Top suggestion: Get an USB adapter. They are quite cheap. Should save you tons of time if you get one with auto-reset capability (RTS/DTR).If you use the built-in RS232 ports of your mainboard and they are enabled in the BIOS,there is nothing to be 'magically' recognized. Any recent OS supports those right away. There will also be NO "new hardware found" event for anything connected to them. The way you have it wired up now, there is also NO auto-reset. This will make uploading code quite tedious, maybe even close to impossible.The absolute minimum for hassle-free upload is:RX, TX, RTS (or DTR), GND.
It is physically impossible for auto-reset to work with only RX/TX wires. Auto-reset needs RTS or DTR to work.The LED initially blinks... only because you give power to the chip.
How about a schematic? Can't tell from that picture if you have the MAX232 wired up correctly.If you put a multimeter on MAX232 pins in use do you see the DB9 pins sitting at -10V or so, and the uC side sitting at 5V, when no transfers are happening?You have the polarized caps oriented correctly also?If that all checks out, press & hold the reset while you start the IDE, release it when it says "compiled xxx of xxx bytes", something like that.
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