Spark Fun has a handy (so it seems) PIC dev board that can be bootloaded and then shows up as an RS232 com port – “This is a spectacular little development board featuring the PIC18F2455. Based on the work of Brian Schmalz, the UBW is a small board with a command intrepreter for basic input and output control. When attached to a Windows computer, the UBW will show up as an RS232 Com port! You control the individual I/O pins on the PIC through simple serial commands. Board comes fully tested, preprogrammed, and assembled as shown.”Link.