JSP newbie question

I am trying to interface a service using JSP and servlets. I am getting a couple of difficulties, i would appreciate any help.
I am using Tomcat 4.1 and Java 1.4.2. I initially have a jsp that has a form, the action is my servlet and the method is post. Among the things i submit in form I have an
<input type=file name="thename">
which i later try to retrieve in the servlet as:
Object o=request.getAttribute("thename")
This doesnt seem to work (always null) and don't know what to use instead.
At some point i want to show status information back to the user at a certain refresh rate. How can this be done. If i output from the servlet html code with <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="10"> i get an error at the first refresh attempt.
Thank you for any help,

Yes sorry, it is parameter.

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