Mac users in Jeopardy online?

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Occasionally, when the deadlines around here get to be overwhelming and the nine-to-five routine threatens to become too much of a grind, I dream of pursuing a second career—that of a highly-compensated game show contestant who can put my knowledge of Potent Potables and State Capitals to use competing for fabulous cash prizes. I dream of going on Jeopardy!

The producers of that game show took a step last week toward making my dream come true when they announced that Jeopardy! would start screening potential contestants through an online quiz. Would-be contestants can head to the Jeopardy! Web site where they can sign up for the preliminary screening test; the quiz will be conducted later this week. Once I ace that—and really, it’s a foregone conclusion that I will—it’s only a matter of time before I take my rightful place alongside Ken Jennings in the Jeopardy! pantheon.

Assuming I’m able to take the quiz, that is. Because, in a wrinkle that’s all too familiar to Mac users who surf the Web, the online test FAQ warns that things may not run so smoothly given my choice in hardware.

I am on a Macintosh. Will I still be able to participate in the test?

Although we do not encourage you to take the test on a Mac, the test is compatible with the Mac OX operating system. For the best experience, you should:

  • use a PC
  • Internet Explorer 5 or higher
  • Disable any pop up blocking software
  • download Flash 7 or higher
  • Why do you hate me, Alex Trebek?

    OK—so it’s probably not as drastic as all that. The FAQ does say that the test will probably at least work on the Mac, which is a decided improvement over the Bad Old Days of limited Mac compatibility for many online offerings. I’ve noodled over the many technical reasons why the test might not work for Mac users, and the only explanation that I can come up with is that “Jeopardy!” producers probably didn’t want to spend a lot of time testing for Mac compatibility so they slapped this warning up there as a way to cover themselves just in case some Mac user suffers an untimely technical glitch. (“What is sheer laziness, Alex?”)

    Which is Jeopardy’s right, I suppose, though it doesn’t make much sense when one of the stated goals of your online quiz is to increase the scope, reach, and accessibility of your contestant searches. “Our online testing process allows our many viewers the opportunity to take the test from their very own computer, at home, at the office—virtually anywhere,” executive producer Harry Friedman tells the Hollywood Reporter —unless they happen to be Mac users, apparently.

    All right, so this is hardly a sign and portent that the Mac is living on borrowed time or a reason to march down to the “Jeopardy!” studios, demanding satisfaction from Jeopardy’s creator (“Who is Merv Griffin, Alex?”). In the past couple of weeks, we’ve gotten a Mac-compatible airfare tracker from an airline (“What is Southwest Airlines?”) and a Mac-friendly electronic filing system from a government agency (“What is the U.S. Patent Office?”), so an online quiz that may or may not work like it’s supposed to on the Mac is hardly something to get bent out of shape over.

    And yet, when Alex Trebek is handing over the oversized novelty check displaying my winnings, don’t think I’m not going to bring it up.

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