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I'll just point you to two programs here.
The first is a "database accessing program" query.c that I find very useful for retrieving information from my (LaTeX) "rolodex" file and my my .bib bibliographic database file. (You can see a sample rolodex file here and get at the LaTeX .sty files and macros used in that sample by looking at the directory containing my LaTeX macros.) This program was written by Ronald L. Rivest of MIT and modified by me as noted in the lines containing "RIG"; especially useful, I think, are the new switches, ".O" and ".V". Basic documentation for the program is contained in comments in the .c file.
The second is a program that puts a message on your screen (under X windows) when you get new email (showing From and Subject and allowing you to view email content). There is a directory of xnewbiff stuff that I got from Avrim Blum of CMU and have slightly modified.