Not as many as above, but I have used tens of Picaxe's with hundreds of downloads,
from 08M2 to 28X2.
Only ever had one fail, entirely down to me giving it 12v supply !. Picked up the wrong 'wall wart',
12v instead of 5v.
My fear would be he has been forced to find another means of income, along with so many others.
I was forced out of business due to no work. Fortunately, I have a good pension from my previous employer of 38 years. So am now fully retired. Thousand's are not so lucky.
I only ever program using TTL levels, NOT rs232, so don't use any kind of potential divider.
I tend to use anything between 10k & 47k for pull down, depends on what I have to hand.
90% of my projects have included header pins for RX,TX & Gnd for programing in circuit.