Got a PIC (microchip.com) programmer off ebay (I wonder what I would do without ebay here is its anthem).
It is a el-cheapo clone, (cheapest USB programmer I found) able to programm only 8-bit microchip.com microcontrollers (such as the 16f84 and 16f877 and 18f452 that the good guys at microchip.com sent me as samples). I tried almost every language available for them (like picBasic pro etc) but settled for microchip's own compilers (namely C18) which also comes in an educational edition that has optimizations disabled. No problem there. Since my C background is much better than Assembly, I felt right at home