app or game on the phone. 16GB is the minimum you should get with any smartphone in the market today because any lower it'll be almost useless. If you don't mind not playing any games on your smartphone, the Grand Duos is quite okay. Else you might want to save a little more for an LG Nexus 4 or 5, an iPhone 5C or any other smartphone with 16GB space or more with similar price range.


Four years ago I decided to resume my studies that I never finished 14 years ago. Going to college part time is no easy feat, especially when you have to juggle between work, family and studies. The times I had to choose going to class instead of spending quality time with my family. But I made it, thanks to the support from my family and classmates.

The exams sure was challenging but not as hard as the assignments, and there were many of them. Getting started on the assignment was one thing, getting your friends to contribute and finish the assignment together was another thing. Fortunately for me as the semester goes by, I've got myself some really cool, smart and understanding course-mates. And it shows because we kept getting good marks for many subjects every time.

Within this four years, I've got a new baby girl and changed jobs twice. While four years seams like a long time, I felt like it just breeze by me. Today is the reward for all my effort and hard work, graduation day. Last week I paid for my graduation fees which was just RM115 (for diploma) and picked up my robes. This morning I woke up really early at 5:00 am along with my wife and Mom whose coming along to the ceremony. First we had to drop the kids at their nursery and brave the morning rush hour hoping that we wouldn't get stuck in traffic anywhere. Thankfully save for a bit of crawl along Sunway, the journey was a breeze despite the rain.

I got to the hall (Dewan Agung Tuanku Canselor) 15 minutes from time (7:30 am). From there I waited in line along with all the other graduates. I can't see any of my friends at first maybe because some of them were stuck in traffic. But I saw some of them eventually when we finally got in the hall.

The entire ceremony lasted nearly 4 hours. My turn was up about 40 minutes into the ceremony and it was over in less than 3 minutes. I walk confidently towards the stage, received my diploma (well maybe just the cover), said thanks to the pro-chancellor and walk away while switching my tassel from left to right. I think I'm the only person who did that, since nobody else seemed to be aware of the tradition. Oh well.

When I'm done, I had to wait for the other graduates to finish their turn. One faculty had over one thousand graduates so that's why we didn't finish until half past twelve.

During our first class in semester 1, there was 38 of us in the classroom. We couldn't even get enough chairs for everybody then. Four years later today, only 8 of us made it to graduation day. Another one couldn't make it due to work commitments and about six more had to wait until next year to graduate. The rest, sadly didn't made it.

We each had our own stories and we came from many different background but the important thing is we made it to this very special day.

Back home in Pasir Mas, there's a row of framed pictures of my siblings receiving their degree on stage proudly displayed in the living room. The only person's missing from that display was me. So after this the roll of honour is finally complete because I can finally put my picture there.

When I dropped out of college in 2004, my Mom was amongst the one that's so disappointed with failure. And she did a good job reminding me of that. Today she could finally put that to rest.

So this is how graduation day felt like. It was beyond awesome. The ceremony, the dress, the atmosphere, the pride and the look of joy on my loved ones, it was priceless. If I had known this earlier, I would have studied harder and not drop out then. Naturally, this makes me somewhat eager to continue my studies again some time in the future. Maybe not anytime soon but eventually one day when my financials are sound and Adam Farihin had gone to boarding school. Previously I've been using my EPF savings to fund my studies so after 4 years, my account II was almost depleted paying for my tuition fees. It'll take sometime for me to replenish it again.

One thing is that is almost certain, I won't be furthering my studies in Information Management again. I think it's time I delve into IT or Computer Science again. It is only apt that I pick something that's really close to me and got to do with my day job. Diploma is cool and all but I feel like my life won't be complete until I got that degree in my grasp.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank my family especially my wife and Mom whose been my rock and supported me all these while. I couldn't have done it without their support. Thank you.

Cue Vitamin C song.