Teaching a newbie how to program is a difficult task, whether you’re writing a book, recording a screencast or teaching a class. Similarly, it’s a bit of a hassle for someone who is proficient with one or two languages to pick up a new one.
Try Ruby is a clever interactive tutorial that would work well for either scenario. It takes the form of an in-browser command line Ruby interpreter with a pane along the bottom that gives you instructions. It tells you to type in a command, and explains what exactly is going on.
Doesn’t that make you want to learn Ruby? I went through a few steps, from basic arithmetic to strings to arrays, and it was kind of fun. Having to type out everything as you go seems to reinforce your understanding of what you’re doing better than simply reading a book. And once you’ve got the language down, you should be able to move on to watching screencasts for the Rails framework. I may have to give Ruby a try sometime.