Any career coach will tell you attending industry trade shows is a great way to get new ideas, meet people who matter, and collect and distribute business cards and resumes. If you're into open source programming, the place to be is OpenSource World, and the good news is this year's conference, to be held August 11-13 in San Francisco, is free to attendees. That's right, not $995 or $595 or $395. It's free. Want to register? Go here. You'll have to qualify to get in, but if you're a working IT expert, you should be able to get approval from the gatekeepers.

Previously known as LinuxWorld, the conference will also include two subsidiary shows: CloudWorld and Next Generation Data Center. "The kind of people the program committee wants to reach are those hardcore systems administrators and working IT managers," a conference organizer told Computerworld. "We want them to get something out of it they can take back to the office."

Could this be the wave of the future? With travel budgets slashed as companies scale back, trade show attendance is sure to suffer unless organizers take this tack, funding the entire thing with sponsorships and making sure attendees fit the bill so exhibitors will know they're getting the bang they expect for their bucks. The winner is you. All you have to do now is find a cheap ticket to San Francisco.

--Don Willmott