Editing and Sharing Files

What kind of files can I view with built-in secure viewers?

Merlin comes factory-equipped with secure memory-only editors, viewers and players for the following:

  • All popular image file types (JPG, PNG, GIF, etc.)
  • Most document file types (MS Word, Open Office, PDF, rich text, plain text, source code files, etc.)
  • Most spreadsheet file types (MS Excel, Open Office, etc.)
  • Most popular Audio file types (MP3, WAV, etc.)
  • Most popular Video file types (MPG, MP4, VLC, etc.)
  • Most popular Presentation file types (MS PowerPoint, Open Office, etc.)
  • Web pages (HTM, HTML)

What kind of files can I create or edit within Merlin?

In addition to just viewing files, Merlin also contains secure editors that allow you to create or revise most documents (MS Word, Open Office, PDF, rich text, plain text, etc.), spreadsheets (MS Excel, Open Office, etc.) and HTML files. Additional editors are being released regularly. The editors contain many of the same features and functions as Microsoft Office or Open Office, and are similar in appearance and operation, but the data (documents) you are editing remain safely within Merlin.

Do I have to import files into Merlin before I can use them in things like email?

No, you can add them directly to emails and Merlin will import and encrypt them automatically.

Does Merlin maintain versions of the files I edit?

Yes, Merlin maintains a complete version history. Merlin's file manager includes a revision control system so you can revert to any previous version of a file and make it the most current version.

What are Packages?

In Merlin you can create special encryption 'Packages' with separate keys that you can share with other people. These are similar to zip files, only with extremely strong encryption. A Package can be shared with other Merlin users just like anything else, but the recipient will need an extra key (passphrase) to open it, which you should supply separately. Another type of package is 'self-extracting', allowing you to pack up files, encrypt them and then send them to someone who doesn't have Merlin. Packages can use various encryption algorithms, depending on which encryption plug-ins you install. Packages do NOT appear in the Syndex until you enter the password to them, and are undetectable by any other means, creating plausible deniability.

What are file subjects and tags?

File subjects are descriptive words or phrases that you can apply to files and later use to organize them. For example, if you take a lot of holiday pictures, you might want to place them in folders organized by the trip you took (Alabama 2012, Africa 2013, Alaska 2014), but then create file subjects to visualize them in different ways (the kids, my wife, mountains, beach, dinners, etc.).

For each subject you create, Merlin will create a subject folder, and then when you tag a file with that subject Merlin will place a link to the file in that subject folder, in addition to the normal folder (Africa 2013, for example). You can browse subject folders and work with files just as if you were browsing the folders they actually live in. So, if you had a picture of your wife on the beach in Africa in 2013, and another picture of her on the beach in Alaska in 2014 (brrr!), and you tag them both as 'beach', when you open the beach folder, you'll find both files there, just as if that was where they were actually imported into Merlin. Subjects can also be used in far more refined ways to organize files simultaneously into many categories.

Does Merlin maintain a file action history?

Yes, Merlin keeps track of everything that happens to a file, including when and from where it was imported or received from another Merlin user, how many times and when it was opened for viewing or editing, when and with whom it was shared, and everything else that happens to it (such as moving it to a different folder or changing its Rating or Priority). Simply tap or right-click on a file to view its history going back as far in time as you like, sorting and grouping by date or the actions taken.

How do I share files with someone?

Tap or right-click on the files and select the people or groups you want to send them to. Then press 'Share'. It's that simple.

Can I share multiple files at the same time?

Yes. You can share a single file or any selection of files with one or many people all in the same action. The same goes for Packages. Select what you want to send, click on 'Share' and choose people or groups. Then press 'Send'. It's that simple. Merlin handles all the encryption stuff automatically.

What happens to a file when I share it?

Merlin automatically manages a remarkably complex series of events for each file you share with another person or synchronize with one of your other devices. For each recipient person or device, Merlin…

  1. Requests the public key for each recipient via the Kahuna network.
  2. Decrypts the file to memory only on your device. If the file is too large to fit in memory, it divides it into manageable pieces.
  3. Creates a different, large random key for each recipient; no two keys are alike.
  4. Encrypts each large random key using each recipient's public key.
  5. Encrypts the file once each for each recipient using the large random key for that recipient.
  6. Sends each encrypted file key and the encrypted file to each recipient via the Kahuna network. If a recipient is not on line at the time the file is sent, the encrypted file will be cached in the Kahuna Network until the recipient logs in and collects it, or it ultimately expires (usually at least a week).

When the recipient receives the file on their device, Merlin...

  1. Decrypts the large random key for the file using its private key.
  2. Decrypts the file to memory only using the large random key. If the file was divided into pieces by the sender (segmented), it is reassembled.
  3. Re-encrypts the file using the private device key, and saves it in the device's encrypted Merlin data file.
  4. Checks to see if the file is a new version of a previously shared file, and connects it to that file's revision chain.
  5. Places the file in the Received Files folder, and adds a notification to the Trax display.
  6. Sends a delivery confirmation via Kahuna back to the sender, which updates its sharing or synchronization history for that file.

Additional steps not listed above include validating the electronic identity of each recipient and ensuring that they have sufficient resources to accept the file, including enough Kahuna Traffic Credits to transfer it and enough encrypted Merlin data file space to store it. If a recipient does not have enough Kahuna Traffic Credit to receive the file, Merlin will let them know and they can obtain more. If the encrypted Merlin Data file is not large enough to hold the file, Merlin will enlarge it automatically, up to the device's storage capacity.

What happens if two people share a file and they both edit it?

Each person has their own version of the file, and makes their own changes. If the file is shared between them again, the new versions are linked as new revisions, with the most recent one first. Differences between the files are not merged, so you have to work that out with the other person, but all revisions are kept and linked into a single chain.

Can I add comments to a file, and can Merlin share them along with the file?

Yes. You can add comments and decide to include or exclude them when you share a file. For example...

"John, check this out! Look in the distance, just behind the robin perched on the branch and you'll see an extremely rare ground-dwelling yellow cuckoo bird."

And John can share the file back with his reaction, such as...

"Bill, the only thing here that's cuckoo is you, that's a fire plug!"

What happens when I edit something that Merlin Earth™ doesn't have a secure editor for?

Merlin Earth™ will create a temporary, encrypted 'drive' to which it will export a working copy of your file. Use whatever program you like to open and edit it, and when you're done just tell Merlin Earth™ to import it again. It will then be encrypted and the working copy will be destroyed (along with any thumbnail images your operating system made of it in the interim).

Note that even this temporary working copy lives within an encrypted temporary folder. Plus, we're adding new, full-featured editors and viewers all the time.

What happens if another person edits something I shared, and sends it back?

The item will be saved as a new version of the same file you sent. You can keep it, make it a previous version (say, because you like yours better), or delete it. Merlin keeps a full revision history (all encrypted, of course).