Monday, November 15, 2010

Snow Season 2010 Rookie Report

This year was my first year Snowboarding. Managed to get up the mountain 5 times, and Snowplanet twice.

I learnt some of the basic skills: falling leaf, stopping, linking turns. I even decided to buy my own set of gear: gloves, pants, jackets, helmet, goggles, boots, snowboard, bindings. Below I will make a few suggestions to anyone out there who wants to start snowboarding, and get their own gear.

Learn How To Snowboard

  1. First you want to be prepared and have appropriate gear. You don't need all the proper stuff, especially if you're not sure whether you'll be doing it again. I went in some sports track pants, a down jacket, and a beanie. I rented the board, boots and bindings, which is a pretty standard thing to do and fairly affordable ($45 on the mountain and $25 at the bottom). The one thing I did buy though, were the gloves. I bought a cheap pair for $20 will do. You just gotta make sure your stuff is water proof.

  2. The next thing to consider as you go up the mountain is a lesson, either from the instructors, or a nice friend.

  3. Now the first thing you gotta figure out is whether you are regular or goofy. I knew I was regular from my skateboarding days, but its up to you to experiment. The best way is to see which foot you lead with if you were to run and slide along the ground. If its your left foot, you're regular, if its your right, you're goofy.

  4. When you get on your board, you're gonna want to learn to travel around with one foot in the bindings. This is how snowboards get around the lifts and things.

  5. Then its time to learn the falling leaf, which involves balancing on the board and traveling down the mountain with the board perpendicular to the way you are traveling. Get practice on both heelside and toeside. When going down front first (and with your back to the top of the mountain), its called heelside as you lift your toes and balance on your heel. Toeside is when you balance facing up the mountain, balancing on your toes. As you get more confident, try leaning left and right to follow a "falling leaf" path.

  6. Now its time to learn to turn. The hardest thing I had to get used to here was leaning forward and keeping my weight on my front foot. I had the tendency (as many beginners do) to lean back which doesn't give you enough control. To turn from heelside to toe side, shift your weight forward and rotate around until your weight is on your toes. This should swing your board including your back foot such that you will now be facing the other way, going down the mountain toeside. To go from toe to heel, do the same but rotate the other way.

  7. After getting used to turning, try linking the turns from left to right to form an "S" path down the mountain.

  8. And thats it! well thats all I learnt. Next season I'll be practicing my switching, and traversing the mountain fakie. I also want to learn ollies and rails.

Buying gear

  • Snowboarding gear can be expensive, especially the latest gear. With everything combined, and the cost of travel/accommodation, snowboard can be expensive.

  • If you want to get everything, expect to pay some $1000+ for new gear. Thats assuming $600 on board, boots, bindings, and the rest on clothes. Thats very good new gear, but last seasons, or on discount pricing. Expect to pay double that if you get it at the start of the season. You can make heavy savings by buying second hand. You might be able to get a complete package (board boots bindings) for under $150-$200, and spend around $200-$300 on the rest of your clothes.

  • The two most important pieces of equipment are boots and gloves. No matter what kind of snowboard or bindings you have, if your boots suck, so will you. Boots that fit and are comfortable go a long way towards your snowboarding experience so don't go cheap here. Chose from a descent brand, and try them on a shops to get a feel for them. Then try and buy them online where it might be cheaper. As for gloves, get some good waterproof ones. Having wet and cold hands can make you seriously miserable. I found a good cheap pair of Gore-tex gloves ($50). Gore-tex is a fabric that guarantees to keep you dry, and from my experience, it has lived up to its hype.

  • Board and Bindings. There are a tonne of manufacturers and brands out there, and a lot of different types of boards. Do some research, if you can try some and demos, rentals, shops and see what style you like. If I could chose my next board, it would be a Bataleon.

  • Getting goggles is not absolutely necessary, but its good for keeping wind and snow out, and does work better than sunnies by themselves.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

C# Email Helper for sending out HTML Emails with data


The following article contains code to send data via a dictionary to a Mail Helper which builds an html email based on an Email template defined by a user control.


At work, I have had to build websites which send out html emails. We already had some code which loaded a user control into an html writer, which gave a html string to be placed in the html body for sending .Net mail. I wanted to abstract the logic out so that I could reuse it in any of my projects without having to modify all the parameters etc.

Essentially the things that were different were the HTML template, and the data to be bound to the template. Everything else; the building, the sending all had the same logic.

The Code

First we have the MailHelper class, which will build and send the email. We pass in the path of the email template, and basic email parameters such as to, from and subject. The dictionary is a string object pair for convenience. Use the string as a key to reference your objects similar to a ViewState or ViewModel.

Then you will see the EmailControl class which extends UserControl. We want to place a method there for setting the key value pairs. And then we want all Email templates to extend from this class.

public static class MailHelper

        public static void SendEmail(string controlPath, 
                                     string to, 
                                     string from, 
                                     string subject, 
                                     Dictionary<string, object> keyValuePairs)
            var body = GenerateContactEmailBody(controlPath, keyValuePairs);
            var officeMessage = new MailMessage(from, to)
                Subject = subject,
                IsBodyHtml = true,
                Body = body
            var client = new SmtpClient();
        private static string GenerateContactEmailBody(string path, 
                                  Dictionary<string, object> keyValuePairs)
            Page pageHolder = new Page();
            var emailControl = (EmailControl)pageHolder.LoadControl(path);
            var writer = new StringWriter(CultureInfo.CurrentCulture);
            emailControl.RenderControl(new Html32TextWriter(writer));
            return writer.ToString();
    public class EmailControl : System.Web.UI.UserControl
        public virtual void SetKeyValuePairs(Dictionary<string,object> value)
            throw new NotImplementedException();

So now we can create a new HTML Email template. Create a new UserControl, make this extend EmailControl instead of extending UserControl directly. Then override the SetKeyValuePairs method. In my example below, I have a ContactUs email template where I accept values for Name, Email, Telephone, and Question. These are all strings but could have been other objects.

Then in my ascx file, I create the html template as per a design, and bind the properties where they are needed. The override for RenderControl is needed when we generate the html in the MailHelper.

public partial class ContactUs : EmailControl
        public override void SetKeyValuePairs(Dictionary<string, object> value)
            Name = value["Name"].ToString();
            Email = value["Email"].ToString();
            Telephone = value["Telephone"].ToString();
            Question = value["Question"].ToString();
        public string Name { get; set; }
        public string Email { get; set; }
        public string Telephone { get; set; }
        public string Question { get; set; }
        public override void RenderControl(HtmlTextWriter writer)

Finally, the bit of code which I call on my page which actually calls the MailHelper and sends out the email.

var kvp = new Dictionary<string, object>();
            kvp.Add("Name", name);
            kvp.Add("Email", email);
            kvp.Add("Telephone", telephone);
            kvp.Add("Question", question);
            var to = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ContactTo"];
            var from = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ContactFrom"];
            var subject = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ContactSubject"];
            MailHelper.SendEmail("~/ContactUs.ascx", to, from, subject, kvp);