In communal living, life tends to move at a different beat. You've got to worry about those meddling kids downstairs trying to hack into your wireless. However, that should be the least of your worries if you're moving into a new shared space with roomies you've never lived with before. This is where you lay down the ground rules when it comes to personal tech, sharing of the common area, and assign heavy net usage windows to avoid bogging down your network. We've got a few tips to get you started...
1) Avoid snooping at all costs. So you're curious. Maybe your roomie is nuts. You've got to protect yourself. Not so fast, buddy. Respecting privacy is one of the most important values you must hold up until the very end. If you're curious about your roommates' habits, grab a drink and phrase questions to extract wanted info out of them. Otherwise, browsing through their computer and then finding pictures of Hanna Montana may cause you to jump to conclusions that may otherwise have reasonable answers (like.. "Hey, this is my younger sister's old laptop" or something).
2) Make sure everyone gets a strong signal. If they're chipping in for the internet, they should be getting more than 3 out of 5 bars on their wireless. Try to place the router as equally apart from each roommate, but if you're really having trouble getting everyone a good signal, consider adding a few access points to help repeat the signal throughout the apartment.
3) A living room TV is everyone's TV. If you plan to bring up your brand spankin' new 40" LCD TV, your roomies will surely be unable to help themselves from throwing on a DVD right after class or watching two consecutive episodes of Lost. The first temptation is to kick them off, but instead of starting a territorial war for the living room, try planning ahead if you've got a scheduled show that you simply cannot miss. Otherwise, try a DVR to record your show and just watch it later.
4) If your roommate intends to bring up a huge mini-fridge, you have the right to question it. Unless refrigeration space is a commodity, there should be no need for an extra refrigerator driving up everyone's energy bills every month.
5) Music blasting is okay, but be reasonable. Many agree that apartment dwellers should never blast their music, no matter how much you've spent on that audiophile setup of yours. However, if you're in a house with more than a couple of feet from your neighbors, why the heck not? Well, then again, there's your roommate. He/she needs to study, sleep, and enjoy a morning of serenity without your death metal rumbling the kitchen walls. And musicians - use headphones, please. They really, really help.
Have more tips to add to proper tech etiquette or have a story to share? Let us know in the comments!