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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Last year I completed my Bare Bones Configuration Guide project and now it is time to start the process of revising the guides and making sure that they are up to date.

This weekend I started that process and have updated the first of the Bare Bones Configuration Guides and made it available to you all.

The Configuring a Training Environment for Dynamics AX 2012 guides you through the process of provisioning a new training environment for Dynamics AX within Azure and also shows you how you can create the blank training partition which will be used as the base learning environment for all of the other books in the series. The major change with this edition is that I have updated the instructions on how to provision the system within Azure and Lifecycle Services because it has changed so much over the year and a half since the original guide was created.

The topics that are covered within this guide are:

  • Using Azure and Lifecycle Services to Host Your Dynamics AX Training System
  • Creating A New Partition
  • Configuring The System for The First Time

In addition to updating the content, I have taken the opportunity to offer the guide in two different formats.

The Traditional Walkthrough Guide:

The traditional walkthrough guides are formatted to give you a step by step guide with full screen illustrations of each of the steps to give you a visual guide as to where in the process you are. Each illustration is a great visual reference as to what you should be seeing on the screen and has a description of exactly what you need to do in order to complete the step. This is an ideal way for a novice user to step through the examples within guide.


The Thumbnail Guide:

The thumbnail guides are formatted to give you a step by step guide with thumbnail illustrations of each of the steps to give you a visual guide as to where in the process you are. Each thumbnail has a description of exactly what you need to do in order to complete the step, and is an ideal way for an experienced user to step through the examples.


Additionally, for those of you all that want to learn but can’t quite commits, then we will be publishing each of the chapters out individually so that you can grab a coup of the training in an al-la-carte method and just get what you need. For the experienced users this will allow you to skip the simple setup steps and then dive into the meat and potatoes of the setup.

As a bonus, to kick off the official release of the 2nd Edition guides, and also to kick start the journey we have made the very first blueprint from the first configuration guide available for you for free – and I know you all like free. If you follow this guide it will show you how to configure a Dynamics AX 2012 virtual machine on Azure so that you can then (hopefully) move onto the next step and start configuring a blank partition.

Also this will allow you to get a sneak peek into how the guides are structured and also how easy it is to start learning how to do everything within Dynamics AX. All you need to do is click here and download the guide:

Using Lifecycle Services and Azure to Host Your Dynamics AX 2012 Training System: http://bit.ly/1UnbFDN

If you want to check out the full walkthrough or thumbnail guides, then here are the links for them as well:

Configuring A Training Environment for Dynamics AX 2012 – Walkthrough Guide:
http://bit.ly/1ZN6n5K

Configuring A Training Environment for Dynamics AX 2012 – Thumbnail Guide:
http://bit.ly/1RIs4Vc

I hope this is useful to everyone and that you all start learning Dynamics AX 2012 – then when the new release of Dynamics AX comes out you will be up to speed on that version as well because all of the business functionality from Dynamics AX 2012 applies to that version as well.

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The New Dynamics AX is a big change from the previous releases. The majority of the changes are around the new web based user interface, the new way that you navigate around in the application and also new sets of tools that have come along for the ride.

For those of you that are familiar with the older user interfaces then you may have to learn a couple of new tricks to get around the system like the pro that you are, and for new users of the New Dynamics AX environments then you will probably want as many tips on all the cool things that you are hidden away within the application so that you can quickly become a power user of the system.

I have scoured all of the resources that I have to compile the most useful tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX and that will be useful to everyone, regardless of if you are a novice to Dynamics AX just trying to get around in the application, or have worked with the previous versions of the system, and are just want to learn the nuances of the new user interface.

Hiding fields

The first type or personalization that you may want to do is to hide some of the extra fields that you are not interested in.

How to do it…

For example, if you are on the customers list page, you may not want to see the Extension field. To hide the field, start off by right-mouse-clicking on the field heading.

Then click on the Personalize Extension menu option.

This will open up the Personalization options for the field.

To hide the field, just check the Hide option for the field

Now the field is hidden.

Want more?

If you liked this post and want to see more tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX then I have compiled the 50 initial tips and tricks into a new guide for you all. If you want to get all of the tips and tricks in one place, then just follow the link: http://bit.ly/1mAzKf6

Also, if you are looking for more resources on Dynamics AX in general, then make sure you check out the Dynamics AX Companions site at www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com and also the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books on Microsoft Dynamics AX including the Bare Bones Configuration Guide series of over 15 books which step the user through the setup of initial Dynamics AX instance, then through the Financial modules and then through the configuration of the more specialized modules like production, service management, and project accounting. You can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Murray is also the curator of the Dynamics AX Companions (www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com) site which he built from the ground up as a resource for all of the Dynamics AX community where you can find walkthroughs and blueprints that he created since first being introduced to the Dynamics AX product.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:         mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:        google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:        atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:        docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

I just wanted to drop you all a note because you have downloaded the Author Tools for PowerPoint, and I wanted to give you all a little bit of an update on some of the enhancements that I made over the past week.

The first is that I have updated the Storyboard theme that you can use for designing your blogs and walkthroughs.  I got rid of all of the extra slides that weren’t needed and also made all of the slides consistent including adding all of the metadata to the slides, and also getting rid of the colors in favor of an icon to indicate what type of slide master it is.

Picture 1

When you look at the slide layouts then it looks a lot less gaudy – I have to admit.

Picture 2

I have made a number of bug fixes as well.  There were cases where if the slides did not have the write naming convention then the publishing process stopped.  That’s fixed.

Also if you hide a slide then it was still being added to the document.  That’s fixed.

A new feature that I added was the ability to add Boilerplate slides to the storyboard which will then print when you create documents like blog posts so that you can have a consistent introduction and summary when you print sections.  This was a big one for me and saves me so much time as I publish my blog posts.

Also, you may have noticed that the templates come from the Author Tools/Templates folder.  If you want to create any new templates for yourself then you can do that just by adding a new document template, there and then copying over the styles from the Normal.dotm file in that folder.  I did this with a Blog template within Word and have saved so much extra cutting and pasting.

Drop me a note and tell me your experiences with the tool, and if you have any bugs then report them to me right away and I will fix them for you and post and update.

PS. I already have one person using the tool to create their own walkthrough guide.  Are you going to be the next?

Even if you think that you are an expert in Dynamics AX, you probably only know one area like the Financials, or Distribution, or Manufacturing, and only have cursory knowledge of the other modules. Although specialization is good, knowing all of the application is better because it opens up all of your senses to what is going on within the system, and makes everyone just a little more well-rounded.

A while ago I laid down the gauntlet to you all and challenged you all to learn Dynamics AX 2012 by immersing yourself in the application and set up a completely new instance from scratch – which I believe is the only way to learn how all of the machinery behind the scenes of Dynamics AX works – and created the much converted Bare Bones Configuration Privateer certification which you can get if you prove that you have done this. It comes with a real badge and all – I didn’t skimp on the virtual badges.

To do this, all you needed to do was work through the first 10 Bare Bones Configuration guides that I slaved over for 2 years to create.

  • M01 Configuring A Base Dynamics AX 2012 Test System
  • M02 Configuring an Organization within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M03 Configuring the General Ledger within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M04 Configuring Cash and Bank Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M05 Configuring Accounts Receivable within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M06 Configuring Accounts Payable within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M07 Configuring Product Information Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M08 Configuring Inventory Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M09 Configuring Procurement and Sourcing within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M10 Configuring Sales Order Management within Dynamics AX 2012

It’s easy, just start on the first one, follow the step by step instructions with screen shots for each step in case you get lost, load in all of the sample data included with the guides, and before you know it you will have a fully configured Dynamics AX 2012 system that you can take orders with, pick with, pack with, ship with, receive cash with, purchase with, receive with, pay bills with, and the list goes on. Also as a bonus, if your company is a covert spy organization then you will be ready to run all of your operations.

I am so happy to report that one of the people that took up the challenge blew me away when he reported back to me that he had taken up the challenge as a New Year’s resolution, and started the challenge on January 1st, and by the 5th he had worked through all 10 of the guides in order in a record time of 13:35 Hours! He kept a journal of the time, and here is the breakdown.

BARE BONES CONFIGURATION TIMELINE

M01

1.50

M02

0.20

M03

1.50

M04

0.15

M05

1.40

M06

2:00

M07

2:00

M08

1:30

M09

1:45

M10

1:30

TOTAL TIME: 13:35 hrs.

I don’t even think that I have set up a system that quickly.

As a result, Joel H. is the proud member of the elite Bare Bones Configuration Privateers and has the badge on his briefcase to prove it.

What is even more impressive is that he continued on and finished the next five modules in the program as well.

  • M11 Configuring Human Resource Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M12 Configuring Project Management and Accounting within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M13 Configuring Production Control within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M14 Configuring Sales and Marketing within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M15 Configuring Service Management within Dynamics AX 2012

These took a little longer because they are a little more involved, but by January 14th he was done.

BARE BONES CONFIGURATION TIMELINE

M11

3:00

M12

5:00

M13

2:00

M14

3:3

M15

4:00

TOTAL TIME: 17:3 hrs.

I don’t have a badge for that right now – but I’m working on it.

Now that the bar has been set, who of you all want to dethrone the current champion?

For more information just go to the Dynamics AX Companions site and check out the Bare Bones Configuration Guide section. Here is a link: http://bit.ly/1ONDmWT


Writing walkthrough guides is easy. It’s the formatting of the content that will take you forever to do, especially of you are wanting to repurpose the content into other formats like scripts, blog posts, summaries and even books. And if you want to make a change to a guide, or correct mistakes then that can take just as much time because you might break some of the formatting, or pagination, or you may miss one of the formats. And if you wanted to have specific page breaks, formatting requirements or different page sizes for different versions then it just doubles or triples the work.

Some people may have lackeys or interns that they can give this job to, but I wasn’t one of them, and have literally spent weekends formatting books and transferring images one by one into Word so that I can publish document or create detailed blog post series.

One day it became too much and I decided that I had to stop the insanity and find a better way. Because I capture all of my walkthroughs in PowerPoint – just because it makes everything look consistent and tidy – I looked into how I could automate the process and have it do all of the work for me. I blew the dust off my copy of Visual Studio and created Author Tools for PowerPoint.

These tools automate a lot of the leg work that I used to do manually by using PowerPoint as a repository for all of the walkthrough details and then uses pre-defined word templates as a basis which it then transfers all of the images and text automatically and also formats all of the walkthroughs in a number of different ways based on how you are wanting the information to be consumed. For example, if you are building a book then you may want headings on pages, but if you are publishing it as a blog then you probably don’t.

This reduces the time to format a 400+ page book from 8+ hours and tens of thousands of repetitive keystrokes to probably about half an hour and a single click.

In this walkthrough (which is created with Author Tools for PowerPoint) I will show some of the setup and also how it works.

Automatically adding boilerplate to documents

If you are converting a larger storyboard into a number of smaller documents, as you would do if you were breaking them up into bog posts, then you will probably want to add a standard introduction to each of the blog posts, and maybe even some standard follow up text at the end for more information and even an author biography for credit.

Although you can do this manually, the Author Tools for PowerPoint has a nifty feature built into it that allows you to create Boilerplate panels in the storyboard just for these types of content and you can have these automatically inserted at the beginning and end of the document as it created saving you a lot of cutting and pasting.

Getting ready…

Before we start though, if your template does not have the Boilerplate Master Layout then you will want to add it. To do this, click on the View ribbon bar within PowerPoint and then click on the Slide Master button within the Master Views button group.


This will switch you to the Slide Master view where you will see all of the different master slides that Author Tools uses. Right-mouse-click on the Parts master layout and select the Duplicate Slide Master option.


This will create a new slide master for you which we will now convert over to be a Boilerplate slide master.


In this example we deleted all of the slides except for the blank slide and the first content slide. We also made some cosmetic changes to make the slide master look a little different. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.


Now we need to mark the Slide Master as being a Boilerplate master. To do this, right-mouse-click on the parent slide master and select the Rename Master option.


When the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to Boilerplate and then click on the Rename button.


Now right-mouse-click on the content slide and select the Rename Layout option.


When the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to Introduction and then click on the Rename button. This slide will be used to add introduction text to all documents.


Now duplicate the Introduction slide, right-mouse-click on it and select the Rename Layout option and then when the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to More and then click on the Rename button. This slide will be used to add more information text to all documents.


Right-mouse-click on the More slide and select the Rename Layout option and then when the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to Author and then click on the Rename button. This slide will be used to add the author biography text to all documents.

After you have done that switch back to the Normal view within PowerPoint.



Now that you have the Boilerplate slide masters, add a new slide to the storyboard, and then select the Introduction slide master.


This will allow you to type in the default text that you want to introduce the content. Keep in mind that this may be different from the general introduction that you may have written for the walkthrough.


At the end of the presentation, you can now add in a new storyboard panel, but this time select the More template. Here you can type in the links and content that you want to use to point people to more content.


To finish this off, add in one last storyboard panel, but this time select the Author template. Then paste in the biography of the author that you want to append to the document.


To see this in action, select the Blog style
from the dropdown list and you will then see that the options within the Boilerplate option group get checked. You can do this by hand as well if you like.


When the document is created then the text from the Introduction will automatically be added to the document.


And at the end you will see all of the content from the More and Author slide have been added as well.



This is a great timesaver if you are breaking up your storyboard into smaller documents and is also a great way to add consistency to your documents. If you do this by hand then there is always a chance that you will miss something, or copy in the wrong content.

More information…

If this has piqued your curiosity then you can test it out yourself, we have made the install kit available for download for free as the Student Edition.

Just download the kit, install it and then follow along with the examples that are in the book, and also use the samples that are included with the software to see the same examples on your system. You should be able to get it up and running pretty easily and maybe you will find that writing and publishing is not that hard at all.

If you want to grab it, then just follow this link: http://bit.ly/1ZEF5Uo

Also, if you are looking for more resources on then make sure you check out the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books which you can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:     mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:    google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:    atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:    docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

The New Dynamics AX is a big change from the previous releases. The majority of the changes are around the new web based user interface, the new way that you navigate around in the application and also new sets of tools that have come along for the ride.

For those of you that are familiar with the older user interfaces then you may have to learn a couple of new tricks to get around the system like the pro that you are, and for new users of the New Dynamics AX environments then you will probably want as many tips on all the cool things that you are hidden away within the application so that you can quickly become a power user of the system.

I have scoured all of the resources that I have to compile the most useful tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX and that will be useful to everyone, regardless of if you are a novice to Dynamics AX just trying to get around in the application, or have worked with the previous versions of the system, and are just want to learn the nuances of the new user interface.

Personalizing forms by hiding fields

Not everyone is happy with all of the data that is available on the default forms within Dynamics AX, and that’s expected. Some people want to see less information, others may want to see more. Luckily you can do this directly from the Dynamics AX client and you don’t have to customize the system at all.

The first type or personalization that you may want to do is to hide some of the extra fields that you are not interested in.

How to do it…

For example, if you are on the customers list page, you may not want to see the Extension field. To hide the field, start off by right-mouse-clicking on the field heading.


Then click on the Personalize Extension menu option.


This will open up the Personalization options for the field.


To hide the field, just check the Hide option for the field


Now the field is hidden.


Want more?

If you liked this post and want to see more tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX then I have compiled the 50 initial tips and tricks into a new guide for you all. If you want to get all of the tips and tricks in one place, then just follow the link: http://bit.ly/1mAzKf6

Also, if you are looking for more resources on Dynamics AX in general, then make sure you check out the Dynamics AX Companions site at www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com and also the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books on Microsoft Dynamics AX including the Bare Bones Configuration Guide series of over 15 books which step the user through the setup of initial Dynamics AX instance, then through the Financial modules and then through the configuration of the more specialized modules like production, service management, and project accounting. You can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Murray is also the curator of the Dynamics AX Companions (www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com) site which he built from the ground up as a resource for all of the Dynamics AX community where you can find walkthroughs and blueprints that he created since first being introduced to the Dynamics AX product.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:         mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:        google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:        atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:        docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife


Writing walkthrough guides is easy. It’s the formatting of the content that will take you forever to do, especially of you are wanting to repurpose the content into other formats like scripts, blog posts, summaries and even books. And if you want to make a change to a guide, or correct mistakes then that can take just as much time because you might break some of the formatting, or pagination, or you may miss one of the formats. And if you wanted to have specific page breaks, formatting requirements or different page sizes for different versions then it just doubles or triples the work.

Some people may have lackeys or interns that they can give this job to, but I wasn’t one of them, and have literally spent weekends formatting books and transferring images one by one into Word so that I can publish document or create detailed blog post series.

One day it became too much and I decided that I had to stop the insanity and find a better way. Because I capture all of my walkthroughs in PowerPoint – just because it makes everything look consistent and tidy – I looked into how I could automate the process and have it do all of the work for me. I blew the dust off my copy of Visual Studio and created Author Tools for PowerPoint.

These tools automate a lot of the leg work that I used to do manually by using PowerPoint as a repository for all of the walkthrough details and then uses pre-defined word templates as a basis which it then transfers all of the images and text automatically and also formats all of the walkthroughs in a number of different ways based on how you are wanting the information to be consumed. For example, if you are building a book then you may want headings on pages, but if you are publishing it as a blog then you probably don’t.

This reduces the time to format a 400+ page book from 8+ hours and tens of thousands of repetitive keystrokes to probably about half an hour and a single click.

In this walkthrough (which is created with Author Tools for PowerPoint) I will show some of the setup and also how it works.

How to create a new document template

The templates that are delivered with Author Tools are good, but they are just a starting point for you. You can use them and extend them to create your very own personalized templates that include your specific graphics, titles, and also boilerplate content that will always be used in the document. Also you can customize your templates to have their own styles and formatting properties so that they look and feel different from the ones that are initially available.

For example, you can create branded whitepapers where you just inject all of the walkthrough details, or you can create your own cut down templates that just give you a document without all of the bells and whistles that you can use to upload to other blogging resources.

You can also create your own templates that have different page sizes than the default letter size so that the documents will be ready to be uploaded to publishing services. These smaller form factors can also have smaller font styles as well to adjust to the new format.

It’s easy to do, all you need to do is create a new template and copy over the default styles that the Author Tools are looking for.

How to do it…

To do this, start off with a blank Word document. Then click on the dock icon in the bottom right of the Styles panel within the Home ribbon bar.


This will open up the Styles panel where you can see all of the default styles that are attached to the document. We need to now copy over all of the styles that the Author Tools are looking for. To do this click on the Manage Styles icon (the third from the left at the bottom of the panel).


This will open up the Manage Styles dialog box. Now click on the Import/Export button.


This will open up the Organizer dialog box where you can copy styles between templates. This is connected to the standard Normal template which doesn’t have the styles that we need. So click on the Close File for the right-hand-side template.


Now that you have closed the template, click on the Open File button on the right to connect to a better template.


Navigate to the Author Tools folder within your Documents and then drill into the Templates folder. This will allow you to click on the Normal author tools template and then click on the Open button.


When you return back to the Organize form you will see that the new template that you connected to has a number of BSP styles.


Select all of the BSP* styles and then click on the <-Copy button. That will copy them to the document and you can click on the Close button.


When you return back to the document you will see that all of the styles that the Author Tools are looking for have been added to the Styles pane.


Now you can personalize the layout of the document, add in any title pages, boilerplate information and if you want you can even change the default view for the template.


Once you have finished working on the document and setting it up as a base template for your documents you will want to save the document.


Save it to the Author Tools/Templates folder and also change the default Save as Type to a Word Template – either .dotx, or .dotm will work..


After you have done that just close out the document.


How it works…

Now when you open up the Author Tools and click on the Template dropdown list you will see that the template that you just created is in the list.


If you create a document using that template then all of the styles that are embedded within the template will be used and also all of the formatting that is related to the document will be used there as well.


Review

By creating additional templates you can save yourself a whole bunch of time with cutting and pasting boiler plate information and also you can create multiple variations of documents that you may want to publish out that are 99% of the way done with their own branding and formatting. This allows you to quickly convert one storyboard into multiple variations within just minutes. You could create a version that is PDF version that is ready for print, and then turn around and create a version that is ready to be published as a blog post. Also if you want you can have privately branded version that you can quickly publish and send out to other channels as well.

More Information

If this has piqued your curiosity then you can test it out yourself, we have made the install kit available for download for free as the Student Edition.

Just download the kit, install it and then follow along with the examples that are in the book, and also use the samples that are included with the software to see the same examples on your system. You should be able to get it up and running pretty easily and maybe you will find that writing and publishing is not that hard at all.

If you want to grab it, then just follow this link: http://bit.ly/1ZEF5Uo

Also, if you are looking for more resources on then make sure you check out the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About The Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books which you can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:     mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:    google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:    atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:    docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife