My working desktop setup used XMonad as a window manager and a terminal using GNU screen. In XMonad, I was using dzen as a small panel in the top corner for displaying useful information (mail, clock, battery status, etc). Dzen just display a text string. This can also be printed by a program. I wrote myself a simple python script, for doing that part like the example shows below:
gocept:INBOX(1) private: -- | Friday, 19.12.2008 10:44:15 (AUS 20:44, CAN 3:44)
Now I switched to use XMonad in GNOME. Dzen is gone and I was looking for an alternative to display the information printed by my script. After a bit of googling, I found a very nice howto about GNU screen. Screen offers a harstatus and a caption line to display information. I tweaked my screenrc to use the python script in the caption line.