Steve Merrick wrote:

> Or even 'Why <insert scripting language of your choice>'? I know it's me
> that's ignorant. I'm hoping this forum can change that! ;-) Allowing for
> my background in C++/C/Assembler/Pascal/Fortran..., can you help me to
> understand what languages like Ruby are for?

What's a language like "sh" or "awk" for?  Getting things done.
Easily.  Efficiently.  Quickly.

> ... but I can't visualise a situation where I would look at the
> design problem and think 'No, not C++ - Ruby is what I should use here.'

Heh!  I _always_ think "No, not C++"!   :-)  :-)

> I've tried to learn Ruby, and made some very basic progress, but I'm
> stuck in a mental rut. I can't think of what to use it for, so I can't
> see the point in learning any more about it. Help!! :-)

Like any "scripting" language, it can be used for anything.
It saddens me that someone cannot see the point in learning
something new...

There are several good articles on the web about "scripting"
languages.  One is called "Choosing a scripting language",
originally published in SunWorld magazine, October 1997.
They didn't know about Ruby at that time, and cover only
Perl, Python, and Tcl.  

Another is John Ousterhout's "Scripting: Higher Level Programming 
for the 21st Century".  http://home.pacbell.net/ouster/scripting.html

Lastly, to me, "scripting" just means no compiler, no linker,
no makefile.  Otherwise, it's still "programming", still "thinking",
still "designing".

--
Mike Hall