Plain White Mouse Pads
One of the simplest solutions to a computer problem I have ever seen is changing a mouse pad. Many people, myself included, replace the standard mouse that comes with a computer with an optical mouse. The standard mouse normally has a ball underneath (a mouse-ball) that controls the position of the cursor on the screen. Mouse pads are placed under the mouse to add a little friction to the surface and help the mouse ball roll smoothlly.
An optical mouse employs a small digital camera made up of a Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensor that takes hundreds of pictures every second. A red colored Light Emitting Diode (LED) bounces light off the surface that the mouse sits on and the CMOS sensor records images of that surface. These images are then evaluated by a Digital Signal Processor to determine changes in the images. The DSP is able to calculate changes in direction and speed and uses these calculations to control the relative position of the mouse pointer on the screen.
The problem occurs when a high contrast mouse pad with an intricate design is used. The mouse can interpret the changes in the design pattern as a change in location causing the cursor to jump around the screen.
People often complain that after they start using an optical mouse the cursor seems to jump around the screen in an erratic manner. Typically, they have continued to use a favorite mouse pad with an intricate designor or they simply use their desktops. The solution is quite simple -- a solid color is needed. My first solution was to use a sheet of white paper. This works but the paper soon deteriorates and must be thrown away. A better solution is to use a plain white mouse pad. Other solid colors will work but my personal favorite is plain white.