A pineapple is ripe (you can usually tell by smelling it) if you press the flesh and it just yields. Also if you grasp the leaves and twist it should come out with a plug of flesh. It's this bit you can grow on into a plant.
i cut the top and bottoms off then cut it in quarters, then slice off the hard bit in the middle you should be able to tell by the feel of the knife if you have cut it all off as it will be tough then i slice across the pineapple then run the knife underneath near the skin, most pineapples have peeling instructions on the label
I used to do the same as metrognome but then invested in one of the pineapple slicers from 'Studio' (same as the ones from Lakeland). It's the very best £1.50 I've spent for a long time - I just have to remember to place the pineapple in a bowl........ otherwise juice ends up everywhere :8855: