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DEARSUGAR and Paranoid Paris need your help. She's off to college next semester and she's heard horror stories that roommates use your things when you are away at class. She has two computers that she needs to protect and so she's wondering if you have any suggestions how to nicely and gently approach her new roomies about not using them.

Dear Sugar
I am starting a new school after the first of the year and for the first time in my life I will be living away from home. I've already paid a deposit for a great apartment just a block from campus and I am excited except for the fact that I will be living with five other girls, one of which will be sharing a bedroom with me.

I am a web-designer; and so I have two computers. One of them was provided to me by the company that I work for and it's lightning fast. The other is my personal laptop, that I also use for business and for school purposes. My best friend also attends this university, and lives in the dorms on-campus.

I would think that in the Information Age that more students would have their own computers, but that is apparently not the case at this school. My best friend has told me all the awful stories about one of her roommates, who has essentially taken over the only computer in their dorm room.

She constantly complains about the owner of the computer and she won't get off of it, even when asked politely. I don't want to be psycho about this, but I've just got this terrible sinking feeling that this will happen to me when I get to school and I just can't have people playing on my computers.

Let's face it, the average web user is not very tech savvy. They download viruses, trojans, worms, spy ware without even knowing what they're doing. Seeing as this is my livelihood, I can't afford to get a virus! Perhaps I am jumping the gun, but how appropriate is it for me to lay down the rules upon my arrival? Is there a polite way that I can ask them not to use my computers without my permission? I am concerned that if I don't bring it up immediately, then I am just asking for trouble. Paranoid Paris

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