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Friday, December 24, 2010

Dropbox Review | Macworld

Dropbox Review | Macworld

One of the most popular bits of code around the Macworld offices is Dropbox. We’ve made videos about it, we’ve written about how to get more out of it, we’ve reviewed programs that take advantage of it, and we’ve even given it an Eddy award. But we’ve never reviewed Dropbox itself. So with Dropbox 1.0 for Mac officially released, it’s about time we did. And given that it’s free (more on that below), it’s about as good a candidate for Mac Gems as there is.

Put simply, Dropbox is an amazingly useful combination of a Web service and a Mac OS X program that work together to make your data accessible from anywhere and to keep it synchronized between your computers. Once you’ve installed the Dropbox application and set up a Dropbox account, anything you place in a special Dropbox folder on your Mac is automatically copied to the Dropbox servers, as well as to any other Macs you’ve set up with that Dropbox account. Similarly, whenever you make a change to data in your Dropbox folder on one Mac, those changes are quickly—almost immediately, as long as you have an active Internet connection—reflected in your Dropbox account on the Web and in the Dropbox folders on your other computers.

Dropbox's systemwide menu

If this sounds a bit like the iDisk feature of Apple’s MobileMe service, that’s because it’s similar…except that Dropbox is fast and reliable. Dropbox is also more secure than iDisk, as files stored on the Dropbox servers are encrypted and are transferred using SSL. Dropbox is also smarter about copying files: It transfers smaller files before larger ones, copies only the parts of each file that have changed, and compresses all data for the trip. And Dropbox is better about handling sync conflicts—if the same document is modified on two computers at the same time, Dropbox keeps both copies, adding a “conflicted” message to the name of one.

If this is all Dropbox did, it would be immensely useful for keeping data in sync between Macs and for making them accessible from any computer with a Web browser. For example, I personally use my Dropbox folder for storing all my in-progress documents, letting me work on those documents from any of my Macs. I can also access those documents using the Dropbox app for iPhones and iPads, and I can even edit them on my iOS devices using apps such as the Elements text editor. In addition, many Mac programs, such as TextExpander and 1Password, can use Dropbox to ensure all your Macs have the same settings and data; and because your Dropbox folder is a standard Finder folder, you can use Automator or a utility such as Hazel to automate task across your Macs. But Dropbox does more—much, much more.

For starters, the Dropbox servers automatically save past versions of each synced file, letting you restore any version from the past 30 days using your account on the Dropbox Website. (You can access this feature quickly by right-clicking or Control-clicking a file in your Dropbox folder and choosing Dropbox -> View Previous Versions from the Finder’s contextual menu.) If you’ve got a Pro account—more on that below—you can restore any past version of a Dropbox-synced file, even those versions more than 30 days old.

But perhaps the most useful Dropbox extras relate to sharing your data, both publicly and privately. For starters, you can share any file within the Public folder inside your Dropbox folder by simply giving someone a special URL for that file. Although you can get this link using the Dropbox Website, the easier way is to simply right-click (Control-click) the file in the Finder and choose Dropbox -> Copy Public Link from the contextual menu. You can then paste that URL into an e-mail message, tweet, or document, and the recipient can just click the link to download the file.

Getting the URL for a file in your Public folder
You can also share entire folders within your Dropbox folder by right-clicking (Control-clicking) on a folder and choosing Dropbox -> Share This Folder. You’re taken to the Dropbox site, where you provide the e-mail addresses of the fellow Dropbox users you want to have access. Once one of your invitees logs in to their Dropbox account and accepts your invitation, your folder shows up inside their Dropbox folder. Similarly, you can access folders other users have shared with you.

When you accept the invitation to a shared folder, it appears in your Dropbox folder, and it acts exactly like any other folder, except that in addition to syncing between your computers and devices, it syncs with the Dropbox folder of the folder’s owner and every other person with whom the owner has shared the folder. So, for example, if I add a document to a shared Dropbox folder on my Mac, that document magically appears on the Macs of every other person sharing the folder. This is a brilliant—and brilliantly simple—approach to sharing files and folders over the Internet without having to fuss with OS X’s File Sharing settings or worry about firewalls, routers, and IP addresses. (It also works great for people in the same location—my family uses a shared Dropbox folder for all household documents and information.)

Finally, there’s a sharing feature of Dropbox that often gets overlooked: Any images you drop into the Photos folder inside your Dropbox folder can be viewed in an automatically generated photo gallery on the Web; you create multiple galleries by simply creating subfolders. (To get the URL for a gallery, just right-click on a folder of photos, or go to your account on the Dropbox Website.) You can even share a folder inside your Photos folder, using the folder-sharing procedure described above, to let multiple people add photos to the same gallery. This is the easiest way I’ve found to quickly create an online photo gallery or slideshow.

While the Dropbox program mostly works its magic behind the scenes, there are a few useful options available to you. One of my favorites lets Dropbox display a Growl notification whenever new or updated files are synced to your local Dropbox folder. Another favorite, added to Dropbox earlier this year, is LAN sync: If you’ve got multiple Dropbox-configured computers on your local network, the Dropbox program on your Mac will contact those computers directly to check for new or modified files, rather than going through the Dropbox servers; any changes will similarly be copied directly from one computer to the other, over your network, rather than over the Internet. The end result is much faster syncing between local computers.

The other big new feature of Dropbox 1.0, Selective Sync, lets you choose exactly which files and folders are synced to each of your computers. For example, if you’ve got a MacBook Air with a small drive, and you don’t want everything in the Dropbox folder on your desktop Mac to be synced to your Air, you can open Dropbox’s settings window on your laptop, click Selective Sync, and then choose only the essential Dropbox-synced files and folders. The rest of your data will still exist on your desktop Mac and on the Dropbox servers, but it won’t take up space on your MacBook Air.

Earlier versions of Dropbox didn’t properly copy file metadata such as Mac OS resource forks, which meant that if you wanted to ensure certain types of Mac files—for example, Internet location files and text clippings—remained usable when synced between Macs, you had to compress them into, say, .zip files before placing them in your Dropbox folder. But DropBox 1.0 fixes that flaw, as well.

One of the few flaws Dropbox 1.0 didn’t fix is that the program still places your Dropbox folder, by default, at the root level of your Home folder, in violation of Apple’s developer guidelines. But at least you can manually change that location in the program’s preferences.

The Dropbox application and a basic account, which can sync up to 2GB of data, are free. If you need to be able to sync more data, you can upgrade to a Dropbox Pro 50 account ($99/year for 50GB of data) or a Pro 100 account ($199/year for 100GB of data). You can also get more space by referring friends—you get 250MB for each friend that creates their own Dropbox account.

Dropbox is an indispensable part of my workflow, and it keeps getting better and better with each release. Now that it handles most Mac metadata properly, it integrates seamlessly with the Finder; and with Web-browser access, as well as Dropbox software—and Dropbox-enabled third-party programs—available for OS X, Windows, Linux, and iOS, you can access and edit your data from anywhere and any device. I have yet to find an easier way to share data with other computers and other people. And did I mention the outstanding documentation? If the developers keep this up, Dropbox just might win another Eddy.

AppleInsider | Apple CEO Steve Jobs named Financial Times 'Person of the Year'

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07Image via WikipediaAppleInsider | Apple CEO Steve Jobs named Financial Times 'Person of the Year'

British international business paper the Financial Times revealed its "Person of the Year" this week, bestowing the honor upon Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

The profile of Jobs declares that his presence onstage in January when he unveiled the iPad "capped the most remarkable comeback in modern business history." Authors Richard Waters and Joseph Menn wrote that the instant success of the iPad is perhaps the biggest frustration to Apple's rival, Microsoft.

"Of all the fingers that Apple has poked into Microsoft's eyes over the years, none can have rankled as much as the early success of the iPad," the report reads. "Mr. Gates himself championed a tablet computer nearly a decade ago, though the stylus needed to write on its screen and the PC-like interface generated little demand."

The honor is far from the first time Jobs has been recognized for his success with Apple. Earlier this month MarketWatch declared Jobs the "CEO of the Decade," and that exact same title was given to him a year ago by Fortune.

After a cancer scare that forced him to leave his duties as CEO of Apple for most of 2009, Jobs returned to the stage in September of that year to unveil his company's new iPod lineup. Since he returned, his company has continued to grow, and in May Apple's market capitalization exceeded Microsoft, making it the second largest American company.

The Times profile offers an inside look at Jobs, noting that his style has changed as Apple's business has grown. The company now concentrates more on the mass market, and one Apple veteran described Jobs' new style as more pragmatic.

"Compromise seems like too strong a word, but the greater sense of expediency reflects Apple's new place in the world," the report reads. "Its iPads are now on sale at mass-market retailers -- a world away from the high style of Apple's own retail stores."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Skype - The Big Blog - Skype downtime today

Skype - The Big Blog - Skype downtime today

Earlier today, we noticed that the number of people online on Skype was falling, which wasn’t typical or expected, so we began to investigate.

Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network – instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’ – they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. If you want to talk to someone, and your Skype app can’t find them immediately (for example, because they’re connecting from a different location or from a different device) your computer or phone will first try to find a supernode to figure out how to reach them.

Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype. As Skype relies on being able to maintain contact with supernodes, it may appear offline for some of you.

What are we doing to help? Our engineers are creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal. This may take a few hours, and we sincerely apologise for the disruption to your conversations. Some features, like group video calling, may take longer to return to normal.

Stay tuned to @skype on Twitter for the latest updates on the situation – and many thanks for your continued patience in the meantime.

My Skype came back up at 16:14 EST after a nine minute outage. This was the second outage in the past hour for me.


16:20 Skype is back down.  The service is unstable now.  I will use google Voice as my home phone until Skype regains stability.

John H. Armwood

Skype Down for Millions of Users - Digits - WSJ

Skype Technologies S.A. logoImage via WikipediaSkype Down for Millions of Users - Digits - WSJ

Internet telephone service Skype left millions of users out in the cold Wednesday, as a problem with its connection system prevented people from signing in.

Bloomberg News
The number of users on the service, which spun off from eBay last year, began falling earlier today — something that isn’t “typical or expected,” the company said in an official blog post. Technology blog ReadWriteWeb said the drop was significant: Numbers went from about 21 million to about 10 million.

Skype engineers are working on the problem, the company said. But the fix may take “a few hours,” and advanced features like video calling might not be available until after that.

Downtime is a potentially huge problem for Internet services like Skype, which have made an effort to convince users that they’re as stable as traditional carriers. The service is known for being relatively reliable, with its last major outage in August 2007, reported Digits colleague Ben Rooney at Tech Europe.

So what went wrong? The company says the problem has to do with its “supernodes” — a crucial part of its peer-to-peer networking system. Almost any computer in the network can be a Skype supernode, and these act like directories for the service, telling Skype things like who is online. Skype says a problem with some versions of Skype took a bunch of supernodes down, meaning that people weren’t able to log on as normal.
This is the first Skype outage since 2007!

My Skype account is down as of 15:37 EST.


15:51 EST, My Skype account is working again.


16:00 EST Skype is down agains

John H. Armwood

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Apple releases iPhoto '11 version 9.1.1 | MacFixIt - CNET Reviews

IPhotoImage via WikipediaApple releases iPhoto '11 version 9.1.1 | MacFixIt - CNET Reviews

Apple has released an update for iPhoto, which addresses a number of stability issues and problems with photo and library management. In addition it offers new e-mail-related options including mailing with alternative e-mail clients, more resizing options when e-mailing photos, and new "Classic" and "Journal" themes for e-mails.
The update is available via Software Update, but can also be downloaded as a 62.09MB installer from the iPhoto 9.1.1 update page. In addition to the updates mentioned above, the specifics included in this update are:
Photos attached to an e-mail can now be sized to small, medium, or large
Improves reliability when upgrading a library from an earlier version of iPhoto
iPhoto now correctly preserves the sort order of Events after upgrading a library
Event titles displayed in headers can now be edited in Photos view
Addresses a problem that could cause duplicate photos to be added to a MobileMe album
Scrolling overlay now correctly displays ratings when photos are sorted by rating
Photos are now sorted correctly when a rating is changed and photos are sorted by rating
Fixes a problem that could cause text formatting controls to become inaccessible when editing a calendar
Be sure you fully back up your iPhoto library before applying this update, and additionally have a restorable backup of your entire system (i.e., Time Machine or a clone) that can be used to revert your system back to its current working state in the event of an error.

Technolog - 'Open' Internet just a pipe dream

Technolog - 'Open' Internet just a pipe dream

As long as you buy Internet access via cable provider, wireless carrier or telecom, you're going to have to play — or at least pay — by their rules. They'll just have to make sure to tell you what those rules are. That seems to be the real gist of the FCC order that was ratified today.
The order, titled "Preserving the Open Internet," does stop wired broadband service providers from blocking access to sites and applications that compete with them, something that none have done to date. It also bars "unreasonable discrimination" of services and enforces transparency in network management and performance. (This last bit means that carriers have to disclose information to you on their websites and at any point of sale, something I would have imagined they should have been required to do already.)

While the order gives providers of wireless Internet access even more discretion with their customers, it also enforces transparency in this sector, and prevents providers from blocking competing services.

Although it allows for "specialized" services, such as a cable company's Internet telephony service, the mandate includes provisions to monitor those services to ensure that they "promote" competition and consumer benefit, and that they "do not undermine or threaten the open Internet."
The bad news for consumers is that in both cases, the service providers have power to "manage" their traffic as they see fit, and to ration it — that is, to charge for tiers of usage or amounts of data used.
Also, any real power the FCC intends to wield is likely to be curbed by lawsuits anyway.
Critics on the right say this is regulation for regulation's sake, that "nothing is broken that needs fixing." Critics on the left say it's not nearly enough to prevent network operators from gaining too much control over public access to the Internet. Both are, semantically, correct: The only people currently getting throttled by their broadband providers are file-sharing pirates who wouldn't be protected by any net neutrality regulation anyway; meanwhile, wired and wireless broadband networks are increasingly controlled by a smaller, more powerful cadre of competitors.
(More on today's FCC proceedings here.)

Tiered pricing has to happen

You can use as much electricity from the power grid as you want, but you have to pay by the kilowatt hour. If you think of the Internet as a utility — and why shouldn't you? — network management should look something like that. Prices offered by regulated private companies should be competitive and reasonable, but highly metered. Sadly, that means no more flat-fee unlimited access.
If you then consider that streaming a movie from Netflix uses up more data than checking e-mail, then yes, you will pay more for Netflix, one way or another. The rules here say that a cable carrier can't block Netflix, or "unreasonably discriminate" against it, but all that does is make me think of my cable bundles.
By some neat feats of billing, Comcast forces me to take HBO and a telephone line, along with standard digital TV and broadband Internet access. When my introductory bundle expired, I tried to drop both, and was told that the total fee would be higher than if I signed on for another 12 months of the bundle. I am happy to keep HBO, but it just proved to me that the menu of prices that Comcast posts on its website isn't the whole story, or really the story at all.
So, about Netflix: Will a cable provider stop me from streaming Netflix? No! But it might charge me extra for the bandwidth it requires, while including a competing streaming video service in a pricing bundle, possibly for way less than the advertised fee. Whether that's "unreasonable" would be up to a court to decide.
(It should be stated at this point that is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal, which is currently in negotiations to be acquired by Comcast, the nation's largest cable company. As you can guess, the assorted parents of this organization may be at odds over this matter, but this piece doesn't reflect any of their viewpoints, only my own.)

What did you expect?

Even before the FCC order is rendered powerless by courts, it represents a known compromise that many see as lose-lose. "These rules appear to be flush with giant loopholes," said Craig Aaron, managing director of Free Press. Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge said the order "created a vague and shifting landscape open to interpretation."
To which I reply, "What did you expect?"

I don't mean to sound cynical, but I come at this from a technology background, not a legal or political one. What I see are all the ways in which "public" access to utilities become profit centers for increasingly massive companies.
After the break-up of the Bells, the phone companies eventually consolidated and worked their way back together like some kind of liquid-metal Terminator. The good news? Instead of a single monopolistic phone company, we have two Leviathans and some smaller fish. Long-distance service used to be their cash cow; now it's wireless and broadband, and they're not going to let those slip so easily.

Speaking of the phone companies, where was the FCC's power when wireless standards were being regulated in other parts of the world? We're only now getting wireless capabilities that other countries have had for years, in part because our nation has not one but two — and arguably more like four — distinct wireless networks all built on top of each other.

Another example is CableCard. If you haven't heard of that, my point is already proven. CableCard was supposed to separate us from our godawful cable boxes by allowing TV makers and companies like TiVo to gain access to cable. It exists, but in such a compromised state that it's not even a requirement of TVs, and has not led to any sort of widespread adoption, despite enforcement of regulation.

Beware of consensus

There are more many more examples like this that make me believe that the upper hand is always attached to the arm of the well-heeled corporation. And in this particular debate, nothing made it more clear than when Google and Verizon (hand in hand) agreed on their version of network neutrality.
Back in August, the two companies rolled out their idea of a fair Internet, with net-neutral wired broadband, specialized wired services, and a less regulated wireless broadband. So, in essence, three separate Internets, each with their own cost structure.
What was scary was that Google and Verizon were supposed to be enemies on this matter. Verizon's view was expected, but seeing Google — a champion of "openness," at least when convenient — jump to Verizon's side was disheartening.

Future, bleak or bright?

I don't mean to present some dystopian pay-for-play future where we'll all walk around with virtual taxi meters on our heads. I think that for the most part, the regulation — and the lack of regulation — will manifest itself in new services. It's like cable TV. First there was a basic subscription, then there were premiums, now there are 30,000 options, all listed with nickel-and-dime rates or in shiny bundles. We complain about the increasing cost of cable, and some (though not many) of us jump ship. But we do get more than before.

That's how it's going to play out — you'll get more, you'll pay for more.

Divided FCC adopts rules to protect Web traffic - Technology & science - Tech and gadgets -

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...Image via WikipediaDivided FCC adopts rules to protect Web traffic - Technology & science - Tech and gadgets -

Decision likely to face intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill once Republicans take over

WASHINGTON — A divided Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules meant to prohibit broadband companies from interfering with Internet traffic flowing to their customers.

The 3-2 vote Tuesday marks a major victory for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has spent more than a year trying to craft a compromise.
The FCC's three Democrats voted to pass the rules, while the two Republicans opposed them, arguing that they amount to unnecessary regulation. The new rules are likely to face intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill once Republicans take over the House. Meanwhile, public interest groups decried the regulations as too weak, particularly for wireless systems.

Known as "net neutrality," the rules prohibit phone and cable companies from favoring or discriminating against Internet content and services, such as those from rivals.

Apple: Mac OS X Downloads site will no longer offer apps | Software | MacUser | Macworld

Mac OS X Screen ShotImage by smenzel via FlickrApple: Mac OS X Downloads site will no longer offer apps | Software | MacUser | Macworld

In an e-mail message to registered developers, the company stated that as of January 6, 2011—the date the Mac App Store will debut—the Mac OS X Downloads site will "no longer offer apps." The company suggests that developers should instead submit their software to the Mac App Store, which Apple says will be "the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps."

The site has long been a popular destination for Mac users looking for third-party software, as it has provided a semi-curated library of software, browsable by category, date, popularity, or the ever-coveted-by-developers Staff Picks.

The announcement shouldn't come as a surprise, given Apple's recent focus on the Mac App Store. Indeed, it would be quite un-Apple-like for the company to offer both a software store and a software-listing Website. However, the move is sure to raise some hackles in the developer community, given that not every piece of software listed on the Downloads site will be available—or even could be available—on the Mac App Store. The Mac App Store already presented a marketing challenge for developers of such software; they'll now be even more reliant on the Mac media, word of mouth, and other Mac-software sites such as MacUpdate and i use this.

It's unclear if Apple will continue to use the Mac OS X Downloads site to promote its own Mac software, or if the company will just roll such promotion into the main Downloads site.

The full text of the e-mail message is below.

Thank you for making the Mac OS X Download site a great destination with apps that offer users new ways to work, play, learn, and create on their Mac.

We recently announced that on January 6, 2011, the Mac App Store will open to users around the world, presenting you with an exciting, new opportunity to reach millions of customers. Since the introduction of the App Store in 2008, we've been thrilled with the incredible support from developers and the enthusiastic response from users. Now we're bringing the revolutionary experience of the App Store to Mac OS X.

Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site. Instead, beginning January 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store.

We appreciate your support of the Mac platform and hope you'll take advantage of this new opportunity to showcase your apps to even more users. To learn how you can offer your apps on the Mac App Store, visit the Apple Developer website at

Best regards,

Ron Okamoto
Vice President, Worldwide Developer Relations

Google Extends Free Phone Call Offer for US Gmail Users - PCWorld

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseGoogle Extends Free Phone Call Offer for US Gmail Users - PCWorld

Gmail users in the U.S can continue call phones in North America and Canada for free after the new year, Google said in a blog post on Monday.

When Google announced the ability to make phone calls from Gmail in August its plan was to offer free calls to the U.S. and Canada until the end of this year. But now users will be able to make free calls to those destinations for all of 2011, Google said. Calls to other countries will continue to carry a charge.

The most likely reason for the extension is that Google hasn't been able to attract as many users as it had hoped back in August, according to Rosalind Craven, senior research analyst at IDC.

Google can afford to offer free calls to fixed and mobile phones in an effort to attract more users because it isn't as dependent on making money from the calls as Skype, Craven said. If Google one day decides to start charging, usage will inevitably go down, and its continued popularity will be decided by factors like quality, ease-of-use and how well integrated it has become in the way people communicate, she said.

Offering the ability to make phone calls from large Web services like Gmail is starting to chip away at operator revenue, according to Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight.

The voice services Google is offering now are only the beginning: network operators should start to get really nervous when Google introduces an easy-to-use service that is tightly integrated with its Android smartphone and tablet operating system, Wood said. There is already anecdotal evidence that business travellers are using Skype on their smartphones to make phone calls while abroad, threatening operators' still-lucrative roaming business, Wood said.

Calling from Gmail is only available to users based in the U.S., and Google has not said when Gmail users in other parts of the world will have access to the service, a spokeswoman at Google said.

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Net Neutrality Rules Are Imminent From the F.C.C. -

Net Neutrality Rules Are Imminent From the F.C.C. -

The Federal Communications Commission appears poised to pass a controversial set of rules that broadly create two classes of Internet access, one for fixed-line providers and the other for the wireless Net.

The proposed rules of the online road would prevent fixed-line broadband providers like Comcast and Qwest from blocking access to sites and applications. The rules, however, would allow wireless companies more latitude in putting limits on access to services and applications.

Before a vote set for Tuesday, two Democratic commissioners said Monday that they would back the rules proposed by the F.C.C. chairman, Julius Genachowski, which try to satisfy both sides in the protracted debate over so-called network neutrality. But analysts said the debate would soon resume in the courts, as challenges to the rules are expected in the months to come.

Net neutrality, broadly speaking, is an effort to ensure equal access to Web sites and cutting-edge online services. Mr. Genachowski said these proposed rules aimed to both encourage Internet innovation and protect consumers from abuses.

“These rules fulfill a promise to the future — to companies that don’t yet exist, and the entrepreneurs that haven’t yet started work in their dorm rooms or garages,” Mr. Genachowski said in remarks prepared for the commission’s meeting on Tuesday in Washington. At present, there are no enforceable rules “to protect basic Internet values,” he added.

Many Internet providers, developers and venture capitalists have indicated that they would accept the proposal by Mr. Genachowski, which Rebecca Arbogast, a regulatory analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, a financial services firm, said “is by definition a compromise.”

The companies have said the rules would provide some regulatory certainty. In private, they have acknowledged the proposal could have been much worse. If approved, they “will give some assurances to the companies that are building Web applications — companies like Netflix, Skype and Google — that they will get even treatment on broadband networks,” Ms. Arbogast said.

But a wide swath of public interest groups have lambasted the proposal as “fake net neutrality” and said it was rife with loopholes. One group, Public Knowledge, said that instead of providing clear protections, the F.C.C. “created a vague and shifting landscape open to interpretation. Consumers deserved better.”

Notably, the rules are watered down for wireless Net providers like AT&T and Verizon, which would be prohibited from blocking Web sites, but not from blocking applications or services unless those applications directly compete with providers’ voice and video products, like Skype.

F.C.C. officials said there were technological reasons for the wireless distinctions, and that they would continue to closely monitor the medium.

Citing the wireless proposal, Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, said over the weekend that the F.C.C. was effectively allowing discrimination on the mobile Net, a fast-growing sector.

“Maybe you like Google Maps. Well, tough,” Mr. Franken said on Saturday on the Senate floor. “If the F.C.C. passes this weak rule, Verizon will be able to cut off access to the Google Maps app on your phone and force you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it is not as good. And even if they charge money, when Google Maps is free.”

He added, “If corporations are allowed to prioritize content on the Internet, or they are allowed to block applications you access on your iPhone, there is nothing to prevent those same corporations from censoring political speech.”

Mr. Franken and other critics say the rules come with major caveats; for instance, they would allow for “reasonable network management” by broadband providers. And they would discourage but not expressly forbid something called “paid prioritization,” which would allow a media or technology company to pay the provider for faster transmission of data, potentially creating an uneven playing field.

The F.C.C. officials also said that the order would require transparency about those network management practices. “That sunshine will help deter bad behavior,” one of the officials said. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the F.C.C. order has not been made public.

President Obama has repeatedly indicated his support for net neutrality principles, and his chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, said on Dec. 1 that the F.C.C. proposal was an “important step in preventing abuses and continuing to advance the Internet as an engine of productivity growth and innovation.”

The two Democratic commissioners, Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, acknowledged on Monday that the order was not as strong as they would have liked. But they said it had been improved this month in discussions with Mr. Genachowski, and they said they would not oppose it.

Their votes along with Mr. Genachowski’s would be enough to approve the order at the F.C.C. meeting on Tuesday.

Two Republican commissioners, Meredith Baker and Robert McDowell, are expected to oppose it. Republicans have suggested that the net neutrality rules are an example of government overreach; in an opinion piece on Monday in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. McDowell asserted that “nothing is broken that needs fixing.”

In a statement Monday afternoon, Mr. Copps strongly disagreed. He said he wanted to ensure that the Internet “doesn’t travel down the same road of special interest consolidation and gate-keeper control that other media and telecommunications industries — radio, television, film and cable — have traveled.”

“What an historic tragedy it would be,” he said, “to let that fate befall the dynamism of the Internet.”