In mid-December, I mentioned BrainShare in passing fully meaning to get back to a newsletter devoted to Novell's annual users' conference sometime in early January. But events, other topics (and, I must admit, my own faulty memory) have put it off until now. Still, you shouldn't put off your registration for the event because if you wait until after Feb. 13 it will cost you an additional $200. That $200 could be the difference between "YES" and "NO" from whoever has to approve your travel and training requests.And still, after 15 years, BrainShare remains one of my favorite trade show\/conference\/seminar\/training venues. It's got a little bit of everything (marketing, in-depth engineering, hands-on evaluation and training, goofy games, food whenever you want it and small "n" networking with your peers) packed into a relatively compact space.At some shows, you spend time wondering what to do. At BrainShare, you don't have time to wonder, but if you did it would be about how to fit it all in.\u00a0 My first BrainShare (then called the Novell Developers' Conference) was all about NetWare 3 (then called NetWare 386, because it took full advantage of Intel's new 80386 CPU). Literally, ALL about NetWare 3. There were two seminar rooms in which the attendees alternated between (one was in use, one was being set up) all day. We were reading NetWare source code, for gosh sakes (only snippets, it's true, but try suggesting that at a Microsoft conference).BrainShare 2004 promises to be bigger and better than ever - bigger it must be, because there are all those new acquisitions to cover. Among the highly touted sessions are:* New features in NetWare 6.5-hands on.* Implementing Nterprise Linux Services-hands on.* Migrating from Windows to SuSE on the desktop.* Configuring GroupWise on SUSE.* Advanced management for ZENworks.* Using Mono to develop and deploy .Net apps for Linux.But in many ways it really doesn't matter what the sessions are, they're uniformly good, packed with information and ready to open your eyes to all the possibilities Novell has to offer. But these aren't sales sessions at all, oh no. Mind you, there is a good deal of marketing involved - Novell does want you to buy its products. But it's technical marketing, marketing targeted at network managers, network developers and people like you and me. There's the occasional session for the CxO types that are easily picked out and ignored, but the bulk of the sessions are just the ones you'd like to see.And the sessions are led by (typically) the product manager, product marketing manager and\/or the lead engineer for the product. Your questions are always welcome during and after the session, but if they still aren't answered head over to the demo lab (where all the products are on display and there are more engineers to answer questions). You could also drop in at the "Ask the Experts" night where you can, beverage of choice in hand, go at it with the guy who designed the install program (or the print driver, or whatever gets your goat) and tell him exactly what you think. Meanwhile, your colleague can be finding out from the gal who wrote the program in question just how to work around the problems you've encountered.BrainShare is, with the exception of skiing, the most fun you can legally have in Utah. Be there.