Just a quick one: I've recently went through the free portion (which is most of it) of the ruby course on codecademy and I must say: I'm impressed. It does a pretty good job of drilling the concepts into you and gives examples that at least make sense.
If you want to work with Chef or Puppet, for example, this course will make your life much easier.
P.S. Hey, if you've found this post years later in Google or something, here's some other places you can learn to code for free. The author of the link emailed it to me, and it seems like a decent list of places to try on a decent site.