Donald sent in his guide to programming an AVR microcontroller. It takes you step-by-step from purchasing the right hardware all the way through uploading the programs. He includes all his schematics and lots of photos. It’s a good place to start learning about the AVR microcontroller.
My goal was to lower the barrier of entry for getting started with the AVR by starting at square one (i.e. you don’t even own a programmer) and getting someone familiar with using the tools as quickly as possible.
A beginners guide to the ATMEL AVR Micro-controllers – Link
PIC microcontrollers – a beginner’s guide – Link