I was standing in line at the post office and they had one of those small LED message boards. It inspired me to create one of my own.
What does this do? It displays the date and time. It will tell you the current weather. It will tell you the weather forecast. It will warn you if there are any active weather alerts. It will tell you news headlines from your favorite RSS news feeds. And for fun, ever hour Sonic the Hedgehog will run across the display.
Since this is designed to run 24/7, there is also a network checker built in. It checks itself, DNS, gateway, and Internet. It tries to guess why it cannot reach out to the Internet and advises what you may want to check to diagnose the connectivity issues. It will also try to reboot itself periodically to restore network connectivity.