@kettch: Could be worse. I can't even accept anything over $50, period. I can't accept more than one free meal. The trip has to be approved not only from the travel budget but also by an "ethics" review board from human resources (for conflicts of interest or potential bribes), and it has to be approved by a Vice President by the second week of January for anytime in the year. You can't just pop in a month before the event and say "I want to go". Not that such a trip would ever be approved anyway.
If I want to go to an event like this, it is on my vacation time and on my dime. Thank goodness for the Ch9 coverage of these events.
I don't expect there will be much swag this year anyway. Probably just a flash drive with Windows Blue on it.