I've taken a meandering life journey that has led me to Ruby and Rails and am a mostly self taught beginner who goes through fits of not doing any thing for a while and then diving deep in (I do have a full time job that has nothing to do with programming or ruby or rails or web programming). I did sucessfully build a series of ruby 'mini' programs that probably need a lot of refactoring. Their purpose is to go to the espn.com web site and download all available information for any NBA game played on a date (or series of dates) and then populate database tables with them...that was my motivation in learning ruby. It was a bit of a pain since the box scores are only in HTML, and each HTML file is over 1700 lines, I did write the regex to get the information I needed but it didn't work perfectly and I know there are gems for parsing HTML like that but I didn't know about them at the time. I got them to work, I got back seasons but then I got hung up on other things and didn't continue. This was the 'primary' motivation in learning ruby - to build these databases that I wanted to build for years (it took me 2 years of thinking about normalization and queries to crack the 'sports results' database design to allow proper calculation of standings and win loss records in a variety of ways).
Hey look - my post is meandering too - my primary domain will be JohnHasADHD.com (cause I do) and it took me a while to finally get a language that worked with my brain - via http://ruby.learncodethehardway.org/ (I've tried PHP, ASPX, Python and Perl all in the past, none worked for me) but I'm still mostly a beginner making my way through the Hartl tutorial and not being able to find the 'help' I need to fully understand some principles (The Hartl handling of 'signed in' still isn't fully clear to me) but hopefully the renewed Rails Forum will help lme get over those issues