The folks at the uC Hobby blog have posted a gentle introduction to microcontroller programming. To make things easy, they use the easy to find and inexpensive Arduino Duemilanove controller, which is a free hardware design based on the Atmel ATmega168 MCU. The short tutorial explains the IDE, which uses a free software programming language called "Processing" - basically a simplified version of C which hides a main() function containing a simple program loop. The programs themselves are called "sketches" but for the most part look like normal C programs. All this processing and sketches business apparently makes the learning curve a bit smoother for beginners who have no previous programming experience. That means first time users will be able to get their project working faster. The tutorial takes the user through writing, compiling, and running a simple program to blink LEDS.