Using Atmel's little 8 pin AtTiny85 microcontroller as a standalone is a great alternative to the larger 28 pin AtMega328 mounted on an Arduino Uno board. I have switched from one to the other by various means, but what I found easiest was using Sparkfun's Tiny AVR Programmer. Couple that with the AtTiny85 and a supplemental folder dropped into the Arduino IDE, and a no-fuss, versatile, inexpensive programming method is born.
This project was accomplished on a pc with a Windows system; a similar tutorial for Macs (though with less explanation) can be found here:
--A computer/laptop, with knowledge whether it is 32 or 64 bit
--The Sparkfun Tiny AVR Programmer. You can purchase one for under $20 here:
--An Atmel AtTiny85 microcontroller. You can purchase one for under $3 here:
--Arduino IDE Software, the AtTiny supplement folder, and the Tiny AVR Programmerdriver, all which can be downloaded for free from the hyperlinks below