thanks for the link, Cpilot.
the problem is with the current bandwidth meters is that they monitor the whole period that the computer is online.
i need it to monitor between specific hours - outside of those hours i can download/upload an unlimited amount without penalities from my isp.
maybe instead of writing a little program to do what i originally asked for, i only need a util that will turn on a typical bandwidth monitor at a specific time - and then turn it off at a later set time each day. providing the bandwidth monitor keeps a running total it would work the same as my original request.
any suggestions for a little util to run other apps by specified times?
just tried 'ShaPlus Bandwidth Meter' - very buggy on my system: strange output and won't unlock itself from its screen position.