As a business owner, if you're not syncing your operations with new technologies for efficiency, security, and productivity, you're falling way behind. It already took a long time for businesses to get up and running from typewriters to computers, and from physical files to digital. But as technologies keep coming out, keeping your finger on the pulse is essential. Here are 8 technologies that will take your business to the next level.

1. HD Video Conferencing

Conference calls are so passé. We all struggle to take our turns, get clear reception, and follow the conversation as more and more people are added to the line. Not being able to see our collaborators is a detriment to productivity. That's why modern businesses are using video conferencing as a way to get that much-needed face time. If you're going to go all out for video conferencing, you might as well get it in HD.

2. Team Messaging

In the old days, if we had a question for one of our coworkers, we had to get up from our seats, walk over, interrupt them on whatever they were doing, and ask our question. Now, businesses are integrating methods of easy online communication a la the AIM of our youth, but all grown up. Slack is one of the leaders in the team messaging field, for its accessible layout and the ability to send and share documents with ease.

3. BYOD and Mobile Solutions

Gone are the days of landline phones! To enable the "work from home" movement, some employers are gung ho about the "bring your own device" policy. It saves money and space. Being mobile-friendly encourages your employees to use their phones. But careful, this could make goofing off look a lot like working. It does however, encourage working before and after business hours.

4. GTD® Software Utilities

For those of you that don't like acronyms, you should start to like them if you're going to have a modern business. GTD® stands for "get things done," and these special software utilities are designed to do just that. These include digital list managers, productivity add-ons, organizers, and note-taking and brainstorming tools to help increase efficiency at the office. Check out more, here.

5. The Cloud

Servers are an unnecessary space-killer in an office. Working on the cloud gives you the ease and convenience of sharing documents on a network (the Internet). Google Drive and Dropbox are two of some of the more popular cloud-based file storing services. Google Drive allows you to comment on documents and share folders so everyone can always be on the same page.

6. Digital Signature

Snail mail is a thing of the past. Now, contracts are being sent as PDFs. Instead of printing, signing, scanning and sending, businesses are using digital signatures to get the job done faster, and with a lot less paper. Here's how to employ the digital signature function on Adobe Reader.

7. CRM

Another acronym, folks. CRM stands for "customer relationship management" and is a valuable tool to track, manage and analyze customer behavior data to inform you on future strategy. This technology can be a useful way to improve a customer's perception of your business. But there are tons of CRM systems out there. Here is a guide from CRM Magazine on how to know what's right for your business.

8. Smart Payment Processing

If you're still mailing out invoices and receiving checks, you're missing out. All-encompassing payment processing solutions like PayPal for small business are out to help your business run smoother. This service allows you to accept diverse payment options, be eligible for credit, and get paid faster and more securely.

Technology is booming at an unprecedented rate. Is your business prepared to keep up?

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.