I just clicked on the chat button above and the java chat is working for me. If you want to get on IRC a more traditional way check out these instructions for using MIRC. The chat room is open all the time, but we usually have a "scheduled" chat on Sunday evenings.
The yellow fish picture under Brooke's name is called an 'avatar', and you can change this in your user control panel.
Just click the button at the top of the forum page labeled 'User CP' and then click the 'edit options' link that comes up at the top of the following page.
Down toward the bottom of the next page will be the option 'Avatar', where you can either choose from some default avatars that are included with the BBS package, or you can upload your own (within certain size guidelines).
Hope that helps.
... and welcome to TRT :beer:
P.S. I find that the default 'us.xnet.org' chat server only works sporadically. If you follow the mirc instructions and instead use 'irc.xnet.org' as the chat server you'll be successful every time since it's a hub that routes you to the nearest open chat server on xnet.