A (standalone) email notifier!

Over the last say two months, I've been working on a project of my own. Being a college student, I'm on a limited budget. So, when I decided that I wanted an email notifier, I had to think of a cheap way to do it, without an ethernet shield.

My solution was to write a program (which began on my Macbook) to run on the Raspberry Pi (on Raspian/ XBMC) that would open a serial communication with an Arduino and use its own web interface (keep in mind... a RPi is the same price as an ethernet shield...) to check my emails. The result is an lcd screen that prints the number of unread emails (and if there are none, it says that, too), and an indicator light to accompany it. The catch is, though, that I wanted this to happen ONLY when I wanted to check emails (i.e., only when an IR sensor is covered by my finger -- it's like a touch screen button).

There were two possible implementations. One was to modify my program to only send info over serial when the Arduino sent an instruction back over serial to say it was ready. This seemed too difficult, as it required modifying both codes as well as introducing a ~2 sec time delay to anything happening (RPi's aren't extremely fast).

The second method was to modify my Arduino code so that it only processes information sent via serial when the beam is broken. The program I've written for my computer uses minimal CPU and I've noticed no difference at all. This is easier, and what I used.

I used the Adafruit 18-pin LCD, so my backlight was RGB. This wasn't entirely necessary, as currently I'm just using a white backlight, so a single-color 16-pin LCD would work just fine.

Essentially, what I want to know, is if there would be an interest in my writing a tutorial or giving further instructions. I've noticed that it is EXTREMELY useful. I have two roommates in my apartment and I've successfully modified the code to read our individual emails and give different colored indicators (backlight colors are unique for us) to tell who's got mail. It's integrated into our XBMC entertainment system now, so it's all mounted next to the TV on the wall, in a nice wood box. I can see it being an easy (and cheap -- Arduino/ clone included for ~$35 or less) addition to your setup - and it gets everyone off of their phones so much!

//Note: There is a moderate amount of knowledge required, as I used a variety of components and my circuit was somewhat complicated. Also, there would need to be some Arduino knowledge (C/C++) as well as Applescript knowledge (if you're running it/ compiling it on a Mac) or Python knowledge. The most important part is the application (or script) to run on the computer-end.