Buy an Arduino, any will do. Right now the Uno is my favorite, but I have Megas and a Leonardo also. Buy a legit board straight from the Arduino site since you're new. It costs a bit more but you don't have to worry about incompatibilities or a bad board like you do with some knock offs. Get the board, download the IDE, then just start a simple project. Something like a clock. There are plenty of projects out there that you can follow step by step and copy/paste the code. Once you get your project working, figure out why it works. Add to it, change the code, play with it.
Pick up a copy of the Arduino Cookbook. Do a few more simple projects. Collect shields and components. After a few projects, you'll find C/C++ starting to make sense.
I doubt you're going to be able to just wire up your LEDs and have them fading immediately without building several projects first. The Arduino community is huge though, so there are always sites and people willing to help.
You can sit around reading a programming textbook, but in my experience it's easier and more fun to just do it.
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for Current LED+ and other IR switchable lights.