Virtualise, Wipe and Reinstall

My home PC had been getting slower over time ... over the years I have installed a lot of software that I don't really use anymore, and there were still a bunch of Lenovo tools on there from when it was new. So it was time for a clean reinstall - a reformatted disk with a fresh copy of Windows can work wonders. But I still wanted a full backup of the old machine, just in case. So I thought that it would be good to virtualise the whole machine before I wiped it. Then I could always go back to the old version if I needed anything. Which is normally the case...

Anyway, I used the excellent Disk2VHD tool which can virtualise a hard disk whilst it is still running. So you can create the VHD on the machine that you're virtualising. Very cool.

So I'm now using VirtualBox to boot up the Virtual Hard Disk which has been created. It was a very nice way to achieve a clean install without losing anything, and it was pretty painless. I might do the same thing on my laptop actually...

Microprocessor virtualisation

On one of my web-wanderings I discovered a piece of software called VMLAB. It allows you to build a virtual prototype of a microprocessor circuit, without any actual hardware! Very cool.  Even better - it's freeware.  This had to be downloaded and tried out :-)

Since I have recently been messing about with HD44780 compatible LCD displays, I couldn't resist trying that.  So here is an example I knocked up:

Virtual LCD and microprocessor in VMLAB

Not bad ... an ATmega168 driving an HD44780 compatible LCD all done virtually, without all that mucking about with actual hardware.  I did try sending some user defined characters to the virtual LCD, but that didn't seem to work, maybe that was pushing it.