Solution for “None of the cipher suites supported by the client application are supported by the server”

My SSL requests failed when the client was Windows Server 2003, and the server (a win7 box) showed this error in the event log:

An TLS 1.0 connection request was received from a remote client application, but none of the cipher suites supported by the client application are supported by the server. The SSL connection request has failed.

I spent days trying to fix it, trying about twenty different things. In the end, the real solution was to generate the SSL certificates again from scratch, this time forcing RSA and SHA1 (though SHA1 should be the default anyway). I used:

makecert -pe -r -ss my -sr localMachine -n “CN=[domain name or IP address]” -e 01/01/2099 -a sha1 -eku 1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.1 -sky exchange -sp “Microsoft RSA SChannel Cryptographic Provider” -sy 12

Here is what all the switches mean:

-pe include private key

-r self-signed

-ss my put cert into “Personal” certificate store

-sr localMachine use local machine’s cert stores (not current user’s)

-n common name (external IP or domain name of server)

-e expiry date

-a sha1 use SHA1

-eku 1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.1 enhanced key usage Object Identifier (OID) for “SSL server certificate”

-sky exchange cert is for key exchange

-sp “Microsoft RSA SChannel Cryptographic Provider” use RSA

-sy 12 CryptoAPI provider type

For some reason Win Server 2k3 couldn’t or wouldn’t use the right ciphers with a default makecert certificate.

Hope this helps someone.

Quickly find out “how fast” a CPU or GPU is

You can easily spend dozens of hours researching performance on CPUs and GPUs.

But what if you don’t have dozens of hours? What if before you spend that much, you just want a general idea? Something to start from, so you can decide whether it’s even worth looking at an upgrade in the current market, like: “will doubling my GPU performance cost around $50 or around $500?” for example. How do we quickly find out roughly how fast a particular CPU or GPU is?

Here are 3 sites using 3 different methods that can quickly give you a general idea of performance. Mad props to the r/buildapc community for recommending some of these.

Tom’s hierarchy charts

Included at the end of Tom’s “best value” articles for GPUs and CPUs published every month or two. Ranks parts by performance:

CPU hierarchy – July 2011 (check here for newer, if you’re reading this later)

GPU hierarchy – July 2011 (newer)

Pros

  • Quickly see if a C/GPU is faster than another
  • Based on a large number of benchmarks by a reputable team
  • Based on gaming performance (which is what most people want the performance for)

Cons

  • Can’t see how much faster it is (say GPU A is 2 tiers above GPU B – does that mean it’s 5% faster? 500% faster?)
  • The CPU charts only show somewhat recent CPUs (so I can’t see how my current machine compares unless I upgrade every few years – in which case I know a lot about recent hardware and probably don’t really need these charts).

AnandTech Bench

Also includes a nice price-performance graph, useful for those who live in the US and therefore can buy from NewEgg.

CPU benchmark results

GPU benchmark results

Pros

  • Gives and actual number (so you can see how much faster one C/GPU is over another)
  • Based on a large number of benchmarks by a reputable team
  • Can also select two C/GPUs and compare them in detail over dozens of benchmark tests

Cons

  • Can’t compare older hardware (such as your current PC, unless you upgrade frequently)

Passmark Lists

More comprehensive, but less accurate lists:

CPU list

GPU list

Pros

  • Gives and actual number (so you can see how much faster one C/GPU is over another)
  • Includes a large number of both desktop, notebook and server CPUs and GPUs, including very old ones for comparison
Cons
  • Benchmark is misleading in some ways: a quad core CPU is twice as fast as the identical dual core CPU (in real life applications, only very multithreaded apps will even approach that kind of speed gain)

Xpadder

I need to use a proper game controller for PC games, because I get RSI from using a mouse and keyboard.

Unfortunately, a lot of PC games don’t support controllers very well. Some have no support, others have very limited or broken support (for example, one of the analog sticks won’t be recognised). This happens even in games where controllers are a better choice (Beyond Good and Evil and Fahrenheit have broken support) and/or the game is a console port (or also available on consoles, e.g. Bioshock 2 has no controller support(!)).

For these games, I use special keyboard/mouse emulation software – programs that accept input from a controller and translate it into mouse movements and key presses.

I’ve used a free one called ControlMK for years, but it has it’s limits:

  • It doesn’t work with every game (not sure why)
  • It’s a bit tricky to configure – hard to figure out which button maps to which button number.

The end result is the eternal problem of PC gaming: the time wasted configuring the game before you can play it properly. Tweaking graphic card settings and fiddling with control mappings was actually somewhat fun  when I was a kid (and beneficial; it taught me a lot about computers). Now I have very little time to game, and I’d really like to spend some of it actually gaming.

So, of course, I asked a question about it on the Gaming StackExchange.

As one answer recommended, I ended up buying one called Xpadder.

It’s interface allows you to use an image of the controller (make your own or use one of the many images on the Xpadder site), with each button in the correct place, which really saves a lot of time – like this. So far, it also works in games which only partially worked with ControlMK. It seems to have an active community and lots of extra features too.

There is a functional (but older) free version if you want to try it or can’t afford the $10 (or so, depends on country/currency, I think) to buy it.

Saved me a lot of time, I recommend it.

Dell 1720 Laptop replacement battery and power adapter

time for replacements

The 9-cell battery that came with my Dell 1720 notebook in late 2007 now only gives about 15 minutes of power from full charge (used to be 3 hours or so) even on the most power-saving settings.

The power adapter or charger (the cable and “brick” that plug into the electrical socket) was failing too. It powered the laptop but wouldn’t charge the battery.

Lucky for me, my wife’s Dell 1520 adapter is compatible, so I was able to continue to use my laptop easily while I shopped for a replacement. I was also able confirm that it was both my battery and my adapter that were failing: neither adapter could make my battery hold it’s charge, and my adapter wouldn’t charge either battery.

razor blades and print cartridges

My first plan was to get genuine Dell replacements; I didn’t want to risk frying my laptop. But I was surprised to discover them not listed on Dell’s website. While searching around, I discovered Dell’s own customer reviews of the compatible 6-cell and 9-cell batteries for my 1720 were not encouraging. Dozens of customers complained that the batteries failed within a year or two of use and the replacement prices were baffling – USD$155 for a battery!

I googled around a bit more and discovered that this is a common complaint. It didn’t take long for me to realise I’m looking at one of the oldest tricks in the book: Selling something cheap and making money off the consumables. Just as Gilette gave away free razors but make a profit on the blades, and Canon sell $30 printers that only take $50 cartridges, Dell had sold me a nice laptop at a good price but were making a killing on cheap-to-make batteries. Someone even said Dell puts a chip in the power adapter so the laptop can check for non-dell-brand adapters and refuse to charge from them.

but can you risk your laptop?

I called Dell anyway. They said they were too busy to tell me the price (?) and would email me back. I began to look at 3rd party products – there are plenty of online sellers with compatible batteries and adapters. I found some on eBay from China that were claimed to be “genuine Dell parts” for less than $50, but this isn’t my first time buying “genuine” stuff on eBay. Even if it’s a good factory second or something from Dell’s own factory, can I really trust it not to fry my laptop?

an easy decision

A few days later, Dell finally replied with a quote for my battery and adapter:

Part Number: UW280 – 9 cell
Price including GST: $242
Availability: 10 – 15 working days
Part Number: DF266 + FF683 – adapter
Price including GST: $110
Availability: 10 – 15 working days

So that’s AUD$352 (USD$322), and 2-3 weeks, for parts that should still be working (and I now know they will fail again in less than 3 years). I could literally buy a new laptop for that price (with Windows, a 1.6Ghz CPU and 1Gb of RAM). Even Dell has a windows 7 machine for less than that on their US site (with a 6-cell battery and power adapter included – so it’s not like they’re actually expensive to make).

I ordered the ones from eBay.

taking the plunge

An eBay seller named Lycfeng sold me a brand new 9 cell, 85Wh “genuine Dell” FK890 battery for AUD$57.98 (including postage from China to Australia). It arrived only 7 days later in a plain cardboard box:

The new battery itself is identical in size and shape. It looks like a slightly newer version of my old battery – just claiming to be made in China using Korean-made cells (the original was made in Japan).

I backed up my data, said a prayer, swapped it in, and switched the laptop back on. I got pretty concerned when I got a BSoD and an IRQL_not_less_than_or_equal error on startup (!) but I remembered I’d got this once or twice in the past and tried simply restarting. This time the laptop started up fine and has worked well ever since. The battery lasts about 3.5 hours on conservative settings (that’s at least as good as the original battery – it’s a 17″ laptop with 2 HDDs) and never gets hot (always cooler than the rest of the machine, actually).

The adapter was a “genuine” Dell PA10 (90W 5.62A 19.5V) from a seller named unstar2006. It shipped in 8 days from China for $26.57 (including postage). It looks exactly like the old one, and has worked without any problems.

Update: after about a month, I have had a problem with it, though it was easily fixed. These adapters come in 2 parts:

  1. a long cord with the dell-specific plug for the laptop on one end, and the “brick” that does the actual power conversion on the other.
  2. a shorter, standard cord with a three prong IEC-C5 connector (that plugs into the “brick”) on one end, and a standard AC plug, that goes into your wall outlet, on the other. These are generic standard plugs that cost about $5-10 from eBay or an electronics shop. Many laptop power bricks use the same connector.

The eBay auction was aimed at an international audience, so the seller said he would ship the main part of the adapter (cable 1) with whatever version of cable 2 fits the buyer’s electrical wall outlets (because it depends on what country they live in). For me, he included one that fits Australian electrical outlets.

It appears it wasn’t a good quality one though, as it simply stopped working about a month later. This might concern some people about the quality of parts unstar2006 is using (though he didn’t claim that cable 2 was a genuine Dell). Personally, it hasn’t bothered me because I have one from my old dell power adapter still lying around. I plugged that in and everything works perfectly again. Since then, I bought another for my wife’s laptop, and her cable 2 died within a few months too. So if you’re thinking of buying one of these, keep this in mind (and don’t throw away your old cables).

the verdict

I’ve only had these for a month at time of writing, so the jury is still out on how long they’ll last. I’ll add an update to this post if they fail anytime soon (I have already had a problem with the wall plug part of the power adapter, as noted above, but it was very easily fixed).

But while I still think they’re most likely just excellent counterfeits, or made at Dell’s factory without their permission, I’ve had no real problems (not even any evidence that they’re not genuine Dell parts).

Not bad for $85 (almost $250 less than Dell’s price).

Your mileage may vary, and all the usual disclaimers, but so far my own experience has been great.

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