It's a "counter" to see how many people are visiting JavaRanch. It seems to be having problems today. Normally if you click on the icon you will go to http://v.extreme-dm.com/?login=jranch and see (by month) how many people have been here.
JavaBeginnersFaq "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why they call it the present." Eleanor Roosevelt